Epic

My initial response to my weigh in today was that it was ‘brutal.’

I said as much when I texted the galling news out to various interested parties.

They all responded supportively (as did my lovely SW group) and without exception started to re-frame the narrative for me and provide words of consolation.

In the words of one dear friend however it wasn’t brutal.

It was instead ‘epic‘ – and on reflection I think I prefer her wording – because whilst my gain can’t really be looked upon as a entirely positive trajectory it can (in the great scheme of things) be termed a victory of sorts.

It’s been three weeks since I last officially stepped on the scales and things have clearly changed.

However my victory comes not from the result scribbled in my book but from the attitude I have towards it.

I sat smiling throughout my group knowing that firstly yesterday morning (before eating pretty much all of my shopping stuck in various traffic jams for around four and a half hours on the way home from Sussex) I was weighing in at 15st 2lbs.

Therefore this isn’t all a gain that’s ‘real’. It’s the cumulative impact of lots of carrots, ham and plums.

It’s also related to several rather nice (reduced) Waitrose salads that disappeared at Oxford services around tea time.

I blame the evil woman with all of the little yellow stickers that compelled me to impulse buy all of the nice things and I blame the traffic for boring me into eating like a porky pig all afternoon!

However I’m not getting too bent out of shape about this.

I could have gone to KFC instead and experience tells me that the impact of this little blow out will be gone fairly soon.

Secondly I’m no longer Man of the Year.

This doesn’t make gaining weight my new goal, and it definitely doesn’t make it ok – but it DOES mean that when I slip up I no longer feel the added pressure to be perfect.

I’m just me, going to a group (relatively) anonymously again and having to look for support rather than being an example of relentlessly good behaviour.

I wish yesterday hadn’t unfolded quite the way it did though.

Irritatingly until then I’d been totally on plan all week and had been preparing and consuming wonderfully speedy meals for two every day while I’ve been down south helping my partner with her packing.

(These are baked stuffed peppers – which I highly recommend – the recipe is here link)

In some ways though my gain has been totally called for because I’ve done a lot less exercise recently due to being busy rather than active.

My right shoulder has been giving me problems ever since I pulled it three weeks ago carrying shopping and it’s not been quite right ever since.

It’s not like me to be kind to myself and rest up – but this time (having learned the hard way) I decided to just back off and stop pushing myself so hard.

Swimming regardless of the pain in my shoulder wasn’t going to repair a damned thing. In reaity there was more of a chance it would make my recovery even slower and until I hit the pool this morning it had actually been over a week and a half since my last swim.

Even though I’ve been doing less, in all truth I’ve carried on eating like a man swimming around a kilometre a day.

Regardless of whether or not you eat good or ‘bad’ food you can still eat too much of it.

I’m back on the case now though and with regard to my swimming my pace has thankfully only dropped a teeny bit since I last went.

I might be heavier but my cardio fitness is still there!

So – what else have I been up to?

Well – truthfully I’ve been relaxing a little over the last couple of days.

There’s still a LOT to do with regard to the move (there’s only 6 days to go!) but there’s only so much packing and stressing a boy (or girl) can take – and as such my partner and I disappeared to Brighton on Wednesday and then caught up with family and friends on Thursday.

Brighton was amazing – and on (almost) the hottest day of the year so far we wandered up and down the beach, stopping only to drink tea and coffee or admire the endless beach and blue skies.

When it got too hot we found shade behind some gabions on the beach covered in local photography.

There’s also a really cool little cafe on the prom near the i360 now which is a really amusing little bit of architecture.

I can’t help but admire the way that Brighton manages to be a little bit left-field, even in the traditional seaside cafe space.

There’s plenty to geek out to as well – and a mooch around the snooper’s paradise market is absolutely guaranteed to make a certain Dr Who obsessed person a little perkier.

(If you want to imagine a voice over to this picture it’s basically ‘got this, got that, have the audiobook of that, that’s good, got that, want that…’ etc etc etc.)

I also found a pair of dungarees that a I knew certain fellow blogger would love – and I wasn’t wrong.

It took a mind bogglingly long five minutes for her to order them online from the moment that I sent through a photo on WhatsApp!

She’s slipping lately.

I would have expected a much faster turnaround previously.

As well as bee themed clothing being a thing in the shops (they seem to ‘bee everywhere’ ūüėŹ) it’s also getting close to pride week and consequently everything is a little bit more rainbow ūüĆą than it usually is.

I just love the inclusiveness and diversity that this brings out in people and the vibrancy of the clothing that it promotes in Brighton.

It just makes me happy whenever I’m surrounded be people just letting it all hang out and being completely truthful to who they are inside.

In the spirit of the place (and because I probably need to get a sun hat – my bald noggin got absolutely frazzled on Wednesday) I couldn’t help but try some alternatives a little outside of my usual comfort zone…

As well as rainbow hats I couldn’t help but marvel at all the beautiful shoes (and shirts) that the town has to offer – and thankfully it doesn’t take much to get my partner to have a look in Irregular Choice.

I can never quite figure out whether I’m dragging her in there or whether she’s dragging me….

The pair that grabbed my attention this time around were more suited to her than myself – but I love the clear sole and the pattern underneath (although I gulped when I saw the price – hence the rapid thumb movement!).

(Link to Instagram video of them)

I’m also quite taken by a pair of pumps in Schuh that I really think would suit my other half – but again at ¬£75) they’re outside of my current comfort zone.

Every time I see a pair of Adidas superstars like these I’m transported back to the 80’s where I’m sitting watching (in black and white because we didn’t have a colour tv when I was little) Run DMC’s video with Aerosmith of ‘Walk this way’.

(Skip to 2.32 for the bit where they walk down the stairs in their bright white superstars! I just LOVE this moment!!!)

The pair I picked up are slightly different though. They have some really funky pearlescent stripes which add a cool ‘zing’ to their retro look when you see them moving.

I think they’re great – but are they worth the price? Personally I think not – but then again I’m pretty frugal.

Thankfully so is my other half so we left empty handed rather than £75 lighter.

We have more than enough to collectively shell out for at the moment with the upcoming move – and I’m really aware all of a sudden that I don’t want to make any impulsive purchases that aren’t needed.

It’s a bonus that we’re completely aligned in this respect.

This afternoon, when I was listening to a radio four trailer for a programme called ‘the money clinic’ (it’s on next Saturday link) I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief that this is the case.

There’s so much conflict to be found in relationships with regard to money, the lack of it, the way it should be spent or because one half of a partnership is more materialistic than the other.

I know from experience that this can be really damaging over time.

In a previous life I had a serious mis-alignment with a partner about how I should (or should not) spend my money and it caused more than a little resentment to develop between us.

It was also the reason for more than a few arguments and prolonged periods of frosty silence.

In many ways I tentatively entered my current partnership half expecting many of the issues I’d previously encountered in past relationships to once again be present.

Part of me assumed that it was only a matter of time before I found something that worried me, and I’d convinced myself before we met that a huge amount of compromise in any relationship was just a hidden reality waiting to make itself apparent.

I was certain that I’d never be able to be myself and that I’d only be accepted if I played a part rather than be truthful about what I needed and who I was.

When I began to fall for my partner I was ultra diligent (having been burned before) about looking for what I call ‘smoking guns’.

By this I mean that without fail every time I’ve had to look back and evaluate why relationships failed I’ve realised that I knew pretty early on (within the first few weeks typically) what the ‘straws that broke the camel’s back’ were going to be.

Without exception I thought ‘I can live with or change that later’ and in every instance that conclusion proved to be naively delusional.

In the cold light of day I usually had no-one to blame but myself because I realised that I’d known from the very start what the issues were – I just chose to ignore them.

I found out the hard way that if you go into a partnership wanting someone to be any different to the way they are when you meet them them then you’re already setting yourself up for a potential failure.

If you love what they are from the beginning and don’t expect them to change for any reason other than their own ambitions and hopes for the future then it makes life a lot easier.

Saying this is all well and good though.

When it came down to it I never expected this to be the reality of any relationship I found myself in. It seemed like an unobtainable idea that I’d ultimately have to compromise on if I wanted to find anyone.

Against all of my expectations it seems to have become a reality though because I love what I have right now and I don’t need anything to be different.

Something else had to change though to make sure that the same was true in reverse.

I don’t want anyone to see me as a ‘fixer upper’.

I’ve had to change in many ways in order to be capable of having a productive partnership.

Not only did I have to get rid of many bad habits but I’ve had to accept that in past relationships that I’d more often than not completely failed to communicate how I really felt about certain things until they became major issues.

I don’t do that any more.

I’m up front about what I like or don’t like and I try and be forthright and truthful.

I’m as honest in my real life as I am in my blog. There’s nothing hidden in the confines of my relationship, even if it’s painful, paints me in a bad light or is embarrassing to talk about.

One can only hope that the future is bright because of this because I certainly can’t control it.

It’s lunacy to think you know how anything is going to turn out. All you can do is build solid foundations, throw truth out there and hope that it brings love back with it.

So despite my gain I feel epic today Internet – and not just because my friend re-framed my wording – but because the future seems ridiculously bright.

Davey

Panting racehorse

Sometimes art leaves you totally cold.

The modern variety often make me feel this way (I’m a bit of a traditionalist if I’m honest) and I find that during visits to places like the Tate Modern I’ve been quite polarised by what I’ve seen.

Often I simply feel like I ‘ just don’t get it’.

Despite modern art’s sometimes bleak aesthetic I’ve found that sometimes (quite unexpectedly) I can be drawn in by a piece with ‘economic simplicity’. Sometimes a raw concrete wall is oddly beautiful – and there’s an undeniable honesty about a pile of bricks in the middle of a white room.

I can find it all irritatingly pretty without really wanting to – but I remain unconvinced that such examples are¬†‘art.

