New teen

I made an early start today. I’ve a lot to pack into two days now if I want to get everything done. This working for a living lark doesn’t make fitting things in easy at all.

However – so far I’m making it happen, and as I was up early to get my shopping done before my first walk of the day. I’d have to do it quick because I had another appointment shortly after.

Today a good friend was coming back to Slimming World after a little time away – and I’d agreed with her that we’d go for a pre session chillout twalk around the park before we both stepped on the scales.

St Nicholas was nice this morning (the weather was lovely and mild) and there was plenty of life around – particularly joggers, who seemed to be constantly dodging my friend’s dog Pugly.

He perpetually wants to play and run around them – although I don’t think they they had time to reciprocate.

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After just under 3 miles we wound our way down the river and back to group, just in time for it to start – where Pugly began his usual task of begging for food. 

This little guy is really obsessed with eating – and in this respect I guess we’re kind of kindred spirits. I couldn’t help but laugh when my friend recently posted a picture of his ‘face of shame’ after he’d finally become enough of a puppy porker to set off the passenger seatbelt alarm in her car.

At Slimming World he’s in the right place for food optimising tips however. The venue was quite busy today and the group seemed larger than it usually is – with lots of familiar faces – and some that I haven’t seen for a while.

After saying hello to the ladies I stood on the scales.

Now – today I feel a bit different.

I don’t know whether it’s the probiotics I’ve been taking – or whether something else is going on – but my stomach definitely felt smaller this morning. So much so in fact that I’ve worn a shirt today that last week while I was ill had suddenly begun to seem tight around the waist.

I’m also now wearing a pair of 40in waisted jeans that were previously a bit… ‘Great British Bake Off’ (without the soggy bottom) but that now fit me perfectly.

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So – because of this I felt hopeful I’d lose something and was keen to get back to where I’d been before last week’s gain.

To be clear – I’ve done nothing new – no more exercise than usual (although this does mean that I walked a not insignificant 72 miles in total) eaten no differently – I’ve just kept sticking to what I know works and carrying on regardless.

I only went and lost eight frikkin pounds and got my sixteen and a half stone certificate!!!

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I’m now in another new weight bracket.

I’m inside the 17 stone range and am sitting at 17st 12lbs. I’m in a whole new teen!!!

In total I’ve now lost 16st 10.5lbs (106kg) !

As you can imagine this makes me exceptionally happy.

It’s also a great reminder that keeping calm, carrying on, not saying ‘screw it’ and most importantly sticking to what you know works will ultimately pay off.

Although there may be an occasional blip, my downward progress (when I look at it in the form of a graph) still looks like a largely straight line, which frankly I am REALLY REALLY PROUD OF.

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There’s only one way to celebrate an event like this – and that’s to go for another walk – which thankfully I’d already arranged for the afternoon.

I said goodbye to everyone and after a chat with Angie as I helped her pack things up I headed home.

For a while I didn’t think that my second planned excursion would happen, as periodically it’s seemed like monsoon season today. Before I left my house this afternoon I could have sworn that (as the rain lashed down and rolling peals of thunder boomed out after several cracks of lightning) that I saw India float past my house.

However – at the very worst this meant I’d just sit and chat with my friend over coffee so I drove over to her house as planned anyway.

Since the walk we were planning to go on would probably now resemble a bog we instead headed along a route we knew would be slightly less muddy and decided on another stroll around Coombe Abbey.

As always this didn’t disappoint – and immediately the skies cleared – making the way ahead look very appealing indeed.

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As always Coombe is full of birds, and today was no exception – however there was an abundance of pretty much everything else you could imagine popping out of bushes and hedgerows today – including some baby deer and wonderful dragonflies – who I’m sad to say were both way too fast for my camera.

Other, more sedate creatures however were kind enough to pose for me as my friend and I languidly strolled around the grounds and surrounding countryside twalking the day away.

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However – as interesting as all of these were the one thing that really caught my eye, just as I was leaving the (largely uneventful but very relaxing) birdwatching hide was a Red Admiral that was warming itself on a post about 20ft away.

I have to say that once again I’m stunned at the images that my little compact Sony 30x superzoom can capture from a distance.

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All in all it was a really well timed walk with some perfectly lit sunny moments where the world came alive both underfoot and all around us, showcasing the best that the countryside has to offer at this time of year.

Although there aren’t an awful lot of flowers around at the moment, every so often one manages to catch your eye, and particularly after a bit of rain you’re reminded how awesome the little things in life can look when you stop to pay attention to them.

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Anyway – I feel good.

I’ve broken the back of the teens – and I’m in weight territory that I’ve not seen since about 1992. Those that are mathematically inclined will also note that there is a particularly significant milestone approaching that’s unrelated to a certificate – but that IS related to how heavy I am and how heavy I was.

Answers on the back of a postcard internet. Can you work it out?

Davey

Tinkerbell 

Compared to yesterday the weather today is a riot of blue skies and sunshine. It’s frankly glorious and because of this I was genuinely torn between my ever pressing need to sort out my back garden (which regular readers will know is an objectionable task only because of my continued procrastination) or just dissapear for a walk.

