Friday, July 25, 2008

Something worth posting...

Yes it has been a long time since I’ve posted something proper. I think it’s because I’ve felt that I haven’t had anything worth posting. Just over halfway through the year made me reflective – remembering the three themes I was looking at this year. I think I felt it had to be something quite significant before I wrote anything – and I think I’ve found it.

Two stone. Twenty-eight pounds. Twelve kilograms. It’s quite a lot of weight. And that’s about how much weight I’ve lost this year (in reality it’s a little more, but the two stone sounds more impressive – to me!)

If people want to, I think everyone KNOWS what they have to do to lose weight. Eat less and exercise more. That’s basically it…and that’s basically all I’ve done! I did practically no exercise last year…and now it’s become quite natural. I’m proud of the fact I’ve changed my habits for the better.

But the whole knowing thing is interesting. Morpheus says in the Matrix, there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. Perhaps because I’ve become more aware of it, or perhaps there’s more of it around – but there’s a LOT of information and knowledge about losing weight, getting a six-pack, losing the belly and all that jazz. I’ve heard it somewhere, but the truth is, knowledge makes fuck all difference. I have to get off my arse and do it.

I had this discussion with a relative recently. They know exactly what they’re supposed to do – but they still insist on buying cakes and biscuits, and proceed to eat them! It’s not easy shifting lifestyle, but it’s certainly not impossible!

The other thing that’s helped of course is doing it with my wife. It’s something we’ve worked on together. One very funny recent comment from a friend was that after you get married, you’re supposed to let things go! Getting married has made me think a lot about the future – family, health and all that. What kind of dad would I be if couldn’t at least keep up my children?

As I’ve said before, I really didn’t give a shit about taking care of my body and well-being. I used to drink a can of red-bull every day…sometimes two in a day! I used to eat a pack of three Reese’s cups about two or three times a week (over a month I bought the entire stock in that particular shop…) I used to eat Burger King and Pizza Hut without a second thought. I used to get knackered walking up the escalator at a tube station. I used to wear really baggy clothes, and pretend that the fact I couldn’t see my toes when I looked down (unless I bent forward slightly) was not a problem. Funnily enough, no one really commented. I guess I put the weight on gradually.

Perhaps that's also why I felt the need to grow my beard so long. I was hiding my face and my embarrassment. I mean I love styling the hair and everything, but having my beard as I did last year was probably a sign of some deeper issue. Perhaps. (Freud would have a field day). Of course, deep down I did know what I was doing, but there was no way I was going to confront the truth. That would mean admitting to myself I didn’t care. Far easier to ignore it, and make out like it wasn’t a problem.

There was a turning point, where I had the thought “I should do something at some point” that was at my stag do. We played 5-a-side football and myself my best man and couple of guys were warming up. I found I could not touch my toes; they were a good six inches from the floor. Everyone else in the room could. (Interestingly enough, at this point I'd been to the doctor for a check-up and he'd told me I needed to lose about two stone...I just ignored it). Inside I was deeply embarrassed. I was fat, but I hid it well.

So, just over six months down the line this calendar year (and about twelve months after I felt I should do something about it - perhaps I spent six months getting up the courage?)…new habits have been formed, and I’m living a different lifestyle. It’s been hard work, but I’ve got there...some of the new things include:

1) I exercise regularly
Never would have thought this would have been a habit...but it is! Instead of sitting around watching TV, I actually feel like doing something...I did do a run for half-an-hour in January - but I felt like I was going to die! Luckily, we had a simple stepper machine at home - and that kept me going. First time I went on it, I managed ten or so minutes before my feet hurt too much to carry on. I think the thing that made a big difference was listening to music while doing it! I basically took over the iPod...from Fear Factory to Metallica and SOAD - it was all there - and it kept me going...I don't think there's any better workout music!

But then, a while ago - I broke the stepper machine - all my hard work would be for my latest method of exercising is simply putting on the music and dancing round the flat! I remember when I was at university, I would go out on a Saturday night and go for it on the dancefloor for about four hours non-stop! During my year out, at our regular haunt in Kingston, the dancing became a full workout - yes really! Dancing to heavy metal, and making it look cool was a brilliant workout!

And after nearly dying the first time I ran for half-an-hour - I now run about 5km fairly regularly now! I even ran the school fun run in my lime-green pimp suit...last year, that was definitely NOT going to happen...

I think the last thing of course is doing Pilates. Three times a week, every week this year (apart from two - when I went skiing, and when I was ill...) I highly recommend it. I don't even think of it as particularly girly - but apparently it is! I'd like to see some of the guys do the moves - they're not easy! It's even managed to tone me up - I have noticeable arms! A bicep (albeit small). It might not sound like much, but it's a MASSIVE deal for me - I've always been the short, round, brown guy with a big mouth...I'm still short, and have a big mouth...but I'm not so round!

2) I eat fruit and veg.
Most days I ACTUALLY GET MY FIVE PORTIONS A DAY! Total shock! Last year it wasn't grapes, clementines, bananas, cucumber, tomato, broccoli...we did start the year having lots of smoothies...but I've gone off that idea, mainly because it's a bit of an unnatural way to get the fruit in. I don't mind Innocent smoothies because in a serving of their stuff, you could actually eat the fruit in it (like a bit of an apple, a bit of a banana, some strawberries etc.) Anything made from concentrate...well I'm not having...can I eat thirty oranges in one sitting? why would I drink it?

3) I actually take note of what I eat!
Yeah well, it was quite obvious that I didn't care what I was putting in...we actually bought some nice digital kitchen scales to measure out what we eat...shocking! I have a much better awareness of how much to eat, a good portion or not etc. I think before I never listened to my body - if I was feeling full, it didn't matter, I had to finish what I had on my plate...or what I took...of course that doesn't mean I don't eat desserts and stuff...much more in moderation...and if I'm going to, I'll make sure I do a good bit of exercise to burn it off!

And the secret to all this? Well yes - eating better and exercising are the basic foundation, but my wife found a very good structure for supporting us here. Now when I first read about it, I was totally cynical - another idea for us to try and follow...but we have stuck to it. And the results speak for themselves.

I think that the heart of all this is making a promise and sticking to it. We just followed the guidelines...simple, but not easy.

Needless to say, after all this, I can now touch my toes.

The question now remains - what's next?


PS Check the before and after pictures!

This post was brought to you by: weight-loss, confronting the truth, and what the doctor told me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Teaching - Part One

Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight me
The Elite
All of which are american dreams

Thought-provoking bunch Rage Against the Machine. I've been listening to them in the car to and from work. The lyrics above are from Know Your Enemy. Do teachers have that much of an effect? I suppose teachers aren't only in school, but that's the usual place to find them.

It's got me thinking about teaching.

More later.


This post was inspired by crap teachers, shitty pupils, wonderful music, and righteous indignation