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

2017 retrospective (part two)

(Part one here)

July

The seventh month of the year is a big one and starts with me in unfamiliar territory.

My teens.

I haven’t managed to time travel to the 80’s – instead I’ve just about managed to creep into the 19st bracket, and I’m fighting to stay there.

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My efforts to power through small slump this are self evident though – and I decide that it’s time to¬†really¬†see how far I can go. One morning (for no reason other than to see if I can) I decide to get up and walk from Warwick to Solihull (link).

It’s fifteen miles and I’ve never tried to go this far in one day before.

Although it was essentially just an exercise in determination and distance this was and still is a very important achievement for me Рbecause it truly meant that there was practically no-where any more locally than I could drive to and get stranded in (a big fear in my mind that was always with me) because of weight related mobility issues.

If my car ever broke down in Solihull and I needed to I could now walk home.

Transitioning mentally from a man that originally couldn’t walk to the end of his street to one that could walk to Solihull was both profound¬†and¬†emotional. Even more upsetting though, during the journey my Apple Watch was pronounced sick and in need of repair.

I leave my fallen comrade with Apple and I’m without it for over a week.

At home I’m still working on the garden and have finally managed to turn it into a welcoming (rather than impassable) space.

My ongoing dissatisfaction with items in my house also results in the death (by hacksaw) of an old armchair and the purchase of an Ikea Poang chair – which is a step in the right direction – but also something I’m too scared to sit on in case I break it (link).

As I continue to prepare for Snowdon I look for more challenges – and revisit Burton Dassett via a longer walk from Avon Dassett (link).¬†I’ve also got Apple Watch back, and although the gap without it has left a big hole in my stats I couldn’t be happier.

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An important milestone arrives when I suddenly realise that I can now get into charity shop clothing – and I buy my very first wearable item from one (link) a Penguin jacket (which I was reliably informed was rather trendy).

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I take this item of clothing (and quite a few others) to Snowdonia where on Saturday July 22nd at around 19.5 stone I climb Mount Snowdon with a friend (link).

It’s one of the proudest moments of my life – and is both very emotional and extremely symbolic. I’ve come a long way – and it’s a superb reminder of how much can be achieved!

Mostly because of this strenuous activity Supercoat (which is now way too big for me) is given to my father (link).

I’m also suddenly in 40in waisted Jacamo jeans (link) and shortly after getting my 15.5 stone certificate I also climb Thorpe Cloud¬†(link).

August

The start of the month is excellent (link) and my HbA1c level has now dropped further to 28. My diabetic nurse tells me that if I was re-tested at that point I would no longer be diagnosed as type 2.

My diabetes appears to be in full remission.

I’m once again preparing myself for a potential return to work by buying interview clothes. The physical changes since the last time I went about this around six months before are readily apparent (link).

On August 14th I start another job (link) in the hope that¬†this time I’ve made the right choice. It’s different mainly because I can walk to it – so therefore I can build exercise into my every day routine without feeling like it’s unnaturally forced.

Initially my feelings about the job are really positive and I’m happy. I take the long route to work whenever possible and I’m loving how fit I feel.

I’ve come a long way in terms of body confidence too and have started posting comparison shots like this on Instagram to spur me on.

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It’s working – because by mid August I have my sixteen stone certificate and my the end of the month realise that I’ve walked (since April 2016) the cumulative distance from San Francisco to New York(link)!

September

The weather in September is¬†great¬†and although I’m working again I take advantage of it as much as I can in the evenings and weekends. I’m wandering over hill and dale with my camera and trying to capture as many pretty things as I can.

Quite out of the blue an unexpected watershed moment arrives on the way home from work and (as has happened many times in the past due to my weight) I get abused by a bunch of teenagers whilst walking through the park.

However – instead of calling me a fat c**t as I pass by (a previously preferred moniker such people had for me) they instead all shout ‘BALDY!’ (link) in unison – both stunning me and leaving me with a lot to think about.

If¬†they don’t see me as fat any more and the worst they can come up with is an insult about my hair line –¬†do I now look ‘normal’?

I’m forced to admit that my self perception is now seriously at odds with reality – and to further underscore this I slowly approach a significant ‘Rubicon moment’ (link).

I’ve slowed down a little – but I still have my 17 stone certificate.

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However – not all is going well – and once again I realise that the job I’ve chosen isn’t for me. I decide to leave (link) and once again I don’t know what this says about me to my friends or what it means for the future.

Without warning again I feel like a complete failure.

Something does manage to cheer me up towards the end of the month however – and I attend something I booked with a few friends the year before. It’s an event I probably couldn’t have gone to easily when I said yes to it – but my hope was I’d lose enough weight to make it a reality –¬†and I did.

I’ve always wanted to go to EGX gaming expo at the NEC but was never fit enough to stand for the time required or capable of comfortably walking the distances required around the NEC.

When I finally made it I really geeked out!

October

Largely because of a my own sense that I was losing my way a little with my diet October was dominated by #onplanoctober (link) which kept me on the straight and narrow.

I calorie counted every last morsel of food that passed my lips for the entire month.

If I’m honest this really tested the limits of my patience – but I’d promised that I’d do it – and by the end of the exercise it paid dividends¬†because in the space of 5 weigh in’s I managed to lose 16.5lbs.

Mid way through the month I get my 17.5 stone certificate and I’m also handed a little cardboard bauble for a Christmas tree. I write something on it and then largely forget about it…

This also means that my Rubicon moment has¬†finally arrived — and on the 7th of October I’ve finally lost more than I weigh. I make myself a Club 50 award. Over half of my original body weight has now gone.

img_4882In the first weeks of the month I start speaking publicly at Slimming World meetings (link) about my weight loss. In total I do nine of them in Warwickshie – and they’re all a humbling experience – but also¬†very¬†rewarding.

To see how far I’ve come in the pictures I pass around and hear the gasps in the room when I put on my old clothes is quite emotional.

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I also return twice to (the now colder) Malvern Hills¬† (link) and Ilmington Downs (link) for more attempts at both – and I’m struck in these locations by how much easier things are getting.

Although I still have weight to lose I’m pretty darned fit at this point – and I barely get out of breath on the ascents.

I finally get around to compiling a list of non-scale victories (link) which I read to my friend for the first time and both of us start crying. In response to this I realise how important the recognition of these accomplishments is and I make a regularly updated site page (link) and add something new each time it occurs.

By October 28th I’ve lost a staggering 28 inches from my waist (link) and my photographic diary of February 2017 to October is showing some serious progress.

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Furthermore I’m also able to fit into my very first LARGE items of clothing (link) and ever since I mention the word¬†LARGE at every opportunity I get. This means that since getting into a LARGE I’ve said LARGE a LARGE number of times.

November

November kicks off with me getting an 18 stone certificate and a Mr Sleek award – which is a bit embarrassing – but also a really nice pat on the back!

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My public speaking has also been received positively, and because of it I’m offered some work at a local company in a temp role – which comes in very useful as it manages to stem the outward flow from my bank account and promises to make Christmas a little less daunting.

On the 6th of November I start my job and find that (being something I’ve never done before) it makes me feel quite alive. I also get to walk 3 miles there and three miles back every day which means that I can keep up my now regular average distance of 10 miles walked per day (link).

It’s getting colder though and it’s not only the floor thats frozen – my hands and feet are too.

I keep up the walking however – partially because I rather like my new place of employment. I like it enough in fact to apply for a permanent position at the company (link) for which I’m accepted.

It’s also another thinly veiled excuse to dress up for a job interview, which underscores just how much I’ve started to enjoy clothes shopping and looking smart.

It’s my new thing!

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November ends with another first and I meet a fellow blogger (link) who comes to visit for the very first time! I have a real live internet friend with a face and a body and everything!

