In my mid forties I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m quite a relaxed individual.
I don’t typically seek out noise, I like the peace and quiet of the countryside and whilst cooking or cleaning I listen to Radio 4 – considering the opinions of the day as I go about my business.
in other moments of contemplation I watch birds and sip my coffee from ever smaller little cups that contain caffeine in concentrated and targeted doses.
I’m an adult with adult tastes.
However today I feel the need to listen to Nirvana – Nevermind and regress into my youth.
When it was released this album hit me like an atom bomb and gave voice to all the anger and angst caused by my relationship with my mother and my family’s increasingly fractured and alienated state.
It fuelled many many self destructive (but in some ways extremely cathartic) sessions on dancefloors and in pubs.
It almost certainly also contributed to some temporary hearing loss, and back when I possessed much longer hair (and could ‘mosh’) it gave me many many aching necks.
I wasn’t really all that distraught about Kurt Kobain’s suicide however.
I felt that he’d let the world down and wasted his life – and I didn’t connect with the often nihilistic attitudes of my peers at the time who idolised and romanticised his suicide.
‘He will always be young!’ I remember one person saying – … Just like James Dean – it’s so cool.’
It wasn’t cool at all.
His drug addiction and his bleak outlook on life resulted in a senseless waste and in contrast to him (although my mindset was scarily similar for a while) back then I wanted to survive – no matter how bleak my future at times appeared to be.
In many ways his passing marked a mental watershed for me. Somewhere, deep down inside I began to think that there was more to life than I had in front of me.
I could achieve more than I was at the time in retail and I could also improve myself educationally.
I made a difficult choice not long after to do both, and in the process I began to move away from many close friends and a lifestyle of self abuse and excess that was all I’d known for a long time.
It wasn’t easy – and like many things in life it didn’t really work out well in every respect (we all know what happened with my weight and drinking) but it laid the foundations for much of my future – even if some of my hopes and dreams took a while to be realised.
So why am I listening to it today as I type?
As always – as soon as you’ve jumped over one hurdle in life another presents itself.
At the moment I’m frustrated because it seems like I’ve chosen precisely the wrong moment to throw myself onto the mercy of the local job market.
Thanks to a huge number of redundancies in the automotive sector locally there are suddenly way more applicants than jobs in Warwickshire – and after a chat with a recruiter yesterday it seems that unless I want sales roles (I absolutely do NOT) the current outlook is rather bleak.
Although it’s still early days in my search, today (and during the last week) I’ve felt quite crestfallen and at something of a loss in this area.
This has resulted in something of a withdrawal from almost everything except my relationship and for the most part an internalised narrative that keeps prodding me and suggesting I’m a bit of a loser.
Thankfully my partner is a stabilising influence in this respect and her continually uplifting presence in my life has ensured that I pull away from the often self destructive behaviours I would normally go through when I feel a bit low.
She’s a brick – and we’ve motivated eachother in the best ways recently.
Since getting an Apple Watch she’s been upping her game with her stats and has ensured as she does that I do too.
We’re continually engaged in friendly competition and it’s made my day to day focus on my numbers and goals even more fun than it ever was before.
It’s particularly amusing that she too appears to be just like me when it comes to closing rings and stats – because she’s not missed a single day without hitting all of her goals so far.
In many instances she’s motivated me to go for a walk in the evening so that she can hit her objectives – and I love the way that I’m no longer alone in my activity goals.
It’s fantastic that when challenged we both resort to exercise – and it reinforces my already pretty inflexible attitude to how it should feature in my day to day existence.
I flatly refuse to be someone that stays in bed feeling sorry for themselves – so every day regardless of how I feel I get up, go for a long walk and a swim and make sure that I keep fit and active.
Nothing good comes from feeling progressively unhealthier all the time.
I’m also making good food choices – and every day has seen nothing but healthy food prepared either just for myself or for two.
There’s nothing like a plate full of roasted vegetables – and whilst my ever present tendency toward emotional over eating is always lurking in the background I’ve been doing my level best to diminish its impact with snacking alternatives that don’t destroy my progress.
For instance I’ve recently re-discovered Scanbran – which I’ve realised is sold in Holland and Barrett for £1.59 a pack.
Furthermore everything in store is currently ‘buy one get one half price’ – making it pretty reasonable value.
This is something of a ‘marmite’ item for many Slimming World followers – and whilst away from home last week I sat in on a SW meeting down south with a consultant I’ve never met before.