However – when faced with a jarringly violent postmodern statement (which is an unnervingly beautiful sculpture called the ‘Knife Angel’ link) when visiting Coventry Cathedral last week I found myself struck dumb for a moment.

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This is an installation with something profound to say about the world in which we live.

The 100,000 knives (link) that make up the vicious feathers of this penitent angel (an insane number to comprehend welding together) have been confiscated by the 43 forces policing the UK.

Each one represents a potentially fatal stabbing somewhere in the country and that alone is enough to give anyone pause for thought. Furthermore at the base of the statue were bouquets of flowers from people who knew recent local victims Р and on the rear were several inscriptions (link).

I was pondering this message when a group of youths taking photos next to me commented about the sculpture. ‘

They’re almost all kitchen knives – it looks like they’ve just been taken by people from home. I expected them to all be switchblades.’

I couldn’t help but turn and engage her and her friends in conversation. They seemed to be completely invested in the work and honestly interested in the significance of the constituent parts of the sculpture and amazed at the fact they were (mostly) all so ordinary.

I recounted a TV documentary I’d seen some time ago where an expert on knife crime had suggested that the problem wasnt so much the length of knives – but the design.

In particular their sharp points.

He’d stated emphatically that the way to reduce deaths wasn’t to ban kitchen knives from sale but instead to re-design the vast majority of them so that they had rounded ends. Whilst people might still be slashed or cut by such a blade they would be unlikely to die, since it was very hard indeed to penetrate deeply with what would effectively be a sharp butter knife.

Such a change would mean that kitchen knives would be almost universally unable to damage any vital organs.

They listened to me quietly and nodded, looking at the statue.

It was something they hadn’t considered before and as they chatted amongst themselves I thought how valuable such an installation can be. Art is particularly precient when bringing people together from many different walks of life and provoking debate – whilst at the same time providing a space where all are unexpectedly open to conversation and contemplation.

The whole experience left me in a pensive mood and I was rather grateful when my companion suggested afterwards that we have a look inside the Coventry Transport Museum.

I’ve never been there before – and that’s a shame, because the items contained within are both interesting and at times genuinely beautiful (in a very different way).

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As you might expect, the proximity of Jaguar Land Rover and its significance in the history and economy of the region means that there are quite a number of such cars on display related to that manufacturer.

As well as the E-Type above the very first car to carry the Jaguar name was in evidence and it was jaw droppingly lovely to look at – with a size and presence that leaves you feeling like you’re standing next to the Batmobile.

It’s not all about cars though – and I was particularly happy to see a slice of my childhood represented in one of the halls.

The 1984 Raleigh BMX Burner.

I had one very much like this – although a slightly cheaper version (and far less exclusive than this beautiful chrome finished one) in red and yellow.

Many many years of my youth were spent in its (admittedly rather brutal) saddle and overall I must have travelled for hundreds of miles holding onto its rubberised handlebar grips, because I eventually wore through them and they needed to be replaced.

Sigh.

Memories…

Another more contemporary itch was also scratched – and my Dr Who fetish was piqued by an early version of a police public call box – or rather ‘shed’.

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The keenly observant will have noticed that (maybe rather unusually for me) I’m looking rather leisurely in this photo – and somewhat ‘yoof’ in my hoodie and sweats.

The truth is that I’d not long before been swimming – and this week I’ve been trying something new.

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Getting my head wet.

I’ve now been swimming for over¬†four months, and throughout the whole time I’ve been going I’ve been engaged in breast stroke (or at least my version of it) with my head above water.

I really don’t like getting my head wet – or to be more specific – the idea of trying to breathe out underwater whilst remembering not to drown.

This important need for regular co-ordination seemed rather daunting every time I considered trying to do it.

Then a couple of months ago I bought some goggles (yes I’ve had them¬†that long) and decided that I was going to give it a go. Since that moment they’ve remained steadfastly at the bottom of my swimming bag in a little waterproof baggie and I have found excuse after excuse not to give them a go.

I’m in a rush.

I left them in my locker and can’t get out of the pool to go back.

I’ll end up with goggle marks on my face…

What it really comes down to is being scared – and that’s not on. Fear is something to be overcome, and eventually (even if it takes a while) I try to get past the ones I have.

Oddly when I eventually¬†did¬†try them the issue wasn’t a fear of drowning but one of stamina, because once the breathing is sorted (it’s really not that hard) then it’s just a case of timing.¬†The thing is that when your head goes underwater you have less resistance – meaning that you can swim¬†faster – and that means that (at least in my case) you tire quicker.

I’ve suddenly found that I’ve had to diminish my distance (temporarily at least) to 1km at a time and focus on my technique – because at the end of this I’m panting like a racehorse thats survived the Grand National.

So – if nothing else I’m still moving forward in life, finding new things to contemplate and ways to improve…

With those thoughts internet I have to get a move on.

I’ve a lot to accomplish with the day and many things to get started on!

Davey

 

 

 

 

The battle continues

Even at the best of times it can be really hard to remain focused on one’s goals (regardless of how important they are) and in this case mine is to remain in target for the whole of February.

I weighed in earlier than usual (or later, depending on how you look at it) on Monday and managed to maintain my weight – coming in at exactly 13st 7lbs.

Honestly I went a bit off plan after that (don’t we all after weighing in?) and ever since I’ve been trying to slot myself back into ‘the zone‘.

When it comes to maintaining weight this is a difficult place to be because mentally you’re ‘already there’.

Often you feel like you’ve ‘done it’ – and all too easily this can translate into relaxing way too much.

In my case I did a bit – and it’s meant that I’ve eaten more than I normally would, walked a bit less, and occasionally stayed in bed listening to the wind and rain outside when I really should have gotten up and walked to the leisure centre for a swim.

It’s not been a completely ‘shut in’ week mind you. I’ve still been exercising.

For instance the other day I spent quite a while walking to, around and from Coombe Abbey.

This place always looks lovely.

It seems to also have intriguing little micro climates too – because whilst the duck pond was completely frozen over just metres away in the woods spring appeared to be in full effect!

I adore these little flashes of new life poking through the undergrowth – and it’s not just aesthetics that they’re good for.

I need to get outside in order to maintain a positive mindset – and regardless of how grey the skies are when I do (and see things like this) I’m always reminded that there’s something lovely to be found nearby.

It makes me feel connected to the world – and that I’m also alive and continually growing.

On other brighter days this week (when I’ve been out of bed early enough to see the sun come up) I’ve also been treated to some absolutely fabulous skies.

Being outside never fails to give me a sense of well-being and positivity.

There are other reasons to feel good too.

At the very least if I get up, go for a walk and have a swim then these activities offset at least some of my bad behaviour, and if I’m in a grump about over eating this causes my mood to lift.

However I have to be careful about thinking that exercise fixes everything because this is a potentially self defeating mindset to get into.

Ultimately no amount of it (at least in my experience) will make up for continually not sticking to plan.

Ultimately you’ll get sick of swimming back and forth or walking ever larger distances way before you ever get bored of eating nice food.

So this morning represents something of a line in the sand.

I really don’t like ‘drawing lines’ – because if I’m honest (for no good reason) the phrase irritates me intensely.

However today it seems appropriate. If I don’t rein in my overeating then when the end of the month rolls around I’ll be scuppered.

I decided therefore to make a stand against my own bad behaviour, get up early and go for it at the swimming pool.

Despite almost stopping and calling it a day after 60 lengths (I felt really tired!) today I pushed on and finally managed to do 100 continuous lengths at St Nicholas.

Thats 2.5km and it accounts for nearly 2000kcal burned before 9am!

I’m not chasing any records though.

I’ve stopped trying to beat previous times because I’ve pretty much plateau’d in that respect – and without significantly improving my technique (I still don’t put my head under water during the breaststroke) I doubt anything will change.

At least for the moment I’m happy to remain very much an amateur swimmer. It hasn’t hindered my ability to exercise one little bit and my average speed is still quite respectable.

There are several people doing front crawl in the ‘fast’ lane that I’m regularly keeping pace with – and so far I’ve noticed no-one at all swimming for as long or as continuously as I tend to do.

At the moment I have immense pride that when I swim in the morning I’m usually in the pool well before the usual regulars and get out well after them.

Furthermore, unlike many of them I don’t stop at all now.

The entirety of my time in the water is spent swimming, rather than pausing and nattering or taking a breather.

Whilst many people I see each day swim much faster than me almost none swim so continuously.

For those who haven’t been following my blog for a long time I only recently started swimming again (November the 16th – link) and the very first time I tried my arms simply weren’t up to the job.

I had to pause at each end of the pool for a minute or so to let the aching subside before going again.

It’s amazing how quickly this improved however – and within a couple of weeks things were quite different.

Not only am I chuffed to bits with my overall fitness and stamina gains but I’ve been really pleased with the visual and physical improvements over the last three months in my arms, chest, shoulders and back.

At times though it’s mildly disheartening – because whilst from a muscular perspective I am stronger than I’ve ever been, from a skin perspective I still have way more than I need.

However – when I embarked upon this path in life I never set out to look like a catalogue model.

I’ve always known that this will never be my reality.

My body has a history. For better or for worse I have to live with it and accept it, because there will never come a day when I decide to cut bits off for vanity.

The truth is I have learned to love some parts of myself and simply accept the bits that I currently can’t.

Then unexpectedly proof positive arrived not so long ago to remind me that this kind of thing really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

My new partner in crime has proved to me that I can still be loved regardless of my imperfections.

When someone you adore can look at you and not notice (or care about) all of the faults that you think are so huge it’s a timely reminder that there’s only one real competitor in any race.

Yourself.

Only you stand between where you begin and the finish line.

Your faults, failures, flaws and shortcomings are never as big as you think they are – and even if some of these seem larger than life it really only ever comes down to your personal opinion.

