Ernest Hemingway

Anxiety, Christmas, depression, Eating, exercise, family, Food, Health, Love, Nature, Nutrition, Photography, Real Food, running, Well-being

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Yesterday I read Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ as I had an old copy and needed to read it. It was a really good read and a great story. One might think it is just a simple tale about a man who gets in his little boat and goes out to catch a big fish and try and bring it back to shore. I am no critic or writer but I enjoy reading books and see what I can make of them and how they relate to me. 

Recently I have been in the dumps with my depression and anxiety issues and I think it is because I know Christmas will soon be upon us and a couple of family birthdays occurred recently which makes me feel worse. The non-stop hassle with my benefits is also crippling me with my finances and eating away at my stress levels.

However I am trying to hold it all together even though at the moment I feel a bit tearful and down, but who cares eh? Anyway stop the moaning and weeping and get back to the blog in hand.

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I read the book and felt like the old man with my own set of woes and troubles and my on going fight with my mental health, my physical health and my need to find a bit of homeostasis in my life. The old man had strength and patience to deal with an ordeal that could break a man half his age. So I took from this that the fight is within, it is your own internal battle that you must first win before you can achieve the goals you want to do. 

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So i set out for my weekly long run which has been 7 miles in recent weeks and I wanted to do more than this. I did not measure the route I took but knew what it would be, thinking it to be about 9 miles. I went out at my usual plodder’s pace and kept focused and thought about the old man and what he would do. I recalled parts of the story in my head as I jogged and used this as a type of mantra to keep me going.

 

The first 4 or so miles were good and I felt alive, doing something that gives me so much pleasure. After this point my route took a new way as it was not my usual 7 mile route so I was plodding in uncharted territory. I pushed on and my legs did start to ache but  i kept pushing thinking of the old man beating off the sharks that were eating his catch. I kept getting thoughts of ‘ you can walk if you want’, or, ‘take a shorter route as you have nothing to prove’. These demons are like the messages i get to eat shit food, even though I am not hungry and should be eating better.

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I continued with reciting the themes of the story in my head, pretending I was the old man at sea fighting for survival and to hold onto something precious. As the jog went on my legs got more and more painful but more fatigue pain that soreness. I knew where I wanted to stop and when I eventually stopped i grabbed a drink and a packet of crisps. When I walked back home I measure my route online. I thought I had done close to 10 miles but when I checked, twice, it was 8.1 miles. So i completed my goal of dong more than the 7 miles which is great and now I can use that route for the next few weeks. Like the old man I went back home and had a coffee and rested. 

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The picture above is my 1984 London Marathon finishers medal which means so much to me. A lot of people do not understand what has to go into this type of achievement and just mock it due to their lack of ignorance. When I did the London in 1984 not one of my family members came to watch, my best friends at the time never watched or supported me. So maybe this is also why I am a bit upset today as I dug this medal out and it is a great thing but also has negative connotations attached to it.  recently I have been binge eating on crisps, chips and shit food and it bothers me that I cannot still deal with all my emotions and let them undo all the good I am putting into my jogging and training. I am fitting into clothes that i grew to fat and obese to fit into and I want this trend to continue. It is difficult like the old man trying to keep the fish he fought hard to kill, i need to dig in deeper and keep this momentum up or I will lose my battle and become depressed, self loathing and hurting inside.

So old man, make it happen and dig in for the long haul.

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What Has Been Happening?

Anxiety, depression, exercise, Health, Photography, running, Shinrin Yoku, Tree Hugging, walking

Since my last post quite a bit has happened as I continue on this journey to recovery, health improvements and normality. 

What I am going to mention first off is peoples failure to comprehend depression, stress and high levels of anxiety which some of us to live with on a day-to-day. When they ask you if you are OK and you have to lie as they don’t want to hear your troubles no matter how much they pretend to be all caring, sharing and Eddie Wearing. For instance i mentioned to one person I was feeling a bit down (I felt like shit but can’t say that as it’s not the done thing) and the reply was “I know how you feel as I lost my car keys the other day and it was terrible”. Yep, you are right one brief moment of forgetting where your car keys were equates to to my ongoing struggles, I really should get a grip and stop being a git, you are so right. 

Back to the post, so to get away from the first paragraph of negativity I would like to share two benches:

1)

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Bench 1, I was walking along a beautiful part of the Southend-On-Sea front and on the cliff side there is walking spots, gardens and lots of benches dedicated to loved ones who have passed away. I have no idea who Marion Titheridge was or who dedicated this bench to her. However the inscription is so spot on and Marion you have made my day with this. I must count my blessings and be grateful of the things I do have. So continue to rest in peace and may more people sit on the bench, rest their weary legs and count their blessings.

