Happy Monday

Well I’ve been busy today! For some reason I can’t just pop into town, when I go it’s a major mission. I left at 12:30, and I was fully prepared. I actually remembered to apply sunscreen, which was lucky because the last time I walked into town on a sunny day like today I was almost burned to a crisp.

First stop was M&S where I used their spacious changing rooms to find out roughly what bra size I am now. It was no mean feat, as they had hardly any bras anywhere near my size. But I did manage to pick up an extra high impact sports bra that fits like a glove so at least that part was easy. Eventually I discovered my bra size, so I then took myself off to Asda to get 3 bras for £12.50 instead of one for £27.50. There’s also the fact that M&S bras make the metal detectors at work go off, which in turn adds at least 20 seconds to my getting-out-of-the-building time. Which is obviously unacceptable!

Next stop was Sports Direct which is one of those shops where you get several ‘can I help you at all?’ people coming up to you. Except when you want them to, like today. I was perusing the ‘She Runs’ section and was looking for the most shockingly coloured pair when I remembered that I want to go jogging, and therefore must be sensible and go for trainers that are going to help my joints stay fully functional.

Eventually I found a chap who brought me trainers in my size and I settled on a Karrimor pair made for people with high arches (mine are super high) that are lovely and comfy and also pretty cheap (£35). They aren’t as bright as I wanted, but we can’t have everything in life. I then picked up some running leggings (in a size 16, mental…) which will hopefully keep everything in place as I bounce along. They have a tiny little zipped pocket in the rear and I have to wonder what exactly it’s for. Ventilation perhaps? If so I think it needs to be bigger!

Although by now I’d been in town for about 3 hours when I come to writing it down I’m not exactly sure what I was doing all that time. However hunting down Holland & Barrett did take a while. I didn’t even know there was one in town until I checked online to see where the nearest one was, and I think it must have magical properties because like a muggle trying to find The Leaky Cauldron I walked past it 3 times before I had to check the shopping centre map. Turns out it’s between Evans and Next, two shops that I go in every time I go into town.

Holland & Barrett did not disappoint – I read the other day that they sell a vegan maple bacon substitute that’s only half a syn per rasher, and indeed it is true! Fingers crossed it’s actually edible.

Finally I picked up my usual venti cold brew from Starbucks and took it to the park to drink while I fed the ducks. I now carry either porridge oats or almond slithers with me wherever I go, in case I meet a bird I want to feed. Because you just never know.

Thankfully there were no drunk people in the park today, just lots of men in suits getting some greenery in during their lunch breaks. The sound of the police helicopter overhead did spoil the ambience just a little but I’m not complaining!

By the time I got home I was actually melting, I swear, so I laid down in the garden until my body temperature returned to normal. Plus I took my weirdest selfie yet…

That is a look of pure contentment at my successful shopping trip and a good ole walk completed!

For some reason I’m not stressing out about weigh in tomorrow (long may that continue) and I’m really looking forward to seeing how I’ve done. Despite the couple of days off plan I just have a feeling I’m doing OK. And even if I don’t lose, next week I sure as hell will.

As for now the cold brew has worn off and I am in need of a caffeine top-up!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley X

Wardrobe Malfunctions

A few posts back I met my brother at our local park for some walking and bird-photographing. What with all the excitement of the crazy drunk man, I forgot to tell you about my wardrobe malfunctions! I spent the entire time I was out hitching up my knickers and leggings which was extremely uncomfortable. And if at any point the leggings did stay up then my knickers fell down underneath them and sat just underneath my bottom. Which isn’t pleasant at all.

When I got home I did some exercises on the Wii and during a 3 minute jog-on-the-spot activity they both gave up entirely and ended up round my ankles. So I had a little shopping spree, and now I have enough tops, dresses, leggings, jeans and knickers for me to wear a different outfit that actually fits me every single day. I know this won’t last long, because I’m still shrinking, but it’s still a very nice feeling.

One thing I didn’t factor in though, is boob shrinkage. I got properly measured for some bras not so long ago and thought I could make them last but sadly this is not the case! The other day I wore a little vest top to bed and when I woke up my left boobage had escaped through the arm hole! Part of me was dismayed at the little pink pancake lying there on the bed but for the most part I just had to laugh! I also told the story to my mum so she could have a little giggle too.

Then at work that night I bent over to pick something up and both boobies escaped over the top of my bra, but thankfully no one was around to see me adjusting myself. So this week I’ve been wearing a different bra, my last viable option, but last night they attempted to escape via the bottom of said bra. So tomorrow I absolutely must make a trip into town to get supplies before they really try to make a break for it.

