Shared flamboyance

(Author sips coffee and sighs…)

February so far appears to be going pretty well.

Life is coming together very nicely – and with the possible exception of employment still being AWOL I have to say I’ve rarely been happier. This is more than mildly surprising because it’s fair to say that there was a time when I felt I’d never truly be accepted by the world or fit into it.

The truth is that I now feel a part of my surroundings and community in a way that I honestly never have before.

It’s never completely plain sailing mind you.

I guess it’s a feature of life (if it goes on long enough) that just when you think you’re sorted, on an even keel and have dealt with all of your demons that you find more of them popping out of the closet completely unannounced.

Amazingly – as painful (and deeply personal) as some of these can be to face up to – this time there is a significant difference. Now I’m not only, fitter, stronger, and more resilient – but I’m no longer dealing with them alone.

With a new relationship has come a gradual realisation that I no longer have to be the sole guardian of my self worth and belief – and that (in the same way as I hope I am in return) someone else now has a spare set of keys to my emotional vault.

That doesn’t mean they’re controlling of that element of me – it means that they are demonstrating again and again that they’re capable of not only enhancing but supporting me too.

Already I’m acutely aware that this is regularly making me think in ways that otherwise I would not have if I’d been left in splendid isolation.

It’s a pleasure (although sometimes also challenging) to see parts of myself that have been dormant for so long slowly whir back into life as I explore what it’s like to become ‘us’ rather than just ‘me’. Furthermore it’s great to have someone with many of the same – but also a continually surprising and divergent range of interests.

Again and again though I’m confronted with a pleasingly similar set of likes and dislikes.

I’d always thought in the back of my head that my taste in clothes (which is developing into a more colourful and flamboyant one all the time) would be a tough sell for a person that liked a more ‘buttoned down’ mode of dress.

All the designs I covet in shops however seem to not only meet with approval – but are greeted with enthusiasm – which is something I’m completely unused to.

Furthermore I’ve been introduced to a new set of clothing passions – which are (in some cases) things that I would never have previously considered – but now I find that I’m an ardent fan of as well.

Whilst I’ve never been particularly keen on high heels (the potential damage they can do to feet has always scared the living heck out of me) if they’re worn occasionally and they’re both unique and beautiful I find that I am inexplicably drawn to them.

At the weekend I was introduced to ‘Irregular Choice‘.

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Oddly a regular twalking buddy had mentioned the online version of this shop before – but until I’d walked through the physical door of its premises in Brighton I’d not connected the dots and realised that it was the same place.

As regular readers will know I’m a seriously thrifty person.

My charity shopping habits are a matter of public record and I don’t like paying high street prices. Something has to either be heavily discounted in a sale or ‘pre-loved’ for me to consider buying it.

This has enabled a lot of experimentation – and I’m still going through a ‘developmental’ period in this respect.

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However – there are some things that are so individual and beautiful that their cost is offset in my mind.

Sure – very little has changed in the ‘can Davey afford this kind of thing’ stakes (the answer is I cannot) but honestly there are some items that with the benefit of a regular income I’d definitely consider worthwhile.

Although I can wear nothing in this store (I saw no shoes at all for guys) it represents taste choices that I’ve never really considered – but that I suddenly love to bits. These shoes are the kinds of truly wonderful little pieces of art that I’d happily mount on my living room wall and admire from afar – yet they’re not much different in price from a pair of Clarkes or a mass produced pair of brand name trainers.

It blows my mind that I not only think this way – but that my opinions are shared. Not only is my experimental side okay but it’s suddenly something that’s being embraced with gusto.

Furthermore the nerdy geek in me (which represents a HUGE part of my personality) no longer feels the need to lurk in the background – which if I’m honest has not always been the case in the past.

Now when I linger peering excitedly into cabinets such as this there’s a murmer of approval nearby – and it’s nice to not feel like there’s any element of my personality that appears to need muting or modifying. The newly collaborative element in my life is also compatible when it comes other things too too – and thats great because something that I cannot do without is twalking.

This is so fundamental to who I am that without it I immediately feel like things are sliding in my life – or that I’m somehow heading for failure. It’s been so instrumental in my recent success that it’s forever going to dominate who I am as a person – and to know that I don’t have to hammer someone else’s square peg into my round hole is a joy that’s next to impossible to explain in words.

To know that when I’m navigating through a rainswept, muddy, miserable landscape framed by a grey sky with someone by my side that really doesn’t care what the weather is like as long as they’re outdoors is fantastic.

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It’s much better though when the weather is just right and you can enjoy a cloudless blue sky while you sit down to look at the view whilst you sip your respective flasks of coffee and tea.

This weekend I’ve been exploring Birling Gap and the Seven sisters a little more.

However on Sunday I started at the other end of their span (last time I began my walk in Seaford – link) and I’ve decided that not only is it a really pretty little part of the world, but that I’m rather falling in love with it.

Despite my amorous inclinations though it’s also rapidly becoming the place in the world that I’m most likely to fall on my ass.

