As it’s fast approaching the new year (2017 where did you go?!) I thought that it might be about time for a look back at my highs (and lows) over the last twelve months.
One of the reasons I originally started blogging was to document my progress so that I couldn’t escape evidence of failure or success – and thankfully the focus that writing has given me has meant that my efforts have mostly resulted in the former – which is really pleasing!
(2016 retrospective is here)
I started on a very positive note, in 5XL clothes, walking as much as I could and getting heavily into Apple Watch stats. By January the 1st I’d managed to walk 938 miles since I started slimming world (link) and was averaging around six miles a day.
I decided at the beginning of 2017 to cease my diabetes medication (after completely forgetting to take it on the 9th January) and instead monitor my levels with diet and exercise as my sole blood sugar modifier (link) for a month.
It was a bit of a scary time. I didn’t know whether this would damage me or whether it would pay off.
Shortly after my beard also gets shaved off. Although everyone but one person that I solicited for an opinion seems to think I should keep it I’m sick of hiding my chins behind fur – which is the reason I originally grew it in the first place.
It had to go – and the air felt good on my bald face!
It was also the month that I realised I could now fit comfortably in my bath at home (link) and was having some fun soaking for ages and marvelling at my unusually prune like fingers.
Things started to get interesting in the clothing department as my size diminished. As the second month of 2017 appears (and I start to hit a 4XL shirt size) I begin to try and break free from the (very expensive) outsize clothing retailers I’ve been forced to use for many years.
By the start of the month I’ve lost 16 inches from my originally 66in waist and I’m able to buy clothes from Jacamo online for the first time (link) – which is saving me a lot of cash.
This also sees my first attempt to get back into employment (link) and I decide to accept the offer of a job close to where I used to work in Redditch. It involves a lot of driving again (something I originally didn’t want in my life any more) but seems to tick a lot of boxes. In order to keep up my exercise I start using my exercise bike in the mornings before work – but it’s a tough sell.
Partially because I’ve got a job I treat myself to my very first item of high street clothing for about two decades and purchase my 3XL supercoat ™ (link) from Debenhams.
It was far from cheap and I struggled to justify the purchase – but at the time I really needed a coat and also felt like treating myself.
Davey and his uni-colour dreamcoat were very happy together for quite a while – despite all of the ribbing that my miserable expression in this photo generated in social media!
I also made my first attempt at hill walking (I was beginning to work towards a goal of climbing Snowdon) and with a friend scaled the (not so) dizzying heights of Burton Dassett (link).
At the time I remember how surprised I was by how quickly I managed to get to the top and felt rather good about how far I’d come.
Despite much worry about how all the sitting in my new job would affect me (and whether it was right for me) I pick up my 11.5 stone certificate (link).
I was happy with the result, but nevertheless continually preoccupied – and beginning to think that I’ve made the wrong choice for the all wrong reasons. I’m realising that I’ve accepted the job offer because of fear – not because it’s what I wanted to be doing.
With a mixture of feelings (mostly failure) I hand in my notice and leave less than three weeks after I started (link).
I’m glad that I’ve done it – because it underscores how much my priorities in life have changed – but I also feel very dejected for some time afterwards. I can’t escape the sense that people reading my posts (and those that know me) will think less of me for it not sticking with it.
For some time I genuinely feel that I’ve let everyone I care about down. I don’t know what to do with my life and it worries me.
However from a health perspective (which is my primary focus) things keep getting better and better. My blood pressure has now dropped from borderline hypertension to a range typically expected in someone 20 years younger (link).
By the end of the month although I’m unemployed again I’m also capable of clambering all over the Malvern Hills (link) which I do for the very first time. It really hurts afterwards though!
Due to this I feel like I’ve hit a big physical and psychological milestone and the month thankfully ends on a high note.
At times in April I’m aware that I’m dealing with a lot of unresolved feelings about who I am and what I’ve done to myself over the years. I’m confused about everything (except that I need to keep getting fitter), preoccupied with what to do next and don’t understand any more who I am, what I like or dislike and how I (quite literally) fit into the world around me.
Rather ridiculously I’ve also lost the weight of an entire mobility scooter (link).
This means that physically I am beginning to view all of the furniture in my house and everything that I sit in or lie upon on with a new perspective.
Looking around my home just reminds me of a man that no longer exists and I’m periodically experiencing a lot of anger about this (link). I feel lost and like I don’t belong in what was once my only refuge.
The only way I seem to able to banish this is by going out and walking continually further and faster. A sense of progression in my fitness feeds my sense of wellbeing and despite largely ignoring my employment issues I’m doing well.
Mostly because of this method of coping my diabetes remained in retreat despite my choice to discontinue my medication. Originally measured at an outrageous HbA1c level of 94 when first diagnosed in 2014 it’s now down to 29 (link) and my diabetic nurse is stunned at the turnaround – initially thinking that someone else’s results have been delivered to the practice by mistake.
By the time April draws to a close I’ve lost 13.5 stone (link).
The month begins with my first ever public speaking engagement at a school in Derby to a group of psychology students (link). This experience gives me a lot to think about, as it’s something I really enjoyed doing – and it lifts my mood significantly.
It doesn’t hurt that the weather is nice either!
I feel so positive in fact that I decide to try running – and begin the Couch to 5K challenge (link).
Much to my annoyance however all who know me are concerned that I’ve started this too early. I’m 21 stone and they’re (quite rightly) concerned that this could de-rail my progress elsewhere if I injure myself.
I discontinue it after only one session and continue instead with my walking.
It’s working though – because by then I’d lost 22 inches from my waist. I can fit into in a 44 inch waisted pair of Sainsbury’s denims and get on a 2XL hoodie!
I’m noticing less fun aspects of being thinner though – and for the first time I’m getting cold hands (link). This doesn’t stop me getting stuck into a new challenge however – and with the help of a friend one Sunday I begin the lengthy process of recovering my badly overgrown back garden.
Like pretty much everything else in my life over many years this space had been sorely neglected. Despite not really wanting to face up to it my mate’s support is the kick up the bum that I needed.
When I began to get stuck in I suddenly realised that I was rather enjoying bringing order to chaos.
In the process of repairing my garden I distressingly disturb the nest of two blackbirds – and do my best to cover it back up as best I can.
This event marks an increasing interest in photography – and so that I can document the nest’s progress and the wildlife I’m finding as I clear the garden I buy a new camera and start pointing it at anything that does or doesn’t move.
Sadly the blackbird nest gets uncovered again in some horrendous weather and after they’re forced out their eggs are attacked by a predator (link).
I feel genuinely crestfallen.
The garden takes shape though – looking progressively better all the time.
All the while I’m doing this I’m getting fitter and fitter – and am now capable of exploring the hillier areas of Ilmington Downs (link).
Climbing up the steep country lanes ties me out and gets me really sweaty – but things like this are getting easier every day!
I round off the month with my fourteen and a half stone certificate. It seems more and more like my new lifestyle is one that’s here to stay. I’m enjoying my fitness so much at this point it’s difficult to put into words.
I’ll do my best though!
Join me in the next post internet for part two of the 2017 retrospective. It’s been a busy year and there’s still plenty to come!