80 Days and Counting

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November 22nd, 2016.

That’s a day I’ll keep in mind for awhile.  For most people, it’s just a day like any other.  It’s not a holiday or someone’s birthday or anniversary.  It’s just another day really.

Only it’s not for me – It’s the day I quit smoking.

Well, sort of.

Some might say that I’ve just swapped once vice for a new one, as I’m now using a Vape e-cigarette instead of actually smoking.  But to me, it’s just a stepping stone to actually becoming smoke-free in the future after about 25 years of it.  I hope.

It hasn’t been a walk in the park, to say the least.  I really loved the act of smoking (though not necessarily the smell of them).  That first drag off of a badly needed cigarette was absolutely bliss, almost orgasmic.  And the cravings for the act of smoking itself has been almost frenzied at times.

But I’m getting there, one day at a time.

For some reason, after the weekend previous to the above date, something in me snapped.  Just the thought of having a cigarette made me cringe with disgust.  For the first time in my life.

smoking12This change was two-fold as far as I could tell.

Firstly, like most people, it easily had to do with money.  Since April, I’d mostly been smoking duty-free cigarettes I’d purchased from abroad or friends had picked them up for me on their travels.

Basically, the thought of going back to paying UK prices for cigarettes made me cringe.  And with recent/new regulations, it meant things were just going to get more expensive.

But mostly I think it had to do with a (naked) house party I’d attended that weekend.

At one point during the party, I was chatting with a few guys near the garden door as I faffed with the host’s bathrobe (garden was overlooked, and it was easier than finding my clothes upstairs).  And perhaps it was just my imagination, but there seemed to be a sense of pity from them about the lengths I was going to have a cigarette.

I suddenly felt desperate and slightly pathetic about it all.  And I suddenly wondered why the hell I was still doing this to myself after two and a half decades… and just thinking about that length of time really pulled me up short.  It was quite jarring to suddenly realise I had been smoking for more than half my life.

Fucking hell…

So that Monday morning, I only had 1 cigarette left in my pack which I smoked on my way to work.  And I had absolutely no desire to buy another .. though I did bum a couple smokes off of a colleague that day to get me through.

Instead I’d decided I’d give vaping a try for a bit, and went to the local vape shop near my flat to see what options there were.  I’d heard of many people who’d turned to vaping and seemed to be doing quite well.  The model I’d decided on was out of stock, so had to come back the next evening.

So I bought my last 10 pack of cigarettes on my way home, purposely choosing a brand I didn’t normally smoke or enjoy.

vape-penAnd so far, after just over 80 days of not smoking, I’m still going strong and have only had 2 cigarettes since – one Christmas Eve, and one on a night out with colleagues when we were quite drunk.

And interestingly, neither cigarette made me want to buy a pack or start smoking again.  That alone is a good sign.

But there has been a down side as well… I’ve been gaining weight like crazy since quitting. And as a bigger guy already, it was something I didn’t need.

I had hoped by switching to the vape that the weight gain could have been prevented, and that perhaps I would start getting a bit more active.  But unfortunately, the on-and-off-again foot/ankle/knee issues I’ve been having since coming back from Canada in October haven’t helped at all.

In fact, it’s made me quite lazy.

So now here I am, more than 80 days later, and I’m having to work on my health issues alongside my pseudo non-smoking habits (I don’t really use the vape that much some days).  I don’t necessarily eat that badly most days, but it’s more about the quantities and the lack of exercise.

And I definitely had a shock upon weighing myself last week… I’ve topped out at almost 21 stone (that’s around 300 lbs or 130 kg… fuck 😦 ).

So… now I’ve started to watch my caloric intake and make myself walk a bit every day, even part way to work/home a few times a week.  And I’ve signed up for the free ‘gym & swim’ card at my local council’s leisure centre that will allow me to use the facilities in the afternoons on the weekends and any time on Fridays.

Hopefully with these little changes, things can improve somewhat.  I’m sure a part of my recent lack of feeling social has a lot to do with this, and each have impacted the other.

Oh and hopefully I can lose a few pounds before my next holiday in Gran Canaria.. I’m fairly comfortable in just my skin and all, but not when I’m feeling like a beached-whale. 😉

Close up of bare chested man holding scissors and squeezing stomach

Close up of bare chested man holding scissors and squeezing stomach

 

New Year Blues

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On New Year’s Day while driving back to London from Essex with a couple of dear friends, one of them asked me a fairly innocuous question regarding my plans for the year ahead.

“So, you have anything exciting planned for 2017? Anything you’re looking to accomplish?”

And for some reason I really struggled to answer him… and that alone threw me for a loop. Even more so than my seemingly lack of an answer.

