It’s not difficult to feel good on a day like today. The sun is shining again during a week of glorious weather – and I’ve spent the entirety of the last week and a half doing things I love doing.
This roughly translates into being continually outdoors (in this case walking with Boris and his pet human) making the most of each and every single moment of my life.
What a great time it is to be living it.
As well as more familiar haunts lately I’m also getting to know entirely new parts of the UK and while I do I’m in wonderful company.
My new partner in crime and I seem to have unnervingly similar interests at times (I cant fault someone that fully gets a casual geeky Kobayashi Maru reference in conversation) and the more time we spend together the more these synergies become apparent.
I’ve managed to fall into the orbit of a truly like minded individual and any worries I might have had about bending myself or someone else around divergent interests when I found a partner have completely evaporated.
As well as being unrepentant nerds we’re both extremely outdoorsy and both focused on continual self improvement.
It’s not just discovering new places to explore and getting exercise together that’s making me feel so at peace though.
Not only has being in a relationship that’s reciprocal and genuine kept me on the straight and narrow with regard to health but it’s made me realise how impoverished I previously was when it came to human contact.
I suddenly appreciate all its nuances acutely.
That’s not to say I felt lonely in the past – or that I was in deficit with regard to human interaction or lacked great friends – but I now realise that there’s absolutely zero replacement to be found for the feeling that you’re not only in love but that you’re being loved in return.
I have at times been accused of being a soppy git – and if this was a judicial statute with penal servitude attached I may well be doing porridge at her majesty’s pleasure – but I honestly don’t care.
I’ve come way too far in life to not appreciate everything good about my world – and at the moment it’s full of all the things I wanted but never thought I’d be able to obtain.
It doesn’t hurt in the least of course that while I walk hand in hand with my significant other she doesn’t bat an eyelid while I munch on a bag of carrots.
As if all of this soppiness wasn’t enough yesterday also marked something of a milestone – because (as regular readers may know) it represented 366 days since I hit my target weight on 24th February 2018.
Although in real terms I’m now a stone lighter than that day – I’ve now managed to maintain my weight for a staggering (at least to my mind) whole year without (major) incident.
This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve ever managed to do this.
I’ve lost significant amounts of weight many times in the past – but never so much and never for such a sustained period of time without immediately piling all of it (and more besides) back on again.
Losing weight (in some respects) is relatively easy mind you.
I know that this may sound like I’m trivialising it for those that still struggle but if you’re like me (even though mentally it can be a real battle at times) and you’re presented with a reward structure there is always a reason to succeed outside of just feeling physically and mentally better.
I like pats on the head.
In Slimming World you get pats on the head all the time if you’re a good boy.
If you’re not Slimmer of the Week then you can be Slimmer of the Month. Body Magic gives you bronze, gold and then platinum awards.
If you hit a weight loss milestone you get certificates as well as stickers (who doesn’t love stickers?!) and people comment continually on how different you look.
For the luckier men in groups we can get also a Mr Sleek or MOTY award.
Maybe eventually we might even become the national (3rd) greatest loser.
I became the National MOTY 2018!
There’s everything to play for, plenty to keep you motivated and I’ve experienced it all along the way.
For almost three years everyone I know (without exception) has had trouble recognising me as I rapidly changed shape – which was an addictive thrill quite like no other.
My clothes continually changed size and everything was a moving target.
Things were exciting and new all the time.
That’s not the case when you hit target though – because the ever present buzz of success (or occasional low of failure) is soon gone.
In many ways the only options are to fail or… well… to fail… because ‘winning’ is basically normality – and your success is something others take for granted in their own lives because they are (mostly) already sober or fit and healthy.
Now you’re just soberingly normal and without warning the pressure is really on.
Some will have you believe that your success is temporary – and if you listen to them it’s easy to believe their opinions.
After all – you’ve failed before so what’s stopping it happening again?
Now your journey has become the twin (often gruelling) battles of self belief and self perception and at times you find yourself waging war on a stage with only yourself present.
It can be very lonely no matter who is by your side.
The glamour of success has to be inside your own head and therefore a new internal struggle begins to view yourself and your life in a continually positive light.
You have to learn to erase years of self loathing and regrets and live in a new future of possibilities.
To enable this there have to be new challenges and new reasons to get up and each day you need to try just a little harder.
You can’t stay still.
If you do then you stagnate.
One of my distraction techniques has been the drive to reach my diamond target member status – and yesterday (after a week and a half on what can only be termed ‘holiday’ outside of my normal routine) I attended Angie’s Monday group and stood nervously on the scales.
If I’m perfectly truthful (whilst many consider me achieving this to have been a forgone conclusion) it was in doubt for me right up until the night before – and I was at the upper end of my current target range whilst standing on the scales in my pants at 3am after having absolutely zero sleep.
This is never good – as anyone that regularly weighs in will know.
You need to wear clothes for a start (society has many unreasonable expectations designed to thwart us) and also know that you’re not going to be out of range when you step on.
There’s an acceptable margin for error and all of us slimmers understand what their personal one is.
But you know what?
I only went and frikkin did it!
I weighed in a year after (in the last but one entry in my book – which now shows a complete record of my journey) bang on where I needed to be at EXACTLY TWENTY ONE STONE LIGHTER than when I started Slimming World in April 2016.
It’s quite something.
I decided however that while the date is significant (I aimed for this day precisely because it’s exactly a year) my Saturday group is all important to me – and when I accept my diamond target member certificate and badge I want to be there amongst them this coming weekend – so I declined the opportunity to take it with me when I left on Monday.
The Saturday guys made it all possible and I wouldn’t have managed it without their support.
They’ve all lifted me up over and over again when I’ve felt like I was struggling and in my view proved to be the difference between a bad week and a good one many times.
Amongst their number (past and present) are many close friends now and I can’t imagine what life would be without the structure Angie and this group have provided.
Things may be changing for me (who knows where my future lies) but this little session will always mean the world to me.
It’s because of them for instance that I started using visualisations in the early days – and to pay homage to this habit I visited B&Q today and found a cement mixer.
It’s not instantly visible in the upper right hand side of the top photo – but this hefty plant machinery is 70.2 kg.
My own loss is almost 134kg – making me a mind boggling TWO CEMENT MIXERS SMALLER THAN I WAS WHEN I STARTED.
So how did I celebrate this milestone?
Well – frankly (since it’s been literally years since I had any) I decided to scratch an itch I’ve had for a long time and finally help myself to some Christmas cake.
Sure – it’s not Christmas – and it’s horrendously fattening but I don’t care.
I loved every single little last crumb of it – and it doesn’t matter because today I’m right back on plan.
This is the power of flexible syns.
You just accept whatever you’ve enjoyed – take it on the chin, forgive yourself if necessary and move right along.
No longer does a mouthful of food define me for ever.
No longer am I shackled to a fear that at some point I will inevitably backslide.
No longer am I the man that I was because my future is set in cement.
This is me internet.