As happy as  I am with my current progress, this week has been a real struggle. And it’s all down to tiredness. I don’t think there’s any particular reason for it, I’m just a tad under the weather and need to listen to my body. For the first time in a very long time I’ve had to relent and put resting above all else, which feels just plain wrong. On Wednesday I got a reasonably good sleep before work but by Thursday morning I was so tired I felt ill, and for the first time ever I didn’t hit my rate at work. Thankfully it’s measured as a weekly average so I think I’ve done enough to make up for it but it’s just not like me at all. So instead of getting my daily steps in I’ve been getting extra sleep which is incredibly boring, but sadly necessary.

Physically I am feeling a lot better now thanks to me being uncharacteristically sensible, but in typical fashion someone upset me on the way out of work (just as my weekend started, too) so I’m also feeling deflated and damn well angry. A man in front of me was making fun out a man in front of him. I was angry enough already, because I’m just sick to death of how utterly obsessed the people I work with are of other people’s appearances, and how they think it’s OK to criticize people in their exaggerated whispers, but then he says ‘ha, he looks like Hayley’. Someone then pointed out that I was standing behind him, and I asked him what he meant by that. Because I’m genuinely not sure. He paused for a really awkward amount of time then just said ‘I don’t know’. At this point we had reached the exit and he made a run for it, but I’m just really upset by his remark for some reason.

I think he was trying to say that I walk funny, which I do (as that is how my bones fit together and there’s nothing I can do about it and also what the bleep does it matter) or that my jeans don’t fit as he would like them to. The chap walking in front of him was very tall (like me) doesn’t have much in the butt department, and our knees go inwards. And because of our unconventional butt shapes jeans don’t fit us exactly as they do everyone else. Well I’m so sorry for that!

When I next see the criticising man I’m going to brave and tell him that he was being very rude, then I won’t speak to him any more. Just like I don’t speak to the man with the ‘no fat chicks’ sticker on his car or the guy who wouldn’t ‘do’ Jennifer Aniston because she (allegedly) has ugly knees.

The sad thing is that I think these people behave the way they do because they hold themselves up to impossibly high standards, and I do wonder how miserable they actually are. I can’t see any other reason for scrutinising everyone’s tiniest little faults. I suppose the only alternative is that they’re just downright mean, which I can’t really bring myself to believe.

On the plus side, in between sleeps, my sister popped in before meeting up with her friends for a meal to teach me what she learned at a calligraphy course the other day. She’s a teacher so it was fun to get a lesson from her, and there’s something really wholesome and satisfying about doing calligraphy,or calligraphizing as I intend to call it from now on. It’s also good for keeping your mind off of food or mean people because it does take a surprising amount of care and concentration (although I still managed to get ink everywhere regardless). In future all of the birthday cards I write in are going to look awesome!

As for the rest of the day I’m going to spend it chilling (might as well since that has been the theme of the week so far!) and trying out some new things after my Ocado shop has been delivered. I’ll let you know what delights I purchased (and whether they were in fact edible) next time.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Over and Done With

Well that’s it. I (probably) NEVER have to drive in London again! I say probably because if, one day, someone I love is in London and unable to get a train/taxi/bus/coach/boat home then of course I’ll help them out. But it’s pretty unlikely!

After all my talk about making up for eating badly with exercise, which I did do and I felt good about it and enjoyed it, I still ended up going off plan Monday and Tuesday. On Monday I was just dreading the drive to London the next day. In the afternoon my friend bought round the people carrier I was borrowing and I went for a drive with him as he said there were some ‘quirks’ he had to explain. Boy, he wasn’t kidding.

I’ve been driving for a long old time but for the last year I’ve been driving an automatic. So although these things always come back to me pretty quickly it was a shock to the system driving a manual again. Especially this particular manual, because it has something wrong with it and I had to put more pressure on the accelerator to make the car move then I had to put on the brake to make it stop. It passed an MOT of course but that’s not right! That needs to be looked at! You also have to give it plenty of gas to make the power steering work at slow speeds, which is really hard when you’re trying to reverse what is basically a frikkin bus into a tight a spot with a dodgy accelerator pedal and a left foot that hasn’t practiced clutch control in about forever.

So by Monday night I was pretty stressed and ended up eating some vegan-friendly naughties like avocados and Alpro ice cream. On the plus side these things are not nearly as bad as the things I used to eat when I went off plan – I used to have Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, which is 270 kcals per 100g, whereas the Alpro chocolate and hazelnut flavour is 177 kcals. Which adds up when you are eating a whole tub.