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December

The final month of 2017 finds me in an unusually festive mood and after no small amount of agonising I decide to do something for the first time in my adult life.

I buy a Christmas tree (link) and I put my little October cardboard bauble amongst it’s branches. It’s hastily scrawled words are now a reality!

I’m also now officially into 36in trousers, meaning 30 inches have been lost from my waist’s starting point.

I get my 19 stone certificate (link) on December the 9th – which is quickly followed by another unusual event.

I go dancing (with Angie and my Slimming World group) for the first time since the 90’s – and I have a fantastic time. All in all I’m on the dancefloor for around two and a half hours (completely sober) and I’m so pumped and full of energy I virtually skip home afterwards!

December seems to content to keep supplying me with firsts as well – and on the 14th I’m featured in the local newspaper (link).

img_1078This is followed soon after by an offer to appear on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio (link) which is very exciting indeed (it’s due to happen¬†this Friday 29th December at 10-10.15am) – but for some reason I’m more preoccupied with my washing machine – which is completely broken.

Priorities eh?

That pretty much brings us up to date. I had a fab Christmas – and after discovering earlier in the month that I suddenly love red (link) and wearing geek things I did pretty well for presents!

So – thats 2017 almost at a close!

I hope you enjoyed reading the second part of this retrospective as much as I did writing it internet! Join me again in a year (if you’re not already sick of me) and we’ll see what comes out of the next twelve months!

Thanks for sticking with me – it’s a genuine pleasure to write something that people like to read and comment on.

You guys and gals make it all worthwhile xxx

Davey

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

Mirror images

I’m feeling rather low today and I’ve had hardly any sleep.

I’ve been walking around and drinking coffee for hours and hours and if I’m brutally honest I wish I had something a lot stronger to quench my thirst.

This is one of those times where I question why I’m writing about myself. I don’t know if in doing so I’m being stupid or courageous when I write about what I do or how I feel.¬†I guess only time will tell. It’s probably a bit of both.

As I edit and check this post I’m worried that it will paint me in a bad light (mostly because that’s at least 50% of the way I view myself today) but paradoxically I still have a need to put it on the page. I guess I feel that If¬†I write down how I feel and I’m not completely truthful then there’s no point doing it in the first place, so I decide to do it anyway.

So, firstly – the reason I feel down.

My new job has ended.  

I wasn’t pushed. Once more¬†I jumped.

This morning I left my employment agency’s offices after a 30 minute long chat where I (politely and carefully) voiced a lot of frustration that I’ve mostly kept to myself so far. I spoke at length to the manager of the branch about why early this morning I’d walked a few miles to their office instead of my workplace and handed them my ID badge and resignation.

He listened very patiently and carefully and after I’d finished he shook my hand.¬†I left feeling like over the last two months I’ve just made the same mistakes in life all over again. I think I’ve tried once again to re-create elements of my past and been met with something that doesn’t work the way I wanted it to.

I feel stupid – and that I should have seen earlier the reality of the kind of environment I was stepping into – but I didn’t. I focused on the fact above all else that I could walk to work and tried to focus on all the positives while I was there while tuning out the negatives.

Writing about what I decided to do this morning leaves me feeling very conflicted. I’m honestly worried that my actions may seem outwardly to friends and acquaintances like leaving employment is becoming something of a habit for me and that I’ll appear flaky or unreliable.

I hope it doesn’t – but I can’t control that. It is what it is.

It would be disingenuous of me to go into detail about my company, their actual¬†working practices (as opposed to their public ones), individual personalities that I’ve brushed up against or the full reasons why I left, so I won’t do that. Without a right of reply that’s unfair and unprofessional.

I will say that I wasn’t alone amongst my peers in feeling that what I was sold in my early days of my training wasn’t the reality of the environment that I ended up working in. I ended up quite surprised about how quickly the feeling that something was wrong became very acute for several of us after our initial (very positive) impressions in early August.

Honestly I think the only difference between me and the remaining people (three of the others left before me) is that I feel I’ve already wasted far too much of my life to be unhappy and stressed in a workplace – and when I see the potential for that happening in spades then I now have to act.

It all came to a head in a meeting yesterday where I felt a colleage was treated (as I and others had been at different times too) quite poorly. When I left work yesterday evening I was 90% certain that I wouldn’t be returning.¬†Just in case I didn’t come back I emptied all of my personal effects from my locker into my bag and walked home in the pouring rain feeling like a complete failure.

I’ve felt that way for most of the day – but it’s also mixed in with a sense that I’ve probably done the right thing.

The big issue for me though is that while I’m making great progress physically in life I’m once again feeling adrift and uncertain about my future and my career.¬†I’m also angry because I keep saying to myself (and to others) that I want things to be different – and that I want something truly new – but then I always stop just short of it.

The reasons are a mixture of fear, self doubt and no small amounts of uncertainty about what I need to do in order to move on in life.

What I do know is that the guy that sits here typing now is in some ways still alien to me. A few years ago (mostly because of his physical and mental immobility) he would have stayed right where he was, telling himself endlessly that what he had in front of him was all that he deserved and that it was the best that he could expect from his future.¬†He’d have stayed put because deep down he was convinced he couldn’t cope elsewhere and that he would fail if he tried.

Some of that fear he had¬†still exists and I’m dealing with it today. It’s making its presence felt as the voice at the back of my mind telling me I won’t ever succeed. There is however another, kinder voice (that never used to exit) that’s struggling to be heard -telling me I deserve to be happy and that I shouldn’t compromise – that I’ve come too far to just settle.

I twalked with my brother today about my decision and as I did we discussed what I might do instead in life. He sipped thoughtfully on a pumpkin spiced latte (which it turned out he hated) and we chatted idly about the absurdity of many of our common hang ups.

As we shared what was going on in our lives and our feelings about the past (and our childhood) I was struck by how alike we can be. Often I think we find ourselves duped by circumstance into thinking we’re moving in different directions when in reality we’re going the same way but just choosing different methods of transport.

Then we passed a little alleyway.

We stopped talking as we walked into it and both looked at some graffiti on the wall.

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‘I’ve walked past that face for ages…’ He said ‘but until we passed by today I’ve never seen the other face next to it.

I looked to the left of the image of the woman with blue stripes, and there was another, mirror image bordered in red. The nose of the woman curved the same way, the hair fell in almost the same patten, and the line on the chins of both was clearly meant to be a reflection.

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Then my eyes were drawn to the love hearts on their jackets.

Although there was clearly an attempt to create a mirror image facially no such care had been taken with the pattern on the clothing Рand I realised that the image on the right had larger, fully formed hearts that appeared to be well rounded and even growing. On the left they seemed smaller and more indistinct.

Then I began to look at the lips of the one with the red border.

Were they slightly more pursed? Was she scowling just a little more?

What if both of these were intended to trick the eye and to seem to a passer by not paying attention that these two faces were the same, when in reality they weren’t?

What if this was the same face, changed by life – and outwardly like the person she’d been before but internally either harder or softer.

Was the red banded woman before or was she after? How had she changed? Why was she different now?

Of course, the woman is a mirror – but the reflection is mine.

That wall is me, right now. Different in so many ways yet still not quite understanding how different Рor indeed quite what to do with the changes, and how to fit into the world with them driving my choices.

If anyone wants me internet you’ll probably find me under a duvet still disappearing up my own backside trying to figure it out…

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

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.’

(Link/Credit)

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

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

 

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

Fluff. Everywhere.

I’m hideously early for my job interview, I haven’t slept much due to thinking endlessly about it and the weather is absolutely awful. I’m also soaked and my car is parked in a place where I may have a ticket by the time I get back.

However I’m in an oddly good mood.

I awoke this morning to several texts from people wishing me all the best and other blog related comments from readers (old and new) on various posts that put a smile on my face.

