Sometimes a holiday is in order.
In my case I haven’t physically been anywhere but I have been taking a break from social media.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been almost completely absent online and it’s been a very nice change of pace.
At some point a few years ago I made a conscious choice to become a very public person – and once I had it soon became my new normal. Blogging about everything I went through and sharing photos of my life soon felt as natural as a morning visit to the smallest room of my house.
There are times however (particularly in recent weeks) that I feel it’s just not appropriate or even very comfortable to write about how I feel and what’s going on in my life.
The really frustrating thing is that this (in something of a chicken and egg way) tends to coincide with a period where I don’t cope very well overall.
I’ve never fully figured out whether a lack of writing is caused by or in itself causes the mood dips I experience – but they definitely feed each other and quickly become related even if they don’t start out that way.
The other thing that gets fed in instances like this is my stomach. The hands I have connected to it decide that they will pass the time by picking up anything in the fridge and consuming it relentlessly until it’s all gone.
My efforts to stick with #onplanoctober (writing everything down and being good) lasted a mere 8 days – and then I just threw myself under the culinary bus. I ate and overate and then overate some more.
Once I’d done that then I grabbed a bit more food and overate it until it hurt a bit.
The net result?
Well I don’t really want to go into forensic ￼detail because I’m ashamed and feel like I’ve been letting not only myself but the entire world down.
To add insult to injury none of my lovely lovely shirts fit properly at the moment and my waistband is noticeably tighter.
Some of my smaller sized jeans appear to have shrunk even further in the wash…
There’s a line that must be drawn – and on Sunday (where I inexplicably found myself awake early and feeling motivated) I drew it.
The truth is I have to weigh in soon at Slimming World.
I haven’t done so since the first week in September and need to do it every 8 weeks – and when I do it’s not going to be pretty.
Furthermore I have the ultimate ‘imposter syndrome’ moment looming in my calendar in the shape of the Slimming World ball.
The invites arrived in the post the other day and honestly they filled me with dread.
I’m invited as the outgoing MOTY and truthfully at the moment I don’t feel in the least bit worthy.
Instead I feel like a complete fraud because the suits I usually wear over all of my nice shirts that don’t currently fit don’t fit either.
I can sense what you’re all thinking though – and from experience I know what a post like this will provoke in terms of comments.
I’m pretty certain that people won’t take long to pick me up on my self deprecating tone and remind me that I should be kinder to myself.
I know I know.
If I was treating myself as a friend in crisis I would say what many people in my life have already said to me.
I’d tell myself that I have nothing to prove.
I’d tell myself that I still look good and that I’m still doing well in life.
I’d tell myself that no-one (including virtually every other slimmer of the year or weight loss prize winner ever) is perfect and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.
I have it on pretty good authority that they are all a little heavier than when they won their award and they have mostly across the board found a weight that suits them, even though it may not coincide with what they thought they originally wanted.
I’d say to myself if I was a friend that it’s just a number and that I can totally fix any gains because I know how and I’m not the same person that I used to be.
In my mind however the ‘truth’ (if you can call it that) is poking me with a sharp stick.
When my back is against the wall I hate that I still use food to cope.
That’s never changed (although the types of food I teach for have) and I don’t think it ever will.
I’ll almost certainly be riding an emotional rollercoaster for many many years if not forever in this respect.
There are other considerations however because it’s not all about the ball.
I’ve taken my eye off the ball a little for a number of reasons.
Firstly there’s always the ever present ‘what to do about a career’. Thankfully I think I may have found a way forward on that score – so hopefully in that respect things will soon be on the up.
Secondly there’s having a new home dynamic.
Living alone allowed me to be obsessive in the extreme in some respects – but now I’m part of a couple rather than a single guy.
My tendency to punish myself isn’t something that I can easily do any more – and there’s nowhere to hide.
If I hurt myself then I hurt my partner and I don’t want to do that.
My relationship is frankly more important to me than anything I can remember in recent memory – and my ways of coping with stress have had to adapt because of this.
This has been going on for some time – but now we live together I’m trying to deal with some very entrenched habits (basically going quiet and withdrawing from the world) that can no longer exist in solitude – but that instead someone else gets to see and feel.
When my mood dips and I begin to retreat they also feel the impact of that – because happy Davey leaves the building.
We all have these moments – and they shouldn’t be stemmed or buried because they’re natural, but if (like me) you’ve been single or even with someone but not living together you’ll be more used than you think you are to dealing with emotions and problems by burying your head in the sand (or in my case cement) from time to time.
What used to be a period of quiet and solitary sulking and wound licking before a gradual return to the world several days later that affected no one but me now has an impact on someone else.
Consequently the temptation to hide my mood dips because of this is immense.
It’s not the way to go though.