On Tuesday from the moment I left my house I swear everyone was trying to kill me. I went straight ahead at the first roundabout I got to but the person on my right put their foot down, cut across the front of me and took the first exit. I was honestly gobsmacked, and I didn’t even have time to sound the horn. Unfortunately that was a sign of things to come and it’s nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t end up in an accident. I honestly had people coming at me from all directions, and for some of the time I don’t even blame them because as I reached central London there were a shocking amount of instances where road layouts have changed but they’ve just painted over the old markings. You genuinely can’t figure out which ones are even the new ones or where exactly you’re supposed to be!

With the ‘bus’ it only took two trips between London and Essex whereas in my car I reckon we were looking at about six. The downside is that I just ate whatever I wanted last night (houmous, more avocado, crusty bread, sundried tomatoes, dark chocolate, wine…) and I don’t have time to spend hours going out walking or whatever. For one I must spend some quality time with Pea! On the plus side it’s over, and I have nothing stressful in the near or far future to worry about. Plus I did one hell of a workout yesterday lugging huge bags of what I can only assume to be rocks up and down too many flights of stairs to mention.It’s just a shame I forgot to wear my Fitbit!

I don’t like how I let myself get so anxious over all this, and I have a lot to learn from the experience. I’m certainly not perfect but I’m still making progress, because every time I have these slip-ups I do seem to cope with the aftermath a little more sanely.

In any case I’m looking forward to when my sister is properly moved in (y’know, with furniture and stuff) because having her a 20 minute drive away is just going to be great. Especially as there’s an international greengrocer not a five minute walk away from her house so I can have a pomelo whenever I please! If you haven’t had one then I highly recommend you try them. They’re like giant grapefruits that have the grapefruit taste but none of the bitterness. And who knows what other exotic delights I’ll end up trying!

I skipped weigh in last night because I was just too tired and hungry, so the aim for this week is to work hard for either a maintain or some sort of loss, however big or small that may be. I desperately want to keep hold of my 6 stone award so if I want that, I have to earn it!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

How are you paying for that?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that when I fall off the wagon, I fall hard. The subsequent gains are usually of epic proportions, and sometimes it takes me a few weeks to get back to where I started. We live in a world where we simply cannot escape the lure of food – it’s absolutely everywhere and available 24/7 – so I’m on a continuous quest to learn how to cope with slipping up, rather than letting it completely derail me.

Yesterday morning I had a breakfast mishap. I was very tired and very hungry when I got in from work, but I knew I had to be up again in two hours to take my mum to a doctor’s appointment. I used this as an excuse to convince myself that I wanted to have a little breakfast treat. I’m still in the transitional period of using up any non-vegan items, so I decided to take the opportunity to get rid of some bits and bobs I had kicking around that contain milk. 20 minutes and about 50 syns later I went to bed, feeling rather guilty.

While I was laying there questioning why on earth I’d just completely sabotaged myself, I realised that I now had a number of options:

  1. I could do what I always do, which is convince myself that since I’ve messed up I might as well spend four days stuffing my face full of all the stuff I fancy before, bloated and disgusted with myself, I have to get back on it.
  2. Draw a line under it and just carry on as if nothing happened, or,
  3. Pay for what I’d done

That sounds a little bit drastic, but hear me out. With everything we do there are consequences. Number 1 is just going to get me further into debt, so obviously that option is out the window. Why it took me so long to see it that way, who can say, but I got there in the end and that’s what matters. With number 2, I’m not making things any worse, but there’s a strong possibility I’m going to charged interest come weigh day! But number 3, now that’s something I’ve never actually tried before.

This week me and my sister have been discussing maintaining weight, which she is doing spectacularly well at right now. But she wants more cake in her life (understandably so) therefore she is taking steps to make that happen. As she is moving closer to me this month, we have agreed that we are going to meet up regularly to exercise. I love her approach right now – she wants more treats, but she’s going to earn some credit before she indulges.

And it was thinking of this that spurred me into action – I decided to earn back the progress I’d lost.

This still isn’t something I want to make a habit of, as unlike my sister I still have problems controlling myself around junk food. When I’m at target I do want to increase my exercise in order to make it easier to stay there, and so I can start adding more healthy fats into my diet like nuts, seeds and avocado. I don’t want to get into a habit of eating rubbish and trying to make up for it afterwards, but right now I feel really good about accepting the consequences of my actions but also taking steps to make up for what I’ve done rather than just sit on my backside and accept my fate.

That evening I ramped up my steps and did twice as many as the previous day, I worked my absolute butt off during my shift, and as soon as I got in at 6am I went straight back out again for 3 hour walk at the local nature reserve. I’ve also just embarked on a 30 day squat challenge and have a step aerobics workout planned for tomorrow. Maybe I will have done enough to avoid a gain/maintain, or maybe I won’t have, but one thing I’ve certainly got rid of is the guilt that normally comes with a slip up, guilt which would be a sure-fire way to make me want to eat more junk. It feels like progress to me, anyhow.

