How to Drop 30 Kilos in 6 Months and Love Every Minute (Part 3)
How to drop 30 kilos in 6 months and love every minute
Part 3 - Execution
The next day around four o'clock, I arrived at my final destination. A little town called Javea, a hundred kilometres south of Valencia. Look at Spain. There’s a little nose about two thirds down the east coast. Tip of that nose. That’s us, pressed against the sea by the mountains.
It felt like its own little island.
First priority, after wandering around and actually believing I was going to be in the fabulous villa I’d rented for 6 months, was the supermarket. Go get the superfoods.
My place was in Cabo la Nao right up on the point near the lighthouse. My mission hadn’t been created when I booked it but with my new mission head on, the remoteness of my location would be a good thing.
When I went outside to get back in my car, I was reminded it had just carried me from London to south-east Spain.
Over those 1800 miles, the front of the car had accumulated a second skin of unfortunate insects. Insects of all shapes, colours and sizes had become one single cloak of wonder food for any bird that took a fancy. And they did. A feeding frenzy was underway and even this one approaching human and one curious mystery cat couldn’t scare them off.
They each had an allocated section of bodywork to pick at and they did well but still couldn’t get it all off. The earlier casualties really were part bug, part Audi.
The nearest supermarket was down in the Cala Blanca bit and was called Consum. It was the strangest supermarket shop I'd ever done. 100 euros of just good healthy stuff. I'd never put walnuts in a shopping cart. But I carried the same internal smugness of someone whose every passing minute is making them healthier than everyone else.
It was a hot day and I knew if I didn't get it all fridged up quick smart, for the whole 6 months here, my car would smell like a trawler.
The pool was warm enough not to have to thrash around like a perishing salmon and it was my first test of where I was fitness-wise. It was a 15-metre pool. Breaststroke is apparently the best all-round stroke for what I was after so I took off up and down. I'd have to do this for at least 30 minutes every day so how close was I?
I wasn’t far off as it happened. I managed about 15 minutes and thought it was a good start for day one. My own salmon was ready to go under the grill and I was hungry. Baby steps.
The house and garden had to provide me with my makeshift gym. Soon, I had two sturdy wooden outside chairs back to back for pull-ups, a couple of buckets from the gardener’s shed filled with pool water. The rest would need no props. The push-ups over there next to the pool and that little wall would do the ab stuff. Suspend myself on it and hold myself there for ten seconds, ten-second break, repeat until knackered.
I had a little go at all my disciplines. The props held up just fine and my routine was set. There was only one thing missing and it would be the majority of my cardio workout. The rowing machine.
In five days time, this dutch firm would have about €200 of rowing machine on my doorstep.
I carried on with my eating regime and stepped up the swimming and workout aspects and added two new disciplines to the list. There’s no denying, doing laps can be a bit boring unless you’ve got underwater Bluetooth headphones. (I had a look and wasn’t convinced there was such a thing).
Swimming underwater is pretty decent cardio and if you make up a game, It gives you a bit more to think about. I got a couple of stones from the garden and lobbed them into the far end. I kicked off of from the shallow end and kicked off the walls, back and forth until I got to the other end. Then I dived for the stones and that was a lap done. I did that a few times, and I was knackered but it felt awesome.
I bobbed around like I was on holiday, nothing to think about, nothing to do, and after a while, when I’d got my breath back, I lay on the surface looking down. I made the star shape to keep myself up and just looked at the floor or the pool.
Everything was quiet, just the rumble of the water inlets. It was so beautiful. The shapes, sunlight hitting the pool and being taken bouncing off wherever the waves would take it. It was mesmerising. I saw my own shadow hovering there, the waves coming off it. It was like an aura, a heat signature, something we can’t see when we’re out of the water. It radiated from me like an energy.
When I lay there long enough, watching my energy spring off into the water, it became the perfect medication. I could lose myself in the movement, feel the sun on my back and drift off with the ripples around the pool.
Mind and body were now joined in my routine and by the time I hit the shower and made lunch I knew my mind had grown while my body had shrunk just a little.
This was when a routine became a lifestyle. I couldn’t imagine it not being like this. This was something I could look forward to every day.
On day 5, the rowing machine arrived. It was lovely and orange and it went right where I hoped it would, between two columns on the terrace.
Then I suddenly realised, apart from the supermarket on day one, I hadn't been out yet. The days had been formed around my mini-meals and exercise and going out didn't sound as healthy as staying in.
But I had to prove to myself I could carry on the mission in or out. That night, I did go out, met some nice folks, Lee and Tracey from Southend and a drummer called Hector, saw a band and drank white wine and had lubina a la plancha, grilled sea bass, asparagus and a few slices of grilled aubergine, every so slight little drizzle of local honey.
My taxi got me home at a reasonable hour and I got out without that heavy feeling I’d get when I went out back home. Always too much beer and always too much red meat. I took a quick stroll round my makeshift gym and my new rowing machine and then slept better than I had for ages. Tomorrow, a full programme for the first time.