If self belief and self perception are aligned then you can accomplish amazing things – and it never hurts for me to remind yourself of this.

I continue to do this with comparison shots.

Whilst I still have an uneasy relationship with pictures of myself from the past and present nothing makes me prouder than contrasting a practically immobile man that I no longer recognise in an 8XL shirt and 66in waist trousers with a guy wearing a medium jacket and 34in jeans.

It’s also worthwhile remembering when I look at these that I’ve effectively lost more than an entire overweight father (sitting to the right of me) who told me when I started in April 2016 that I had to lose more than his (at the time) 19st frame to get to where I needed to be.

It’s also something of a personal triumph to know that his confessed irritation with seeing me drop from almost 35st to below his weight proved to be a catalyst for him to take action.

Consequently he lost pretty much all of his excess too – and my father (who is not far away from his 80th annual increment) now weighs in at a lower weight than I do – having lost somewhere between 6-7 stone.

So – the (endless) battle continues.

For all of us.

Just like my dad I’m still working towards my goals, still trying to get better, and still challenging myself to do new things.

Hopefully by the end of February internet this attitude will pay dividends and I’ll get my diamond target member badge.

You’ll have to come back and see if I do closer to the time!

Davey

The next milestone

So – January is over.

As innocuous as it seemed at first, this turned out to be a completely fantastic but also extremely challenging month. I enjoyed almost every moment of it, but from an emotional perspective I’m still glad it’s over and done with.

 

All of a sudden the calendar has flipped over and presented me with a fresh page containing 28 new little blank squares. Only one is filled at the moment and it’s a biggie.

On the 24th it will be ONE WHOLE YEAR since I hit target at Slimming World.

This is particularly significant because there has NEVER been a single period of my life where my weight has remained stable for so long. Try as I might¬†I can’t actually remember ANY¬†length of time when it didn’t immediately rebound upwards after any transient period of healthy eating or weight loss.

I always crash dieted then started ‘eating normally again’.

The truth was that I’d always failed to recognise previously that I never ate normally in the first place, and therefore all that I was really saying was ‘I’m about to return to bingeing on crap and drinking myself to death’.

I don’t do this any more though and I’ve had to admit over the last few years that¬†even now¬†I occasionally still struggle with the definition of ‘normal’.

The war is therefore not won.

I’m still trying to balance my food intake – thanks largely to recent changes in my usual daily exercise regimes (which make me even more hungry than usual) and a more varied personal schedule that’s reduced attendance at my normal Saturday group.

This Saturday is no exception (I’m not weighing in today) and if I want to be in target by the 24th I’m going to have to watch myself like a hawk in the coming weeks.

Once I’ve done that will I get to hold a¬†diamond target membership badge –¬†which represents¬†proof positive (to me at least) that I’m capable maintaining the health and fitness levels I have now for the rest of my life.

When¬†(not if – because I’m going to do it) I pin this to my lapel it will prove emphatically that I can deal with both the highs and the lows of life and not turn to the wrong things for comfort.

It will state in no uncertain terms that I have finally changed for good.¬†I’m on a mission and it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing because¬†I need to remain focused.

Once again this week I’ve been in Sussex (a long way away from my usual routines) and trying hard not to slip into a holiday mode. So far I’ve been a good boy – and have kept one thought at the forefront of my mind.

Where there are pavements there are opportunities to burn calories.

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At the moment the ones in Sussex may be a little slippery and treacherous but they’re¬†absolutely beautiful.

When there are sunrises like this framing a frosty treeline it’s not really that much of a hardship to get out and about – even early in the morning.

For once the temperature isn’t really getting to me. Whilst it’s¬†really really cold¬†at the moment a few months ago I invested in a pair of thermal long johns – and boy was the purchase worthwhile!!

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When I arrived in Sussex on Wednesday it was just a teeny bit frosty Рbut eventually (just like everywhere else in the UK) snow arrived to properly whiten my surroundings.

I’m just thankful that we aren’t experiencing the same kind of conditions as parts of America mind you – because they seem to have it¬†bad.

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Even though I don’t have to deal with minus twenty six degrees in Hell¬†it’s at times like these that I’m really glad¬†that I’ve learned the importance of layering¬†outdoors gear.

While a big thick coat might¬†seem¬†like the answer in weather like this, more often than not when you’re walking it really isn’t.¬†Invariably you’ll always get hot and want to take something off (as one of my regular ‘thermostaically challenged’¬†twalking companions will attest to.)

If¬†all¬†of your warmth potential is contained within one item then you’ve just lost the lot. Now when I’m out and about in this kind of weather (as well as my long johns) I wear a moisture wicking long sleeved Berghaus top, a light long sleeved zip neck fleece pullover and a down (roll packable) jacket with a hood.

When it comes to a place like Brighton (which I visited again on Thursday) this is REALLY worthwhile because around the shops and city centre there’s only the temperature to contend with – but when you hit the seafront the wind is¬†relentless.

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At times it threatened to take me off my feet – and capturing a selfie with my phone wobbling back and forth in my hand was actually rather difficult to do.

Despite its climactically capricious nature though I’m starting to rather like the place.

I’ve come to the conclusion (particularly now that I’ve found all the charity shops) that there are few¬†real (what I would call) bargains to be found within its city limits.¬†There are however many many kitsch things to fill your life with if you have peculiar enough taste and the shelf space to accommodate them.

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Prices down south definitely do not mirror the ones in the charity shops of Warwickshire. All you have to do is glance in the window of an estate agent to see why this is.

There’s a huge disparity between the social classes there – and this is most apparent both in the cost of real estate and the tastes of those that inhabit it.

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Here flamboyant wealth often stands side by side with grinding poverty (as the vagrants hoovering up the free coffee in Waitrose demonstrated) but the more well off residents of Brighton and Hove don’t like to appear too wealthy.

Their clothing choices (mirroring their furnishing ones) seem¬†markedly different to the infinitely more reserved Warwickians that I’m used to. People with money in this region prefer to dress with more a more… bohemian vibe, and often the well off ones look pretty much the same as the poor ones.

Often the only thing missing from the rich ones seems to be a can of strong cider and a sleeping bag.

Those with enough money to look poor and eccentric make significant effort to do so – and the vendors in places like ‘Snoopers Paradise’ are keen (at a price) to cater to their lower rent tastes.

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Because it’s so varied I tend to love pretty much¬†everything¬†I find in Brighton but sadly I can afford virtually none of it – and¬†I’m definitely going to need a job before I can develop¬†a different attitude toward the markets and stalls I’ve found so far.

All in all I walked about eight miles around the various different parts of Brighton on Thursday – and whilst this is was partially due to my willingness to explore thrift stores¬†it’s also because I’m driven by my stats.

As always I’m pretty obsessive about what I do every month – and even while I’m away from home the idea of my averages slipping is something that drives me quietly potty.

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Thankfully there’s a leisure centre with a swimming pool near to where I’m staying – and on Thursday morning I popped in for a dip.¬†Oddly this is a¬†variable length pool with a large boom at one end that can be moved up and down the breadth of its run.

This changes the distance you swim from 33m to 25m or back again, depending on the time of day you visit. In the space it creates when shifted up a bit (when I visited) there was a spirited aquafit class led by a very loud woman bouncing back and forth in gaudy leggings and trainers on the side of the pool. On Thursday morning her group was positively crammed with pensioners waving pieces of foam around their heads and under water.

It’s quite unusual to have music pumping away in the background while I swim – but not entirely unwelcome. Since I still don’t do breaststroke with my head under the water it meant that I could rhythmically paddle away to the beat.

Time consequently flew by while I was there.

One thing this definitely made me realise was just how good¬†my¬†local facilities are after their recent refurbishment.¬†Whilst water is water and I’m happy to just pound out the lengths anywhere the changing rooms, lighting, fixtures and general tone of The Dolphin pale in comparison to St Nicholas.

Either way – using it has enabled me to maintain my average daily distance total for swimming – which I’m¬†very pleased to report is for January is just under 1.5km¬†per day.

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I’ve let things with my walking slide a little since November because of the extra swimming I’m doing – and whilst I really wanted to keep it at the same level the truth is it’s simply unsustainable.

If I do I’ll just end up running myself ragged trying to do too much, losing all enjoyment in it – or even worse pull or strain something.

Even so I think I’m¬†still¬†doing pretty darned well with my mies per day average…

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Overall this means that whilst my daily exercise minutes are roughly the same, my average active calories burned has increased noticeably from where it was in October.

Compared to March last year I’m burning almost 800kcal¬†extra per day.

So – all is good – and I’m on track for my diamond target member badge. Over the coming weeks you can probably expect to hear much much more about this as I near the moment and at some point have the occasional worry or stress!

Watch this space internet!

Davey

 

 

Diabetes update 2019

Well – it’s THAT time of year again. I get to find out what my diabetes results are.

I know I’ve been a good boy (for the most part) and my logical mind tells me that everything will probably be OK – but the human body is a strange machine, and sometimes whether you want it to be healthy or not, it often makes up it’s own mind.

The only thing I can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes I’m not sure whether I continue to do this through obsessive habit, a love of exercise or a fear that if I don’t everything I love about my life now will just fall apart.

Truthfully it’s probably a bit of all three – however when I’m with a friend in a place of outstanding natural beauty then it’s definitely a¬†love of life¬†that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.

On Wednesday I was once again in a place I adore with a superb twalking companion and was busy making absolutely sure that both of us got a good workout.

First thing in the morning it was tough sell mind you. The house was warm when I woke up – and it was a very cozy place to be as I stared at the ceiling from my pillow under a toasty duvet.

Outside I could hear cars crunching along the road over frozen puddles and people chipping frost from their windscreens. When I finally ventured out I had to forcibly yank my frozen car door open to reach my ice scraper.