 

2)

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Bench 2, Once again I have no idea who Peggy Dunn was but I can only assume she, herself, used to sit in this area and take in the views. So I looked from the bench to see what she was viewing when she was alive and I took a couple of shots of which the one below.

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A great view across the sea from the park, so I sat down for a while and thanked Peggy Dunn for opening my eyes.

Walking encourages us to look around our surroundings and take in some of the more interesting things. Be mindful about walking, look, listen and take note. Peggy and Marion although now not with us have influenced my day, that is a beautiful thing as it keeps their memory alive. So much we take for granted as we chase the financial dream of being better off and having better things. There are many simple things in life that we are leaving behind such as sitting down and admiring the scenery, taking in what nature has to offer us, our presence here is of an animal which is meant to be in nature.

 

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On one of the days I put on my walking boots and did a walk from Benfleet to Southend-On-Sea. This took me through Benfleet Downs, Hadleigh Downs, Leigh-On-Sea, Chalkwall, Westcliff and eventually Southend. On part for the route I took a look at the ruins of Hadleigh Castle which was a 10th Century castle that had seen a bit of action over the years. Now very little of it remains but imagine its purpose of defense in days gone by and the lives that were led there.

 

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For my health kick I have continued to jog and walk to get myself into some resemblance of a human being again. I have given up the gym for financial reasons and also that I can now run and don’t need to treadmill anymore, running outside is so much more enlightening and health giving than a place with faecal caked machines, recycled air and no natural ambivalence. So i have done a couple of 5 miles jogs, I regularly do the ParkRun and I have also done 2X & mile jogs as my weekly long run. Therefore things are moving in the right direction but i need to push on to get better results. My depressive behavior and bouts of stress weaken me to eat shit and drink shit so I am still fighting the battle within myself.

 

The other day a friend took me out on his boat and this helped with the matters of stress and anxiety as the open sea is just amazing with no queues of people, people rushing and shouting for no reason. It was tranquility and just awesome.

 

So now I must venture on another walk with lots of steps thrown in to increase strength and core. So I leave you with some pictures taken during my walks.

 

Walk well and prosper

An amazing person

exercise, Health, Love, Nature, People, Photography, Shinrin Yoku, walking, Well-being

So I get up today and decide to go for a walk along the seafront. While out walking I notice a woman putting stones on benches and on sideways. So I decided to take a butcher’s and see what this little caper was all about.

Well to my surprise she was carefully placing decorated stones with inspiring and motivational words such as “be brave’, ‘you are loved’ and ‘dream big’. I followed her for about two miles as she placed these wonderful little messages along the seafront.

Thus made my day and is something we can all do. A little something to brighten up a person’s day, we don’t even have to know or meet the person, yet we can inspire their day and make it a little more happier.

I picked a few up in my way back and will put them back on my next walk which I hope will be just as inspiring.

Exercise update:

So as an update to my previous posts I have still been hitting the gym but not as hard as my age dictates that I need to plan rest days, which are working. I did my weekly Parkrun on Saturday and beat my recent PB by over 2 minutes, 33:21 so brilliant.

To achieve this I did two 5 miles tread mill runs in the week at 5mph pace which meant I knew I had a little bit left in the tank when I do the 5k (3.1 miles).

My diet could be better as I slipped a few days and ate trash. But today I have pledged no alcohol for at least a month and see how that goes.

So be brave, dream big and I will love myself enough to do this.

You are your destiny

I Need New Trainers

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In my quest to become a thinner me I have been putting myself through the mill with trips to the gym and trying to be a bit fitter. I have lost over 10% of my starting body weight (12.4kg). I have also just completed my 2nd Parkrun in a new PB time but my poor old trainers cannay handle the pressure capt’in (in best Scotty voice). They are falling apart and I have no dish to replace them.

Anyone out there fancy getting me a new pair of trainers?

They are a sorry sight but done me well so far with many trips to the gym and two official Parkrun.

As an update to all this I recently dropped another 1.4kg when weighed at the Imperial college London and so that study has now concluded. I have been mixing training in the gym as to not over train and taken rest days when needed.

That is a picture of me just after the 5k Parkrun, looking happy but not for long as the3 mile walk back took it out of me, guess I am not quite ready to move up to 10k just yet.

This cheered me up on the walk to the run and nice mini Stonehenge type thing that someone has kindly left.

