I will get the obvious out of the way.
I’m NOT feeling down.
There’s not a single fibre of my being that’s blue, malcontent, irritable, sad, annoyed, dissatisfied or irascible.
I have my mojo back and I’m workin it baby!
Part of my mood is (as always) attributable to a calming (and creative) nearby presence, who – while I write – is creating her own unique little pieces of art and beavering away with pliers and metal next to me.
It’s not at all unusual to see these little ‘jump rings’ floating around the house (occasionally the hoover finds more than it’s fair share) and in a radical departure from how things used to be I now find that I live in a world where (for the very first time in my life) I’m considering and appreciating the aesthetic merits of all kinds of jewellery.
This used to be something I wasn’t particularly keen on.
I have always viewed people (male or female) that were dripping in jewellery as materialistic. I didn’t understand why they needed such (usually golden) things, and for the longest time (mostly because I wanted simplicity but also because I had fat sweaty wrists) I never even wore a watch.
When I make the first tentative attempts to connect with my other half and we began to learn more about eachother I shared my thoughts on such matters.
She replied outright that she had a weakness for jewellery.
My honest thought at the time was ‘uh-oh… I hope she’s not high maintenance…’ but it turned out that nothing could be further from the truth – unless that is you count the endless cups of tea required to keep her running smoothly.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that she made a large amount of the jewellery that she wore herself – and what she didn’t construct with her numerous tools and materials was usually purchased frugally from very individual and bespoke suppliers.
I realised very quickly when we became closer that the items she owned were pretty much never made of precious metals or set with rare stones (many are constructed with things like Lego!) but each and every item reflected her unique personality and tastes.
Tonight, while I’ve been creating this post she created this chain maille bracelet – and it just blows me away that I have such a quirky and inventive little soul next to me whenever I need cheering up.
I can’t just expect her to deliver my good mood whilst I give nothing in return though.
At times this can be hard and I feel like I’ve struggled a bit in the last few weeks. I’ve had to lean into my partner and other people more than I normally would (which is a natural part of life) but this week I finally feel like I’m making headway again.
As I’ve mentioned in my last few blogs my mindset recently has been a carefully cultivated one that’s taken a lot of effort to turn into something that is once again positive.
After burying my head in the metaphorical sand for a while and packing a good few pounds back on in the process I decided that the only way to tackle the issue I’d created was head on.
I needed to work hard, try at all times to be a ‘can do’ person and follow the Slimming World plan, which for me means no longer giving myself free reign to eat like an idiot.
It also means moving my arse more because not doing so has been a big contributor to my weight gain recently.
So in an effort to change I’ve explored all around Warwickshire this week, and in doing so discovered that despite the cold and grim weather there are still many flashes of colour or interest to be found when you’re out and about.
For a start there are mushroom rings everywhere!
I love that there’s always something new to find when you’re out walking. The natural world changes all the time – and the only thing I never seem to find when I’m outside in it is boredom.
It’s not just the natural world that holds joy and interest mind you.
Getting out and about regardless of where you go is good for the soul because there’s life of many different kinds of life to be found everywhere and lots of people to talk to or just watch as they pass by.
On Friday I walked into Coventry Market with a friend and we spent a while combing through the fruit and veg stalls where the variety and quality of produce puts most supermarkets to shame.
Around one third of these items are completely alien to me. I’ve never cooked with them, and I wouldn’t know where to begin in some cases (particularly with the bitter melon) but I love that we live in such a culturally diverse society that all of the Chinese, Indian and English sellers that were in the market have space for their wares and ALL of them seemed to have a bustling, diverse and above all engaged clientele.
There’s life inside that run down looking building that you can’t find in a supermarket.
Within its walls you can interact with, touch, smell, feel and examine items that aren’t everyday objects – or at least they aren’t to me.
In this environment my childhood returns to me – because a greengrocer was (back then) a daily reality in which potatoes were covered in dirt, cucumbers curled like springs and apples were different shapes colours, tastes and sizes.
Fruits and vegetables had bumps, knobbles and imperfections which I loved and shopping back then didn’t require removal of leaves and mud.
You got to see the way that items looked when they’d been pulled out of the ground – without them being sanitised and shoved in clear plastic to put under 24×7 spotlights.
I absolutely love the naturalness of this scruffy little place – and I can’t believe that until six months ago I’d never ever been there before.