As for the walk I took my camera out but the light was rubbish. There are so many lovely flowers in the gardens at the visitor centre, I can’t help but wonder how much more beautiful they will be with a bit of sunshine! Hopefully I’ll be able to go back there when the weather is nicer, but we’ll have to see. I daren’t go on my own because I have absolutely no sense of direction and will be lost for hours (good for exercise but not so good for getting everything done that I need to) and my brother (or the human compass as he is otherwise known) selfishly has to go back to work tomorrow whereas I am off until Thursday.

There were two major highlights though – seeing a baby coote (it’s a scruffy little creature!) and the one single, solitary, ripe and juicy blackberry in a sea of other completely unripe blackberries that was obviously just waiting for me to come along and eat it. Note to self – get a blackberry bush ASAP.

After the walk I stopped off at Lidl’s to pick up some Guatemalan ground coffee, which I like better than the fancy Tesco Finest one and a posh one from M&S that I tried recently, so now I must be off to get my caffeine fix. The posh coffees were OK, but I like my coffee to be nice and (figuratively) punch me in the face. The Lidl one certainly fits the bill!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Near Future

Next week I’m doing something I really don’t want to do.

When my sister first moved into London I dropped some bits off to her in the car, and that day I swore I would never, ever drive in London again. It’s a relatively simple journey pretty much involving only three roads, but there are so many bloody traffic lights and so much traffic and so many buses and cyclists and people everywhere and just… argh, I’m getting stressed writing about it! Yet I’m a complete sucker because when my sister asked me a couple of days ago to help her move I only went and said yes. And I’m absolutely dreading it. There’s no time of day I can go where I won’t be hitting rush hour traffic, it’s going to take multiple journeys, and I’m borrowing a people carrier from my friend so I’ll be in an unfamiliar car. In a way I should be thankful I drive a ridiculously big BMW so at least the size of it won’t be a complete shock. I’m still not relishing the thought though. The move is happening on Tuesday, and I keep finding myself turning it over and over in my mind even though I know I’m blowing it all out of proportion. I drove back from Scotland in one day (an 8 hour drive) with no problems whatsoever. In fact I enjoyed it! So I’m sure it’ll be fine, I’m just finding it really hard to keep my positive head on.

On the plus side I was weighed yesterday and I really doubted I’d lost enough to get my 6st award. But I was wrong! I lost 3lbs and have now lost 6st on the dot. Not bad considering my aim was to have that award by the end of the month. Now I have a new goal for July – to get into the 14 stones. I have 4.5lbs to go and I’m damn well going to give it my all!

Being at this weight has been bringing back some not-so-pleasant memories, but it’s OK because I need to think about these things in order to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. I dug out my old Slimming World books (I keep telling myself I’m going to throw them out but I can’t bring myself to do it) to have a look at my stats from around this time.

They weren’t good.

Things were terrible between me and my boyfriend and I was in a state of constant anxiety. My losses/gains reflected that! Take a look at this:

12/03/2013  -7.5

26/03/2013 +8.5

02/04/2013 -6.5

09/04/2013 +8

16/04/2013 -10

So overall I lost weight, but that is not the way to go about it. In the May my ex’s nan passed away, and while she was ill I wasn’t allowed to see her to say goodbye. Because my ex can’t (won’t?) show any kind of emotion, I wasn’t allowed to go to the hospital because that would mean seeing him. By the time the funeral came around I was 14st 7lbs, my lowest ever Slimming World weight, and the most unhappy I’ve ever been in my whole life. No wonder the weight went back on shortly afterwards.

I only started being truly happy towards the end of last year, and it was a long, hard slog to get to that point. I had to question absolutely everything. Like what do I actually like? What do I enjoy doing? What is important to me? I had to figure all of those things out and more, and when I did it was the best. thing. ever. Of course they aren’t set in stone, I’m still thinking about them all the time. But when I do I start to get excited about the future. At least I generally do, when I’m not dreading trips into London! But by this time next week it’ll all be ancient history.

Then I really can say never, ever again!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

A Monumental Decision

I’ve been a vegetarian for about 8 months now, and I can honestly say I haven’t missed meat all that much. Occasionally I’ll get a mad craving for kebab meat or something equally as calorific, but when I actually think about what it would be like to eat it – mostly when I visualise the texture and the fat – the craving quickly passes. As time has gone one I’ve felt increasingly guilty about eating eggs and cheese, but if you’ve read one of my recent posts you’ll know that I’ve been eating eggs like they’re going out of fashion regardless. I’ve been burying that guilt deep down inside but yesterday I reached the point where I just can’t do it any more. It’s like my way of thinking has shifted and I can’t ever go back to how I was before. Not that I’d want to!