Although I never mentioned it in my previous posts this is the second time when I’ve unceremoniously felt my legs slip out from under me in the chalky mud around these parts. This glue like covering on the cliffs and in the nearby estuary has the habit of gumming up the tread on your boots and making it much harder to maintain a reliable grip.

When it’s combined with ice (as it was in the shaded parts of the seven sisters on Sunday) then it can result in a sore posterior and wrists – both of which invariably take the brunt of any sudden downward trajectory.

Thankfully it seems that another major benefit of me being a lot smaller these days is that my arms and ass remain unbroken when this occurs. All that gets damaged is my pride or the material in the rear of my trousers.

I don’t care though.

Muddy pants and boots are badges of pride – and I actually find it quite amusing that recently I’m slipping and sliding more than usual. As I headed home with the sun slowly going down over Cuckmere Haven the event barely even registered in my memory of the day.

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My train of thought only moved on from the wonderful light and reflections when I started to think about what I was going to cook for dinner – which in this case was going to be for two.

This is a really positive new element in my life – because when I am preparing meals for someone other than just myself I eat noticeably less than I normally would when I’m on my own.

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Not only am I more likely to keep to plan when I’m in company but during such evenings I typically spend much less time trying to modify or deal with the inevitable impact of solitary ‘boredom eating‘ – which if I’m honest has always been a big problem for me. It’s something that’s never really changed in all the time I’ve been attending Slimming World – or since I reached target.

My evenings have at times been a wasteland of cottage cheese pots, Aldi Benefit Bar wrappers and plum seeds or apple cores. I’m no different to anyone else with dietary demons in this respect.

It’s never really been a case of whether or not I will go off the rails – but how much I can limit the damage when I do.

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Replacing this is a new push into making lovely meals that someone else can enjoy too – and thanks to many Slimming World food tasting sessions (and a willingness to experiment a little when they come around) I have a number of easy to make but delicious healthy meals in my cooking lexicon.

This ‘baked stuffed peppers’ example is something I first cooked (following guidance in a SW magazine) back in June 2016 (link) and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that likes its ingredients.

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I can confirm that it went down very well with its intended audience – and it’s so nice that this recipe is actually the reason that I started using 5% fat pork instead of beef mince in my chilli con carne.

It proved beyond a shadow of a doubt at the time that not only was it a significant upgrade from beef (I find that it’s far less chewy for one thing and almost identical in terms of calorie content) but the resulting taste was way better.

Furthermore its value (usually around £1 less than beef per 500g) seemed far more appealing because – since I cook a chilli every week without fail – this represented a saving of £52 per year – which for me is an entire week’s shopping in Aldi.

With all this good behaviour I’m well on track to being in target for my diamond member award – and last night when I attended one of Angie’s groups locally in Warwick I hit the weigh in nail squarely on the head.

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After nearly a month out of group gallivanting around the country I managed a maintain – meaning I’m still smack bang on my target weight. 

I’m still squarely in the middle of my target range – and this also means that the last entry in my book will hopefully be when I secure my diamond target member status.

I’m not sure I could have planned that if I’d tried – but when I do my Slimming World book will contain an entire and complete record of my journey from my first weigh in to this very significant milestone.

If you want to see the entire history of my losses (and occasional mis-steps) you can find them here (link) or have a look in my homepage menu.

If you’re on your own journey then I can’t overstate how important it is to keep a log of what you’ve done right (and wrong). If you’re following Slimming World I also urge you to take the time to update your progress online in the app or on their web page.

Their graphing tools have kept me on the straight and narrow throughout my time following the plan – and it never fails to fill me with a sense of pride when I see its variations slowly smoothing out into one long gentle curve downwards – followed by a (relatively) straight line.

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Looking at a history of where you’ve come from and where you’ve ended up – as well as recognising that sometimes things will go a little topsy turvey and that if they do it’s totally normal is a real help in times when you really don’t feel like you can be strong or focused.

Anyway – my day is ebbing away internet and I need to get walking. I can’t sit here talking to you all day long, regardless of how nice it is to catch up.

Let’s do coffee again later in the week x

Davey

 

Unexpected generosity 

My chariot awaits outside. 

Not in a ‘Cinders – you’re going to the ball!’ kind of way but instead in a ‘I’m really old car and you need to take me for an MOT‘ sense. 

At this time of year ownership of an elderly vehicle (she just turned 170,000) is less than worry free, and I’m hoping that there’s not much wrong – but at the same time simultaneously bracing myself for a financial kicking. 

However on the plus side it’s Saturday morning and I haven’t lost any sleep over whether I’ve dropped in weight or not. 

That would be silly. 

Instead I lost sleep thinking about all the things I need to remember for my new job and going over the training I’ve had so far in my head. 

Grrr

I think Friday nights and sleep just aren’t meant to go together for me. I’ve slipped into a routine over the last 16 months of being a crippled insomniac once every seven days and I really wish it would stop. 

Last night when I went to bed I was really tired too. I’d realised at the absolute last minute that it was a food tasting day in group and that I had no food in the house to make anything and no time to plan. 

