The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse. There’s been rain, wind (a bit more rain) and dark cloud (with some more rain) to contend with today – but I really don’t care in the least (even though there’s also rain).
A friend remarked a while ago though (in a turn of phrase I’ve since adopted as my own) that ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothes.‘
I tend to agree. Grey skies are no excuse. Not when you have a lovely warm coat and a willingness to put one foot in front of the other.
By 9am I’d already managed to get five miles under my belt, and I often find that getting a chunk of exercise in early energises me and means that i’ll probably end up doing more later too.
Regardless of what the weather decided to do for the rest of the day this meant it was definitely going to be a success.
I’m becoming quite fond of my ‘winter plumage’ too – and honestly (although I didn’t plan it this way) couldn’t have picked a better time to start pushing through some chin fur. Whether it’s going to stay or goes in the long term I don’t know – but it’s the first time I’ve grown once since hitting target and it’s great to compare it to bearded me back when I was at my heaviest.
This is something that always encourages me to keep my eye on the ball – and although focusing so much on how I look may appear vain I honestly don’t care. I actually like the new shape of my face now (which is wonderful when I consider that I used to hate it) and when I see the contrast to how it used to look it fills me with pride.
It’s the kind of thing that enables me to do what I did yesterday – which was speak to some upper sixth students at a school in Derbyshire about weight loss and the psychology behind transformative change.
If nothing else when I go there they give me a fantastic food optimising lunch (a baked potato, salad, garlic mushrooms, green beans and asparagus with trimmed bacon!!!) and that is just one more reason to love speaking to the students.
There’s not much I won’t do for a free lunch!
It’s the second time I’ve talked at this institution in the last two years – and the teacher whose classes I met last time had been kind enough to invite me back to repeat the experience with a whole new set of fresh faces.
I’m by no means an expert in this field – but doing this is something that gives me real pleasure. If even just one thing I say about my experiences in childhood, the mistakes I’ve made and the moments of insight that enabled me to correct my trajectory resonates with someone then that’s enough to make the trip worthwhile.
Maybe I’ll save someone else the pain and heartache that I went through.
It’s a wonderful thing to see a stifled yawn turn into a curious frown, and then eventually morph into a raised hand followed by an insightful question – because then you know that you’re speaking to the heart as well as the mind.
At that moment you’ve stepped into a shared experience, where something that you’ve gone through is similar to another person’s moment in time, and they’re temporarily pulled closer.
You can almost see their ears physically turn in your direction and a light go on in their eyes.
They may still be going through whatever it is – or be searching (possibly without even knowing it) for a way of processing it. A spark ignites for the briefest moment and you know you’ve connected.
It’s really really cool.
However, the truth of it is that you never know with who or when you’ll make a difference. While you may speak to hundreds of people (I lost count a long time ago) it’s impossible to predict which ones your words or actions will resonate with or who will be truly inspired long term.
I couldn’t have predicted for instance that a woman would pull me aside recently (quite out of the blue) and tell me that a conversation I had with her almost two years ago in passing would have changed both her life and health.
At the time I was telling her that I felt Apple Watch (on top of Slimming World) had been instrumental in turning my life around. Its exercise statistics had enabled me to understand how I had made my diabetes retreat so effectively – and made it possible to connect the dots between increased cardio activity, weight loss and plummeting blood sugar levels.
Without its statistics I may not have.
I’d told her at the time that it wasn’t just a case of losing weight – there had to be a corresponding increase in activity too. Although I had no reason to think that she wouldn’t act on what I’d said, from a percentage perspective I find that very few people do.
That’s ok though.
I’m not attempting to convert anyone that’s not ready. If someone had tried to beat my metaphorical door down with unwanted advice back when I was in denial about everything then I’d probably have told them to get lost pretty sharpish.
Yet for some reason with her it struck a chord, and she was on the verge of tears as she told me about the impact I’d had. She’d absorbed my words after I’d left her that day and over time she too had used the Apple Watch I’d spotted on her wrist that day in the same way that I had.
She became stat and goal focused, and like me her obsession every day became filling the three little rings on her wrist.
Her type two diabetes is very nearly in remission. Her levels have dropped so significantly that her HbA1c reading is now in a ‘pre diabetic’ range. She’s lost several stone and she feels infinitely better.
She is also proud of herself – and justifiably so.
That makes every moment that I struggle, lose my way, find it again, climb back on the horse and try to be a better man worth it. It’s the difference between having a lunch of fried tomatoes and garlic (with a little brown sauce and pepper) as opposed to ordering a pizza or a kebab.
Tomorrow I’m probably still going to be a little bit out of target – but for the whole of October I’ve gone back to basics. I’ve written everything down (apart from one day) and compared my exercise levels to my intake.
You know what?
It turns out that all the times I’ve told myself in darker moments that something has changed and I’m physically incapable of losing or maintaining weight were just nonsense. I just wasn’t facing up to what I was putting in my mouth.
I was temporarily eating too much and I wasn’t confronting it.
It’s that simple.
This isn’t me out to make anyone feel guilty though – because like everyone I speak to each of us is on our own path. I think I needed to step back from things for a moment. I needed to just not cope and retreat – even for a little while.
Oddly it helped. Maybe this helps other people too.
The thing is though that I know the old me is never coming back. The round face in the picture above that smiles but I know hid so much pain is firmly in the past. Even though my graph may go up as well as down it will always remain broadly constant.
Rain or shine internet.
This is me now.