As I sit in reception with my big yellow visitor’s badge (it has a HUGE ‘V’ on it) hanging around my neck watching the minutes tick by I’m actually still thinking about yesterday’s post.

At the time I wrote it with one particular friend in mind – but it seems to have resonated with many others as well – and once again I find sitting quietly in my various inboxes confirmation that fundamentally people are good. If you send positive vibrations out into the world then they tend to come back like boomerangs.

In the case of blogging it’s often deferred though – and people will read things that you wrote quite a while ago – when you may have been in a different mental space.

The consequence of this is that when you least expect it (and often when you are most in need of it) someone will say something positive and maybe even¬†mention that they feel the same or that you’ve helped their own journey by sharing your thoughts.

I was reading and commenting on one lady’s musings¬†on weight loss yesterday (you have to give support to others as much as you can) and her heartfelt, fragile feelings poured onto the page¬†managed to take¬†me right back to the start of writing my own blog – and the fears that I had of the unknown.

She didn’t know who she should tell in her family and friend circles about her weight loss plans and was agonising over an important and life changing decision. I felt exactly the same when I began – and her words¬†brought back all of my own memories of the moment before I clicked ‘publish’ for the first time.

What would people say when I exposed my innermost feelings? How much abuse would I get? How humiliating would it be? Would they judge me? Would I be trolled?

Furthermore – why was I throwing myself willingly into what I expected was going to be a bear pit online when I already regularly received verbal abuse in public?

Completely unexpectedly 99.9999% of everything to do with my blog has resulted in nothing but positivity and friendship – and before I go into my first job interview since December 2000 (which is pretty scary) almost nine and a half stone lighter than I was I’m reminded of all the good that’s come from the choices in my life lately.

Being honest about who I am and what I feel to a wide audience has become one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life. It’s as simple as that.¬†Whatever happens in the next hour or so I am moving forward all the time. Every day gets a little better, even if sometimes it feels like it’s millimetre by millimetre.

Apart from having to wear a tie. I haven’t done that for a decade or more. It¬†just feels odd. I haven’t made my mind up about THAT yet….

(Time for my interview… Please amuse yourselves in the meantime with this rare picture of me captured in the wild wearing a silk strangler. Cue elevator music.)

(hours pass)

Well – the interview seemed to go well – and for the most part I think I managed not to embarrass myself in front of the guys who were asking the questions.

As this was my first experience of a competency based interview I have to say I feel I repeated myself a few times – and I’m not 100% certain that I answered all of their queries¬†satisfactorily, but you never know. They seemed like nice people anyway so the experience if nothing else serves to remove some of the fear of the unknown that’s been in the back of my head regarding the whole process of job hunting.

The building was surprisingly nice too. I’ve been working in very different surroundings for quite a while. This office in contrast to my previous one was very modern with a massive central atrium and loads of natural light with glass conference rooms and shiny lifts. I couldn’t help thinking that it would have made a great place for a selfie – but I doubt that hanging over the balcony taking one would have endeared me to a potential employer. I resisted.

So – we shall see.

In the meantime I am COVERED in black fluff. A thoughtful and already much loved Christmas present from a friend managed (before I realised what was happening) to shed black fleecy fluff all over my house, which in turn ended up all over the interior lining of my jacket and soft furnishings.

I tried to remove it all with a lint roller and the hoover the night before last – and thought I’d managed it – but it appears not. Thankfully I didn’t take my jacket off in the interview otherwise they’d have noticed that my shiny new white shirt was absolutely caked in black fur!

This evening therefore I’m on fluff patrol, and will do my level best to eradicate the scourge of fleecy dust bunnies from my house and clothes.

I’m sure you’ll agree I live a rock n roll lifestyle. I amaze myself sometimes at just how on the edge and dynamic I can be!

Tune in next week internet while I clear crumbs from my work surfaces with a damp cloth, and polish my dusty window ledge. It’s gonna be a blast!!!

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

Psychological victory

A psychological victory is sometimes way more important than a physical result. To feel that you’ve done something that you believed not so long ago¬†couldn’t be achieved¬†or crossed a threshold that previously seemed insurmountable is a moment to be savoured.

People who have known me for a long time will know that I often avoided competition. It’s not that I don’t like to win, but I have often found it difficult to deal with the emotional¬†consequences of something that I perceived as failure. It’s impossible to fail if you don’t try though – right?

Because of this approach I’m so unaccustomed to ‘winning’ that it still feels really alien to me when I realise that I actually have.

Thanks to the twin miracles of blogging (absolutely everything that passes¬†through my head) and my Slimming World book I know that when I last saw some of the people I’ve worked with¬†for 16 years (emotional blog here) I had lost three and a half stone.

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I’m really glad that by then I’d started taking photos – because I also know exactly what I was wearing and how I looked on that day.

I can now compare that to a photo taken last week. This wasn’t snapped¬†by me – but candidly by someone else holding a camera pointing at me while I wasn’t posing. It was in Starbucks after a walk in the cold which is why¬†I look all rosy and flushed.

There’s definitely a lot less of me.

Honestly I couldn’t be happier with how this makes me feel. I’m drawn more than anything to the changing shape of my face, and the re-emergence of features that havent been apparent in photos or my bathroom mirror since I was in my late teens and early 20’s.

For so many years I avoided people that I cared about endlessly because of the embarrassment of appearing larger than I was the last time that I saw them in person.

Given that I was capable of putting on a stone a month at times the difference that they were eventually faced with was often profound – and although everyone was always very polite and kind you can still tell where people’s eyes linger, and it makes you feel intensely vulnerable.

Ladies aren’t the only ones who have¬†trouble with people unable to maintain eye contact. I also apparently had quite alluring cleavage…

So – the truth behind today is significant.

If I was the same man now that I was a year ago right about now I’d be making excuses about why I couldn’t go tonight to¬†see people I care about.

But this, powered by nothing but my own determination is what the scales said today.

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On the 19th of October when my ex-colleagues started organising a Christmas get together I privately told myself (and a few select others) that by the 10th December (the date of the meal) I would have lost a total of nine stone.

If I follow the small print of the mental bargain that I made with myself I didn’t quite make my target of nine stone, but I’m not stupid enough any more to let that bother me.

I’m one pound shy of having done it and by any measure this is a¬†colossal psychological victory.

The number I chose was¬†honestly a bit immaterial – It was just a figure I guesstimated that I was capable of based on my average weekly losses. I’m no longer in the business of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This aspirational aim¬†was more related to keeping myself on track and maintaining my average weight loss during a difficult period.

Anything that I can use as a driver for this is something that I grab with both hands, and in this I’ve been drawing inspiration from fellow dieters and bloggers.¬†My Slimming World Facebook group is very keen lately on what they call ‘non scale victories’ and I thought it would be good to outline some of them¬†here.

These (in no particular order) have happened since I last saw my friends.

  • I was unable to sleep on my right¬†side in bed back then. Now I can sleep on whichever side¬†I choose and no longer wake up in a panic because I think I’m suffocating.
  • Through my blog and people that I have connected or re-connected with on my journey so far I’ve added many people to the list of those that I would cause friends – and I would have to say I’m pretty certain many of them will become lifelong ones.
  • From¬†the end of July to now¬†I have walked approximately 600 miles in my efforts to shed my weight.
  • I’ve overcome Plantar Fasciitis, two torn calf muscles and shin splints caused by my weight and still persisted with my¬†walking.
  • I’ve more than halved my diabetic medication – and I’m working on trying to lower this even further. My hope for the future is that I can control my type 2 diabetes from diet and exercise alone. Currently I am not even on the ‘diabetic blood sugar range’ chart in my¬†doctor’s office. I’m consequently 43% less likely to have¬†an amputation or death related¬†to my condition.
  • I’ve dropped from the 7xl shirt and 60in waisted trousers I was wearing on that day to a 5xl and 54in (I started in April at 8XL and 65in)
  • I can now fit into other people’s cars and taxis. I couldn’t in July.
  • I had a bath for the first time in about 8 years – I simply didn’t fit in one before.
  • I can now walk a mile in 19 minutes exactly. A lap of the park previously took me about 40 odd minutes and in July I’d only JUST become capable of doing two laps (here).
  • At seven stone I had lost AN ENTIRE FRIDGE FREEZER.
  • I’ve taken an absolutely epic amount of clothes to charity and have helped other people by doing so.
  • I haven’t had an¬†alcoholic drink for 318 days – and tonight I’m the designated driver.