For whatever reason I was already feeling somewhat ambivalent about it all in the lead up to the holiday season. I could have easily stayed home instead of travelling to my mate’s place in Essex for their Naked New Year’s party (which really wasn’t as exciting as it might sound lol), but I forced myself to go. It was an alright party, but not as exciting as previous year’s celebrations.

Here’s the crux of it all – Over the past couple of months, I’ve been feeling fairly anti-social.  I’ve been spending entire weekends at home alone, rarely talking to anyone let alone actually leaving the flat.  It’s happened a couple of times where, because I’d picked up groceries on the way home Friday night, there was kind of no need to go anywhere.

This is something that has continued into the New Year. And all it does is make me feel like I’m wasting my weekends.

I do genuinely go into most weekends with a basic idea of what I’d like to do, even if I don’t have anything planned ahead of time. It could be something as simple as taking the laptop to the local coffee shop to do some writing (which we all know has been lacking these past few months), going to a museum, or maybe just going out for a couple drinks with mates.

But instead with groceries in the fridge (or enough cash for take-away), I end up having several Netflix marathons.  Or on the very rare occasion, have a mate come over to hang out for an evening.

Basically I boils down to the same feeling I’ve had repeatedly over the years.  That if I don’t make the effort first to keep in contact with people or to suggest doing things, then it’s quite rare to hear from them. That could be somewhat simplistic or overly pessimistic, but hear me out…

truly caresThere are a few friends that I used to hang out with regularly (if not weekly), but this seemed to only happen when I’d message them to see what they were up to.  So when I’d stop messaging people to see what they’re up to, I kind of stop hear from them.

And that feeling of ambivalence towards my social life has clearly spilled into the rest of my life, especially when I try to think of where I’d like to be at the end of the year. What progress I’d like to make, what accomplishments, and so forth.

And that’s not a great feeling, especially after I was so driven during the latter half of 2016 to complete the Microsoft Office Specialist (expert-level) Excel 2013 certification exams. It wasn’t easy, and I had to retake them after failing the first time, but in the end I powered through and aced the exams as I knew I could.

Maybe my ambivalence towards 2017 has to do with this ‘waiting pattern’ it feels I’ve been in since those exams. I still have 2 other exams to complete to achieve my Master certification, which I have until the Autumn to complete, but I’m also waiting for the approval through work to get my Prince2 Foundation & Practitioner certification.

And that’s a great thing to be able to say is happening. I’d initially spoke to my old boss about doing this back in April, but there didn’t seem to be any movement regarding it. But once the new boss started back in October, things really started moving. And not just about the course.

This new boss is all about getting things right and is quite geared towards pushing forward those that work hard… not those that seem to flash certain attributes and turn on their gender-specific charm or get all emotional in order to get what they want.  Hell, he even pushed for me to get a raise back in October after he’d been there 2 weeks, and he wants to expand my role into more of a divisional overall one over the next year as I complete the course.

But yet I still sometimes feel that despite things actually going sort of ok at work at the moment that I need something to change?  Definitely doesn’t help any that the regional office I work in is quite lad-ish and unprofessional, which gets on my nerves at times.

Or is it more my dissatisfaction regarding other aspects of my life (ie: social and/or love life)? Could that be spilling over into my work life and tainting something that’s actually going alright?

Is there truly an answer to any of this?  Probably not, but most likely that’s down to my own pessimistic outlook at life at the moment.

*shrugs shoulders*disappointed-man_slider

Striping Away the Insecurities

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Like many people, I tend to be quite self-conscious when it comes to my body.  I was always the chubby or fat kid in school, and have continued to be of a larger size well into my adult years.

I’ve spent many years feeling bad about myself, putting myself down and generally beating myself up emotionally or psychologically whenever I felt I had let myself down regarding my weight.  I’ve repeatedly tried to restrict my diet, deny myself the food I’ve always enjoyed eating, and to get more active.

But of course, despite brief periods of weight loss here and there, I’ve continued to watch my weight rise year on year.  And my own feelings of self-worth fluctuated about as much as my weight did.

Now don’t get me wrong.. I don’t necessarily eat as if I’m running out of food, or am so inactive that I’m beyond lazy.  It’s like anything in life – I know what I need to do, but don’t tend to do it.

cute bums on beachOk, maybe that is my laziness talking there. LOL

I’ve tried several things over the years to help myself to accept my own body image issues, but it’s only been recently that I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin.  And just my own skin.

Over the past couple years, I’ve discovered a love of naturalist beaches, especially after my recent trips to Gran Canaria.  I found on the beaches there that nobody cared what you looked like, and all shapes and sizes were welcome.