I’d like to assure anyone reading this that I’m not going to get all preachy on you! I’ve decided to go all-in and become fully vegan, but only because it’s my choice and I reached that decision organically. If someone tries to force their values on you I don’t think it will be a true, lifelong change. Just like losing weight, you have to do it for YOU, at the right time in YOUR life. Speaking of losing weight, vegetarianism has really helped me on my Slimming World journey, and the reason for that may well be quite specific to my situation.

I am a person who, when I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps, will do anything to avoid going out. So if I decide to go on an eating spree then I’ll do everything I can to obtain food without leaving the house. Until recently that would mean ordering a 20″ pizza, cheesy garlic bread and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, straight to my door, for less than £20. When I became a vegetarian those temptations were still there but my choices started to become a bit more limited. All of the ‘decent’ pizza places that deliver to my house won’t deliver unless you have a meaty pizza. If you just want a margarita, they won’t come out to you. The last time I had a takeaway I waited until my brother wanted a kebab then ordered a salad in a pitta with cheesy chips, but now my local takeaway options have become limited to being pretty much just chips, and no takeaway is going to deliver just chips to my door! Going forward I can honestly say it’s unlikely I’ll ever be ordering a takeaway again, especially as I’ve now perfected the Slimming World chip and genuinely prefer them to any other kind.

My other problem foods like cheese, cake and chocolate are also out of the window. If I want to go off plan then I now have two options – to make a vegan dessert from scratch using ingredients that I’m quite convinced are made up and will cost roughly £700, or, I can travel to London to sample the vegan wares on offer there. And that’s exactly what I plan to do, but I’m not going to be popping into London every other weekend, therefore I’m naturally going to be kept in check. For now at least it’s also going to be impossible for me to just eat something on a whim, because I’ve already discovered that the food labelling on vegan-friendly produce is often downright appalling so unless it’s made specifically for vegans, just picking something up of the shelf isn’t really an option. I’m going to have to research everything I touch!

I sat down and thought long and hard about the things I have to give up, especially as the changes I’m making are not only going to apply to food. When you really start getting into it, you have to question everything. I have to change my toothpaste, I can’t have my hair dyed at my hairdressers any more, I can’t use my A choice on any cheese alternatives, I have to take supplements to make sure I get enough vitamins D and B12, according to the Vegan Society I shouldn’t visit zoos any more… A couple of months ago I wouldn’t have risked making these changes, because I was scared of having to limit my food choices even further and that it would throw me off the side of the Slimming World wagon, but now I’ve sat down and really thought it through, I think it’s actually going to help me to stay on track.

And I know I’ve made the right decision, because as soon as it was made I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. It was one of those rare moments in life when something just feels right. Now I just have to use up the few non-vegan bits I have left in the fridge (because I can’t stand food waste) then I’m good to go.

I know stuff like this isn’t for everyone, so in future if I’m going to write a long post about veganism I’ll title it as such so readers can skip that if they wish. Like I say, I’m not going to get preachy! I just had to write a post about it, because it’s just such a HUGE thing for me. Me, whose favourite foods used to include medium-rare rib-eye steak!

I’ve just remembered a couple of days ago I ordered a lovely yellow t-shirt that has ‘how do you like your eggs in the morning?’ written on it. Oh well, I love the colour and it’ll be too big for me very soon anyway! At least I don’t have to worry about the watermelon print dress I bought today, that’s vegan friendly AND a Speed Food!

Thanks for reading, and I do hope I haven’t bored you meat-eaters too much!

Hayley x

Parklife

On Thursday I was thinking to myself how I feel a lot safer in our local park now, and how I should make more trips on my own. I was meeting my brother after he finished work but I left early to have a wander around on my own and to get extra precious steps done. I wasn’t there five minutes before I saw something interesting – a movement caught my eye and I saw what looked like a rat near the lake edge, which scampered away into some reeds when it saw me looking. We have lots of rats in the warehouse where I work and they are a lot darker than the creature I saw, so I checked online and it turns out I was in fact looking at a water vole. I didn’t manage to photograph it because it was just too fast, but I was excited anyway.

I was then lucky enough to see a morehen having a nice swim, and after I took a fairly dreadful photo I moved on in order to do a lap of the lake.

I saw the usual geese, ducks and cootes, but then as I got nearer the other side of the lake I could hear shouting and it sounded very much like the C-word being repeated over and over. As I got closer I realised I was not mistaken, and a clearly drunk man was being urged by some other drunk men to go home. The shouty drunk man was getting more and more aggressive, so once I was a safe distance away I phoned the police. While I was on the phone I stopped to tell a young girl, who was perhaps 9 or 10, not to walk her dog that way. The operator told me they’d send someone out, which seemed reasonable, because the police station is literally a two minute walk from the lake.

