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 🤗