So – January is over.
As innocuous as it seemed at first, this turned out to be a completely fantastic but also extremely challenging month. I enjoyed almost every moment of it, but from an emotional perspective I’m still glad it’s over and done with.
All of a sudden the calendar has flipped over and presented me with a fresh page containing 28 new little blank squares. Only one is filled at the moment and it’s a biggie.
On the 24th it will be ONE WHOLE YEAR since I hit target at Slimming World.
This is particularly significant because there has NEVER been a single period of my life where my weight has remained stable for so long. Try as I might I can’t actually remember ANY length of time when it didn’t immediately rebound upwards after any transient period of healthy eating or weight loss.
I always crash dieted then started ‘eating normally again’.
The truth was that I’d always failed to recognise previously that I never ate normally in the first place, and therefore all that I was really saying was ‘I’m about to return to bingeing on crap and drinking myself to death’.
I don’t do this any more though and I’ve had to admit over the last few years that even now I occasionally still struggle with the definition of ‘normal’.
The war is therefore not won.
I’m still trying to balance my food intake – thanks largely to recent changes in my usual daily exercise regimes (which make me even more hungry than usual) and a more varied personal schedule that’s reduced attendance at my normal Saturday group.
This Saturday is no exception (I’m not weighing in today) and if I want to be in target by the 24th I’m going to have to watch myself like a hawk in the coming weeks.
Once I’ve done that will I get to hold a diamond target membership badge – which represents proof positive (to me at least) that I’m capable maintaining the health and fitness levels I have now for the rest of my life.
When (not if – because I’m going to do it) I pin this to my lapel it will prove emphatically that I can deal with both the highs and the lows of life and not turn to the wrong things for comfort.
It will state in no uncertain terms that I have finally changed for good. I’m on a mission and it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing because I need to remain focused.
Once again this week I’ve been in Sussex (a long way away from my usual routines) and trying hard not to slip into a holiday mode. So far I’ve been a good boy – and have kept one thought at the forefront of my mind.
Where there are pavements there are opportunities to burn calories.
At the moment the ones in Sussex may be a little slippery and treacherous but they’re absolutely beautiful.
When there are sunrises like this framing a frosty treeline it’s not really that much of a hardship to get out and about – even early in the morning.
For once the temperature isn’t really getting to me. Whilst it’s really really cold at the moment a few months ago I invested in a pair of thermal long johns – and boy was the purchase worthwhile!!
When I arrived in Sussex on Wednesday it was just a teeny bit frosty – but eventually (just like everywhere else in the UK) snow arrived to properly whiten my surroundings.
I’m just thankful that we aren’t experiencing the same kind of conditions as parts of America mind you – because they seem to have it bad.
Even though I don’t have to deal with minus twenty six degrees in Hell it’s at times like these that I’m really glad that I’ve learned the importance of layering outdoors gear.
While a big thick coat might seem like the answer in weather like this, more often than not when you’re walking it really isn’t. Invariably you’ll always get hot and want to take something off (as one of my regular ‘thermostaically challenged’ twalking companions will attest to.)
If all of your warmth potential is contained within one item then you’ve just lost the lot. Now when I’m out and about in this kind of weather (as well as my long johns) I wear a moisture wicking long sleeved Berghaus top, a light long sleeved zip neck fleece pullover and a down (roll packable) jacket with a hood.
When it comes to a place like Brighton (which I visited again on Thursday) this is REALLY worthwhile because around the shops and city centre there’s only the temperature to contend with – but when you hit the seafront the wind is relentless.
At times it threatened to take me off my feet – and capturing a selfie with my phone wobbling back and forth in my hand was actually rather difficult to do.
Despite its climactically capricious nature though I’m starting to rather like the place.
I’ve come to the conclusion (particularly now that I’ve found all the charity shops) that there are few real (what I would call) bargains to be found within its city limits. There are however many many kitsch things to fill your life with if you have peculiar enough taste and the shelf space to accommodate them.
Prices down south definitely do not mirror the ones in the charity shops of Warwickshire. All you have to do is glance in the window of an estate agent to see why this is.
There’s a huge disparity between the social classes there – and this is most apparent both in the cost of real estate and the tastes of those that inhabit it.
Here flamboyant wealth often stands side by side with grinding poverty (as the vagrants hoovering up the free coffee in Waitrose demonstrated) but the more well off residents of Brighton and Hove don’t like to appear too wealthy.
Their clothing choices (mirroring their furnishing ones) seem markedly different to the infinitely more reserved Warwickians that I’m used to. People with money in this region prefer to dress with more a more… bohemian vibe, and often the well off ones look pretty much the same as the poor ones.
Often the only thing missing from the rich ones seems to be a can of strong cider and a sleeping bag.
Those with enough money to look poor and eccentric make significant effort to do so – and the vendors in places like ‘Snoopers Paradise’ are keen (at a price) to cater to their lower rent tastes.
Because it’s so varied I tend to love pretty much everything I find in Brighton but sadly I can afford virtually none of it – and I’m definitely going to need a job before I can develop a different attitude toward the markets and stalls I’ve found so far.
All in all I walked about eight miles around the various different parts of Brighton on Thursday – and whilst this is was partially due to my willingness to explore thrift stores it’s also because I’m driven by my stats.
As always I’m pretty obsessive about what I do every month – and even while I’m away from home the idea of my averages slipping is something that drives me quietly potty.
Thankfully there’s a leisure centre with a swimming pool near to where I’m staying – and on Thursday morning I popped in for a dip. Oddly this is a variable length pool with a large boom at one end that can be moved up and down the breadth of its run.
This changes the distance you swim from 33m to 25m or back again, depending on the time of day you visit. In the space it creates when shifted up a bit (when I visited) there was a spirited aquafit class led by a very loud woman bouncing back and forth in gaudy leggings and trainers on the side of the pool. On Thursday morning her group was positively crammed with pensioners waving pieces of foam around their heads and under water.
It’s quite unusual to have music pumping away in the background while I swim – but not entirely unwelcome. Since I still don’t do breaststroke with my head under the water it meant that I could rhythmically paddle away to the beat.
Time consequently flew by while I was there.
One thing this definitely made me realise was just how good my local facilities are after their recent refurbishment. Whilst water is water and I’m happy to just pound out the lengths anywhere the changing rooms, lighting, fixtures and general tone of The Dolphin pale in comparison to St Nicholas.
Either way – using it has enabled me to maintain my average daily distance total for swimming – which I’m very pleased to report is for January is just under 1.5km per day.
I’ve let things with my walking slide a little since November because of the extra swimming I’m doing – and whilst I really wanted to keep it at the same level the truth is it’s simply unsustainable.
If I do I’ll just end up running myself ragged trying to do too much, losing all enjoyment in it – or even worse pull or strain something.
Even so I think I’m still doing pretty darned well with my mies per day average…
Overall this means that whilst my daily exercise minutes are roughly the same, my average active calories burned has increased noticeably from where it was in October.
Compared to March last year I’m burning almost 800kcal extra per day.
So – all is good – and I’m on track for my diamond target member badge. Over the coming weeks you can probably expect to hear much much more about this as I near the moment and at some point have the occasional worry or stress!
Watch this space internet!