There are other things too – some still too personal to put into words, that are both physical and emotional.

The point is that I’m going to go out tonight and I shall be walking into a¬†room for a meal with people I love to bits (I’m having a chicken salad – I ordered it in preparation a month and half ago!) feeling confident and for the first time in years holding my head up high.

That, internet, is why today is a massive psychological victory.

Anyway – time to go. I have to iron my shirt and¬†I’m going to do it dancing around the ironing board while listening to this track – because I feel frikkin epic!

Davey

 

Hardy Cowell

I really really hate clothes shopping.

I know that it’s not something that’s unique to me but it’s still something that I find stressful and mortally disappointing.

I decided today that I needed some interview clothes after trying on my current (inadequate) pairs of trousers. Although they fit there’s very little about them that makes me feel confident, and that’s a big part of going for any job interview. The waistline of my existing ‘smart’ trousers sits (for want of a better way of describing it) not far¬†under my boy boobs and I feel I appear¬†rather ridiculous.

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I have a kind of Oliver Hardy crossed with Simon Cowell thing going on at the moment and it’s not a good look.

Initially I went shopping with the idea of getting a bargain basement suit, but it seems that anything that fits around the waist in terms of jackets also carries with it a length that’s vaguely similar to Harry Potter’s cape.

In my admittedly downbeat and often distorted view of myself this pretty much paints a sign on my forehead that says ‘THIS GUY IS WEARING ABNORMAL OUTSIZED CLOTHING‘.

This may seem odd to some readers as all of my clothing is the same size Рbut trust me when I say that when it comes to suit jackets that will fit my waist they come with arms that appear to be made for a gorilla.

All of the corresponding trousers in contrast seem to have been modelled by a fat giraffe.

A few people have suggested (given my lack of funds) that I try charity shops for such items and¬†I’m absolutely not proud or snobbish when it comes to clothes. As long as it looks good¬†I really don’t care where they¬†came from – but looking through 2nd hand shops today has simply proven to be¬†a lesson in how to make¬†me feel utterly miserable.

The biggest size I found in any of the nine¬†charity shops I went to in Leamington were at least 10 inches too small in terms of trouser waists and I’m not going to get started on how ridiculous it is trying to find a shirt that’s even vaguely close to my size.

I’m also now firmly convinced that anyone that’s donated a tie to charity lately is an ex Religious Education teacher who retired in 1978. The only matching items¬†I could imagine going with the ones I found were either brown tweed jackets with leather elbow patches or a merciful gallows scaffold.

In the end I spent over ¬£100 on new clothes (I didn’t get a jacket in the end) that just make me feel angry. I’m annoyed because I’m left with the sensation that¬†I’ve had to buy things¬†that I feel I’ve (through necessity) just compromised on.

They’re not bad clothes. They look quite smart in their own way actually, but I instantly hate them because they present me in a light I’m really really uncomfortable with.

Primarily I think it comes down to me tucking my shirt into my trousers.

Sounds stupid right?

Well – as I’ve been in a pretty relaxed work environment for many years I’ve not had¬†to do this for many years. Even back when I started my previous job my ‘waist’ was an anatomical likelihood rather than a visual reality. I haven’t tucked my shirt into a pair of trousers for a decade and a half and I’m absolutely hating the reality of how I look when I do.

I guess though that this would be a million times worse if I hadn’t made the progress that I have. I probably wouldn’t have been¬†ABLE to get any the items of clothing that I have today – so for that I’m thankful.

I guess what I’m trying to say (in an admittedly rather downbeat way) is that there are times that I feel my endpoint is light years away and that I’ve struggled and made so much effort for ALL THIS TIME to just get close to where I was before, and I have to do it all again and more besides to get to where I want to be. At the moment success¬†seem very far away in the distance.

Anyway – enough of feeling sorry for myself. I need to just accept it for what it all is.

Gradual and continued progress.

Instead of stopping off at the kebab and cream cake shops on the way home I dutifully stood in my kitchen chopping up a prawn and tuna rocket and carrot salad when I got back, which despite what I really wanted to do was the right call.

Sigh.

I really wish that I didn’t have moments like this internet. I’d love to have limitless and un-dentable confidence. I wish that all the time I could look in the mirror and just smile – seeing the inner me rather than the guy¬†whose trousers button up just under his chins.

Maybe tomorrow.

Davey

Frosty Jack

Perspective is often the only thing that separates us from feeling depressed and feeling elated.¬†I’m sure that in 99% of cases it’s simply a choice in life to feel positive or to feel negative – and I continually TRY to choose the former.

This morning the sun was shining and even though it was bitterly cold outside I was very much looking forward to the two mile walk to the Jobcentre for my new bi-weekly work hunting progress check. Sure Рthe destination kind of sucked Рbut it was a great excuse to get up really early, prepare some food for the slow cooker, make some sweet sweet nectar (coffee) and go out into the big wide world.

The walk immediately underlined how much of an idiot I can be when I’m hard on myself about properly resting an injury. When I do I still end up thinking that it’s some kind of ‘failure’. I can quickly tell the positive difference that rest makes when I have a few days off – and I definitely noticed¬†an added spring in my step when I started out.

Last week security at the Jobcentre had taken issue with me drinking from my flask of coffee on their premises (it’s a potentially lethal weapon in the wrong hands it seems) so this morning I arrived early and sat over the road on a wall to¬†finish my beverage¬†before my appointment. It also enabled a nice little moment¬†of relaxation whilst listening to some chilled Jazz¬†and contemplating how¬†nice and blue the sky was.

On the next wall along another guy was performing a similar ritual and completing the last dregs of a two litre bottle of Frosty Jack strong cider before going in. He seemed to be looking down at his feet rather than up to the cloudless sky, and appeared to be utterly miserable.

I’m pretty sure that his perspective on today was radically different to my own – and the expression on his face spoke volumes. The words¬†on his bottle mirrored his expression completely and he looked like he expected the absolute worst from his day and from anyone that he was likely to meet.

I’m relatively sure that with this kind of start he was almost certainly going to achieve¬†those expectations, and wondered how much just choosing to be happy rather than miserable¬†would have changed his day.

Although it wasn’t on my mind before seeing him next to me I couldn’t help but thinking of a motivational phrase that I KEEP coming back to¬†and wondering¬†how much it might change his life¬†if he just accepted it – even for a few minutes.

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Sure Рhe may well have significantly more serious personal issues than I can discern from just briefly observing him Рbut I know from intimate experience that disappearing into one kind of oblivion or another only serves to perpetuate any underlying problems.

I wonder if there was something magical that I could have said to him at that particular moment in time to make him decide to view life differently? I know it took a long time for me to change my view of the world, and a pretty significant event to make it happen. I wish that I could distill all the pain, joy and clarity of that moment when I began to modify my perspective and explain to him the feelings behind it with all of their context and history in one simple sentence.

If I could I’d deploy such a sentence¬†in¬†moments like this because it’s desperately sad to see someone that seems so shattered and despondent – especially when you feel so different.