If you haven’t visited yourself then leave your car (or bus) at War Memorial Park and take a walk into town (it’s only a mile away – you can do it!). If you have an Ikea Family card then you can also get a free tea or coffee in their nearby cafe.
If you don’t purchase anything you still get a cheap day out and some exercise – which I’ll admit was the main reason for this discovery in the first place.
This brings me neatly onto my next topic – because If you’re not in calorie deficit and moving about as much as possible then you won’t lose weight.
In my Apple Watch stats I haven’t failed to hit all of my daily exercise goals for over two years – but during the last few months I’ve gradually done a little less every day and eaten either the same amount or more.
My life is a pretty fine balance due to my reliance on rather large portion sizes, and I’ve had to accept recently that I simply cannot get away with eating huge volumes of (very good non processed and natural) free food without then immediately burning it off.
The truth is that although my stats look good they have to be viewed with a bit more of an inquisitive eye.
My walking distance is great – and it’s remained constant throughout the year (now I swim as well) at about eight miles a day.
My average swimming distance shows that I do around 50 continuous lengths of the pool each time I swim, meaning I have great stamina. However what it doesn’t show in this average is that last month I went swimming less times in October than since I started in November 2018.
The stats that really can’t lie – and highlight the dip in the number of times I’ve swum are my active energy ones (kcal expended through movement above normal ‘just living and breathing’ levels) and my exercise minutes.
Whilst they’re probably higher than a lot of people’s daily burn they have (by my standards) tailed off lately, and in August (shortly after I handed over to the new MOTY) they pretty much said ‘enough of this sh*t – I’m staying on the sofa.’
As you can see in November I’ve begun to address this – and after a slow start to the month I’m once again cooking on gas. Since weighing in last Saturday I’ve managed to walk 80+ miles and swum 7.5km.
After taking a 12lb gain on the chin last weekend I had two choices – sort it out with activity and a positive mindset or deal with it by burying my face in the fridge.
I’ve therefore been very active and very outdoorsy.
I’ve also cooked every large, hearty meal from scratch and prepared the breakfasts, lunches and dinners for myself and my other half each day (I just love cooking for us both) with feeling satisfied and full in mind.
There have been no complaints from her – and looking back at some of the week’s pictures I think you’ll agree we’ve not gone hungry!
It’s fair to say though that in between these shots an awful lot of plums and carrots also died to service our needs to snack between meals.
There were also some more serious transgressions involved though – and on Thursday I hoovered up 200g of sweet popcorn in one very flexible evening that equalled 44 syns. I refuse to feel guily though. I really enjoyed it – and after some epic exercise genuinely felt I deserved a treat.
I felt absolutely zero guilt.
Neither of us has.
We’ve instead had a pact that’s revolved around promising eacother that we’d focus on our individual sabotaging behaviours and do our level best to support eachothers’ success – which we have.
My partner’s weaknesses and mine are quite different – but we’re the same in that (like most people) we fall down in times of stress or worry. Although it’s been tough for both of us to turn things around it’s also been really empowering to take our bulls by their horns and wrestle them to the floor.
This week – thanks to our individual commitments (and efforts with walking and swimming which have been mutually engaged in as much as possible) this has resulted in huge strides.
We both had big losses on the scales this morning and for the first time in a while since I got my new Slimming World book (which frankly looks like a complete mess to me with its gains and losses) I feel really proud of myself.
This morning I smashed out a 9.5lb loss!
Now – I don’t for a minute think that this is sustainable and I’m sure that at least half of this is fluid rather than fat. I know this because I can feel the bloat and swell when I’m not eating right.
If I change my habits then I pee like a racehorse for a day or two and then I’m magically a few pounds lighter. It’s only after the first couple of days that the real weight loss starts. With this in mind I’ve probably lost about 4-5lbs in real terms.
This is still a fabulous weight loss – but I’m not naive enough to think I’ll get this figure regularly.
I’ve been doing this too long now and I know my body.
When Angie asked my how much I wanted to lose by next week my reply was simply ‘a loss’, because to lose lose two weeks in a row with an initial spurt like that is no easy task and I don’t want to set myself up for a fall.
I don’t want to put anything on or maintain – just a loss is enough for me.
So that’s it.
The result of hard work.
Now to do it over and over again every week until I get back to target!!!!