Normal service has been resumed in the UK it seems and sunny weather with soaring (indeed record breaking in some cases) temperatures have given way to more customary rain and cloud cover.
This morning it’s been torrential.
I’ve mixed feelings about this – and over the last few months my approach to the climate around me has changed a lot as my fitness has increased and my weight has gone down.
My skin (rather unexpectedly) appears to have gotten used to the sun. I can co-exist with other non-crispy types for sensible periods. I’d go so far as to say I really like this development.
I have always ‘loved’ rain – although I’ve come to realise that my feelings on this topic are more complex than a simple like or a dislike. As with everything else in my ‘old’ life rain usually meant cool, non-sweaty weather, and time indoors on my Xbox looking from the inside to the outside.
Inclement weather can be good if you like walking in the rain, but I’m also wary of slipping (I’m too heavy to arrest a descent without damage). I also don’t own a raincoat or any kind of jacket THAT CURRENTLY FITS.
Now I’m not so sure I feel the same about rain. It disrupts my activities.
I’m in a race against time in the next few weeks to get back into my lightweight raincoat and warm winter leather jacket before the weather makes a significant turn towards Autumn.
Therefore I’m making the most of it when it’s nice. Today it wasn’t. Irritatingly I had a walk planned (arranged a couple of weeks ago) with an ex-colleague and her chirpy little baby around the Arrow Valley nature reserve in Redditch.
Thanks to the wonder of my obsessive blogging (my apologies for the relentless spam of new posts subscribers get) I know that I first attempted this on May the 9th in this post.
It’s worth a read (especially if you haven’t read it before.) I could only do 1/3 of a circuit of the lake back then and (to me) it seems like a different Davey in the words of the post.
Today, after a slightly later than expected start involving a trip back to my buddy’s house to get a forgotten pram (we went in her car where the seatbelt just fits!) myself and my friend started our leisurely walk around the lake. The sun was JUST staring to come out. The timing couldn’t have been better.
Today as we walked and talked there were no stops (apart from the occasional swig of water) and no seats – just two straight laps, which took about an hour.
Previously (when I finally managed to do one complete circuit) this took me about an hour and 10 minutes. The last time I measured it on walkmeter in the pic below on Jun 3rd it was still taking me just under an hour. Back then I was approximately three and a half stone heavier.
It occurs to me as I write that at some point I’m going to stop being amazed at things like this because they’ve become mundane and normal. I’m not there yet – but honestly this week in between both good and bad moods I have been able to visualise it on the horizon.
I hope it’s not any day soon though as I love the sense of wonderment I get from the absolutely mundane. Sometimes I feel like a baby, standing upright for the first time, and it’s often a magical moment when I do something unexpected, no matter how small it is.
As my lovely friend and I talked (and her baby quietly gurgled in the shade of his little seat) I discussed with her how the nuggets of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that I had absorbed when giving up alcohol had become infinitely more relevant to me with the passage of time. Although I can’t be 100% sure of this figure (I didn’t make notes) I recall the leader of the group I went to saying that for something to become a learned and unconsciously repeatable behaviour you had to do it for three months.
I’ve heard different numbers in the past and since (some say a month) and I’m frankly dubious of any ‘science’ that can put such a definitive timeframe on what must be a very individual thing to many people – but for me at least it appears to hold water.
It was about 3 months after I gave up drinking that I realised I no longer thought about it daily.
It took about 3 months after starting Slimming World for me to stop having borderline erotic thoughts about pizza, pies and kebabs.
It was about 3 months after starting regularly exercising that I noticed I ‘needed’ it in my day.
It does (for me at least) appear to take around 3 months for things to become habitual. All it takes is 90 days of brute force willpower and then something good becomes normal and not so stressful.
Today it felt normal to be walking and talking at the same time. It felt so different to the last time that I was genuinely surprised at my progress.
Plus – after the rain had stopped it had turned into an absolutely LOVELY day.
As we hugged and parted company we agreed that this was a good venue to meet again – and that we both felt better for a walk around the lake.
It’s not the only route in Arrow Valley though. There are more and I’ve never tried them. I took a photo of the layout of the reserve and the distances. I’m going again soon and I’m going to try some of the longer walks.
As is a little typical recently when my friend and I parted company I immediately started thinking about what I could do next and where else I could walk.
Apple Watch is becoming a bit of an obsession for me lately, and immediately as I was finished with one walk I was looking at my step total and distance travelled. In the back of my head I’m still working toward virtual John o Groats.
It’s getting worse too – after an initial technical hitch with the new os3 watch software that stopped us doing it a different friend is now sharing his fitness data with me in the Apple activity app. I believe that this is a common thing for Fitbit users – but a new one for me.
Like most people in the known universe he’s both significantly lighter and fitter than me – so I don’t expect to be able to compete on a stamina or distance level, but it gives me something to strive for. I may not be able to run like he can – but I can still get my heart rate up during exercise and burn calories.
So far I’ve walked more steps than him today – but I doubt that will last for long!!!
Either way the amazing thing is that I’m actually sharing this with someone and gradually feeling like I can… maybe not compete… but at the very least be part of the same goals and lifestyle as other people.
With this and virtual John o Groats in mind I parked my car a mile outside of Leamington on the way home and decided as usual to walk for my coffee and a stroll around town.
I’m in a very good, happy frame of mind – but also quite a reflective one.
I’m sitting here now typing and thinking about Slimming World and how my weigh in will go tomorrow.
You know what? In some ways it doesn’t matter (although it really really does) because other more tangible things are also becoming my motivators and goal posts.
Exercising with people. ME!!! EXERCISING. WITH PEOPLE. It still seems ludicrous when I write it down. But there it is. I’m doing it. It’s just slowly happened, and in doing so my social circle is becoming more vibrant and active than ever.
You know what internet? I’m fudding loving it.
I’m loving the people, the conversation, the feeling of wellbeing and all the hugs.
It’s all really great and there are only better things to come.