Once it was in my grasp I needed a whole 15 minutes to hack all of the (really thick) ice off my car before I could drive over to pick my friend up.

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The journey after this was a nice one though – and the roads were well gritted with no accidents to impede our progress. By the time we arrived at Malvern the sun was out and the sky was a lovely blue.

Despite this the frost was far from melted.

As potentially treacherous as this makes walking around this area it’s undeniably beautiful – and even with a serious nip in the air it’s a really nice place to eat breakfast – which in my case was as Slimming World friendly as possible.

Wednesday represented probably the 2nd best day for weather in Malvern that I’ve ever seen from this vantage point – and as the morning wore on the views just got better and better.

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The absolutely¬†wonderful¬†thing about my life at the moment is (maybe unlike some who might have¬†always been fit and healthy) I never cease to be amazed by what I can do and how far I’ve come.

When I look at the total elevation my friend and I accomplished during our day of walking I’m amazed that not only did I find it relatively easy – but that it represents well over two thirds of the total height of Snowdon (3500ft).

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By the time Wednesday had finished we’d managed (according to Apple Watch) to climb 186 flights of stairs.

The very first time I attempted walking around this region (at around 22.5 stone – having lost over 12) was February 2017 (link).

Since then things have changed quite a bit.

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It’s pretty insane what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it – and it never ceases to amaze me when I look at my past and current photos what the human body is capable of recovering from or adapting to.

My swimming is no exception to this – and whilst I’ve not said much about it lately I’m still regularly pounding out lengths in my local pool.¬†This morning (completely unplanned) proved to be another example of what I can do now vs what I was previously (in)capable of.

I mean that in both a physical and self confidence sense – because whilst I may have previously been able to paddle back and forth I did not previously possess the mental fortitude to step into a swimming costume and try.

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Now I do.

I decided after a few lengths that I was up for trying to do two and a half kilometres (100 lengths of my local 25 metre pool) and irritatingly I would have done it if I’d only started ten minutes earlier.

The schools locally start to come in on a Friday at 9.30am and I ran out of time before I ran out of stamina.

How crazy is that?

I mean – it’s¬†totally nuts¬†when you think about it. I’ve changed from being a 35 stone moribund lump of a man into one that’s capable of climbing huge mountains, and swimming continuously for almost 2.5km.

How on earth is all of this possible?!

Honestly at times I have no idea. Somehow I’ve just ended up inhabiting the body and mind of someone who is both driven and focused.

I’m not perfect though – because despite all of this exercise (and maybe sometimes as a consequence of it) I can still overeat.

I’ve been quite good with the¬†types¬†of food that I’ve consumed however, and have been preparing meals as I always do.¬†My slow cooker has been churning out chicken soup practically on a daily basis¬†lately (it’s so nice to come home to on a cold day) and my usual standby meal (I flipping love a chilli) has been consumed with¬†gusto¬†on a number of occasions.

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However – regardless of these good choices when I stood on the scales for the first time in two weeks last night (which in itself this represents something of a personal success because I can get quite obsessive about this) I realised that I’ve moved a few pounds outside of my new target range.

Whilst I’ve mentally committed myself to going to group tomorrow to keep my head in the game I doubt that I will stand on the scales while I’m there.

Thankfully as a target member I only need to weigh in every 8 weeks – but I still need a visit to group to keep me focused.

I may weigh in at one of Angie’s Monday groups instead (I can’t on Saturday next week) but we’ll see. I’m not putting any pressure on myself because the truth is that I don’t really need to.

Whilst I used to hate the phrase ‘naturally thin’ this is one of those moments that I feel it’s really relevant.

I’ve always wanted to be the sort of person that can deviate a little to the left or right of the correct path in life, but who will always find my way back to the right course. So far for the last 11 months I’ve proven that I’m capable of this.

I’ve moved both above and below target weights – and I’ve come to accept that none of this represents either success or failure.¬†All it represents is life and how things will always change from time to time.

Gradually I’ve recognised that judging yourself harshly based on small weekly deviations on the scales is an empty and pointless pursuit that will ultimately accomplish nothing but emotional corrosion.

Sure – if you’re trying to lose weight then the overall trend needs to be downwards, but the point is that beating yourself up over a misstep or two will do nothing but provide a reason to carry on with the self destructive behaviour that you are trying so hard to avoid.

It’s much better to accept that no-one is perfect, life is just life, and that tomorrow is just another day where you will probably feel stronger and more capable than you did the day before.¬†You can only be the best that you can be at any one given moment in time – and thinking that¬†anyone else is any different¬†is pointless and damaging.

We all struggle and we all fall over – and accepting that you’re just as normal as anyone else is key to long term success.

The wages of this kind of ongoing attitude can be seen in my diabetic results – which yesterday I held in my hand, in black and white.

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My current HbA1c level of 26 is still way below what would be considered pre-diabetic.

My cholesterol is great, I’ve been assured that my blood pressure results are perfectly normal and ‘low’, my overall health is ‘tip top’ and all of the usual tests (sensitivity in my extremities and diabetic retinopathy results) show that I’m still holding diabetes at bay.

By making continually more positive than negative choices in life I’ve not only turned things around, but I’m proving to any casual observers that my continued health outcomes are not only possible¬†but completely sustainable – even with an occasional mis-step.

Despite many many social media voices stating that everyone following Slimming World as a plan is destined to put all their weight back on I intend to stand proudly as an example of what’s possible long term.

Success in this area is not magic though.

It’s¬†all about mindset.

The reality of it is that all of this is just continual hard work combined with an ongoing willingness to re-frame the negative internal voices that we all have.

Whatever mountain you have to climb internet, it’s all do-able.

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Davey

2019 and beyond

Good grief I’m cold.

Although I love having a significantly smaller posterior these days what I’m not so keen on is having hands and feet that continually resemble animated ice cubes.

Still – there are worse things. Gloves help and occasionally I come into close proximity of a radiating heat source – which I’m only recently rediscovering the pleasure of.

There are few things better than this – and sucking up some precious warmth before heading back outdoors is a definite pleasure at this time of year.

Some of this heat can be found in the swimming pool, and yesterday I found myself totally alone in the water at the leisure centre for around 30 minutes.

With this calm serenity (and lack of backwash) came a sudden and serious determination to beat my previous personal best times.

I know it might seem like I’m doing this all the time – but truthfully I’m not normally going full tilt when I’m in the pool.

I’m instead trying to maintain a good pace at all times that will ensure I enjoy the experience whilst burning a generous amount of calories.

Yesterday though I really went for it and was sweating buckets when I stopped.

This meant that I reduced the time it took me to do 1.5km by ten minutes compared to the very first time I managed to swim it continuously on the 3rd December.

Being hot and sweaty in a heated swimming pool is currently something that’s infinitely preferable to standing outside in the cold.

There’s not much cover to be found out and about at the moment – and my morning walk today around the grounds of Coombe Abbey proved that the woods are a seriously draughty place when there’s a complete absence of foliage around.

The local wildlife appears to agree and the bugs have been industrious.

Since the last time I visited they appear to have opened a new hotel.

It’s got all the mod cons (including a log that watches your every move as well as a hedgehog hole at the front to keep the spikier neighbours happy) and reminds me that I meant to make one of these in my own back garden last summer – but completely forgot to do so.

I’ll have to add that to the numerous jobs that have been building up around the house – most notably some painting and decorating.

This is something I’ve sorely neglected for some time – but lately I’ve felt the need to spruce things up a bit – and think in the next few weeks (since it’s a brand new year) I’m going to start making some thrifty attempts to feather my nest.

If nothing else it makes it more welcoming for visitors – and I’m all for promoting that.

Currently my mind is filled with more than just guests though.

Yesterday I was toying with the idea of a retrospective post (it appears to be the done thing in blogland) that would look back over 2018 and highlight all of the significant events that have occurred.

Oddly when I sat down to think about it all and create a collage of images for Instagram I actually said to myself ‘well – not much happened really…’

How short my memory appears to be!

2018 has actually been filled with so many things that even the three separate collages above failed to scratch the surface.

When I sat and thought about it 2018 has probably been one of the most interesting and amazing of my whole entire life!

From a Slimming World perspective I came third in the Greatest Loser competition, won the Man of the Year title, stayed in the Andy Warhol suite at the Ritz for a press call, appeared extensively in the UK national and local press, turned up on Fox News in the US as well as German media, did three radio interviews, had my trousers mentioned by Anne Diamond on breakfast TV, worked briefly with Public Health England, went to the Houses of Parliament, accepted a MOTY trophy at the SW awards in Birmingham NIA (and spoke in front of 2000 people), appeared in the SW magazine, gave many many motivational speeches to hundreds of people at SW groups in Warwickshire (and at a school in Derby), got my twenty one stone award, met Margaret Miles Bramwell, John Barnes, Rylan Clark-Neal, Floella Benjamin and a whole host of genuinely lovely SW PR and support staff.

This would be more than enough on its own – but it doesn’t take into account I what went on in my personal life…

I decided to move on from my job (the replacement for which is still to be determined), delved into the dating scene, wore swimming trunks in public for the first time in twenty years, walked 3686 miles – including one outing which saw me make my way all the way from Warwick to Coventry and back again (22.5 miles!), take 7,105,090 steps, increase my stamina enough to continuously swim two kilometres, got into a sauna and a whirlpool spa with people I don’t know, massively improved my self confidence in social situations, hit 1000 days of sobriety, told everyone that means something to me why they’re so important to my life as well as spending quality time with them, made and met new and existing friends from blogland, and discontinued all of my remaining prescription medications.

Although 2018 in many ways represents the culmination of quite a few years of really really hard work I can’t see it in any way shape or form like a full stop or a line under my life.