On top of this, a close friend of mine convinced me to join a naturalist social website well over a year ago (Nakedmates.co.uk for those who’re interested lol), but I hadn’t done much with it other than poke around, looking at the guy’s profiles and pictures.  And reading about the events some put on, wondering what it would be like to go to one.

Well… all that changed back in April, just before my most recent trip to Gran Canaria.  My mate was hosting a small gathering at his flat in town, and I decided to finally take the plunge and attend.

That’s right.. I went to a naked house party.  And despite my initial nervousness, I absolutely loved it.  It literally was just like any other house party – some laughs, lots of chatting, a bit of flirting, and maybe a bit too much wine haha.

Only difference was that everyone was naked.

The whole ethos of the website is ‘No Clothes. No Attitude’, where members organise parties at their homes, in bars, saunas, and such.

beardy threesomeOne reason I’d been so so hesitant about these parties was it felt like it was so sexualised.  My mate had told me plenty of naughty stories of things that had gone on at these events, and that really isn’t my thing.

But what I found after attending that first party was that it isn’t really like that at all for most of the guys.  It’s just a different outlet to meet like-minded guys in a comfortable and non-judgemental clothing-free environment.

Now don’t get me wrong.. there is a sexual aspect to the parties, but only if you choose to engage in it.  Most hosts when having parties in their homes will set aside a room away from the social areas for those who want to have a bit of fun.  And despite what I might have previously thought, it didn’t turn into full-blown orgies.

At this particular party, I was one of the first to arrive so was already naked when the rest of them arrived.  I think that helped me a bit, where I was only initially stripping off in front of a couple of guys instead of 20 or so. 😉

Of course, the bottle of wine I’d brought helped me relax.  The first half of the bottle went down very quickly. Hahaha

Anyway, the time flew by as I chatted to a gorgeous Danish guy in the kitchen, while some of the other guys drifted in and out of the play room.  Neither of us were interested in joining the frolics, so just enjoyed each other’s company.

Well things have sorted progressed since then, as I’ve been to 2 other parties since.  Including my mate’s naked birthday party last month… where I met a very sexy farmer from Suffolk.

And the parties continue next month.  I’ve agreed to a naked camping weekend up North with over 200 guys from around the country (the sexy farmer promised he’d make it worth my while if I went.. hehe).  And then a couple weeks later it’ll be my mate’s naked wedding!

I admit, it’s not a community I ever considered being a part of, but it’s amazing how friendly and inclusive most of the guys are.  And it’s great to meet guys from so many different walks of life all because of one shared interest.

The upside to all this is how much more comfortable I’ve been feeling in my own skin, and how I keep looking for new opportunities to spent as much time naked at home as I can.. though usually just in my bedroom or when nobody is home.

What I do know is this is a new adventure for me, and it’s one I’m quite enjoying.

Now to see what happens next.. and whether that sexy farmer will keep his promise when we go camping next month.  😉

naked camping

 

Back to the Beach – the Countdown Begins

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Although I booked it back in January, I’ve started counting down to my next holiday the last week of April. I had such an amazing time back in November, so I’m going back to Gran Canaria for another week.

The place definitely had a profound impact on me.  I can honestly say it was my best holiday ever, and it helped me feel more liberated when it comes to my body and being naked in public.. And I could use some of that confidence back.

Last time, I’d spent my days naked sunning on the beach.  It wasn’t my first time to a nude beach, but it was the first time that I was comfortable enough to stand up, walk around, and even walk down to the water for a swim, regardless of the clothed people walking along the beach.

tumblr_lfqtqpsYuy1qfvz41o1_500I’ve never been very comfortable with my body, mostly due to being chubby and feeling unattractive.  But what I found there was nobody really gave a shit.  In fact, there were people there who were even bigger than I was and they were comfortable naked on the beach, so why the hell shouldn’t I be as well.

The most liberating was the apartment I’d rented.  It afforded me even more time and space to spend my holiday naked, especially after I’d rigged some towels on the balcony railing so I could sit outside naked without worrying (too much) if the neighbours or people walking along the street could see me in all my glory.

It was amazing.

So back in January, I started looking around for another beach holiday for the end of April (as that was the only time I could get off work), and the only place I found within Europe that had decent beach weather was Gran Canaria.. so off I went to book myself into the same apartment as last time for a week.

If it worked last time, why change it, right?  LOL

The difference this time is that I’m not going alone… although it was originally planned that way.

A mate of mine had mentioned after my last trip that I should let him know if I was planning on going again, and maybe he’d join me.  I’d just assumed he was joking, especially since we’re not super close friends or even hang out all that often.

