So it’s been a while.
How have you been?
Ok I hope?
I’ve missed you – but haven’t felt like I wanted to talk for a while because there’s been a lot going on that I didn’t feel I could share with you.
In many respects the last few weeks have been quite difficult, but in others they’ve also been extremely enjoyable. I’ve still been talking and sharing but recently I’ve been doing it in an entirely different way.
You see – whilst I’ve not been exhaustively blogging my hopes fears and dreams like I have in the past I’ve still had an outlet for my musings and I’m in a good place.
I now have someone to share everything with and we never miss an opportunity to talk when the need arises.
In this respect I’m more than OK.
I’m actually in a terrific place when it comes to matters of the heart and find myself to currently be insanely happy and fulfilled. Things seem to keep going from good to even gooder and if I was looking at me from the outside I’d probably be vaguely irritated by how contented I must appear because at times I’m positively floating.
My partner moves in with me in less than a month and therefore a lot of our mutual calendars have been (and still are) filled with the very real and very pressing practicalities of what it means to combine two lives that have been solitary for many years.
We’re joining mature households containing a lifetime of possessions, and in doing so simultaneously jettisoning items and approaches to life that we no longer need. We’re holding onto only the best and bringing those traits and posessions together to form something infinitely better than that which existed beforehand.
Consequently my mind is continually alive with the possibilities of it all and my heart genuinely skips a beat when I think about the enormity of it and what it means for the future.
It’s no longer me.
Much time lately has been spent in charity shops (admittedly this will not come as a surprise to many) but almost none of it has been to purchase anything – because bag after collective bag of DVD’s CD’s, clothes, electrical appliances, bric a brac and even furniture have now been donated or simply given away.
In some ways it’s galling.
How could we have spent so much on things?
In others it’s just confusing.
Why do these things mean so little to us now?
Mostly it’s just liberating.
We’re no longer reliant on things to make us happy.
Even if we decided against our current plan of action to live together (which doesn’t seem in the least bit likely) we would already both be in a much much better place because a lot of the deadweight and needless clutter (that neither of us really appreciated had been filling our homes) has already been jettisoned in favour of a leaner and more focused existence.
We need so little in reality.
There’s still a lot more to do but I’m enjoying the process of finding true worth in my possessions immensely.
At the moment I can’t sleep though.
As is sometimes usual with me – it’s 2am on Sunday morning and all I can think about is washing up my used tupperware and tidying the kitchen.
I’ve also pulled a muscle in my right shoulder and it’s niggling me. As I type the ibuprofen gel that I’ve just smeared all over it is thick and sticky on the surface of my arm.
I can feel it tugging like a second skin as my fingers play over the keyboard in front of me.
Whilst matters of the heart have been going well other things have not been so good and there have been some aspects of my life that (once again) aren’t making sense.
As of Monday I’m starting the hunt for another job.
As much as I was hoping that my role would be a good fit for me things didn’t work out so I took steps to move on – which of course has prompted my usual avalanche of self doubt and soul searching.
I’ve fixed so many aspects of myself but I still seem perpetually unable to find the same measure of happiness that I once found in my working life and it’s gnawing away at me deep down.
Why can’t I be satisfied? Why do I now question everything? Why do I want more from life but not understand what ‘more’ actually means, where to find it and how to achieve it?
Something isn’t clicking job wise and it hasn’t been ever since I started to lose weight and gain independance.
I’d dearly love to know what the answer is – because in the meantime the stress and worry this causes me means that I can slip from grace and return to old habits. When I do I still have an unnerving capacity for over indulging to compensate for emotional dips.
Consequently my current weight is above where I wanted it to be.
Thankfully I know deep down that while I may occasionally have my wobbles I’m never going to go back to the man I was.
Results like the one when I stepped on the scales last week and realised I’d gained 6.5lbs may occur from time to time, but now I deal with them and accept that life will just happen and when it does you have to cope with it the best way you can.
That may mean you struggle for a little while in some areas (such as dietary discipline) but then things will eventually get better. When they do you you will invariably find a way around whatever the issue was and afterwards you pick up the pieces, start doing the best that you can again and move right along.
The truth is that there’s no such thing as being ‘naturally thin’.
There’s just continued effort, and an underlying willingness to try (over and over again) to be a better person.
I beat myself up a lot when I shouldn’t – but even I know that my approach to health is so radically different from what it used to be that my current excesses seem comical in comparison.
So what do I feel guilt about these days?
I have eaten a lot of Weetabix. I have consumed waaay too much fruit, I’ve over indulged in cottage cheese and I have a definite weakness for scan-bran with Primula and Marmite.
It’s almost hilarious when I lay it bare on the page like that.
In one respect it’s proof that no-matter what you consume (good or bad) it’s possible to over indulge and screw up – and I could get down about once more proving that I still eat too much.
It’s definitely not the same as what I used to do.
I used to be the guy who’s wheels fell off the bus each and every night of the week.
Again and again and again (link) I did this to myself.