If you’ve not been reading my blog since the beginning you’ll know I like these events and usually try to prepare something new (you can find recipies I’ve tried and previous events like this here) in the process probably putting more pressure on myself than there really needs to be. 

This resulted in me rushing around the supermarket late yesterday evening, agonising over what to cook that would fit in with my MOT at 9am (I have to walk two miles back after dropping the car off meaning less time to prepare) and finally ‘giving in’ a little and deciding on a simpler choice. 

Mini crustless quiches. 

I had finally prepared a batch by 11.30pm and went to bed, leaving them to cool overnight. These thankfully taste really nice chilled, are totally free on Slimming World and can be easily transported in Tupperware. 

When I cook these my fillings tend vary but this time they contained onion, spring onion, courgette, broccoli and chopped bacon medallions. These are all fried together on a low heat in spray oil for 10-15 minutes until soft but not quite brown. 

The ‘crusts’ of the quiches are two wafer thin slices of sandwich ham pushed into each muffin hole of the tray, whilst the filling is 6 eggs beaten together with half a tub of Aldi Quark. 

Pour the whisked mix into the ‘cups’ of ham in the tray (about 2/3rds depth) and then add a heaped dessert spoonful of the bacon and veg from your frying pan. 

Put the lot in the oven for 20 mins on a medium heat and then let them stand. Allowing the teeny quicheettes to cool overnight will result in a tray like this…

(Vegans please avert your eyes)


If readers haven’t tried these before then I heartily reccomend them. They keep for days in the fridge and they’re great for packed lunches or salads.

(Author pauses to agonise about the potential for progress on the scales)

So – how do I think I’ve done this week?

Well the answer as always is ‘I haven’t a clue’. 

I’ve not had any ‘bad’ days, stayed within my ‘syns’ (apart from being a little over on Saturday thanks to some hi-fi bars) or not had any at all on some days. I’ve also stuck to my usual daily 1700 – 2000 kcals. 

From an exercise perspective over the last 7 days I walked a total of 77 miles and 157,000 steps back and forth to work or around parks and fields. 

If anything my (smart and brand new) 42 inch work trousers already feel a bit looser around the waistband – so I think I’m still trimming up. 

But results on the scales? 

Hmmm I don’t know…

Anyway – it’s time for a shower and an MOT (for the car. I’m not having an MOT in the shower. That would be silly…)

(Drops car off and finds a short cut on the brisk walk home to save half a mile!)

Unexpectedly I’ve arrived back with time to make some potato wedges, so at least it looks like I’ve made an effort!


I like to season these with smokey paprika, roughly chopped garlic, and dust with salt and cracked black pepper. Then I liberally coat them with spray oil all over and bung them in the oven spread out on a tray as flat as possible. 

For the sake of cooking time these are actually closer to chips than wedges but they tasted niiiiiice!

(My chippy wedges took about 35-40 mins on high in my (gas) oven if you’re wondering… I used to par-boil them but I don’t do this any more.)

Well – group went well – and there were some lovely foods brought in by other people to much on!

Thankfully I could do so without guilt today because I managed to drop another 2.5lbs and also got slimmer of the week! 

Yay!


While we munched each other’s snacks we all voted for the woman of the year for our group – and I think it’s fair to say that although sadly only one could win they were ALL worthy recipients of praise for persistence and effort – and their stories about their weight loss efforts were both touching and heartfelt. 


One of them also wore some strikingly alluring footwear – which (despite her often saying otherwise) just reminded me how much her confidence and happy inner self have come to the surface since I first met her. She always makes me want to keep going and keep trying – and regardless of how she occasionally feels she should remember that inspiration is a two way street

My group is full of such nice people! They all get together every week and share the good and the bad without any judgement whatsoever and I love going there.

It really sets me up for the week ahead!

It seems that this week stories weren’t the only thing being shared however – and at the end of the group Angie gave me a carrier bag with a virtually brand new fleece in it from a really really generous guy in the 8.30 group that takes place before mine. 

He’s a regular reader of the blog on my Facebook page and always supportive with his comments, so I’d like to publicly thank him for his kindness.

It fits perfectly and came at just the right time!


He didn’t know this when he gave it to me but 5 minutes before my group started I’d been called by my garage and informed about my MOT failure. 

It wasn’t the apocalypse – but this is all relative. When you have no spare money and a while until your first pay cheque every penny counts. 


Bye bye £360 and hello new brake callipers and pads. Still – easy come easy go, and this is infinitely preferable to my brakes failing

Whilst I don’t have a paycheck NOW I will have one soon. 

Besides (although we all need it) over the last 18 months I’ve been reminded time and time again that money is irrelevant when you are surrounded by good people and you’re focused on putting good vibrations out into the world for everyone else. 

Of course, the best vibrations come from being caffeinated and at the moment internet I have waaaay too much blood in my coffee stream

While I attend to this emergency (with a four mile round trip into town to remedy the imbalance) I hope that you too are suffering an embarrassment of interpersonal riches in life – and that for every time you trip there’s a hand there to help you up and set you back on your way. 

Davey