Burying everything leads nowhere – and it’s been my policy to hide nothing.
It’s also selfish – because if I’m only ever giving help and allowing no one to help me in return where does their sense of satisfaction and self worth in a relationship come from?
So I allow myself not to cope and I force myself to show that sometimes I can’t ‘adult’ any more.
Sometimes I need to be carried – and part of learning to live together is remembering that’s OK.
I can’t say that I haven’t felt guilty about being (in my eyes) less than a positive force for a little while though – but the truth is that you have to let people step in and support you.
You’re stronger when you’re around others – despite the unease that you might feel when you realise that it’s someone else’s job all of a sudden to be a chirpy and cheery person.
On Saturday I could barely speak.
I was so mortified by what I saw on the scales at home that when I accompanied my partner to our Saturday group I could hardly talk.
I nodded at people and forced a smile or two but that was about the most I could manage.
It was an important moment though – because although every fibre of me wanted to run away I stayed where I was and sat to hear the group talk.
I’m not sure I would have been able to do this without someone holding my hand however – and to see my other half step in and take over conversations or feel the warmth of her thumb nudging my leg at just the right moment made it all doable.
In the middle of all this (making it all much harder) the entire country seems to have received a mail from the NHS with my face plastered all over it.
It’s busy proclaiming how successful I am at turning things around at precisely the moment I feel like I’m struggling to do so.
I regret nothing about being chosen to receive (and accepting) the MOTY title – but there are occasionally times that I wish I could put this particular genie back in the lamp.
No one else has ever put any pressure on me because of the award (especially not Slimming World who always ask rather than expect when it comes to publicity) but it’s been difficult to live with the knowledge that when I inevitably fail I have to fail publicly.
I suppose that someone has to though, and maybe the whole point of being a public face dealing with issues related to personal perception is that I am seen not to be perfect but continually trying to be better than I am.
Which I do.
I’m currently back to swimming daily after not dipping a toe in a pool for almost two weeks and also back up to an average of around 10 miles a day (it recently dipped temporarily below 6).
Although it’s probably not real weight loss (fluid etc has a big impact) my numbers on the scales have plummeted. Both the additional exercise and the positive progress since Saturday morning have caused me to feel a lot better and once again I think I’m winning.
I’m not only making forward progress in terms of my waistline mind you.
After boarding my entire loft I decided to try my hand at replacing my coal bunker door – which was in a bad way when I moved in to my house over a decade ago and hasn’t been touched ever since.
I’ve always wanted to do something about it but felt that I lacked the skills, confidence and tools to attempt the task.
After successfully completing my loft boarding I decided that it was time to have a go – and after purchasing some exterior pine cladding, a couple of lengths of wood for a frame, a few hinges, a latch and a bunch of screws I decided to rip the old door off and give it a go.
The first issue was that the coal bunker was full of crap…
Thankfully that wasn’t an issue for long – and after a small amount of dragging and yanking the detritus and rotten cardboard that I’d stuffed in there years ago (along with a ton of unhappy earth worms and spiders) sat forlornly on my patio.
I’m far from an accomplished carpenter – but I did do a year or so of woodwork at secondary school and (even if I do say so myself) made a pretty swanky pencil case that I still have knocking around somewhere.
The simplest thing to do seemed to be to copy what existed previously, and before I knew it I had a perfectly serviceable frame with a simple join to put my new door into.
Once this was done the tongue and groove cladding that I’d bought made creating a shape to fill this hole surprisingly easy and within another few hours I had a makeshift door already wedged in place.
I only made one small mistake and if you can’t spot it then I’m not saying anything!!!
This whole process was continually hampered though by the frankly atrocious weather (note the tarpaulin) which illustrated quite plainly what a complete pain in the arse sawdust is when it rains.
It sticks to everything and gets everywhere.
It also doesn’t help much with expansion or contraction of the material that you’re working with – and (as I learned later on) it’s worth making a door a few millimetres smaller than you think it needs to be so that it doesn’t expand in its new home and become completely wedged tight when you paint it and leave it open to the elements.
When I’d eventually finished trimming, sanding, generally tinkering with the hinges and modifying the fit of the door with a plane this was the end result.
I’m quite proud of this even if I do say so myself.
One by one the times where I tell myself I can’t do things as opposed to starting jobs with a mindset along the lines of ‘maybe I can if I try’ are diminished.
Proving I could lose weight and change my life altered a lot more than just my new waistline.
I seem to have found a new interest in DIY – which initially I used to fill the gap created by not having a job – but is now becoming something else entirely.
So – maybe I can get into a suit for the ball.
Maybe I can feel good about myself on the day.
Maybe I can also change the washer on my bathroom tap – which frankly scares the living s**t out of me.
Hopefully my next blog won’t be called ‘how I flooded my home’