Well that’s about it for now so please if you can help with a pair of trainers let me know.

Jog well and prosper

First Official 5K Park Run

Anxiety, depression, exercise, Health, Nature, Photography, Race Day, running, Veganism, walking, Well-being

 

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Well it is Saturday 22nd September and the picture above is me setting off on my 3 mile walk to get to the Parkrun at Gunners Park. I was apprehensive, nervous and excited all at the same time. It has been a long time since I plodded the roads, back in 2008 to be precise, and the only recent running I have done is on a treadmill. I was unsure what I was going to be feeling and would I cope with change in surface. I had started many races before in my younger days and up til 2008 but I am now 53, poor conditioned trainers, still obese and a little worried I might fail. 

My race plan was to stick to a pace I knew I could maintain and control, that is the beauty of treadmills they allow you to set specific paces and control each stride. I went out at roughly 5 MPH   pace which I had been doing on the treadmill and this was slow enough for me to keep going as long as I did not get tempted to up the pace. Thanks to Richard Benyo’s book ‘Running Past 50’ for giving me some valuable information and tips  about the older runner and he mentions keeping to a pace you know you can complete the race in. I kept my slow tortoise pace and only, ever so slightly increased when nearing the end as I had done enough to get through my first official, timed 5K run.

(The pictures above are the meeting point for the run and people getting ready.)

 

What I would like to mention here is the organisers of the Southend ParkRun:

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They are volunteers who set this up, marshal the course, take the times, help people, give advice and sort the Southend   weekly run. They were fabulous and brilliant so I thank them deeply for their dedication and work today and each week where they turn out to ensure the run takes place.

 

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(This is the actual start as people started to run, I was right at the back)

I did not go to the gym yesterday (Friday) as I wanted a rest day before the run and I also knew I would be walking to and from the course (6 miles in total) so I ensured I had enough energy to do this. Now my quickest time so far at this distance has been 36 mins. and 27 secs. When I got in and was having breakfast today’s time was sent to me and I managed 36 mins. and 05 secs. which is a recent personal best time so happy days. 

 

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The picture above of me is just after the completion of my race and starting to make my 3 mile journey back home. Although I was shattered I was elated that I have achieved so much in so little time. Roll on next week.

 

Jog well and prosper

 

As a little aside and to catch up on the post ‘A Shape of Things to Come’, this is a recent picture of my torso as to keep a record of its dwindling size. I will put up my previous post picture beside it as well to see if there is a difference.

Viewers who are easily turned off and upset at the sight of rolling flab should look away now.

 

 

I will let you all be the judges.

A Small Hiatus

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A lot has happened since my last post. I have moved after being 2 years homeless and am now sleeping in a proper bed. At 53 years old this is sad, I should not have had to have gone through that but life is a cruel thing at times.

Anyhow it is hard sorting shit out and finding my feet again as it takes time. I have joined a library, signed up with a GP and now awaiting benefits.

With regards to my training I took a few days off with the move and had to find an affordable gym to continue my efforts. This I have now done and started training again on Monday 16th September.

The news is good as I have some the usual resistance work doing multiple reps on low level weights to improve strength and core stability, not to gain muscle. I have also managed my first 5km (3.1M) jog on a treadmill without stopping or walking so that was a milestone, I also repeated this feat yesterday so twice in a week. In-between days I do cross training like bike and elliptical training as not to over-stress the body now i am at 53 years of age.

Today i managed a 5.75 mile walk along the seafront which was good exercise. I feel my weight is dropping and fitness is improving gradually but it is a long and bumpy road where I need to persevere and stay focused, motivated and supported.

I may go to the gym today for some weight work but will consider that later.

Walk well and prosper.

A Hard Couple of Days

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The last couple of days have been difficult, not that anyone gives a shit, and my head is a little confused with all life’s worries.

On Monday I gave up the grog, more in support of a friend to offer solidarity in their quest to kick out the alcohol. I know it will bring me my own rewards as well as alcohol is empty calories and clouds judgement.

But I am attacking this quest (OQC) with little support and this makes it extremely difficult to continue and I am struggling to find motivation and stimulus to carry on. People you think will help and support you actually hinder and make it difficult.

Life is boring at times when you have no money and need a little lift to get you back into the driving seat. Trainers falling apart, need new clothes and money to get a couple of essential items. This is depressing and if not controlled can spiral and halt all the progress that has been made.

I am meant to being my way to the gym but I have no gusto or drive behind me and am procrastinating by doing a blog that nobody gives a flying fuck about.