I put my now empty flask into my rucksack and left him to finish, crossing the road to the job centre. I couldn’t help but noticing the signage again. It had stuck in my mind last time¬†and when I’d first seen the languidly hanging and missing letters¬†it confirmed all of my worst fears¬†about how depressing and unhelpful this place was going to be.

It looks as unloved and dishevelled as it seems possible for a sign to be.

However, the sign has nothing to do with the people within and my case worker has so far seemed really nice and very positive.

I went in, said ‘hello’, asked her about her week and outlined¬†what I’d been doing to find work whilst she browsed through my application history. Before I knew it I was done. We both smiled at each other and I left to continue my day.

It seems from her demeanour and probing that I’m making much more effort than maybe some of my peers are¬†and that I’m filed currently in the ‘not a problem’ bracket, which suits me just fine. So far I’ve applied for quite a lot – but not yet heard anything back.

It’s early days though – so we’ll see what time brings. I’ve just done another two applications whilst sitting on my laptop in a coffee shop and I’m pleased with the day’s progress so far. Something good will happen soon. I can feel it in my bones.

In the midst¬†of all this positivity though I’m getting into my usual ‘it’s Friday and I’m nervous about standing on the scales’ mode¬†of thinking. This involves me continually trying to evaluate in the back of my mind whether or not I’ve done enough to ensure a loss or not this week.

Honestly I can’t call it at the moment – although that’s nothing new. I never can.

Since most of the week has been without walking (and in the past my activity appears to produce results that are deferred rather than immediate) I can only speculate.¬†Despite everything that’s been going on recently I’ve still managed to ‘not eat all the pies’ though which is a big win in itself.

I’m actually really rather proud of that.

Maybe one day I’ll develop a more relaxed frame of mind about whether I’ve lost weight or not but at the moment I’m still driven and obsessed on a daily (and often hourly) basis with it.

Anyway – enough of naval gazing. What will be will be¬†Internet and since I can do little more to influence it I’m going to enjoy strolling around some more whilst¬†making the most of a beautiful cloudless blue sky.

Davey

 

43% less likely to suffer amputation or death

It’s very early days for my job search but¬†I’m already becoming increasingly aware that it’s going to be a big test of mental fortitude.

Since I started looking for work I’ve been trying to regiment myself so that I do something each day towards finding something¬†but I’ve found it very hard to look at job vacancy after job vacancy and focus on the things that I feel I CAN do as opposed to the things I can’t.

When I was first made redundant it seemed to me that it wasn’t such a big deal. In my mind’s eye I looked back to the jobs I did as a younger man and I didn’t really see any issues with doing pretty much anything to make ends meet.

In the past I’ve done a variety of things many might consider menial jobs, but at the time – regardless of their sometimes¬†repetitive nature I rather enjoyed the majority¬†of them (even though they didn’t pay very well). I’ve been a barman several times, worked on a supermarket checkout, been a warehouseman, stacked shelves, unloaded articulated lorries, photocopied (and accidentally shredded) architecture plans, cleaned houses, sold internet services, sold PC’s, made¬†cold calls (which was my most hated job – I left it with nothing to go to) delivered newspapers, been a pub doorman (very very briefly and I was terrified) and cared for people with learning difficulties.

In my mind this meant that I really wasn’t concerned with what earned me money – I was prepared just to get on with it.¬†The problem was that I hadn’t really thought too much back then about what this REALLY entailed.

Uniforms for one thing.

I can’t get in to anything lower than a 5XL at the moment. While getting down to this¬†is a massive achievement in itself (since I started at 8XL) it doesn’t help me when it comes to thinks like being a postman.

Those that know me from my previous job may¬†think that when I say postman I’m being flippant – as it’s very different to what I used to do. However when a friend suggested it to me not so long ago it kind of lodged in my brain. I realised I could now actually do a job that meant constant exercise and get paid to stay fit! It sounded absolutely perfect!¬†I looked immediately at the Royal Mail website when he said it.

Nothing but seasonal sorting staff.

It was then that the uniform question first occurred to me. When I worked at Sainsburys years ago this was already becoming an issue – and I lost count of the number of pairs of trousers that ripped right up to the belt seam from crotch to butt when I was bending over to pick up a box.

I also have a problem at my current weight with the ligament in my left thigh. It’s fine if I keep moving (which is one of the reasons¬†why I like walking) but if I stand still¬†in one place for too long it’s agony. This not only rules out being seasonal sorting staff but irritatingly also¬†bar work, where I may not have needed a uniform.

This all leads me full circle back to the kind of job I did before (in an office) which is better paid than all of the above, and uses my brain rather than my legs. However, trying to find something in the area that I want and the location that I would like may be a challenge.

There is though something locally I’m very interested in and I’ve already contacted the people to enquire¬†twice. If I hear nothing soon I’m calling them to introduce myself and trying to get a foot in the door. It’s easily within walking distance and I could do the job (from what I can see online) standing on my head.

It’s also close enough to walk home and let a dog out at lunchtime, which opens up entirely new life possibilities…

In other news my shin splints appear to be on the mend. I haven’t felt pain for a couple of days now, but I’m trying to be sensible about the whole thing and keep resting. Honestly though I very much doubt I’m going to manage a whole two weeks. I’ve agreed to go for a walk on Thursday not because I have to but because I really really need to.

While talking to a friend today I questioned how I ever managed to be upbeat and happy in my old life. Maybe in retrospect when I was it was all artifice or self delusion…

Currently I’m so itchy to NOT stay within the confines of my home¬†that my day quickly becomes a failure in my head if I don’t get up and do something. My mood has become directly related to how often I get out and what I do while I’m out there. Simply sitting in my living room is no longer enough and I don’t want it to ‘satisfy’ me ever again.

But…

Despite how temporarily deflated looking for work can make me feel I have to look at my feelings of dissatisfaction about the content of my day as major progress. Everything that I want to do in life (and am looking forward to doing) requires further change, more impetus, continued effort, lifelong commitments and a willingness to improve myself in almost every respect.

I can’t help but focus primarily on my health though – and my diabetes is something that is always in the back of my head. I’ve seen quite a few grim documentaries lately (a recent BBC Panorama programme was particularly horrible) about the long term effects of a badly managed type 2 condition. They frankly leave me feeling terrified.

My results have been good though and I’ve already stopped taking my Glimepiride (with the doctor’s approval).

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve also been dropping down on alternate days from four to two Metformin (I’m supposed to have two in the AM and two in the PM) and wondering what if anything it would do to my blood sugar readings.

The answer so far is absolutely nothing. ‘Normal’ is between four and seven mm0l/L and today¬†I’m testing at 4.6.

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The chart above is from the diabetes.co.uk pages Рwhich are a very useful resource of information on the condition (here). This current number is still putting me well below the levels at which (if I was unmedicated) I would be diagnosed as diabetic.

I’m sure if I stopped the pills altogether there would be a different result – but I want to see exactly how much I need in combination with my improved diet and exercise to remain stable and in the ‘normal’ range.

So, while getting a job may be a pain in the ass in the short term, in the long term at least I can be

  • 19%¬†less likely to suffer¬†cataracts
  • 16%¬†less likely to suffer¬†heart failure
  • 43%¬†less likely to suffer¬†amputation¬†or death due to peripheral vascular disease

All of which would make finding suitable employment INFINITELY harder…

So – today has been all about keeping my eye on the prize and remembering the bigger picture, especially when the fridge is constantly soooooo close that I can almost smell its contents.

Hopefully tomorrow I might get a reply from an employer internet – who knows! If not tomorrow I’m sure it will be soon. ūüôā

Davey

Phishing and old jeans

It seems that at times I’m still my own worst enemy. Even after all my progress lately I’m¬†at times (irritatingly) prone¬†to looking at the worst aspects of my¬†life¬†and feeling glum¬†about things when deep down I know I have a lot to be grateful¬†for.

