How time flies.
On Monday I spent my morning walking around between Burton Dassett and Avon Dassett. It’s a really lovely part of the world which I have to say I holds a special place in my memories because of what it represents.
Whilst standing at the top of Magpie Hill (after the relatively brief stride to the summit) I started reminiscing about previous trips I’ve made there with my various twalking buddies.
It doesn’t seem like five minutes since I wrote this post (link) when I first visited Burton Dassett (I couldn’t remember the name of it at the time and kept calling it Bertie Bassett) with a friend, but amazingly it was Feb 14th 2017.
This was two whole years ago!
Back then I was 23st 10lbs, but surprisingly I still coped rather well with the effort of making the journey to the top.
It had completely slipped my mind until I looked back at my post (one of the reasons I write them) that when I walked up to the windmill (or whatever it is – no-one seems to know for sure) I was trying for the very first time to add gradients to my walking capabilities.
Distance was becoming less of an issue, but hills had yet to become a firm part of my exercise lexicon.
Since there aren’t all that many hills of consequence in Warwickshire this represented preparation for an eventual attempt at climbing Snowdon – which back then seemed mind bogglingly far off in the future.
I eventually did it though (my various Snowdon exploits are here).
Much has changed since then – not least the fact that it was a LOT easier to burn calories – because after 38 minutes and 1.57 miles of relatively chilled out walking (at least by my standards today) I’d amazingly eradicated over 466 of them.
The second time I visited was in July 2017 (link).
By then I was a lot fitter and quite a bit lighter (19st 11lbs). This meant that I was more than willing to extend the walk (as suggested by a more ‘off piste inclined regular twalker) to Avon Dassett.
As was customary with this particular companion there were a few little mis-steps and our twalk ended up being slightly longer than originally expected – coming in at around six miles.
In total on my second visit I burned 1600 calories.
On Monday (in comparison) my heart rate was a LOT lower and I had to do a LOT more distance to get anywhere near this amount. In order to double my calorie burn compared to the first visit my companion and I had to walk THREE TIMES as far.
Although the distance I covered on Monday was nearly identical to my second visit I burned 600 less calories.
To burn 1600 calories in one go these days I have to swim continuously for around two kilometres.
It’s not all about the miles and calories though – and it’s certainly not all about the stats – because these are (to an extent) becoming less and less relevant now I’m much fitter.
These days I walk for the friendship and the views – as well as it being something that I love to do.
This is despite the mud mind you – because while the skies and surroundings looked beautiful on Monday by the time I reached Avon Dassett my boots were almost twice as heavy as when I’d started.
The earth in the recently ploughed fields was like glue – and proved really tough to get off when we finally got to solid ground. No matter how many times I stood in puddles, wiped it on grass and stamped my feet it refused to budge.
In fact the only place to effectively scrape it away happened to be one of the two churches in the village.
Sitting at the top of the village, St John the Baptist (which is still not in use by anyone) has some useful little scrapers and a rough bristly mat in front of the doors. These prove to be a serious winner if you want to have a look inside without dragging half of the nearby fields with you.
I was talking to a close blogging friend (Hayley – check out her site – its ace) the other day and sharing thoughts about how we’ve both changed thanks to our significant (and life altering) successes with Slimming World.
She is now barely recognisable in her ‘before’ photos (check this out! link) and is consequently someone that I regularly discuss the psychological aspects of weight loss with. We’ve both gotten rid enough of it to make our previous lives and attitudes practically impossible for us to relate to.
As we nattered I mentioned my return visit to this church. This started in the context of our shared love of photography – in particular how ‘bokeh depth of field’ effects are becoming easier and easier to accomplish with multi lens (or AI assisted single lens) smart phones.
She can accomplish these kinds of effects with a digital SLR (something I don’t have or know how to do) – but nevertheless I still like to play around and had been experimenting with my twalking buddy.
We’d taken a few example shots while we were in the church and I’d been showing him the really cool ‘portrait’ mode on my iPhone.
I sent these faux bokeh images to my fellow blogger (as well as the ones above from 2017) and as we discussed them the conversation slowly shifted to self image – specifically how nowadays it seems really bizzare to both of us that we ever looked differently to the way that we do now.
As the anniversary of me reaching my target weight approaches I’m beginning to realise that I just accept what I see in the mirror these days and don’t really question it any more.
Like Hayley my current self image has slowly become my normal. When I look at photos of myself from before I started losing weight they now seem like someone else entirely – and the fear (that used to burn oh so brightly) of me falling back into old habits has almost completely evaporated.
That’s not to say I don’t still struggle at times – because I do. Despite my best efforts sometimes I’m more off plan than I’m on it – but crucially I’m always aware that at some point I’m going to have to fix any gains – and so far this has been something I’ve become quite adept at doing.
Cooking proper meals (of which I’ve been doing a lot this week for #freefoodfeb) and doing plenty of exercise is always the key.
I definitely experience my worst excesses when I pick at food, don’t cook meals and decide to stay in bed rather than getting up for a swim or an early morning walk around the park. This only ever results in a mood dip the following day followed by more picky eating, self recrimination, a lot more eating, yet more self recrimination.
Thankfully after all that nonsense is out of the way I usually then experience a major push to sort myself out.
I wish it didn’t happen like this – and maybe one day maybe it won’t – but I’m less inclined these days to view any of this as failure, because it most certainly isn’t. This (along with my self image) is the truth of my new normal. I screw up and then I sort it out.
Over and over again.
I’m often asked by people (particularly on Instagram) what the ‘secret’ of such massive weight loss is – as well as how to keep it off long term.
It’s a difficult question to answer – but I guess the easiest (and most truthful response) is simply that I no longer turn any gains into a catastrophe. Instead I just accept that sometimes my weight will fluctuate along with my mood – just the same as it does for everyone else in the world.
In truth there is no answer to it that fits everyone (or at least not one that I’m aware of) just an acceptance that everyone will struggle from time to time and that the quickest route to failure is believing that it will happen.
Anyway – it’s getting late and I have to walk home and cook the very kind of food optimised meal that I’ve just been writing about.
Whatever you’re doing internet please make sure it involves a little walk, a home cooked meal – and a sprinkling of self belief.
It it does we’ll all be golden 🙂