I thought about going home and telling my brother to avoid the park, but then I decided that I was not going to be frightened away. So I sat on a bench on the side of the lake opposite shouty man, sent my brother a text telling him which way to come in order to avoid said shouty person, and got my camera out. I just sat taking in the scenery, trying not to pay any attention to the distant cries of the drunk man, and soon enough the appearance of some terns distracted me.

About twenty minutes later my brother arrived, but the police still had not. In fact they didn’t turn up at all, which is rather sad. Eventually the drunk man thankfully went away of his own accord, and as he we saw him in the distance my brother informed me that he’s at the park most evenings, and is always drunk. It seems that the best time to visit this particular park is in the mornings. The only other sighting of note for the rest of the day was one very suspicious duck, swimming in a very, very dirty pond.

After an early night and a lovely sleep I got up at the crack of dawn to go to the hairdressers. I’d been giving it some thought and when I got there I gave my hairdresser (Richard) some rare requests. He usually just suggests things and I agree. This time I wanted it messier, weirder, and with some blue colouring.

3 hours and 40 minutes later…

Oh he did not disappoint! It’s my absolute favourite hair style of all time! He did warn me that the colours may fade pretty quickly, but as the blue fades it should look really nice on its way back to a dark blonde (he had to bleach that section to get the blue to take but it turns out my hair doesn’t respond that well to bleach). The thing I’ve found about Richard’s cuts is that they grow out really well, and as there’s no parting or anything the roots generally don’t show. So even though he’s expensive I do get my money’s worth, I think. And in any case you can’t put a price on how utterly fabulous I feel right now, despite the idiots at work piping up again. One bloke said I look like a Duracell battery, but he said it behind my back so I couldn’t tell him how ridiculous he was being. What a joke!

This morning I went for a walk with my brother straight from work, to try out some new parks nearby. The first one was closed but we could legally park on a nearby road so we went in anyway. It was very, very small, and the ponds had long since dried up, but they do have some beautiful wildflower fields. The main problem was that it’s directly next to a busy A-road. Even in the huge nature reserve near me you can hear the rumble of traffic if you listen hard enough, but this took it to another level. In a way it’s sad, but in another way it’s fantastic that all that wildlife still has a home despite all the traffic. We saw and absolute ton of bugs, birds and butterflies and the birds were extremely vocal the whole time we were there.

The next park we tried was closed too, and there was no possibility of parking nearby at all as it was double yellow lines everywhere. At this point we decided we’d had enough and headed home, but it wasn’t an entirely wasted journey. We now know that we’re not particularly taken by the area and that we’ll venture further afield next time.

My weekend started this morning and although I’m determined not to waste it, if I don’t have a little sleep soon then I’ll be spending the rest of the day resembling a drooling zombie! Therefore I’m not going to toddle off for a much needed nap.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

So Close

This blog has been so helpful to me. The amount of times writing a post has helped me to get my thoughts in order is unbelievable. It’s the best kind of therapy! This post started off as something entirely different – I was going to write about how things have been tough at home over the last week and there’s a really horrible atmosphere between all of us, and how I didn’t know what to do about it, but as I was writing I figured out a plan of action. So I went to talk to my mum straight away and got things sorted out. Things are still a little strained, but I’m confident we’ll all be a lot happier in a day or two.

Yesterday was weigh in and boy was it a good one! I was expecting a loss but I had no idea exactly how it was going to go, so I was delighted to find that I’d lost 3.5 lbs. That means I now have less than three stone to go until I reach my target. It’s just unbelievable! At the end of Image Therapy I was getting bit restless and ready to be on my way (the more weight I lose the more I get numb-bum from the chairs) when the consultant announced I got Slimmer of the Week. I was shocked because I haven’t had Slimmer of the Week since I first joined and I just never expected it. So that was a nice surprise. Then she announced Slimmer of the Month, and that was me again! And again I was shocked, but very happy – I especially love having new shiny stickers for my book. Now I have just 3 lbs to go to get my 6 stone award, and I’m going to keep my Speed Food intake up to ensure I get there as soon as possible.

My aim was to get my 6 stone award by the end of July, when I go to visit a friend I haven’t seen in about a year. But I reckon I can do it within 2 weeks, tops. I cannot let anything stand in my way! The best part is that his girlfriend has lost 2 stone doing Slimming World herself, so I know I’m not going to be confronted with any ‘bad’ food when I visit.

