I was up earlier than usual today putting together my breakfast and lunch for a trip I’d had planned for a few weeks to Cardiff.
I don’t ALWAYS practice what I preach (and truthfully used to find this saying very annoying) but I try and have a ‘fail to prepare and you prepare to fail’ mantra regarding my diet.
Although this sounds very obvious I’m most likely to eat when I’m hungry.
The trick is making sure that something is available at that time that’s both delicious and nutritious – but also that won’t sabotage me. Not taking things or making them in advance is a recipe for disaster.
Today I was taking tupperware aplenty with me. Snacks for the drive, and a filling meal for later. I made some mini quiches in advance last night and packed five of them along with a few sticks of celery and several carrots. I also put some frozen berries in with fat free natural yogurt, cinnamon, stevia and 30g of porridge oats.
It wasn’t until I had set out in the car, and was sipping my freshly brewed flask of coffee on the M42 with an ‘aren’t I organised’ sense of self-satisfied smugness that I realised I had brought no spoon to eat my yogurt and berries with.
Ultimately my oats eventually became an evening meal – and I’ve only JUST put the tupperware in the sink after returning home. I sat and ate it in the kitchen – where I’d prepared it 12 hours previously…
Tsk. Better luck next time brainiac.
The journey to Cardiff took a couple of hours – and despite Apple maps having something of a brain fart for 20 minutes when I was almost next door to my destination (which added an annoying 20 mins) I arrived in relatively good time to see my friend.
It’s safe to say that we simply don’t get to see enough of each other – and probably even more so recently life has gotten in the way of us hooking up. We were well overdue a long uninterrupted chat – and the plan was to have coffee, walk, eat, have more coffee and talk till our jaws ached.
Truthfully I don’t find talking all that hard. I often wonder if those who walk with me lately consider bringing with them a roll of parcel tape and some rope in case they need to shut me up.
However, some friends have the cachet of having known you for a very long time. They’re the special ones where you can start your conversation right where you left off without any back story, even if you haven’t seen each other for a while – because they know you so well.
They have seen you at your best and your worst and have stayed by your side throughout all of it.
My friend had a new place to live in Cardiff since I last visited and she was keen to show me around. It was frankly quite lovely with some really nice views and perfectly placed for walking. It’s quite flat and there are loads of places to stop and admire the view.
There’s a circular walk of Cardiff bay (which she estimated at 4.5 miles) that includes the bay and docks, and then winds through the re-developed millenium area closer to the city edge. We started near the nearby Marina and headed toward the coast past several boat yards.
I find a real sense of calm by the sea – which is less to do with a natural affinity for boats and more to do with my time living next to it in Aberystwyth. The smell of the air, the seagulls, the wind and the sound of the tide – they all take me back to a place (and time) of happiness, and I’m immediately in a relaxed frame of mind.
It was a pretty grey day today – which was a bit of a shame as I think some of the bay area would have looked REALLY nice with a bit of blue sky and sunlight. The BBC weather report yesterday promised 3 hours of sun today and frankly they turned out to be lying swines. It was no-where to be seen sadly.
However, whatever was taken from the view was given back by the cool breezes and fresh air. It was a pleasant day for walking – although frankly I’m always the last person to feel the cold (unlike my companion) so this may not be an opinion shared by all.
Given that it was midday on Thursday the area was largely deserted except for the occasional walker and jogger – and even when we reached the half way point on the other side of the bay there was hardly anyone around. It seemed that Cardiff knew I was coming and had cleared out all of the superfluous individuals to make my passage easier.
It was at this point that I asked my friend to take a full length picture of me.
I haven’t had too many of these done recently – and although I’m getting better with liking my selfies for what they are (me) the full length shots of me are something I still don’t feel all that comfortable with.
I still have a pretty poor overall self image. Physically I don’t like so many things about myself that the list is practically endless. I try not to think about it too much as it gets me down.
However – if I don’t face up to it and don’t try to normalise my perception of myself rather than hide from it and bury it I doubt anything will ever change. So – here is a full length pic.