I’m now fitter than I’ve EVER been in my entire life on planet Earth and can do things with my body and mind that were previously impossible.

What’s happened though is that I’ve simply returned myself to a level playing field and enabled public anonymity.

This is a joy.

No-one notices me when I walk by and deep down I feel like I’m almost normal when I’m lost in a crowd or standing somewhere with other people.

I say ‘almost’ though because there are still some battle scars that remain.

Underneath all of this positivity and outward success is still a man who occasionally struggles with a positive self image, who even now can doubt his self worth, and physically carries significant evidence of a wasted past with him.

The excess skin remains along with a demon or two – but I’m always trying to be a better man.

I don’t want cosmetic surgery – I just want to be comfortable enough to expect people to accept me as I am and move on from events in my past.

I want to live for the future.

But what does that future hold?

Well in the short term I don’t really have any 2019 New Years ‘give stuff up’ resolutions – because if I remove any remaining habits else (all I have left is coffee!) then I might as well join a monastery and be done with it.

Instead I want the following:

  • To have love in my life and make sure that my future isn’t one that’s solitary any longer.
  • A satisfying career with genuine and good people to work with.
  • Become stronger and fitter, challenging both my body and my mind to improve every day.
  • To inspire men and women who meet me, read about me or find what I’ve written by proving that no matter how impossible a significant change may seem that it can be achieved.
  • Emphatically disprove some people’s opinions online (I’ve had some spirited private arguments with rather belligerent fitness people) who believe I’m certain to regain all the weight I’ve lost and that Slimming World’s plan does not work long term.

Fundamentally though I just want to just be a good man in clean underwear so that if a metaphorical bus ever screeches around a metaphorical corner (heaven forbid!) people will say that I lived a good life, cared about my fellow humans and ended my days in spotless pants and a fetching floral shirt.

I plan to live a long life though internet. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.

Here’s to 2019 and beyond – May it be wonderful for all of us ūü§ó

Davey

Trying new things

There are times that I’m tempted to not write something down in a post – mostly because I think it will sound silly – but on occasions like today I really don’t care.

Something small has made me really happy.

Ages ago I went for a long walk in the cold with a friend along a frozen canal – and along the way we stopped at a friendly looking pub.

It was traditional and cozy – with a roaring fire next to some red leather seating in the window.

I crouched in front of the burning embers as the barman put another log in the centre and attempted to drink in the warmth as quickly as I could.

Then I realised something.

I’d avoided fires for years because I was always too hot already.

I never appreciated the warmth that they could bring to cold hands – and it was intoxicating.

I really didn’t want to move from that position – but eventually (reluctantly) we had to get a move on and headed out into the cold again.

It’s a happy memory of a cool little non-scale victory.

Today I woke up a little late – after a late visit to the Showcase in Coventry to see the Queen biopic before it was no longer on general release.

It’s a great film (although everyone but Freddie in the band comes across as a bit two dimensional) and the music is wonderful but it made me oversleep past my usual swimming slot.

Looking at the online timetables I decided that I’d give the leisure centre at Newbold Comyn a go instead of my usual pool at St Nicholas.

It’s a longer walk to this location too and it ticks another box exercise wise because currently I am really focused on being in target for my Saturday weigh in!!!

After a 45 minute brisk stroll I was there – and the first thing that I noticed was that there are a lot more facilities.

For one there’s a climbing wall…

I’ve never tried this kind of thing – (and I’m pretty sure my arms aren’t currently strong enough to do it) but today I added it to my mental bucket list!

As I walked through to the nearby pool viewing area I realised that the benefit of coming here to exercise is that there’s a leisure pool as well as an exercise one, meaning that you’re far more likely to not be slowed down by kids playing or adults standing oblivious to everything in the middle of a lane (it’s a thing trust me).

My swim was largely uneventful.

For the most part I had the second small ‘medium lane’ entirely to myself for the hour that I was in the water and absolutely no one to swamp me with butterfly or front crawl waves.

So far so mundane right?

Yes.

It was.

Until I got out.

I’ve never ever sat in a whirlpool spa. Not in my entire life.

I’ve always been far too self conscious about how I look – so even when I’ve stayed at a hotel where I’ve paid a premium for the additional facilities I’ve never actually used them.

There was a lady already sitting in it – but I thought ‘what the hell!’ And just went over and sat in there too!

I flipping love whirlpool spas!

After an 10 minutes of being gently lifted off the shelf on which I was perched by jets of water being shot up my butt I noticed ANOTHER interesting thing.

A sauna….

Now – you might have wondered why earlier I mentioned the log fire – but it was because this fits into the same category.

I have never had a problem with finding a way to get excessively sweaty in the past (it was my default state) and always considered saunas to be completely irrelevant.

My body back then clearly didn’t need it and I hated heat in every permutation that it arrived in.

I got straight out of the spa and walked over to the sauna, reading the ‘it’s really flipping hot in there – make sure you don’t drop dead’ warning on the wall – and also noted the supplemental advice that the higher you sit the hotter you are.

Moments later I was sitting on the top shelf!

OMFG!!!

How nice are saunas?!

Wow!!!

They are my new favourite thing!!!!

After an hour’s exercise transitioning to a room where the very air around you seems to massage every muscle in your body is flipping heaven!

Furthermore I couldn’t help but notice that after 15 minutes I seemed to be the only one in there that was drying out rather than sweating profusely.

Everyone around appeared to be huffing away and breathing harder – yet I was just relaxed and comfortable.

The only reason I decided to go back outside was that I noticed my Apple Watch was absolutely roasting.

It was probably a good call – because when I looked at the Apple forums afterwards they say the following things are best avoided (if you want your watch to remain water proof).

  • Dropping Apple Watch or subjecting it to other impacts.
  • Exposing Apple Watch to soap or soapy water.
  • Exposing Apple Watch to perfume, solvents, detergent, acids or acidic foods, insect repellent, lotions, sunscreen, oil, or hair dye.
  • Exposing Apple Watch to high velocity water, for example while water skiing.
  • Wearing Apple Watch in the sauna or steam room.

Either way – watch or no watch this is not my last time in a sauna or a spa pool.

So this day represents not one but two brand new non-scale victories.

These may be mundane or insignificant to other people but to me they both represent huge strides in my self confidence and yet another example of my default behaviour now being ‘I like to try new things’ instead of ‘I fear the unknown’.

That’s all folks.

Today it’s that simple.

I did new stuff and I feel flipping awesome!

If you were all here I’d give you a big hug to mark the occasion. Make sure you’re in my proximity soon and you can claim this non expiring voucher for tactile celebrations!!!

Love and hugs

Davey

Who was that man?

There are days where your mood is so positive and so upbeat that pretty much any storm (metaphorical or literal) will fail to dent it.

Over the last couple of days I’ve had something of an extra spring in my step, and have caught myself smiling throughout the day.¬†It’s a nice feeling to have such a sunny disposition when the weather is so grim and cold – particularly in the lead up to Christmas.

On Tuesday the weather was absolutely crap. It did nothing but rain.

I didn’t mind however.

It’s only weather and currently it can’t dampen my spirits.

On Monday morning the sky was a totally different colour though. When I left the leisure centre at about 9.15am (already feeling pretty awesome after my swim) the weather seemed to be reflecting my mood.

The day looked like it held a lot of promise.

When I’d hit the pool an hour and a half earlier though I’d initially felt rather tired – so instead of trying to go increasingly faster I just carried on at (what now seems like) a rather sedate pace.

In short I just resolved to enjoy myself.

The great thing was that rather than rousing my head from bed with an alarm (which I usually need when the mornings are so dark) I’d woken up darned early and arrived at the leisure centre with plenty of time to swim.

The distance I’ve been doing lately usually takes around 45 minutes.

In this time I can do about 50 lengths of the pool continuously and afterwards I feel like I’ve had a good workout.

After a few lengths though (and knowing that I had a¬†longer window to play with) I wondered whether I could keep my sedate (but perpetual) back and forth going for over an hour – and if so how by how much?…

It turns out that I can keep it up for quite a bit longer.

I’ve found that once I relax into the rythmic nature of the task and focus on just breathing my mind slowly begins to wander.

I no longer look at it as effort – but relaxation instead.

Since I’d had a pretty great weekend on Monday morning my mind had plenty of places to go in this mood.

My swim passed by at light speed with practically no effort required on my part at all.

For the first time (without realising it) I stopped looking at the clock or checking the number of lengths on my watch.

I just focused on the ripples on the water and the people passing by while I drifted along. As I did so a glorious golden light was streaming in through the huge windows and reflecting from the surface of pool onto the walls.

The water was pleasantly warm and so was I.

Surprisingly the time window to swim finished (the local schools take over the pool at 9am) before my arms or legs began to tire.

In the space of just one month I’ve made some really tangible fitness gains!

As I look at this state of affairs I must admit to being somewhat mystified – but¬†I’m not confused by what’s in these screenshots – because if you practice at anything then you will inevitably get better.

I’m just wondering why ten or twenty years ago I couldn’t see¬†any¬†of this.

I really don’t get how I’ve moved from not understanding how¬†anyone could not only regularly participate in, but also¬†ENJOY exercise to someone that continually plans his day around getting enough of it.

I mean – I know the effort that it took to get here and I know the points at which I did things. I know what I had to consume and I know how much I needed to move to become the man I am today.

I understand the dietary mechanics behind how I’ve changed.

It’s the pivot from ‘negative me’ to ‘positive me’ that I find so confusing.

How on Earth did my mindset change in such a wholesale manner?!

What amazes me even now is that the struggling and downbeat way of thinking I used to have is alien to me when I compare it to the person currently typing this.

I genuinely no longer recognise the man I was, despite occasionally being reminded that I inhabited his mind and body for most of my life.