Hmm… Should I choose adult responsibility or childish frivolity?

(…)

I’m going to leave you for a moment to try and figure out which I went for.

(…….)

Screw the garden. It never stops growing anyway. It’ll be there tomorrow!

Davey go walkies!!!

So – I contacted my friend and hastily arranged a meet up. His usual companion (Boris the frenchie) has been ill this week – and (as it seems is common with this breed) the poor little fellow has had a cripplingly bad back. He’s still on medication for it and he’s not his usual self.

He hasn’t been able to hop up onto the sofa, go for walkies or anything…

The poor little guy! 😢

So – my companion left Boris at his mom’s house and we took her dog for a walk instead. This little girl is super timid but unbelievably cute.

She’s a crossbreed I’ve not personally encountered before – and is a Pug/Jack Russell mix – which I’m informed makes her a PugRussell. Her name was originally ‘Tinkerbell’ when my friend’s mom got her – but they (thank heavens) refer to her simply as ‘Tink’.

I think standing in the middle of a park and calling out ‘Tinkerbell!’ over and over in the middle of Coventry if she chooses to run away wouldn’t be a good look for anyone not participating in a Peter Pan convention – so I approve of the abbreviation.

Personality wise she reminds me a lot of my own Jack Russell from years ago – and is very timid when it comes to other dogs. However there the comparison stops.

Facially she’s Pug though and through.

It was a great day to be in Memorial Park (if you like dogs) as the RSPCA were holding an event (although I’m not sure entirely what for) and the place was virtually wall to wall with pooch owners strolling around with practically every breed imaginable.

There was also a separate 10k charity event taking place at the same time – so between the multitudes of walkers, joggers and dog owners the place was a hive of activity.

If I’m honest it was maybe a bit too busy for proper exercise – and our walk was a slow moving affair. Consequently as soon as I got home an hour or so later I made myself a flask of coffee and headed out for a slightly more brisk walk.

It’s all very well not minding that I put a pound on yesterday but that isn’t quite the same as not caring.

I can deal with it quite easily as long as I know I’m doing something to address it – and in my case it means paying close attention to what I do and what I consume – so I’m not planning to just put my feet up this week.

However it’s difficult to know lately what kind of balance I have to strike. Recently I’ve often been confused by my levels of exercise vs my scale results, and never seem to be able to reliably guess how it’s going to go on any given week. When I first began Slimming World exercising as much as I could meant seriously good results – these days it doesn’t always seem to translate into a significant weight loss, and sometimes even does quite the opposite.

Although I shouldn’t let this play on my mind too much.

I’m still sometimes afflicted with the rather narrow minded attitude that decreasing numbers on scales are the only indicator of progress – which they absolutely are not – but I do have to take a moment and remind myself of this occasionally.

There are other (way more important) indicators of progress.

Although I’m not going into detail just yet I’ve started a couple of balls rolling over the last few days that relate to things which simply wouldn’t have been possible not that long ago. If they come to fruition then I’ll report back here – but for the time being I’m keeping quiet.

However the very fact that I’m thinking about these things (and furthermore that I’m willing to put a metaphorical and literal foot forward towards them) is a huge indicator of where I am in life now and it makes me feel very positive regardless of how they turn out.

Either way – exercise is awesome. Even if it slows my losses from time to time I don’t think I can stop craving it – or wanting to improve my capabilities – and today is no exception.

After heading out of the door I decided to walk to the supermarket a couple of miles away and get some bits and bobs for a picnic lunch in the park.

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Despite doing Slimming World, and it NOT being a calorie counting diet I think it’s folly to ignore your intake if you want to see results. Counting everything (when you can) even if it’s just for a week to get back on track has given me some of my most significant losses and turned around many a dry spell.

As picnics go this one stacks up pretty well from a calorie intake perspective.

  • Chicken Tikka slices (180g) – 212 kcal
  • Cottage cheese with chives (300g tub) – 176 kcal
  • Tomatoes – 96kcal
  • Apples x 2 – 142kcal
  • Mini gem lettuce x2  – 30kcal

Total – 656 kcal.

However – despite my intention to find a shady bench by a river somewhere to eat I was enjoying the walk so much I never actually got around to having any of it until I got home!

You see – it’s still a complete novelty to me to not only be outside on a hot day, but to be outside on a hot day walking briskly (with a heart rate between 105 & 120) and not being uncomfortable, drowned in sweat, hurting, burning and generally feeling completely miserable.

When it feels this good to be moving why stop?

So I didn’t. I just kept walking – and by the time I reached home with my uneaten picnic I’d easily nailed my daily 30 minute cardio target and more besides. My lunch had become a totally guilt free meal.

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This evening I’m making a beef stew – and as it takes a few hours to cook properly I’m going to make a start right now.

