Finally!!! The sun is out!!!
It’s been hanging in the sky unashamedly for a couple of days now – and it’s presence is beginning to feel oddly normal.
I’m so taken with it’s reappearance that today I took the rather unexpected (but completely welcome) step of digging my shorts out of storage, pulling on a brightly coloured shirt and stepping out for my usual walk to the leisure centre.
I’m calling it.
It’s officially SUMMER and I feel great because there’s something undeniably wonderful about sunny days.
I now appreciate their warmth in a way that I couldn’t a few years ago – although it’s (thankfully) becoming more and more difficult to remember just how uncomfortable such weather used to make me.
On the left is me this morning and on the right the picture of me represents probably one of the most painful and embarrassing days I can remember at (almost) the peak of my weight.
In the left one I’m ready to go for a walk and swim – and on the right hand side I could barely move and although I might be smiling I was sweating buckets and feeling very self conscious.
It might seem surprising given how I’m dressed that I was at a wedding.
Not only could I not wear smart clothes due to my size but I could barely waddle down the country lane to the reception a mile away afterwards.
When I did so I had the further indignity of making that walk to my destination with a ridiculously fit member of our army’s special forces.
As if that wasn’t humiliating enough after we I got there I was in so much pain and so drenched in sweat that I had to sit in my car for half an hour with the air conditioning on until I stopped breathing so heavily and began to look even vaguely socially acceptable.
It was only then that I felt I could join the other guests at the reception without looking like I was about to drop dead.
Life has become so different now though that I’m no longer regularly registering what I’ve become as ‘unusual’.
It’s just who I am.
Isn’t that wonderful?
Although (mostly because of some personal worries) I’ve struggled a little over the last couple of weeks with my sleeping and eating I’m still exercising all the time and have still been focused on the promise that I made to myself that I would go swimming 15 times in March.
I’m almost there.
The distance (you may have noticed) has slightly lowered however – and that’s because I’m still persisting swimming the breast stroke properly – and that means my head is continually under water.
Frankly doing this tires me out a lot quicker though – and I’m pretty sure that this is because of the regular breathing pattern that doing this requires.
Initially trying to do this made me struggle to swim at all – and since I’d managed to become quite proficient with my head out of water initially it was a little demoralising.
I was suddenly stopping at either end for a regular breather – which I hadn’t had to do for a long time.
I thought I’d become a lot fitter than I actually seemed to be in reality and once again I’d constructed a mountain to climb.
The truth of it is though that your body adapts really quickly if you persist with any kind of change to activity levels.
The same thing seems to hold true if you push your capabilities in something you already do regularly.
Now I’ve been swimming this way persistently for almost two weeks my average length time has fallen back in line with where it was before.
Overall it’s improved quite a bit from when I started swimming in November.
On my first tentative attempt (when my arms felt like lead after 25 metres) my average length time back then was a cripplingly slow two minutes thirty three seconds.
Today it was 47 seconds – but on Wednesday it was 45!
How cool is that?!
I’ll be completely honest though and say that at times I’ve struggled to maintain my focus with regard to swimming.
The sheen has definitely worn off the ‘newness’ of this activity – and a lot of the excitement associated with it was related to becoming more confident in a swimming costume rather than getting fitter.
However I still very much enjoy it when I go.
The truth is however that unlike walking I’ve come to the conclusion that this is very much a ‘brute force’ activity in the same sense as I’ve found going to the gym in the past.
In contrast I still walk pretty much everywhere – and have convinced myself that this is something that I have to do.
It isn’t hard.
Petrol costs money – which is something I need to conserve – so this is pretty much a reality rather than a conveniently constructed fiction.
in contrast I don’t need to swim anywhere.
Instead this activity is all about keeping fit and feeling good – which is something I have to keep at the forefront of my mind when my alarm goes off at 7am.
If I don’t get up do it regularly then I don’t feel good – it’s as simple as that.
Plus – in the absence of a job (I’m still looking in earnest!) having this kind of structure is good because staying in bed doing nothing did no-one any good in the history of ever.
It doesn’t matter what I do – I never sleep in (at least when on my own) and make sure I always accomplish something worthwhile with every single day.
Sometimes it’s only mundane stuff (job hunting is a daily and often miserable grind) sometimes it’s physical, and at other times it’s just looking after my home.
It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s constructive and leaves me with a positive feeling.
As I’ve previously mentioned I’m trying to get away from my life being all about weight loss – but I doubt that I’ll ever be able to fully step away from what I’ve accomplished into a ‘normal’ life that exists without any memory of it whatsoever.
Everywhere I look and everything I do is related in some way to the difficulties of the past and its next to impossible not to reflect on how good things are now vs how bad they got back then.
My garden is just such a reminder and if nothing else whenever I look at and work in it I’m provided with a great example of what staying in bed and doing nothing will ultimately result in – should I ever feel tempted to do so.
In June of 2017 this is how my back garden looked.
For a very long time I’d effectively become incapable of maintaining it myself – and the problem had become so huge in my mind (and in reality) that I simply didn’t know where to begin.
I’d even started throwing money at the problem and occasionally paying people to tend to it.
This eventually resulted in me being completely ripped off by a local shark and left me feeling extremely vulnerable.
I had mentally reached an impasse.
I didn’t trust anyone to be paid to do it for me and I couldn’t manage the task alone.
I closed my back curtains, tried to forget about it and just left the problem to get worse and worse.
In the end it took the helping hand of a friend to enable my first tentative steps.
I doubt I’d have started without him and I doubt I’d have had the confidence to continue unless he’d made me realise I’d lost enough weight not only to make the activity possible but amazingly to also turn it into something that could be enjoyable.
I still get a lot of pleasure from bringing order to this space – even though I don’t really use it in the way that I probably should.
I hardly spend any time out there – preferring instead to be out of my house doing other things.
Yesterday though I spent a good few hours tidying it up (great exercise in itself) and making sure that the lawn and borders were in shape for the next week or two.
My green recycling bin was comfortingly packed solid when I dragged it out to the front of my house afterwards.
Whilst I can’t ever envisage my back garden looking like it belongs in the Chelsea flower show, it’s a point of personal pride that I not only cleared it back then (mostly on my own after the initial helping hand) but that ever since I’ve managed to keep it neat and tidy.
I’m not too prissy about it mind you. At the end of the day it’s a garden, not a bowling green and I treat it as such. The pile of rotten wood I have to the right for instance is something I meant to use for a bug hotel – but it so far hasn’t happened.
It’s still on my ‘to do’ list.
If nothing else though these days I have a path to walk up and down that previously had been invisible for years – and a lawn that I can navigate without a machete.
So, summer is peeping its face through the clouds and I’m ready to greet it with open arms, short sleeves and bare legs!
It’s time to dig out the shorts Internet!!!
You know it makes sense!