The rowing machine soon got me sweating. The readout was like trying to wish away the miles in the car, watching calorie after calorie clock away, minute after minute. The machine was fine, nice and easy, smooth strokes, keep the back straight. Pretty soon I'd done my hour and I took a break for water. The weights and pull up and everything else was becoming faster and I was doing more of them. By the time I got into the pool, I was feeling muscle burn and my heart felt reawoken.
With the help of a great little tool called Supertracker, I had it all mapped out. Today I would eat 1200 calories and burn off 2000.
And so it was for the next couple of weeks. The cats started popping in to see what this strange noise was an hour every day and soon they stuck around for some cheeky tuna and I had one or two pusscats to talk to while I worked out.
The hour a day on the rower needed a bit more entertainment than the readout. By now I knew my pace and you just have to finish the hour come what may. Being in my own head was amusing enough but I needed a bit more autopilot.
The laptop was enlisted to provide comedy shows and every so often, this Spanish course I'd taken. The hour started to go by like the missing time I'd felt in La Roche Sur Yon. I was doing more miles to the hour, I was doing more laps in the pool and I was looking forward to every stage more and more.
Pretty soon though, the pool became unswimmable so I got a wetsuit but that only really extended it a few weeks. My regime changed and I doubled up on the rowing.
My daily meal plans were sometimes not planned, just cobble together the right food groups in the right quantities. Some of the taste combos were worth jotting down, others didn't really work but still, the scales in the bathroom were starting to show results. I'd got down to 100 kilos from 108 in the first 3 weeks.
I couldn't believe the progress. I was never hungry, I felt great and the pounds were escaping with ease. I'd have this done in a few more weeks. I started a weight chart and logged as much as I could, something to be proud of.
Then the rate of weight loss slowed. I checked the scales. How could doing exactly the same thing every day cause a different result? I changed the scales to show pounds not kilos so that it seemed more of a dramatic reduction.
A bit more research told me the scales were fine, the programme was fine. It’s just the first bit of weight drops off you because you're reducing your water retention. After that, you work just as hard for half the initial result. And don't forget, the programme is increasing muscle mass as well, which weighs more than fat. That's fine. So be it. This was the realistic rate. Months, not weeks. And I was enjoying it. I was enjoying succeeding, winning. This wasn't so hard.
A couple more weeks went past and still, the pounds tumbled. Sometimes the reductions were erratic, same programme, 2 pounds off one day, half a pound off the next. I didn't really need to know why as long as the weight kept dropping.
The thing was, I had been looking at myself in the full-length mirror by the door every day after my workout before the shower and I still didn't look any different,
I knew all the machinery and logic associated with my mission couldn’t all be wrong at the same time so I was pretty sure there would be a decent reason for it and so there was. What you’re doing initially is sorting out your core. That’s where you’re losing the initial weight and water.
Your core is what’s getting beefed up and fit, out of sight. It made sense enough to a layman but you still like to see changes. And then it happened.
My jeans had been feeling a little looser than normal for a few days and then I realised I needed the belt in another hole. There it was, the first sign. I couldn't confirm it from the mirror but this was incontrovertible.
Maybe it was something psychosomatic in my head showing me something, but soon after that, I started to see some definition around my middle, not so much abs per se, just prepping the ground for them.
The pounds kept shedding off my weight chart. I will freely admit, I did have one or two blowouts, the need for a kebab and a cold beer, and I knew the numbers would show it, but I was now not actually fitting into trousers and shorts and some shirts looked like nightdresses. I needed healthy person’s clothes. I have never felt so happy about an impending cost.
I returned the scales to kilos. They didn’t need to be fluffed any more.
I looked good, like I did in my 30s.
By the time four months had passed, my target of 80 kilos remained and I was only a couple off at 82.
I had two months to drop that and I knew I would. I looked at photos of me in London 6 months before and it was incredible. I looked like a different person altogether. I looked tired, heavy, dreading the next flight of stairs.
Warning. This is a pivotal moment. When you’re ahead of the curve and bossing it, it’s easy to entertain the notion that you can ease off a bit. Physically, you’re probably right but don't do it. It changes your mindset from achieving something to already having achieved it but it’s not yet achieved. Achieve it first, then reward yourself with easing off.
I hit my 80 kilos with 5 weeks to go and the next 5 weeks kept me there. It was done. I'd smashed the hell out that 25%. It was gone.
I took off from Valencia and landed at Gatwick requiring second glances at my passport photo. Yes, folks that really is me, just an awful lot more of me.
By the time I wandered down the street to the pub, I'd already decided I wasn’t going back to the UK for good. Spain was my home now. My mission, my new life was born on the French highways and realised in the Spanish mountains.
I wasn't even really thinking of the reaction I’d get when I walked in. I didn’t need reactions. I knew what I’d done. Me and my water buckets, pussycats, rowing machine, the glorious island of Okinawa and singing, dancing Spain.
The reaction was complete astonishment. Not just someone telling you you look well. This was holy moley across the board. My choice of a pink leather coat to mark the occasion drew its own conclusion but I was stronger and fitter and more vibrant in mind and body. And I looked it and we all knew it.
Life’s new plateau had been reached with a simple regard for my own well being. A respect for my only asset.
And it was simple, inspiring and very enjoyable.
© 2020 Dominic Schunker