Yesterday – at the suggestion of a friend I created this comparison shot for Instagram, and although it doesn’t represent the largest I was it does show me once again in emotional free fall – although you’d probably not know it to look at me.

I’m looking happy in the bottom photo because this friend has purposefully sought me out (she was seated on another table and came looking for me) so that we could get a picture together.

That friendship persists to this day and over time (in many ways helped by my changes) has matured continually.

We keep in contact far more than we used to and we now share quality time with exercise that benefits both of us instead of just instant messaging or drinking coffee.

The before and after picture is therefore less about weight loss in my mind and instead represents happiness.

It shows something that I consider to be permanent in my life and reminds me that what I’ve done has continued to make that possible.

The picture is multi layered though.

When I look at the old me I also see the glassy look in my eyes and feel the spiritual burden of the glass of wine in my hand.

Shortly before this was taken I’d been trying to lose weight, had been doing ok – and then a few months prior to the Christmas party had started putting it all back on again.

Mostly because of the shame of this (I hated looking continuously bigger each time I caught up with people I rarely saw) I was drinking to get drunk that night.

My strategy proved successful.

By the end of this party I was both hammered and bloated – and when I awoke the next morning felt like crap.

This morning though that man was barely even a memory.

He exists now only in photos and even then when I look at ones he’s in and create these comparisons I don’t really recognise him any more.

In January I’ll be celebrating three years without a hangover – and I can say that with supreme certainty because I know who I am now.

I may not understand fully how I can be so separate from the person I used to be but I know how happy I am currently and I love that today I wanted to get out of bed and do this.

I managed to swim sixty lengths of the local pool in under the time it previously took me to do twenty one month ago.

How flipping cool is that?!

The old guy is gone. His failures and weaknesses are almost all in the past and every day in every way I strive to be a better person – showing anyone that cares to read these posts what’s possible if you just try.

It’s good to be alive and healthy.

It’s good to be me.

I like me.

Davey

Too many chequers

I’m in a stupidly good mood this evening.

It’s been a really nice past couple of days, and as with most frames of mind like this I can usually trace the roots of it back to the people in my life – all of whom appear to be supremely capable of providing me with stimulating and engaging conversation.

Pleasingly some of these are in many ways quite new to my life – and over the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting to know them much better – even finally meeting one of them in the flesh for the very first time.

In this person’s case we’ve been following each other’s blogs since January 2017 and since then an online acquaintance has gradually moved from being polite chat to a blossoming friendship. Gradually we’ve started to avidly follow eachother’s significant life events – and tried whenever possible to be both supportive and helpful.

When we initially agreed to meet over a month ago it seemed like something that should have happened a LONG time ago – and we drew up plans to meet at a nice pub half way between us both.

This should have been easy.

It hasn’t been all plain sailing though. Initially our plans were derailed (as was pretty much everything else in my life) by the sudden and unexpected onset of Vertigo after the Slimming World Ball (link).

Once that was sorted out (and a short trip that she was on had finished) we re-arranged to meet yesterday. On paper this seemed quite easy Рbut it turns out that Oxfordshire (and admittedly my lack of due care and attention) had been plotting my downfall well in advance of my arrival.

Clearly unimpressed with the idea of using other board games for the naming of Public Houses in Oxfordshire it seems that local publicans instead prefer to call the vast majority of their drinking establishments ‘The Chequers‘.

tons of chequers

Personally it strikes me as a missed opportunity.

If I owned a pub I’d have used Chess as my theme (a much better use of the board) and you’d all be welcome to enjoy a non-alcoholic drink and Slimming World friendly meal at Davey’s Bashed Bishop.

But I digress.

This may seem like a mild inconvenience (or even an amusing quirk of the region) to many ¬†– but if like me you incorrectly assume that Apple Maps understands what you mean when you type ‘The Chequers Oxfordshire’ and then just expect it to take you to the right place you’d be sorely mistaken.

I hate being late – so¬†I tried to make sure I wasn’t tardy.

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I arrived ten minutes early, pulled up on the forecourt and whipped out my phone to let my friend know I was there.

It’s always a good idea to let someone know when you’ve arrived.

uh-oh

She and her apparently parking car were no-where to be seen. The car park looked suspiciously empty

My heart immediately sank and I quickly scrolled back couple of weeks in our chat history to find the original link she’d sent me.

Nutsacks!

I was twenty flipping miles away in Chipping Norton at the wrong flipping pub!!!

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I made my apologies over the phone, assured her i’d be there ASAP and put the Batmobile into pursuit mode.

I actually made it to the right pub in thirty minutes so you can draw your own conclusions about how faithfully I stuck to the speed limit on the way there.

I made my way in, spotted her, had a welcome hug, apologised profusely, quickly ordered another coffee and sat down to have a chat.

I shouldn’t have worried.

The Chequers at Weston on the Green (link) appeared to be looking after her admirably. When I arrived she (already secreted into a cosy corner) had a nice hot coffee to start the day.¬†Furthermore it soon transpired that she’d arrived¬†just in time to book the¬†last table for us to have a bite to eat.

Perfect!

For those keeping a tally of instances when my blogging activity has resulted in a new friendship or a meeting with a like minded soul you’re probably doing better than me because I’ve totally lost count.

It has so far proved to be the Willy Wonka Everlasting Gobstopper of¬†positive human interaction. I seem to endlessly ‘bump into’ people like myself who both value and then reflect back the honestly that I try to pour into my posts.

Initially the plan was to have a coffee and go for a walk (since many regular readers will know that both of these activities are the way to Davey’s heart) but as time rolled on and we’d barely taken a breath to have a pause in conversation it seemed like a walk just wasn’t going to happen.

Honestly, I didn’t mind.

I’d already pre-loaded with a good swim first thing in the morning, so my exercise and ring filling OCD was held at bay.

 

After eating (a rather non SW dinner) we instead decided to have another drink and continue nattering.

There was just too much to catch up with (we’ve been reading about each other’s lives for way too long it seems) and it was becoming abundantly clear that one meeting alone would not suffice.

By the time we parted company the conversation had remained unbroken for the best part of three and a half hours – and when we separated and hugged again it was a genuine and reciprocated connection.

I drove home with a big smile on my face, and thanks to other people that I’ve walked, talked and texted with that smile has remained right up until this moment.

Not so long ago I was writing about a book I was reading called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’.¬†It was essentially about the value of human company and how it enriches and completes our lives.

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I’m reminded as I sit here that rarely has something hit the nail so squarely on the head.

Not only did the post I wrote about the thoughts it provoked have some very positive repercussions – but it’s cemented in my mind that my blog remains integral to my life and continued happiness.

Since I started sharing my life it’s done nothing but enrich every aspect of it, and I can’t imagine not being able to write about my day and through my thoughts interact with the world on such a personal level.

As another blogger I follow recently noted, when they write things seem to work – when they don’t… well things just don’t.

So internet – here’s to being honest and open with everyone.

Here’s to trusting that if you decide to send positive truths out into the world then their fruits will always come back to you when you least expect but are most in need of them.

Davey

Working really hard

I’ve been in an inexplicably good mood today.

On paper there’s no particular reason why I should be. It’s cold, windy, rainy, there are no leaves on the trees any more and frankly my butt strain is still hurting – but honestly I don’t care.

I feel like the world has a slightly more golden hue to it at the moment and I’d be the first to say that it’s a perception filter that I’ve applied solely because I wanted to.

The sunrise looked rather excellent this morning though even without rose tinted spectacles – and even though it was soon hidden by somewhat grimmer skies maybe it set the tone for my mood.

I was (as had been the case for most days over the last few weeks) on my way to the leisure centre for a swim and was dosed up once more with ibuprofen and paracetamol. Once I get some pills in me and start moving my ass complains less and less.

For the first mile or two of each day currently my right glute is particularly vocal when it’s heading downhill.¬†Since I actually live on a hill this is annoying, but manageable if you put on some cheerful tunes and just get on with things.

This morning I’m listening to Pogo – one of my favourite YouTube artists – and someone that I keep coming back to. He samples the oddest things and turns them into really catchy tunes that I can’t stop playing over and over again.

https://youtu.be/bl5TUw7sUBs

I know of at least one person that I’ve spoken to recently that (from the perspective of being a fellow nerd) may also rather like this particular track – but I’ll concede it’s a bit niche. Personally though I think it’s a real grower and it definitely helped me to forget the aches and pains of the day’s first mile as I walked toward the waiting pool.

Friends who I’ve walked with recently have reminded me that taking things easy is the sensible thing to do – and (against my usual impulses) I have actually tried to take their advice.

On Tuesday I barely moved – hoping that this would present tangible benefits – but the absolute opposite appeared to happen¬†because on Wednesday morning (when I practically crawled out of bed) my rear felt like I’d been attacked by a particularly horny bull.

I was really struggling to hobble about.

Lesson learned. 

This particular injury shouldn’t be allowed to seize up.

There was a time not so long ago when I’d have been happy to do absolutely nothing though – and would never seen the difference between movements being made vs me doing nothing at all.

Back then when a pain came there was only one approach.

Total stillness.

Mind you this was my preferred remedy for everything. Old Davey with any kind of strain would have usually been found attempting to prove that man and armchair could eventually become one, given enough time to get to know one another.

(I still wonder whether I’d have been able to prove that….)

My approach to life now reminds me of a really great friend that (as long as I’ve known her – which is a LONG time) has been insanely into fitness.

It often mystified me how we could be so unalike in this respect and still be friends, but we were. I also wondered what it was about her psychological makeup that made her so ridiculously pre-disposed to exercise when I was so against it.

I still don’t know exactly why we had this key difference.

We did grow up with totally divergent parental approaches to activity – but regardless of this I still told myself for many years that she did more because she was naturally physically predisposed to sports.