It’s times like these when you miss your family as they should understand and give you a cuddle and say it’s alright to feel low at times and we are hear for you. People say we have this in place for mental health, we have that, toucan come to this, you can attend this group. For fucks sake, sometimes I just want a hug as I feel helpless and shit and just want a cuddle. I don’t want to sit there and give you my life history of all my woes, my health problems and my emotional baggage so toucan assess me, label me and decide what group is best for me. Every time I do this and tick a million boxes to see how I feel. I feel like a box with a tick in it, tick this, tick that, rate this, rate that, what score for this, what score for that. ‘ohh Mr. Gaywood you need 4 weeks of card therapy and make pretty cards for your family you don’t have.’

I am tired of ticking boxes, measuring a sliding scale, and rating how I feel from 1 to 10. A coffee and a chat with a hug to say ‘stick in their Andi I am here for you’.

But even that is a utopian dream as after I am sent a letter to rate the service I received, to tick boxes on how well the interviewer did, rate from 1-10 on how my needs were met.

Fuck it, I am done with that shit, I want my old life back, I am sick and tired of playing the tick-a-box game, the rate your emotions game and the where on the scale do you fit game.

But people don’t see this and they don’t even ask about it as it bored them to tears and means they cannot discuss their whims and achievements like showing you pictures of a holiday you can never afford, like showing pictures of their family which you don’t have, like telling you about the restaurant they went to that you can’t afford, like telling you all about their birthday but don’t give a shit about yours, like telling you how much their car cost to fix and not how much you can’t afford a new toothbrush.

So just entertain these people as their lives mean so much more than a bum, a low down bum who has nothing to offer.

Exercise update

03-09-2018

I reluctantly did a 5 km walk on the treadmill, like you give a fuck and 45 minutes on resistance training.

04-09-2018

Was not up for it at all today but slipped in a 42:55 gym bike session and covered 20km. Not that you care as you are fine and have what you want so fuck me.

2 days without a drop of alcohol.

Exercise update

05-09-2018

Did about 50 minutes of resistance training on various machines.

Also did a 6km treadmill session, every 5th minute did a gradient raise for a minute up to 8-10 grads. Also two of the 5th minutes I jogged at 8.2 kph for a minute each time. The first time I have jogged for many years and it was hard but a start to my half marathon challenge next year.

I Am Not Worthy?

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That’s right take a gander at this specimen of a human being. Now this happen to be a single guy, never married and a available. What words come to mind about this state of play?

Apparently not ‘eligible bachelor’ as one of my cohort of people would be so kind as to mention. I took a quick gander at the meaning of the term eligible bachelor and this is what Wiki has to say:

“An eligible bachelor is a bachelor considered to be a particularly desirable potential husband, usually due to wealth, social status or other specific personal qualities.”

Now according to this my cohorts, as they were all in agreement at the initial statement, I am not a potential husband, have no wealth (this one is true), no social status (needs defining) and the worst of all I have no specific. Personal qualities.

Is it because I am fat?

Is it because I am ugly?

Is it because I am just too ordinary?

What ever the reasoning I did not even enter into the minds of the people in the meeting when this statement was spoken, about another person, “he is our most eligible bachelor”.

How did that make me feel? To be honest like shit, it was a punch in the face, a kick in the gonads, an insult of epic proportions. I am not worthy of any female, or male attention, I am not to be considered under all circumstances. So that is one of the reasons I am doing what I am doing.

It bit so hard that I beat myself up mentally about it and now pushing to get myself into a less fat, ugly and undesirable state, as personality counts for Jack squat diddly, and attempt to get myself back into the dating arena with OQC, the first initial being operation and the other two a little rude so I will not mention

Maybe I am just a fatty on the prowl who has no eligible bachelor rights or status as I am so crap.

If I would have said the words that were being said in the meeting I would have been a sexist pig and my language unacceptable.

Time to push on with OQC.

This is not having a go, just mentioning what happened and how words can affect vulnerable people.

Speak well and prosper

The Right Thing

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Doing the right thing and making the best choices is very difficult, as what may be right for you is not right in the eyes of others. I have always attempted to make correct choices and sometimes I will make a wrong one.

So today I decided not to take part in a 12 week programme of activities that has been set up for a “friendship group” I am part of. I went to the initial session which was used to outline what we will be doing in terms of activities, learning and what our responsibilities are. Firstly I was attached to a group with two people I have no interest in and quite frankly do not want to be with. I am meant to report to these people each week and discuss my progress and what I have been doing to meet the aims of the programme. No, this is not for me, I am not going to be discussing these things with people I do not want to be around.