So when I made this upcoming reservation for the end of April, he once again started considering the possibilities of joining me.

hot naked bear beachI’ll be honest.  I was of two minds about this idea.  Firstly I was looking forward to my naked freedom and the opportunities to have whatever ‘fun’ I wanted to have without having to think about the person I was with.  And secondly, I thought it be nice to have someone to go on holiday with, even if we didn’t know each that well.

He’d initially talked about getting his own place to stay so we each still had our privacy, which would have definitely worked.  He said he’d go off and think on it, but when I didn’t hear back about it for the longest time I assumed he’d changed his mind.

Then this past week, he messaged me to say he was still interested in going, and to ask whether I’d be cool with us sharing the flat for the week.

I of course immediately warned him that it meant we would be seeing each other naked, and I explained that I didn’t wear anything while in the apartment last time and that I would be naked on the beach.  And that there was only one bed..

His response?  He laughed..  He could think I’m joking, but after speaking to each other in person the other day, he seemed to be okay with it all.  He’s said he might not get naked on the beach as he’s self-conscious (he’s much thinner than me…), but may be fine after a day or so.

In the end, it’s always great to have another person there with you when on holidays.. someone to share the experience with.  I just hope it doesn’t stop each of us from truly enjoying ourselves, and the ‘fun’ to be had while on the island.  Hehe

Let the countdown to end of April begin!

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An Adventure in the Sun

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It’s amazing sometimes how something as simple as a brief holiday or getaway can recharge your batteries or help you realise your own self-confidence.

That’s what happened to me on my recent trip to Gran Canaria, staying in the Playa des Ingles/Maspalomas areas.

For me, this was my first real holiday in close to 3 years.. and by that I mean my first time abroad in that time.  I’ve done the occasional weekends in Brighton, Manchester or Edinburgh, but for some reason I still yearned for an adventure abroad.

And what an adventure it was.

20151117_174642It was a bit scary to going holiday alone, but it wasn’t the first time.  Although before was usually to stay with someone in that city after chatting online for awhile or meeting in person in London.

This was the first time in about 5 or 6 years that I’d gone away totally alone.  A Spanish mate of mine was going to be there around the same time, but we barely saw each other over the week.  Too bad, but it was good as it pushed me to actually get out there and meet people, which I did.

Also, instead of getting a hotel room or staying in one of the resorts, I’d rented a fully fitted one bedroom apartment through AirBnB.  It was perfect – quiet, with a kitchenette and a little balcony, and was a 5 minute walk from where all the bars were.

From the moment I landed, I could feel the difference in the air.. Somehow, the place seem super-charged sexually and you could feel how laid back everyone there was.

I easily absorbed this vibe and found myself more relaxed and confident with myself than ever before.  I even went out wearing a shirt completely unbuttoned, meaning anyone could see my belly and chest hair.  And for a shy guy with body issues like me, that was an accomplishment!

In fact, I was so relaxed that between the beach and the apartment, I was basically naked all week.  I’d even rigged a bit of cover on the balcony so I could sit out there naked, day or night, without anyone being able to see (much).

20151120_144736The relaxed atmosphere carried on to the beach.  Everyone seemed chilled, friendly, and didn’t give a damn what you looked like naked.  Or at least that was my perception of it.

I’m normally quite shy when on a nude beach, never standing up or walking around naked, and usually getting dressed while laying down.

Instead, I found myself not really giving a shit if anyone looked at me, and found myself standing up, walking around, and even going down to the water’s edge to go swimming in the ocean.. which meant walking through the clothed people walking along the beach.

And oh my god.. the feeling of being naked in the sea was absolutely amazing! This was my first time swimming in the ocean ever, and I had to keep pinching myself to remember that this was a reality, not just some dream.

I had a surreal moment while swimming in the ocean – I pinched myself when I realised that here I was, just a regular guy from small town Canada, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, on a small Spanish island off the coast of Morocco.  Was totally an ‘oh my god, this is actually real’ moment. Lol

20151120_184744Now as for the men… all I seemed to meet were Italians!! LOL  I know I totally have a type and all, but that was just too funny… not that I was complaining, as they were all super sexy guys. 😉

At one point on the beach, I was laying down on a sun-bed reading when I realised that I was on a Spanish island and the only language I could hear spoken around me was Italian.  Hahaha

In the end, this holiday was exactly what I needed.  I felt refreshed, confident, relaxed, sun-kissed, and more comfortable in my skin that I’d been in years.  I just need to keep that feeling going now that I’m back in London.. especially with all the crap going on with work (more on that later).

For now, I’ll just revel in all my wonderful memories of my week on the Island and all the fun I had while there.. and start planning for a return trip soon, possibly in the Spring. 😉

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