I suppose that this week’s darker mood has been coming for quite a while. For one reason or another I think I’ve not really confronted the reality of being made redundant since it happened. My focus has instead been elsewhere, and pointed almost exclusively toward my health and fitness.

Everything else has been a secondary consideration.

Such single minded focus (whilst useful for losing weight) is a double edged sword sometimes. Whilst I’ve made big¬†inroads towards where I want to get to in life from a health perspective, sometimes I’m still emotionally¬†very fragile. My growing (but fledgeling) self confidence can easily be dragged down, and when this happens (annoyingly) it’s usually ME that does it rather than anyone else.

After my ‘walk’ around Ryton Woods on Sunday I’m also again suffering with an injury to¬†my leg that’s stopped me going out and it’s not helping my positivity.

Once more I chose to ignore the pain and walk through it, and once more I’m having to learn the hard way that I can’t do things like this. It just ends (like it did walking with my friend on Tuesday) in¬†a situation where I’m literally hopping in pain by the side of the road as¬†I inevitably pull/tear whatever it is in my shin that has decided that it doesn’t want to play ball¬†at the moment.

So once more I’m confined to the house, and once more it’s hit my previously positive frame of mind like a sledgehammer through a pane of glass.

All this has been compounded by registering for unemployment benefits recently and having to lay myself bare before a government department in an interview in order to get a weekly handout.

At least that’s the way it feels to me in my current frame of mind. I’m not ungrateful for the support, and the lady I spoke to at the Jobcentre was actually very nice.

I’m just not used any more to being told what to do by officialdom, and I’ve managed my own affairs for so long that I dislike the sense that I have to rely on them for anything. I resent even more the need to account for my daily whereabouts and availability.¬†However, it’s a price worth paying and is the reality of the process I’ve embarked upon to find another job.

My initial feelings about the available jobs locally are¬†ones of dismay. Although there is no part of my mind that doesn’t believe I will¬†find a job eventually the whole process of putting my CV out there and applying for positions¬†is providing fuel for¬†the worst elements of my personality. These are the parts¬†of me who (if left to their own devices) will convince me that my worth is much much lower than it actually is.

To compound my less than stellar¬†feelings about myself yesterday I fell (partially) for a phishing scam after signing up to multiple job sites. I replied without thinking to a e-mail about a role locally which seemed like it offered good money. It¬†turned out instead to be a scammer¬†pestering me over and over to open dodgy attachments in order to view ‘the role’ which would allegedly pay me ridiculous amounts for doing next to nothing from home.

Although I realised what was going on before opening any of the documents (which would no doubt have installed trojans and other nasty things on my computer) this moment of stupidity compounded some already pretty downbeat thoughts about myself and feelings about the whole process of looking for work.

Primarily it made me feel stupid and more than a little bit alone just at the point when I was trying to focus on my sense of self worth and suitability for a position of responsibility.

I guess this week I’m probably feeling personal isolation more acutely than I have for many years, and it’s not pleasant.¬†In reality I still have excellent support structures around me and great friends – but all of a sudden I have begun to feel a bit like it’s me vs the world.

I don’t like writing about this, and regular readers will note that my blog has been quiet this week. I also don’t want to¬†appear as if I’m moaning or feeling sorry for myself. However when I don’t write people soon start¬†asking me (which is lovely and I’m very grateful it happens) if I’m ok and what’s wrong.

I went for a coffee this afternoon with just such a friend who closed our conversation today with ‘I look forward to reading your blog.’¬†I suspect this¬†meant (in the most supportive and nicest way possible) ‘get back on the horse and pull your socks up.’

It’s good advice – and as always I only hurt myself when I hibernate. However¬†if I’m going to write about it I’m also going to try and counter my downbeat side by attempting to¬†draw the positives out of my week.

Firstly I haven’t gone off plan with my diet. Although Saturday and Sunday were both days where I ate out, the meals were all accounted for and in target. I’ve maybe eaten a bit more than I should at the start of the week but I’ve made up¬†for that with soups and good home cooking ever since.

As always I don’t know what the scales will say tomorrow but I’m hopeful they will be kind to me.

Secondly I’ve¬†also been going through my old clothes in an effort to order my wardrobe and decide what’s now junk to take to charity and what’s current. Just for fits and giggles¬†I tried on my old 66 inch waisted jeans. I contrasted them with the fawn coloured pair below which are a 54 inch waist.

(Apologies for the grim lighting. Blame the eco-lightbulbs in my house. They save the planet but don’t help with smartphone photos!)

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It does make me sit up and take notice when I look at changes like this – and enables me (at least in part) to remember¬†that even though I might feel a bit low now, it’s absolutely NOTHING compared to how low I would feel having to go and look for work at 34 stone 8.5 pounds when I could hardly stand up, let alone walk to the Jobcentre.

Thirdly – I’ve started the process of getting another job. Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and mine has to begin somewhere. I may not feel it yet but what I’ve done this week has all been positive and ALL of it is part of a process that will improve my life and future.

So, here’s hoping that tomorrow’s weigh in goes as planned, that my CV will eventually spark interest in a local employer (I’d ideally like to walk to work in the future rather than drive), that officialdom will be kind to me, that my leg will improve, and that it will finally stop frikking raining outside.

Onward and upward internet!

Davey

Capitalism 

I was talking to one of the lovely ladies from group outside Slimming World this morning and for some reason started comparing my weight loss mentality to capitalism.

It felt like an odd thing to say when it randomly fell out of my mouth but as I expanded upon the metaphor and thought about it while I walked home it made more and more sense to me.

Capitalism is all about growth. Share prices have to get bigger, everything needs to endlessly expand otherwise it stagnates and falls apart. Sometimes even if a company is successful it can collapse under the weight of unfulfilled expectation. Nothing ever appears profitable ENOUGH.

Although growth is not my aim, continual losses are – along with a weekly increase in exercise. It always has to be a little more.

Sometimes¬†I feel like I’m going too fast, too far, too soon. I feel (even on¬†a day where I’ve had¬†success on the scales) that I’m doubting everything and that nothing ‘feels’ right.

I joked with the girls on the weigh station today that this week felt like my ‘star week’.¬†This is a term used by the ladies to delicately refer to¬†their monthly cycles – although it took me a while to cotton on to this.

Initially when they referred to this clandestine term I thought that all of their children at the same school might be in a talent contest and that was the cause of their stress and worry.

I have since been enlightened by those with insider knowledge that this is not the case. Now I’m one of the gang and I’m privy to their code.¬†This week I’ve felt bloated, at times very emotional, down, tired and currently utterly drained.

I don’t know if this is just my ‘capitalist’ approach to things and whether I’m driving myself too hard or not. As I said to my friend outside group this morning, I don’t think I know anymore what ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ looks like when it comes to exercise and weight loss.

I think my blisters might have something to say on the subject. If they had a voice they’d tell me to take a day off and relax.¬†If I had my way though I’d walk further EVERY day, eat less EVERY day, loose more weight EVERY week and just be practically damn perfect.

Angie said in group a couple of months ago that after 10 years of beating herself up (even as a Slimming World consultant) she feels she’s finally gotten to the place where she no longer does. I envy her a lot.

Never failing is a fantasy and I don’t know why I judge myself so harshly¬†about what I’m doing. Sometimes even when I’m succeeding a voice in my head berates me because deep down I feel I should somehow be achieving¬†more.

I don’t look at other people and think the same way – so why do I do it to myself?

This doesn’t apply to everything. Some things can get stuffed. I’ve been searching endlessly this morning for a reason to not tackle my garden and despite my imagination usually being quite good at things like this I’m drawing a blank.