Months ago I bought a Wii and a balance board for Wii Fit but then completely forgot about it. But today I actually dug it out and plugged it into the TV. I’m not sure how much it’ll actually help with fitness but it is fun, and doing anything that gets me moving has got to be a good thing. It calculated my fitness age based on my balancing skills and BMI, and currently I have a Wii age of 45 (my real age is 34). It also said my centre of gravity is way to the left and asked if I trip over a lot! No I bloody well don’t thank you very much! I bump into things a lot but that’s another story… Also when it calculated my BMI it made my little Wii Mii fatter which is also very cheeky, but it did make me laugh.

I really did choose the best day when I went on my little walk to town, because it’s pretty much been raining ever since. It’s great for the garden, but not for testing out my new lens because the light has been as flat as a pancake. Here are a few test shots I did but I think I need a tripod because my hands are just too shaky for my biggest lens to date. I’m very happy that I could see enough detail to identify a little bird that lives in a neighbour’s roof as a female house sparrow. Before all I could make out was ‘small bird’.

I was also able to verify that a bird I’d only ever seen flying from a distance is in fact a swift. We have a juvenile blue tit that has been frequenting our apple tree but since I got my lens I haven’t set eyes on the little bugger. When photographing wildlife patience is often required, and it’s really not my strong point!

I’m off work tomorrow so I’m meeting my brother in the park when he finishes work, and hopefully I’ll be able to capture some more interesting things. Then Friday morning it’s time for a new haircut, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m having done. It’ll be as much as surprise for me as anyone else!

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Hayley x

Such a Perfect Day

I had to get up early this morning so obviously I had real trouble sleeping last night, because isn’t that always the way? But I refused to let that stop me making the best of the day.

First stop was ferrying my mum to a 9:00am doctor’s appointment, which I expected to last a lot longer than it did. I was home and out the door again by 9:30am. Result!

I left the car on the drive and walked into the town centre via the park which was just beautiful today. The sky has been amazing the whole day – so many interesting clouds! My mum loves learning about weather and via a book I bought her last year we believe that they were cirrus uncinus, which has streaky bits, and the streaky bits are ice crystals and snow. Yep, it’s been snowing today but it never reached the ground. Bonkers!

Best of all, the park was virtually empty apart from a few seasoned fisher-people, some very loud grasshoppers, plus the birds, bees and butterflies.

 

Once in town I realised I was pretty hungry, and it’s a sign of how healthy my attitude to food is right now that I really, really, really craved a perfectly ripe, juicy nectarine. There is no point buying a ‘perfectly ripe’ anything from Tesco or Asda, because the last supposedly perfectly ripe fruit I bought from either of them could have been used to break a car window. But we have an M&S in town, and if they can’t provide you with a juicy nectarine then no-one can.

I was not disappointed so, craving satisfied, I hit the shops. I went to Hobbycraft to pick up some art supplies, WH Smith to spend a Love2Shop voucher my mum gave me (and being a grown-up I bought some kitty stickers and push pins shaped like buttons), Evans for the only tights I can get that will fit me width-ways as well as length-ways, then it was time for some clothes shopping. I went to Primark but didn’t end up buying anything, but it’s still a huge buzz for me that they sell clothes that fit me at all. I tried on a dress and it was too big. Madness. I tried on a couple of bits in other places but the real highlight was in Next.

Next go up to a size 18, which is the size I am now, and they are the only place I’ve found that does a high waist, long leg jean that might actually fit me. Except you can’t get a size 18 for love nor money. So I tried on a size 16 and they felt really damn good, but sitting down in them would be an impossibility at this stage. Plus if I wear jeans or trousers that are too tight I get violent hiccups! Normally I’d buy them to ‘shrink into’, but they were £48 so I’m not going to be buying any jeans from Next until I’m maintaining my weight. I also saw a top I liked, and again they had the 16 but not the 18 so I thought I’d give it a go. I was delighted to find that it fits, and I’ll be wearing it to weigh in tomorrow, and probably to every weigh in for next six months knowing me! I can sit down in it, it feels really comfortable, it’s long enough which is a rare find for me, and it’s not black… It’s perfect!

Finally I visited Starbucks for a venti (mahoosive) cold brew to sip on the way home.

Again I went home via the park and I saw not one but three dragonflies! I didn’t get a chance to photograph them because they were so fast. I just heard the thrumming of their wings and saw a flash of electric blue. There were also countless butterflies and wild poppies and little yellow flowers everywhere, so I sat down with not a soul in sight to finish my coffee, eat another nectarine and soak up the scenery.

On the way home I decided I wasn’t ready to go indoors yet, so I walked to a nearby church at the top of a nice big hill. It’s about a ten minute walk from my house, it backs onto a little conservation area, it has some beautiful flowers, and despite living here for over 15 years this is only the second time I’ve been there. Disgraceful! I live about a 30-minute train ride from Fenchurch Street but on a clear day like today I could make out Canary Wharf and The Shard, and since I’m really not a city person for me it’s the perfect distance to be viewing them from.