Way to work (1130kcal)
- Two double sausage and egg McMuffins – 1130kcal
Sandwiches eaten at desk (1725kcal approx)
- 6 thick slices of hand cut bread (usually this was half of an in-store supermarket bakery 800g wholemeal loaf) (952kcal)
- Benecol light spread – I guesstimate approx 20g (64kcal) per slice (total 384kcal)
- Two packs of 125g ham – 290kcal
- 3x tomatoes (67kcal each) and cucumber slices (10kcal) – (201kcal)
- Two packets of Mccoys crisps (multipack ones are 141kcal each) (282kcal)
Evening meal (1595kcal)
- Sainsburys 800g Taste the difference shepherds pie (850kcal)
- Approx 500g oven chips (McCain Home fries) (745kcal)
Snacks and drinks (3023kcal)
- Sainsburys house Soave 2.25l (I would typically drink all of this – per 125ml Soave is approx 79kcal so it totals 1422kcal)
- 200g ‘sharing’ bag of Doritos (894kcal)
- Ginsters large Cornish pasty (707kcal)
Total (if I didn’t have an evening takeaway instead of a ready meal) – 7473kcal
That meant I lost control of everything – and that loss nearly extended to my life.
These days my excesses are held in check by the structures I’ve incrementally built to support myself.
First and foremost these are represented by people.
I’m never far away from them and they keep me grounded. I always talk about and share what’s happening – be it good or bad – and this keeps me on an even keel.
In this respect I find that my addiction to the endorphins my activities provide is my new treat mechanism. Whereas in the old days I used food and alcohol to deal with good and bad times, now (whilst food can still at times be an issue) I use walking and swimming.
So why am I contemplating this in the dark whilst my partner sleeps elsewhere?
Well it’s primarily because it’s been a year since I became the Slimming World MOTY – and I’m asking myself what it all means.
I have no idea.
I really don’t know.
I’m currently out of target by half a stone but I’m also fitter (and noticeably more muscular) than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve tried hard to be the man I believe I should have always been and in doing so I’ve heaped pound ofter pound of pressure to be perfect upon myself in the dark of many mornings and sleepless evenings just like this one.
I’ve privately and endlessly agonised over whether I’ve matched up to the impossible standards that I set for myself.
I do this mostly because of this photo.
You see – when I won my award a year ago I didn’t feel simply like I’d gained an accolade.
Instead I felt for the longest time that what I’d actually done was deny it to 50+ other men who had each proven insanely worthy in their own right. Every one of them had a heart wrenching tale to tell that day and I felt every drop of the personal pain that they shared.
In fact I went further than feeling it.
I took it, made it my own and used it as a motivator – telling myself that I had to live up to the MOTY title because if I didn’t then I was betraying everything not only I but they had achieved in their lives.
I still see many of them doing it each and every day on social media. They run marathons, inspire others, help their communities, do things for charity and have rich, rewarding lives.
The average loss per man in the room that day was over 10st.
How can you even begin to calculate what that means to a life?
I couldn’t and I still can’t.
I remember thinking at the time that the total represented a woman per man that could have been standing by the side of each and every face in the photo.
I didn’t understand back then that the thought probably reflected more about what I wanted from my own future than I realised – and it showed that deep down I’d started to hope that my future would no longer be a solitary one.
Although my award alone didn’t mean that I found love (and I believe I have) it sparked the events that caused me to meet the woman I now want to share my life with, and it was instrumental in starting the conversation on the top of Cheddar Gorge that ultimately drew this person toward me.
The words I wrote about my experiences relating to my involvement with Slimming World were read by her and the actions I took (and still take) to live up to the standards I’d set for myself seem to attract her even now.
Consequently this past year has been incalculably important to me.
With a marked increase in the weight I heaped upon my own shoulders however also came a lot of opportunities to inspire and touch people’s lives in a way I don’t think I otherwise would have.
I became a noticable presence in the press for a time, and my social media footprint (as well as traffic on this blog) took off in a completely unexpected manner.
Some conversations (often the most random and out of the blue ones) stopped me in my tracks because they’ve showed me time and time again that other peoples lives have been changed for the better because of what I’ve achieved.
Sometimes because of the words that I’ve written or said and on other occasions simply it’s simply the example that I’ve set. My father for instance (who was not previously at a healthy weight) is now 2/3rds of the man he was before I won my title.
I’ve proven that even when you’re close to death you can pull back from the brink, rebuild and have a life that’s worth living that can enrich the lives of others.
Later today (at Slimming World HQ in Derby where I’m attending the MOTY 2019 finals) I will hand that responsibility to another man.
If I’m honest it’s with a mixture of relief and sadness that I see this chapter draw to a close.
I feel relief because I can finally let go of the (self imposed) pressure, and sadness because it’s been wonderful and it’s changed my life.
It’s given me a future with someone that I care deeply about, and along with my own carefully laid foundations has proven to me what I and others are capable of in life.
It’s been an amazing year.
It’s going to be an amazing life.
Back soon internet.