This 12 week programme was set up to secure funding for the “friendship group” for another year, but it is blackmail to expect me to attend when I will be bored, sitting with people I don’t want to be with, doing female centric activities, which is cool, but a little more of the traditional male orientated activities may increase your male attendance. I am post carded out, glitter overloaded, arts and crafts drained and would like to do something a little more male centric to balance the books.

Also some people got into groups with people they like and are friends with so they are OK and they can share and take part as if things were normal.

Other activities include two cooking sessions. I am a Vegan and not one will be all vegan. I did one once and they made changes to a couple of recipes but one of them I could not eat as someone used a spoon to stir the meat dish in the vegan dish. So now I am being picky as it was just stiring, no wash in between. You do that to a Muslim or a person with coeliac disease you will be facing a lawsuit.

My philosophy is that a sustainable, healthy planet that is friendly to the globe and all its inhabitants is a vegan diet. You cannot teach well-being and respect to animals if you have a belly full of lamb or baby cow.

So this is not for me and I have alerted the people who normally run the group and those that set up the programme. Already I have had feedback from a person telling me it’s a small price to pay for the longevity of the group. Well I am not going to do 12 weeks of things that will upset me and make me stressed.

Exercise update

Yesterday in the gym.

01-09-2018

I did 1 hour ten minutes of resistance training on different equipment.

I also did my third 10km walk and got a recent PB of 96 minutes and 38 seconds at a speed of mainly 6.1 KPH raising to 7 KPH towards the end. I did a gradient of 1 throughout.

Now that was good going. I am now off to the gym to get this 12 week programme stress out of my system and keep the motivation up.

Today’s gym update

02-09-2018

Did an hour and 15 minutes on the resistance training on various machines. Tried to do interval rowing but did not manage much. Went onto the bike and did some low level interval training by starting at level 5 and every 5th minute knock it up to 8kph and pushed as hard as I could. I did this for 15k which took me 31 minutes and 55 seconds. So a good session as I was well tired and a lot of sweat.

A shape of things to come update.

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So what has been happening since my last revealing post. Well I am using my month in the gym well and have been doing a lot of 5k treadmill walks and today getting a recent PB of 45:45 minutes which was at a pace of around 6.2kph. I have also been adding some hill work into my walks creating low level interval training which I need to get my body used to if I am going to meet my half marathon challenge. On top of all this I am continuing with the resistance training and either increasing the weight slightly or adding an extra set of reps. So that is going well. Plus I occasionally add in a half hour bike ride or cross trainer for extra cardio workouts. Today I did my flat 5k in PB time, a half hour on the elliptical trainer where every 5th minute I upped the difficulty and worked hard for a minute so a little more interval work.

Tomorrow I go for a weigh in for a research project I am part of and see if there is movement on my weight. They also take blood to measure sugar and cholesterol levels. Plus I give a semen sample to see if weight loss affects fertility.

Someone asked me today why I am bothering to do this? On Friday I attended a funeral of a friend and his father, on the same day and you know what I want to give myself the best chance of health. Also a few months ago I was in a meeting g at work and something was said that really got me thinking and it upset me a bit but ok know there was no malice intended. It made me feel a bit worthless and as if I was not a real man. So that gave me a little incentive to push me a little harder.

On another front I am well aware that weight, especially in the realms of obesity is a major issue for health problems. Why risk it when you can do something about it. So now I am here with these drivers getting me to buck my ideas up and beat whatever it is that is sending me to an early grave.

Lifestyle well and prosper.

Update 29-08-2018

I went to my weigh in and another 4kg bites the dust. Good news. Also my overall cholesterol went from a healthy 5mmol/L to and even healthier 4mmol/L. My fasting glucose levels dropped from 36mmol/L to a better 35mmol/L where below 42 is normal. My HDL level went from 1.04mmol/L to 1.08mmol/L the recommendation is to have at least 1mmol/L as this is the “good cholesterol”.

So a good day at the hospital.

30-08-2018 update

Today in the gym I had a longer session following a couple of George Raft’s yesterday. I did approximately 1 hour 10 minutes on resistance training various machines etc. Did 3X20 sit-up reps on a Swiss ball. A 2000 meter easy row session. Easy 10km on a bike and then a 5km brisk walk on the treadmill. The walk started at 6.2KPH and increased to 6.5 with a last few minutes on 7KPH. Plus every 5th minute I increased the gradient from 1 to 8 and rising to 10 on the last 5th minute. Nice low level interval training.