Finally, after being out for four hours and not having a huge amount to show for it, I returned home to relax in the garden with Pea and a good book. The only problem is I was supposed to go to Lidl’s before going home because I absolutely needed a cabbage, so once Pea was bored with watching the bees enjoy our mallow plant, I headed out again.

Just after getting home my new lens arrived and I’ve been playing with that ever since, but annoyingly every bird in the area seems to have deserted me so I haven’t had a chance to properly test it. Besides, I think there are enough pictures in this post to be getting on with!

I’ve just had such an amazing day, enjoying the simple things in life. The only downside is the sunburn I stupidly allowed myself to get. I MUST remember to put cream on in future!

It’s scary to think that no so long ago I never would have dreamed of going for a walk by myself, or just for fun for that matter. I certainly wouldn’t have gone to the church alone or stopped to take a photo in case someone looked at me. God forbid! I’m never going back to that, not ever.

Now all that’s left to do today is keep my fingers crossed for a good result on the scales tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Hayley x

Brain Food

My mind has been so completely occupied with everything Slimming World for months now, so much so that some of my other interests have taken a back seat. I used to really enjoy reading but lately I haven’t been able to relax enough to get into the right head space. I wanted to do all of the things all of the time! But now I feel I’m really ready to have a better balance in my life of all the things I want to do.

I’ve been meaning to be more artistic but just never sat down and made the time for it, so after deciding a few blogs ago not to worry about whether something is rubbish or not, I also made the decision to stop worrying about whether I can finish it or not. I thought back to when I did my art GCSE (I smashed it by the way and got my one and only A*) and how we’d just work on things bit by bit, lesson by lesson. I don’t have to do everything in one go! So this week I’ve worked on something artistic just a little bit every day. Even if it’s just half an hour, it’s something. And just that half an hour makes me feel like I’ve been doing something really productive. Which I suppose I have!

The same goes for reading. I have a growing pile of real books and Kindle books that I want to read, and if I don’t make some headway soon then I’m going to become overwhelmed. So again, just half an hour every day, I’m giving myself the time to sit and feed my brain. Reading has been a problem in the past because there was nothing I liked to do more than sit down with a good book, a glass of wine and a big box of chocolates. But as with film and TV, I think I’ve now successfully separated eating from reading so I don’t feel like something is missing if I just sit down with a cup of coffee.

At the moment I’m reading The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell, which is all about my favourite author. My sister bought it for me in 2014, but I never started reading it because I find it really hard to get into non-fiction. If I believed in such things then I’d think I was meant to read it at this point in my life, because there are tons of inspirational quotes from Neil that I can apply both to my Slimming World journey and my artistic endeavours. And I’m feeling a little bit emotional too (hormones, bleurg) but I’ve noticed that it’s happy stuff that is more likely to make me tear up now rather than sad stuff – every time I read something inspirational I get a lump in my throat. Although watching A Monster Calls the other day was an exception, that film is simply heartbreaking. But also very good!

In the picture above we also have a couple of books about birds (I’m so predictable) one of which was a Christmas present from my brother (I read the introduction and cried over a story about an African Grey parrot) and one that a friend of mine read recently. She said that Fire, burn! is a murder mystery based around bird seed, so of course I had to get a copy. Hopefully it’s as wonderfully bonkers as it sounds.

Yesterday I was very naughty and impulse-bought a new lens for my camera, which should be arriving tomorrow. I can’t wait to try it out. It won’t have the quality and sharpness of my usual lenses, but then that’s reflected in the price. I wanted something that I could use to photograph wildlife, because it’s hard to identify things if they have flown or scampered away before you get the chance to look at them! The lens I would have liked to get is £1170, but instead I settled for one costing £102. It will also come in handy because every year my work colleagues have a football match and last year I tried sports photography for the first time ever. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and the results weren’t too bad either, but I know they’ll be a lot better with my new lens. Hopefully they organise this year’s match soon.

I had another impulse buy, this time in Tesco’s and thankfully for a lot less money. I always look in the kid’s craft section, as you do, and I came across some little pom-pom balls. I suppose most of us have seen the motivational pebble jars people use when slimming, where you have a jar with pebbles representing pounds to lose, and another jar with pounds lost. I thought I’d do mine with colourful balls, but I didn’t work out how many I’d need before hand. Rather than go back for more I decided to make the most of what I already had and made one jar (or bottle, in this case) with balls representing all of the whole pounds I’ve lost so far (77) and another with balls representing every half-pound I have left to lose (85).

I’m very pleased with the results, and they make a nice colourful addition to my shelf.

And now after all this talk I need to get off my back side and do something with my day!

Have a fabulous Sunday people,

Hayley X