As I sit and look at this I can see the improvement in both my face and stomach (both look smaller) but it’s clear there’s a lot of work still to do here.
This is useful as a reference point however – and I’m happy about this picture because I remember wearing this shirt while working in Amsterdam many years ago. It gives me a sense of time and place – and makes me feel like physically I’m winding the clock back to fitter and happier times.
It’s a definite improvement on my most hated photograph – which from time to time I feel I should pull out of storage and look at just to see how far I’ve come.
A long way it seems.
Cardiff bay is also home to Doctor Who – and although I didn’t visit the Doctor Who Experience (I can’t afford spending £16 on a whim to look at Daleks and sonic screwdrivers these days sadly) I did manage to visit the fictional entrance to the Torchwood facility – which is labelled Ianto’s Shrine (after the character in the series who died)
Initially it looked like there had been vandals about – as the statue above this had a curiously pink dog. My friend said it didn’t normally look like that. It must be meddlesome students.
As we walked over however it seemed that the bronze pooch had been given a makeover for cancer research – which periodically is turning parts of the bay blue and pink. It seems this week was the turn of pink – and even the litter pickers had pink high-viz vests on!
I quite like the pink hound!
Now seemed like a good time to stop for a bite to eat, and my ever generous friend treated me to a rather tasty Harissa Chicken Super Salad at The Dock (just to the right of the pink dog and above the shrine). Although it had some Avocado in it and a few seeds I’m guesstimating this came in at around 8-10 syns.
Although I fully appreciate why Avocado has such a high ‘syn’ value in Slimming World terms I do find it really annoying. Although syns and calories have to be accounted for, the seeds and avocado in this salad are really important, healthy foods to eat – and are packed with nutrients.
A whole avocado will set you back 14 syns – nearly the entire daily SW allowance if you’re a woman – and 3/4 if you’re a man.
In SW terms eating three and a half packets of Walkers French Fries (a UK low fat potato crisp) comes in at the same value, yet contains none of the benefits of the salad I had for lunch.
I know which I prefer. I’m trying to eat as little processed food as possible – although ham, bacon medallions and light mayo are currently notable concessions to this lofty aspiration that I can’t seem to ditch!
After our salad we stopped off for a coffee and headed for the cars, which were parked at her flat.
By the time we got back there Apple Watch reported that for the day so far I’d done 14,500 steps and 6.5 miles. The bay walk accounted for just under six miles of that, and was a bit longer than I expected.
Not a bad amount of walking for a day trip!
We had an extra big hug, said our goodbyes and then went our separate ways – she to pick up her toddler and me to battle some traffic on the M4 on the way back to Warwick.
Superficially today is just another walk, but its more than that. It’s actually really really REALLY important to me.
I thought about it all the way home while I watched the brake lights, and wiped the drizzle periodically from my windscreen as it slowly moved from dusk to dark.
My friend is someone that I’ve mentioned in passing on previous blogs. The fittest I’d ever been in my ENTIRE life culminated in a truly great Cornish costal walking holiday with her in 2008. We walked a long way together. I was amazingly happy at the time that we were able to enjoy something that she liked for a change, instead of the sedentary activities we usually ended up making do with because of my size.
Today is the first time since then we’ve been walking together since then – and it was particularly significant because of that.
This photo was taken at 24 and a half stone – the lightest I’ve been this side of the millennium. I am wearing a pair of cargo trousers that have a 52 waist.
For whatever reason almost immediately after this photo I took that happiness and flushed it down the toilet by putting all my weight back on.
I’ve got another 3 stone and 4 inches to lose before I can put those trousers back on.
It’s going to happen.
Shortly after I’ll take them to charity, because I’m not stopping there. After the trousers in this picture are too big I’m into uncharted territory. I have no idea what I’ll be able to do when I pass this weight barrier.
I’ve still got a long way to go internet – but I’m getting there, bit by bit and day by day.