She has the type of build that you would typically associate with an all round athlete and I (wrongly) assumed back then that she had just fared better in life’s genetic lottery than I had.

It’s amazing how time reshapes perceptions though – because I realise now that not only did she work at what she had, but that¬†I too was a winner in this area.

I’m not entirely sure how my body endured over 40 years of the self abuse I put it through and still somehow emerged the other side in the shape it’s currently in – but I do know that whilst part of the outcome is probably related to solid genes – the rest is simply getting stuck in.

I didn’t really see it back then, but my friend simply worked really hard.

When she was a competition swimmer she trained so much that she consumed around 6000kcal a day and had an amazing physical strength even when I first met her.

As time went on she ran, swam, played rugby at international level, skied, snowboarded, joined various volleyball teams, got really good at cross fit, and even became good at tennis too.

Honestly it used to wear me out just watching her – because it wasn’t like after she’d completed these activities she was dead to the world.

It was quite the opposite in fact. She’d enthusiastically get involved in many other hobbies (like making stained glass windows for heavens sake) and was a nutcase when it came to DIY.

She re-wired a whole house on her own.

Almost none of it was genetic.

Almost all of it was determined hard work.

She had learned way before I did that if you give something your all, then if you’re lucky you eventually cross a boundary between an activity being a chore and it being both pleasurable and (occasionally) addictive.

I think I’ve made an unexpected pivot recently – where my obsession with walking has been (at least for the time being) rivalled by my sudden enjoyment of swimming.

I have to be careful though because I don’t want to ruin or jinx it.

It’s early days for my new favourite thing and I’s relationship.

I’m already aware that I’ve started to compete with myself on split times and that I’m regularly chewing over the stats associated with my progress in my mind.

The speed gains are diminishing rapidly now though. I seem to have temporarily settled into what appears to be ‘my speed’ – which is¬†20 lengths in around 18 minutes. I can keep this pace up continually¬†now for an hour or so – by which time I’ve swum a kilometre and a half.

While I’m doing this my heart rate is around 120bpm and I burn around 1200 active calories.

Whilst I’m still walking – I’m not walking quite as much as I was – because on a time vs energy and fitness expended transaction swimming is allowing me to¬†absolutely smash¬†my usual daily fitness goals.

Since I started swimming and¬†walking (apart from the two days that I’ve rested) according to Apple Watch I’ve burned between 4200 – 5500 kcal (total) per day.

That’s just nuts. On average it’s around 800 to 600 per day¬†more than I was expending with walking alone.

It’s not all bout energy burn though – because thats not why I’m so taken by this.

Although I already feel fitter (and this has really surprised me because I felt great beforehand) the big boost comes from the sudden normality of it all.

Now wearing a swimming costume in public seems perfectly natural to me.

I’ve gone from someone terrified of this to fully embracing it – and this is one of the more significant non-scale victories I’ve had for a some time.

It’s not the only one though. Things are currently looking up – and next week I have a lot of plans and lots of activities to do with lots of people.

Sadly something has to yield though and all of this means that the next¬†two weeks¬†will be without a visit to Slimming World – but you can rest assured that I’m focused and on the case.

As well as being still within my target range I’m a salad eating machine at the moment an¬†as driven as ever – because I mean to not only be still in target for Christmas – but also when February rolls around. When that does (if all goes to plan) I am hopefully going to get my¬†diamond target member badge!!!

So that’s me. Walking, swimming, reading and doing my laundry(ing) through the end of a rather grey and dull week of miserable weather.

As a wise person once said though internet – there is no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothes (and maybe also bad moods).

Davey

Swimming update

So – yesterday’s post was pretty downbeat, and I’d be lying if I said that this morning I bounced out of bed like a happy puppy wagging my tail.

Sitting in bed feeling sorry for oneself did no-one any good in the history of ever mind you – and it will probably come as little surprise to anyone reading that I find it pretty difficult to do this at the best of times.

I’ve been hitting the swimming pool pretty regularly in the mornings, despite my butt strain (it’s still a thing annoyingly) and I’m slowly improving my fitness and stamina.

For those who didn’t see my original post when I first plucked up the courage to go swimming (link) I wasn’t that quick to begin with.

Although I didn’t feel I had a problem with general stamina at the time, I simply didn’t trust my arms to get me from one end of the pool to the other without failing half way.

I needed to pause between lengths for them to recover and at the time they really needed it.

I’m pretty a pretty determined guy at times though – and two factors (in this case) motivated me to stick at it.

Firstly – getting my money’s worth.

I‚Äôve so far used my ‘pay up front’ subscription on 12 out of the available 14 days that I could have in November.

This means (bearing in mind it normally costs £4.70 per swim) that my new favourite activity has been coming in at a frugal 83p a day!

Consequently I not only feel like I’m getting my money’s worth but I now also have renewed confidence that my sphincter is unlikely to allow liquid ingress whilst it’s submerged.

Secondly – I need to demonstrate to myself that I’m continually improving with my stats.

Apple Watch is a powerful motivator – and I’m so glad that recently I replaced my original model with one that’s capable of tracking swimming workouts.

It was the added motivation to justify the cost of this (which I really struggled to do at the time) that eventually helped to wedge me into a pair of speedos.

Today this wonderfully pushy little companion tells me that I almost cracked the 18 minute barrier for 20 lengths.

I can now continuously swim a kilometre and a half without stopping.

This means that I am now capable of swimming almost THREE TIMES THE DISTANCE that I could originally do in almost the same time frame.

Whereas 500m could be completed in 51.06 two and a half weeks ago, 1500m is now do-able in 54.37.

To see this kind of tangible progress is really positive – and I couldn’t be happier with how things are progressing.

It’s not just numbers either.

Even though I started swimming half way through November it’s had a noticeable impact on my monthly active calorie burn.

(This is the figure that I burn through exercise over and above the normal 2500 kcal a man theoretically expends during a day)

Never in my life have I ever been able to swim this far or for so long.

Honestly I could have carried on – but by this time the pool had started to fill up with children and slow movers.

Instead I decided to float in the corner for a while and contemplate what to do with the rest of the day.

The weather is overcast and glum but I’m of the opinion that I need to consciously do something to lift my spirits.

I’m not really sure what that is yet…

We shall see internet!

Davey

Massively small

It’s been a quiet few days and I’ve (so far) had no further incidents of vertigo since last Monday – which is a blessed relief.

The slightly worrying thing though is that there’s a noticeable ‘offness’ still present in my ears – so I don’t think whatever caused it in the first place is completely gone.

I’m hoping it’s receded far enough for a long train journey though because tomorrow I have to travel quite a distance.

I’m hoping that the day out isn’t going to be derailed (no pun intended) in the same way that pretty much everything else I’ve wanted to do since last week has been.

Health wise in every other respect I’m cooking on gas though.

It never ceases to amaze me what the human body is capable of when you push it or try to do new things.

When I first tried to swim on Friday (the last time prior to this was 20 years ago) it took me 51 minutes to do 20 lengths.

My arms were tiring quickly and I had to wait a while at either end while they recovered because I was scared that they’d run out of steam half way.

I really don’t want to be rescued!

I’m still not able to do length after length without stopping – but the down time in between them is rapidly decreasing.

Annoyingly today Apple Watch decided to ignore my first length in its count – but trust me when I say that this morning I did 20 lengths in almost half the time that it took me when I first started.

Furthermore when I’d finished, (since I had more time than expected before meeting my friend for a planned twalk nearby) I decided to carry on.

Again I was cheated out of the first length in my stats (I have no idea why this is happening and it’s annoying!) but this means that I can now do 30 lengths in around 38 minutes.

An extra 50% distance in 4/5ths of the time!!

How cool is that?!

It just goes to show how moderately sustained period of exercise (this is only my fifth consecutive day) can yield tangible improvements. You just have to stick to it and be a bit determined.

So why am I suddenly doing this and why am I so focused on the results?

Well honestly I have decided that I want to lose more weight – but as MOTY I cant deviate too much from the point where I won the title while I hold it.

However there is absolutely nothing to stop me replacing the fat I lose (there’s a fair bit left around my waist – a common problem area for guys) with muscle.

I want to see whether I can change my body shape – which outside of fat loss is not something I’ve earnestly tried to do before.

Currently in my mind’s eye I look like this.

But I’d really really like to look like this.

I’m pretty sure that my walking has afforded me quite muscular legs – but since they were always covered in fat as I developed their shape I’ve no idea whether they look better now than they otherwise would have done if I’d always been thinner.

My arms and shoulders however are another story entirely.

They’re pretty skinny now (there’s no fat at all in this area) and I’ve done next to no work on them over the last three years that I’ve managed to sustain.

Dumbbells suck.

Press-ups suck.

Pull-ups suck (and are also currently impossible.)

Swimming on the other hand does not suck so the likelihood that I’m going to carry on with it is (hopefully) high.

I should be able to see tangible physical changes too as I develop the muscles needed to swim continuously.

I’ve also got another incentive to change my shape further – because on Sunday I went charity shopping with a friend.

I like going hunting for new things with her because I feel that we tend to push one another outside of our comfort zones – and we get eachother to try new styles and colours that otherwise we may have completely ignored.

This picture is a new high point in my clothes buying career – because it represents something MASSIVE.

Or SMALL.

It depends on how you look at it.

For me it’s a MASSIVE milestone because the size label in this jacket reads SMALL.

Honestly I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about wearing clothing that’s so fitted (because frankly it makes me want to reduce my waist even more) but the honest truth is that I trust her opinion and she said that I don’t look stupid.

I’m not naive enough to think that everything ‘small’ will suddenly fit me (and I suspect that this Animal jacket is probably more of a ‘smaller medium’ than a true small) but I don’t care one little bit.

It is without a shadow of doubt the smallest item of clothing that I ever remember wearing as an adult (even my fitted waistcoats have more give) and it makes me happy – because even now I can see scope for improvements in my body and I want to work to achieve them.