My friend is coming over to help me shortly and ensure I don’t chicken out.

The question remains though – why can I look at some things and totally not give a toss – but with others get completely obsessed to the point of exhaustion both mentally and physically.

I suppose the easy answer is that weight loss and fitness have become vitally important to me whereas grass and bushes¬†never have been and probably never will be. I don’t care frankly how long or how wild¬†they are.

I do care (and feel unjustifiably peeved) that today I came within half a pound of my seven stone award. I lost four and a half pounds.¬†I’m annoyingly near. Another half a pound and I’ve officially lost¬†a fridge freezer.

This book and its numbers have become all consuming.

There’s no denying that this is¬†definitely doing me good overall. Despite feeling a bit glum today I’m faring¬†better in almost every aspect¬†of life because of it – but sometimes I don’t know whether or not my obsession¬†is entirely a good thing.

It’s great because of course I’m loosing lots of weight but not so good because at times it occupies my every waking thought and I simply can’t switch off.

If I’m not doing something related to Slimming World I’m thinking about doing something related to Slimming World. If I feel I’ve deviated or failed to make forward progress in Slimming World then¬†THAT becomes my thought pattern. Either way it’s on my mind from the crack of dawn to sunset.

I always step on the scales every week fearing the worst and with a sense that I haven’t done enough.

I don’t think I’m very good at focusing on things, but historically I’ve found that I AM good with¬†obsession. If I can direct it to positive endeavours (like weight loss and exercise) then it can be extremely useful – but left unchecked it can become something very bad and can affect my mental state.

Part of me wants to just take a week off and say ‘sod it’, but the logical side of me knows how it will make me feel when I step on the scales in another seven days and I haven’t made forward progress.

I feel rightly or wrongly that what I’m doing isn’t something that I can just take a consequence free vacation from. In the absence of currently having a job this has become my ‘work’.

I can deal with not getting up to drive to an office if I’m getting up to exercise, getting up to shop for good food, meeting a friend for a walk¬†or going to collect my repaired boots so I can go further distances and lose more weight.

Or doing the garden. Which I’m going to start¬†now. My friend will be here shortly.

(Mate comes round, garden is tackled, green bin is filled with brambles and bushes, further large piles of chopped up greenery are made for disposal, and some outdoor order is restored. Author feels a lot more positive.)

You know what? Tomorrow is another day and I’ll think about whatever it has to bring when it arrives. I can’t control it and I can’t foretell what it holds.

For the rest of the day I’m going to relax and stop thinking about losing weight. I’m stressing way too much and it’s absolutely pointless. If it doesn’t happen tomorrow it will happen the day after. It’s a marathon and not a sprint.

The garden looks much better, and after working and talking about ‘stuff’ I feel 100% more upbeat.

People are ace. I love being around them. They¬†just make everything better. Friends even more so. Good ones patiently see through your self deluding bullshit and lead you back to the light. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Just when I’m (again)¬†disappearing up my own ass over thinking stuff one appears with gardening gloves and pruning shears and we set about physically restoring order and calm to the chaos of the ivy and brambles that make up my hedges.

The real world, tackled, slowly, methodically and with help and conversation. What could be better?

It’s very therapeutic – and it’s also a good reminder that what I’m doing at Slimming World is not done alone. Every step I take is with the support of someone saying something positive – and knowing that other people I admire go through exactly the same processes in their heads.

Feel free to give me a slap internet. Sometimes I need one.

Davey

The Dalek and The Electric

I love a slow burning film. No Country For Old Men style plodding noir is something I can get completely lost in.

You have to be in the right mood for one though, and I woke up today feeling refreshed and ready to meet the world on my own relaxed terms. I wanted to go on a little trip to somewhere languidly nice, and I had just the place in mind.

Over the last month I’ve gotten maybe a bit too used to a life lived at the pace of my own heartbeat, and to the hours of my day dictated only by my sleep cycles. Lately they seem to vary between really really short and quite long – which I guess is just my body taking as much as it does or doesn’t need.

Oddly this seems a bit hedonistic, and has caused me to feel strangely guilty. I’ve been used to getting up for work for so many years that a perverse situation has developed after being made redundant where I actually feel bad about sleeping well and getting up when I’m not tired any more.

Maybe it’s this guilt that’s driven me to go outside so much and push ahead with my plans to get fit. It feels when I do this that at least one part of my life is structured and that I’m making progress.

Today (primarily for this reason) I decided that I’d build on my previous trip to Birmingham by NOT driving to the train station outside of Warwick and doing the whole trip under my own steam. It’s become REALLY important to me that I remove as much reliance on my car as possible. Proof positive that this is happening  can be found in the fact that after three and a half weeks since my last fill up my car still has over half a tank of petrol.

The plan this morning was that I’d go to Birmingham to see ‘Hell or High Water‘ at The Electric powered only by feet (and a couple of trains). However this was not the ONLY thing I wanted to do. When I went to Birmingham the last time I hadn’t realised (until a few people pointed it out to me on Facebook and WordPress) that the Central Library hadn’t been nuked altogether – it had been replaced with a modern one in Centenary Square.

After getting off the train and purchasing my tickets early at the Electric box office (saving 45p by not booking online ūüėĄ) I wandered off to the library via theTesco Metro behind New Street. I managed to hit the reduced food counter at just the right time and got a bottle of water, some cooked salmon, ham and a few organic apples for breakfast and lunch.

I hadn’t really planned to eat it anywhere in particular – and knew nothing about the library – but as I got closer I realised there was a balcony half way up and people seemed to be wandering about up there, looking down at me.

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My initial lukewarm feelings about the ‘marmite’ external aesthetics began to mellow. It looked quite nice actually and was slowly growing on me.

It grew on me LOTS more as I progressed inside.

If you’re no fan of vertigo (I was ok but tightly gripping a LOT of barriers and trying not to look straight down!) I’d advise that when you visit you focus on the stairs or the lifts and avoid the escalators. These appear to delight in showing you the ground floor, no matter how high you go up. From some places you can see from the top almost to the bottom.

It does look stunning though. It’s a fantastic space designed for quiet contemplation and exploration. I LOVE IT!

The outside decked and seated area was a bit breezy today – and was one of the reasons I don’t miss the old days and having flowing golden locks of long hair whipping me to death.

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I used to look a bit like Thor. True story.

The views were expansive – but I think ‘developing’ is probably the best way to describe the vista. Birmingham appears to be undergoing open heart surgery.

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From what I can see on the various billboards the results will be impressive – but it’s hard not to feel a bit conflicted about this re-generation at the cost of ¬£500,000,000 when so many doorsteps surrounding some of the city’s iconic spaces are full of the homeless, begging, sleeping, or just looking depressingly lost.

It’s disquieting to say the least – but I don’t think it’s a new problem. I remember this from when I used to come here as a young man. Somehow the poverty back then seemed like it ‘fitted’ though, and almost went hand in hand with the run down looking Digbeth coach station and the concrete eyesore that was New Street and the Bullring.

Maybe it’s a testament to how much has been done to structurally improve the centre that this rampant homelessness now seems so jarring and out of place.

On the way past lots of big issue sellers was the mailbox – providing a sharp contrast to the consequences of economic austerity with the exclusive shops and concessions contained within.

Oddly this space seemed also affected by recession, and appeared partially drained of life and commerce, with the lower floor almost appearing as a modern art installation. Two enormous bespoke benches were flanked by almost no shops and I felt like I was in the bottom of the Tate Modern rather than a mall.

However, my temporarily moody view of the world faded when I noticed on the third floor in the reception area of the BBC studios there was a Dalek!!! 

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It’s difficult to explain why to someone who doesn’t like Dr Who – but seeing a Dalek makes me feel like a five year old. I almost skipped through the front door into the BBC reception and started taking photos, much to the amusement of the security guard, who asked if I wanted to see a TARDIS.