They proceeded to refer to Scan bran as ‘cardboard’ and ‘horrible’ – which regrettably seems to be a common approach by many to this item.
Half a pack represents a Healthy Extra however – and if you also have half a pack of Dairylea light cheese triangles on them (with Marmite of course!) then you get both a healthy A and B choice to snack on in front of the TV during that tricky evening period.
(Aldi’s own light cheese triangles are the same HE values for those who are interested in a cheaper alternative.)
Alternatively (as in the photo above) I’ve also been enjoying it as a sweeter dessert with pineapple cottage cheese (a free food).
If nothing else you definitely notice that such choices promote (ahem) regularity – and since I invited Scan bran back into my life my morning moments of seated contemplation have been extremely successful and supremely satisfying.
I do feel saddened though when I see a consultant referring to something that’s so healthy in such a negative manner.
This week I was interviewed by a journalism student who wanted to add a ‘take a break’ style piece to her portfolio.
For the record I intensely dislike magazines like take a break and agreed to do it on the proviso that it was for educational purposes and not to be used in print.
I have no interest in being a ‘look at all my excess skin’ dancing bear for any publication.
However some of the questions this student posed left me thinking on them for a while afterwards.
In particular she asked me something that I’ve been asked many times before.
‘What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a start at losing weigh?’
In the past I’ve mostly replied that joining a group is a great start – as well as trying to introduce exercise and cooking everything from scratch – but I think (having thought on the matter over the last year or so) that the ‘correct’ answer may be more fundamental than that.
I replied ‘learn to love vegetables before you do anything.’
Whilst at this unfamiliar SW meeting last week I also heard a fellow slimmer say something that I’ve heard many times before.
Unlike the meeting and the consultant it was depressingly familiar.
The lady in front of me was crestfallen about the food and recipe options that she’d been presented with and began to voice her discontent.
‘I hate vegetables’ she said.
The person I was with pointed out how visibly irritable I’d become when I heard this and noted that I don’t normally react to anything else like that.
It gets my goat though.
I have absolutely no idea how as a society we’ve managed to get to a point where people’s palates only understand (and crave) the texture and tastes associated with refined food – and in doing so actively avoid the constituent unprocessed items that make up many of their favourite dishes.
Again and again I hear things in meetings along the lines of ‘I don’t like tomatoes’ or ‘I can’t eat lettuce’.
thankfully I’m quite lucky in this respect.
Whilst I was eminently capable of eating crap as an adult I also grew up eating a lot of raw veg – and I never lost the taste for it – but there are some things (like Scanbran) that I learned to like for a reason.
It’s a healthy choice and it’s good for me.
in a similar vein when I started my journey I hated exercise – but look at me now! I had to learn to like it and now I can’t get enough of it.
In a normal week I swim 3-4 times on top of all of my walking.
You don’t have to go insane though and you don’t have to change everything overnight.
My point is that embarking on a ‘diet’ is not the way to do things.
The goal should be to embark upon a ‘healthy eating’ plan where you begin to diminish (or gradually remove entirely) the things that damaged you to begin with.
In the same way that I gave up drinking to prepare myself for the next step (joining SW) I would advocate that those with a grudge against fresh food and it’s taste or texture should attempt to overcome this during the early days of any shift toward a new lifestyle.
After all – if you do what you’ve always done you’ll get the results that you’ve always had.
Simply eating a smaller portion of crap is not the answer.
The right approach is not consuming the crap in the first place – because if you don’t then it makes the task at hand a lot easier.
Taking this approach means that you can eat very generous portions and still lose or maintain your weight.
Furthermore when you embark upon exercise you have energy in the tank that simply isn’t there (in my experience) if all you eat is refined food.
It’s this kind of thing that’s keeping me on an even keel at the moment – and regardless of what happens with mood dips and employment challenges the fact that this underpins my life has meant that I’m never far away from being ‘on track’ even if from time to time I still vary in weight.
I’m peeved with my (lack of) progress in other areas though – but currently Nevermind hits the spot and provides a channel for my angst to come out.
It’s propelled me a little faster on walks – and the memory of the trashing guitar has also been with me whilst I’ve swum.
Not every day can be filled with positivity or with victory though – and sometimes all you can do is focus on what you do manage to get right in life.
In my case I get vegetables right.
Almost everything else takes care of itself after that.