It’s going to be a difficult balancing act mind you – because I’ve noticed that arriving hand in hand with significantly increased daily exercise is a growing appetite.

I’ve been rather hungry over the last few days and having stepped on the scales this morning I can confirm that a I’ve moved a couple of pounds in the wrong direction.

This is all good though – and I’m not worried.

Facing up to the consequences of what I do and what I eat is a continuous project – and figuring out how much my body needs (or doesn’t need) when I become more active is a learning curve like any other.

All I have to do is track what I burn, track what I consume and it will all eventually come out in the wash.

Anyway.

That’s the sum of the last few days.

Tomorrow promises to be infinitely more blog worthy because I’m attending a reception at the Houses of Parliament!

Tune in next time when hopefully there will be some pics of the event and interesting musings.

It could equally be a harrowing description of a vertigo attack whilst stuck in London miles from home.

Hopefully it’s the former internet….

Davey

Squeaking from below

Although at the time it fitted in quite nicely with my healthy eating regime my epic addiction to walking wasn’t something I planned in advance.

In truth my continued predilection with it related more to the fact that I’m a rather frugal person at heart.

It seemed insane to me that people paid for gyms to use a treadmill when there was a perfectly good pavement right outside their houses.

Furthermore (despite what many may assume) I’ve never felt like willpower was my strong suit.

It will eventually fail – so with regard to health you have to build active structures into your life that have as little friction as possible – but lots of fringe benefits.

Walking everywhere ticked pretty much every box for me.

In the early days it simply saved me money on the way to a coffee shop – and I made a pact with myself I’d never buy a coffee without getting to the cafe under my own steam.

I still do the same thing 99% of the time now and it serves me very well.

It also became a vehicle for socialising – and I’d accidentally I discovered an entirely new source of intellectual and emotional stimulation that also had the added benefit of keeping me healthy.

I fed the soul while I burned the pounds.

Later on it became my primary method of commuting to work and I walked six miles every day without fail thanks to this.

Mostly because of these things (and because I bloody love it) I’m pretty sure that walking will always be a part of my life.

I may just have found another hobby though – because currently all I can think about is swimming.

This morning I got up early and hit the pool again.

My split times seem to have already markedly improved from the day before – which I’m really surprised about. I expected a lot more pain in my arms and in fact when I awoke there was none at all!

Yesterday this was the result.

Today I felt more confident and really rather focused. My technique was noticeably a little better and my breathing had improved. Both need a lot of work though.

I screwed up on the distance today though and accidentally set the length of the pool to 20 rather than the total number of lengths to 20.

Either way I did the same distance as I did the day before in around two thirds of the time.

It’s clear that I need to work out exactly how my watch tracks the distance and strokes so that I get a true representation of whether I’m getting better or worse.

It’s a work in progress – but I plan to keep trying hard – for several reasons.

Firstly I was very aware that the same motivation propelled me to get out of bed and go to the leisure centre early this morning as originally motivated me to go walking.

I’ve paid up front, and it’s only worth it if I use it.

If you want to swim at any of Warwickshire’s municipal pools it’s either ¬£4.70 on a pay as you go basis or ¬£25 for a rolling monthly pass (with a ¬£20 one off enrolling fee).

That means in order to make such an arrangement financially worthwhile I need to go for a swim ten times in the first month and six times a month thereafter.

That’s do-able.

Being tight fisted is a powerful motivator.

I’m going a step further though as an added incentive.

I’d like to at least halve the cost of going for a dip (making it ¬£2.35 a go) and that means I need to go more than ten times a month.

If you can hear a squeaking noise it’s not a mouse. That’s the sound of my ass cheeks rubbing together…

Slimming World motivates me along the same lines.

As a target member I get to go to group for free as long as I remain within my range – and it’s a great incentive to keep trying hard every week.

The swimming has really helped me in this respect. Today and the day before have seen numbers of daily calories being burned (According to Apple Watch) that I’ve not experienced for quite a while.

Yesterday alone I finished the day on nearly 5000 (although to be fair on top of swimming half a kilometre I also walked 17.5 miles) and I’m on for a great total today too.

All of this meant I had a chunky 3lb loss and for the first time in a long long time I also won the slimmer of the week!!

Wow.

Swimming rules!!!

It’s also impacted my mood today from another perspective – because today my worst nightmare arrived.

I was a little surprised yesterday when I found that the Warwickshire changing rooms are now unisex.

That’s ok though – there are cubicles and in the morning it’s quiet. I’m not a prude either and in principle it doesn’t bother me.

Today though (directly after the morning fitness session) is a ‘learn to swim club’ with tons of little kids – and the unexpected side effect of this was that I found myself surrounded by lots of fully clothed mums and dads while I was standing in the shower in my Lycra pants.

But you know what?

Screw it.

After all the lengthy and fearful preamble to my inaugural swim yesterday I have realised now how much it doesn’t matter – and frankly I couldn’t care less if I’m standing topless in front of people who are either the opposite sex or fully clothed.

In fact I’d go so far as to say I don’t give a shit.

This is something quite profound.

I’ve actually made something of a massive mental leap in a very short space of time – because if (after years of fearing this) I can take off my clothes and stand, imperfect and half naked in front of random strangers then I can stand in front of a prospective partner and do the same.

The truth of it is that attractive people rarely look like someone we’d want to get to know if they lack confidence and stare at the floor.

Confidence is an alluring quality in itself and I aim to cultivate this part of me whether I’m standing in a three piece suit or the one provided for me on my birthday.

My personal project to increase my unclothed self confidence is in full flow internet.

I’m on the case and chasing improvements wherever I can find them.

Davey

Another fear conquered!

It’s been a rocky couple of weeks with one thing or another and if I didn’t know the truth already I’m now firmly of the opinion that I’m an awful ill person.

I’m sure we all have our moments – and that being sick suits no-one – but I feel being ‘benched’ way more acutely than I ever used to.

Especially when it’s a silly little part of my body (inner ear) causing all the problems.

Status update – I still feel ‘odd’.

That’s the best I can do to give this illness a voice. For most of the time it’s just a vague floaty feeling coupled with a mild earache and a sense that I may or may not feel a little sick.

Honestly if I was still a regular drinker this would have been lost in the routine of my daily hangovers (otherwise known as life back then) and I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

The only reason I keep picking up on this issue is that I’m usually on such good form – and I really notice when I’m even a little off nowadays.

It’s slowed me down this week – but thankfully I’m the human equivalent of a rubber band these days – and if I miss exercise one day or don’t feel like I’ve done enough during the week then I end up jumping into it with gusto as soon as I can.

Part of me says I should love lying in bed, watching Netflix or playing video games – especially with such a good excuse.

I hate it though.

These passtimes were such a huge feature of my existence not so long ago (and represent all that was wrong with my approach to life) that I can’t bring myself to do them for any length of time unless I absolutely have no other choice.

So – I needed to make up for a couple of days where I barely walked a couple of miles.

But how to compensate for not doing enough?

Well – maybe the best way is doing something new and facing up to a long held fear.

Today, after a lengthy morning walk around the park, for the first time since 1998 I went swimming.

Yep.

I only went and ****ing did it!

The truth about fears are that they’re always bigger in your head than they are in reality.

The horror of one day having to confront this has been growing and growing in my mind like a virus ever since I realised I could no longer physically or mentally face swimming.

I have been envisaging the absolute worst outcome for so long that it was next to impossible to approach it rationally.

I’ve had a few ‘standing on a ledge’ conversations with some of my friends about my self image related to this over the last few weeks.

However…

The world didn’t end.

No-one stared at me.

Everyone was perfectly nice – and a couple of them even made pleasant conversation with me when I paused at the ends of the pool to catch my breath.

The whole thing was completely uneventful – and that is flipping awesome!!!!

All I wanted was to be invisible – and I actually think I was.

I am very glad indeed that I bought some good trunks because they were absolutely excellent.

My new Speedos are flexible and supportive in all the right places and grippy enough to stay in place.

They never once rolled either up or down at the top or bottom, and when I climbed out of the pool there was no crack of doom to horrify the poor ladies behind me.

I’ll go so far as to say I felt damn good in them.

I’m not just saying that to overcompensate for negative feelings either.

I felt like I fitted in with the other pool users. I didn’t seem to be any larger or smaller than anyone around me – which is another massive step towards me re-aligning my skewed mental perspective of myself and how people view me.

Furthermore I fit perfectly into large skin tight Speedos.

I can also easily climb up and down the steps into the pool.

Hell – now I fit into the world.

Wether it’s wet or dry.

This might not be a surprise to those that look at me – particularly in my MOTY photos – and logically I knew this already but my inner child didn’t.

He’s still bullied, small and vulnerable.

He lives in fear of being picked on and needs to be led by the hand and shown that’s it’s ok to stand up tall in front of people.

Regular readers may remember I’ve done something like this before.

This is the same as me getting into every small car I could find in Warwick and Leamington (link) and proving to myself that I could get all of their seatbelts on.

Even though my logical mind knew that I could my child mind would have nothing to do with the concept.

Only by physically confronting irrational fears like this do I prove to him that there’s no need to be afraid.

So I swam.

I did it slowly and methodically, and it tired my (clearly weaker than they should be) arms out.

I need more practice and I need to get better.

So I bought myself a rolling swimming pool membership – and I’m going to improve.

This is where I start.

I’d also done two lengths before I started my watch’s workout – so I actually swam 550 metres (22 lengths of the pool) on my first attempt in two decades.

I needed a break between each one to rest my arms – but I felt good!!!

So – here’s to conquering fear and getting on with living the fullest life humanly possible.

If I can do it then anyone can.

Fear is the only thing stopping you.

Conquer it!

Davey