From what I can see internet the weather for the coming week has more of the same in store for me – and I can’t wait to get out there and make the most of it!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Davey

 

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 – but as my weight increased once more I stopped documenting it – clearly 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 – until 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 acceptedI 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 – as 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 – all 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. 🙂

Davey

Spock Pug

 

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Somebody said to me today during a conversation ‘when you eventually get married…’.

The words that immediately preceded this and followed it seemed largely irrelevant, as the core expectation was that I would eventually find a partner and settle down.

Its not the first time that people have said this in passing. Others have used platitudes like ‘I think you’re not in the right place at the moment’ or ‘when the right person comes along’ in much the same way.

I’ve often wondered if they feel sorry for me or feel a bit sad that I don’t have someone.

To be absolutely clear I’m not a lonely person. Sure, I live alone but that’s by choice. If I craved company I could move someone in tomorrow, but there’s no such impulse.

Years ago this wasn’t the case.

I couldn’t function outside of a relationship, and I genuinely thought the world would consider me to be half a human being if I couldn’t demonstrate that I had what it took to make someone love me and be in a stable partnership.

Since my home life wasn’t so great, and I came from a family that was at the time (for want of a better word) broken, the impulse loomed large at all times. I wanted to construct my own family unit, and I wanted prove that I could do it ASAP.

I never seemed to have a problem finding girlfriends – the main issue in retrospect was actually loving them, as I tended in my adolescence to go for the first one that seemed vaguely interested in me to be sure I didn’t miss the boat.

This caused a multitude of bad decisions and bad relationships – where if I’m completely honest I was way too dependant on the girls I hitched my wagon to.

Since I needed them to validate me I also needed the relationship to work. In most cases this was pre-sabotaged due to the fact that I went into the relationships for all the wrong reasons. When they fell apart, so did I – once again convinced that the world would see me as a failure and an incomplete man.

This ‘serial monogamy’ of lengthy hook up after lengthy hook up culminated in a really long relationship – only this one was unique, because for the first time I loved her deeply.

I couldn’t stop laughing when she told me jokes, and she was naturally funny. My sides would hurt all night I laughed so much. Her dark brown eyes and corners of her mouth showed such playful mischief when she smiled that I was entranced from the word go.

In the most mature way I could think of to get her attention and make her recognise I was a serious prospective mate I attempted to endear myself to her by throwing rolled up balls of paper at the back of her head until she noticed me.

When I finally scored a bullseye I heard the words i’ll never forget.

‘F**k off will you! You’re really getting on my nerves.’

She was mine.

Our relationship continued on much the same basis for some time afterwards, with several years of ham fisted attempts to show her how much I cared. We had a great many arguments and a great many laughs.

She summarised my wit and comic appeal one evening (shortly after i’d pulled her pyjama bottoms down for the umpteenth time while she had her hands in soapy dishwater at the kitchen sink) as follows;

‘You’re not funny you know – you’re just persistent!’

I never took it as an insult – in fact I rather liked the statement – as it summed me up in many ways.

One particularly long suffering (sci-fi hating) colleague of mine can attest to this. I tried to convince the whole office some years ago that he loved Star Trek by asking – no PLEADING with them to not talk to him about the subject since he was very embarrassed about people knowing.

Naturally people couldn’t help themselves, much to my amusement.

Over many years I have e-mailed, texted and messaged him sci-fi themed purchase ideas at every available opportunity. He’s always delighted and usually sends me spirited (although often monosyllabic) encouragment to underline our friendship.

Behind his single finger gestures as he passes my desk there is a deep common bond.

He has been made aware of Star Trek garden gnomes, Starfleet socks, Spock Pug Dog outfits (with matching bowl!), USS Enterprise cheese boards, Vulcan business card holders, Starfleet golf clubs, Phaser replicas that change the TV channel – the list is endless.

So she wasn’t wrong.

She was right about a lot of things actually, and I wish looking back that I had realised that at the time. I resented being changed – but failed to recognise that a great deal of the things that she was asking me to do were for my own benefit, and are among the things that I am still struggling with today.

When the relationship ended the silence was deafening. Not only did I feel I was a failure again but every experience, previously shared, was now half what it was before.

What was the point of reading a book if i couldn’t tell her about it afterwards? What was the point of going for a walk if she wasn’t holding my hand?

It took five years to properly get over the breakup. If I am completely honest only then could I sleep with the radio or television off, and only then did I successfully manage to migrate to the other side of the bed.

But something had been turned off along with the television. My own company had become ‘enough’, which was a major revelation to me. I was amazed that I no longer felt the stigma of being a single man, and the inner voices of related self condemnation were gone.

Now I live very differently – with the void she left now filled by friends, who I also love very much. Instead of her voice (which I focused on to the exclusion of every other) I now have a variety of people that I rely on for a variety of reasons. In many ways I feel like I am a much better person because of this.

So I don’t feel alone on my own, and I still don’t pine to replace her.

Maybe one day that will change – maybe when I have really become someone I’m proud of that will just happen of its own accord.

But I still can’t imagine myself married…

I mean. Like. Eeeeew.

Davey