‘What?! No way!!! You have a TARDIS? Where?!’ I said, managing (I think) to maintain an air of adult calm and composure.

He pointed at the lift. It was painted to look like a TARDIS.

‘Oh.’ I said. ‘The lift.’

I took a photo of it to make sure he wasn’t disappointed.

‘No – if you go upstairs in the lift there’s a TARDIS.’

‘Woohoo!!!’ I replied (further maintaining my grown-up demeanour) pressing the button and taking photos of the TARDIS LIFT DOOR OPENING!!!!

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I headed upstairs and sure enough there was a full sized TARDIS, and some iconic character heads, including Davros!

After a few more photos I went back downstairs to the security guard, who smiled knowingly at me.

‘Happy?’ He said – his arms still folded and his legs slightly apart in the standard security guard pose.

I really really really am!‘ I giggled and grinned like a Cheshire Cat as I left the building.

The next stop (via a bizarre Starbucks for coffee where all the baristas were dressed like cowgirls) was The Electric Cinema.

The atmosphere here took me right back to picture houses of old and I instantly felt that spending money here was worth it – just to keep this slice of history alive. The Art Deco touches, hand made slices of cake at the box office, the quirky cocktails, the old style tickets and the plush red velvet seats oozed history and charm.

I’d been looking forward to this for AGES and I wasn’t disappointed.

I had booked a front ‘sofa’ – which was in reality an armchair, and not a particularly wide one at that.

However, when I look at seats these days I still tend to view them with the mindset of a man who has not lost any weight. This seat some months ago would have been a BIG problem. Not any more though. Sure – It was a little ‘fitted’ – but also felt comfortably ‘snug’.

I had the front row to myself so I put my feet up on the leather pouffe and chilled out.

The film was excellent, and the cinema going experience was about as close to perfect (in my humble opinion) as you’ll get. Plus I made my way there under my own terms with no car and no feelings that anything was a strain.

As I type I’m on my way back to Warwick on the train for the last part of my walking, the mile or so back to my house, and we’ve just reached my stop.

Back in a minute. 

Well – now I’m home, and I’ve been looking at my activity log. Today was a busy one from a walking perspective – and I’ve been keeping a close eye on what Apple Watch has been counting. I’m very confident indeed that its stats today reflect real world effort.

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There has been some interesting discussion (after my request for input on my last post) regarding my walking and whether I should take the Apple Watch figures and add them up to count toward my virtual walk along the length of the U.K.

No-matter where people shared their thoughts the common themes in the feedback were ones of huge support and positivity about my progress – which I’m always thankful for, as it really does help when there’s such spirited and well meaning energy being thrown at me from all directions.

I have decided to take the figures as they are – even with their margin for error and count them toward my goal. Every month I’ll add up the totals and see how close I am to virtual John o Groats.

At the moment – since I started Slimming World (from April to August inclusive) I have walked 349.5 miles.

Although there are slightly different figures everywhere for the true distance on the internet I’m following Wikipedia which says the distance by road (roughly around when Ian Botham would have done it in 1985) is 847 miles.

I therefore have 497.5 miles to go.

Piece of cake internet. I can do it, and I’m going to have a lot of fun along the way. You’re welcome to join me for the journey, although I might stop a few times on the way. Man can’t live without coffee and the cinema after all…

Davey

 

A milestone via Old Milverton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is why.

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

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

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

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

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

Davey

Boris and the swanling

It appears that murky foreign powers may not be getting the plans to a fully operational Death Star after all.

Elderly power walking oriental lady with neat hair, whom I had previously suspected of nefarious intentions today finally acknowledged me after a month or more of me grinning at her, saying ‘hi’ and nodding as we met¬†each other in the park.

Hello she said (and nodded!) as she walked past me, lifting her hands in sweeping motions to chest height with each stride as she passed.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

It was a victory for persistence as far as I was concerned. The power of smiling had finally won the day, and I must now conclude that she probably is not spying after all on our communal recreational spaces to determine their offensive military capabilities.

She was gone almost immediately – for a moment leaving in her wake¬†the usual faint sound of loud Oriental music from her headphones – but she couldn’t take it back. I had scored my vital ‘hello’ and given her a big grin in return.

Tick in the win column!

Today my park walk was unusual.¬†Up until now I’ve been very much running my own race – and have been more than a bit self conscious about the frequency of my breaks or being out of breath, so my laps have been a solo activity.

Now though things are easier. I can talk and walk (slowly) at the same time – and as such a social element is now becoming possible.

My good friend and his hound (Boris Рa French bulldog that some may recognise from previous blogs) joined me today a short way into my walk. It was REALLY nice to have the company, and watch his pooch sniffing flower beds and checking out the other canine honeys as they trotted past.

Boris is absolutely stuffed with personality and has the most expressive little ears!

As we all strolled my usual route I commented that the park was full of what I now see as ‘the usual faces’, and mentioned that the familiarity of meeting these people almost adds a family feel to my activities, even though so far I’ve been alone.

The pink Lycra wearing ladies with dumbbells arrived half way through our second lap and were (as usual) loud, proud and delightfully enthusiastic as they strode briskly past us – saying hello, noting we hadn’t seen eachother for a while (they need to get up earlier!) and enquiring what was in my flask.

‘Coffee!!’ I replied with a big twitching caffeinated grin.¬†‘What else would I have?!’

However Рthe absolute cherry on the cake today was a sighting of the final remaining swanling Рwhich followed us as we walked along the river at exactly the same pace. It was gliding in and out of the lilly pads and reeds by the bank looking for food and occasionally ducking under the water to forage on the river bed.

He/she is getting REALLY big now and isn’t that far off being as large¬†as its parents.

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This remaining swanling appears to have become something of a tiny phenomenon amongst my small readership Рand (quite rightly) people who regularly follow my tubby exploits do not refer to these delightful creatures as cygnets any more.

Subscribers to my blog have reported sightings of others in Stratford, further down the river in Warwick and even waaaaay further afield in the south of England. One nice fellow even sent me a picture of his local swanlings after following them with his son in a boat!

They’re so cute!!! Fingers crossed that these survive!

Today the solitary heron in the park was also out and about. As usual it wasn’t particularly keen on me getting too close – and (maybe because of Boris) took flight as soon as I moved into its comfort zone. Thankfully I had just started slow motion video in time on my phone and got a really cool little shot¬†again of it taking flight.

It’s got really majestic wings and flies so low across the water its almost like there’s a wire or rail underneath it!

After a couple of laps we headed off for a drink, and sat chatting for a while about life and writing (I am toying with the idea of trying to put together a book) as my friend ate a rather delicious looking melted cheese baguette.

Boris looked very interested in what I had to say on the subject, and I’m sure was about to interject and discuss with us some insightful thoughts¬†about character and plot development, as well as sharing his own detailed experiences of constructing a compelling narrative.

Sadly he instead became intensely preoccupied with his master’s¬†sandwich before he was able to impart¬†what I’m sure would have been some incredible literary revelations.

Maybe next time Boris…

Shortly after he and my friend left I sat writing for a while and going through the photos and videos on my phone, deciding which to use on my blog and wondering what to do with the rest of the day.

Then, the phone rang. It was the charity that I’d applied to do some work with a few weeks ago informing me that they might¬†have¬†found an appropriate situation¬†that I could help with. They would like to hook up with me early next week to discuss some health and safety info and then get me started.

Yay!

I’ve been really looking forward to this – and although it’s not many hours a week I am hoping it will enable me to do something good in the local community, and¬†make people happy in the process.

Who knows internet – if I like it (and if they like me) maybe there’s more I can do – and it might¬†even spark some thoughts about what will come¬†next in life.

Only time will tell!

Davey