London

The last time I visited the city I had quite a nice experience. Notting Hill carnival was on at the time so the rest of London was virtually empty and it was LOVELY. Today however, even though I’ve been looking forward to it for ages, was not so nice. I think it just wasn’t the day trip I’d been expecting.

Now I love my sister to bits, and she’s generally a very thoughtful person. But today, and I’m not sure if it was just me being oversensitive after my blip yesterday, it seemed that her and her boyfriend were on a subconscious mission to eat everything I find the most delicious in life in front of my very eyes. I’m honestly exhausted at the sheer effort of staying on plan all day, even though I’ve been feeling so strong and positive lately.

We walked through Brick Lane first, and after we walked past stall after stall of mouth-wateringly good vegan food, (I HAVE to try the Ethiopian one at some point, the very sight of it made me drool) we went into a retro clothes shop I’ve been wanting to visit for a while. I was really disappointed though. Everything I picked up was a maximum of a size 12, and mostly size 10’s and 8’s. There was not a single thing that I could even try on. So that was deflating, but not entirely unexpected.

Then we went to What the Pitta in Shoreditch while I sat watching everyone around me eating my favourite food in the entire world. It was honestly the last place on earth I wanted to be. Thinking back on it now, I should have gone off for a wander while my sister and her boyfriend were eating, but for some reason it never occurred to me at the time. What a numpty.

We did a lot of walking around and I got my step count over 20,000 for the day for the first time in ages, and my calorie burn for the week is set to be the highest it’s been since the end of August. Considering I’m more than a stone lighter than I was then I’m really pleased with that.

Later on in the day we went to a Whole Foods Market store, the only place at the moment you can get the new vegan Bailey’s. I’m pretty sure it’ll be more widespread by the time Christmas comes around, but since I was in London anyway I got some while the going was good. For some reason they put it behind the cheese counter, which is just great for us vegans, she said sarcastically. I don’t think they thought that one through!

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When I got home I took a fancy picture with my fairy lights. Perhaps I should go into product photography?

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Luckily this really is one of those occasions where I have no desire to drink the Bailey’s. It’s for Christmas only, and things like that are not the same if you’re not sharing them. So there’s no chance of this innocent-looking bottle sabotaging my success.

My sister took a picture of me in my new favourite dress, and again I was a little bit disappointed at how I thought I looked vs. reality. And also that you can’t quite see the corduroy awesomeness of it. But it’s good enough for a picture to add to my progress folder, and that’s the main reason I wanted my photo taken.

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This post does sound really moany, and I assure you I’m not as miserable as I’m coming across. I’m just incredibly worn out, but still fairly pleased with myself. It wasn’t until we were on the tube back to my sister’s when I realised that I’d been on my feet for around 6 hours, with only one sit-down to quickly scoff down my pack lunch. Not a bit of me hurt even once, at least until I got the Bailey’s and the straps of my backpack started digging into my shoulders. That doesn’t really count though!

And then when I got in I downloaded some photos from my camera that I took this morning when the sun was shining on the jungle that is our front garden. The colours out there were truly stunning.

Right now I’m mostly just looking forward to my nice warm bed. I should get off to sleep easily, happy in the knowledge that I spent the entire day perfectly on plan despite the most incredible temptations. If that doesn’t earn me a good night’s kip then I don’t know what will.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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Red Roses and Cabbages

On Thursday a friend popped round as he couldn’t see me on my actual birthday, which is today, and I was surprised with a lovely bunch of flowers. We’re good enough friends that he knows how much I love vegetables, so my bunch of flowers included what seemed to be cabbages or kale of some description! As he suspected, I was impressed. Since I don’t know exactly what they are I’ll resist eating them though.

Then this morning everything went topsy turvy and I had a slip-up. I knew I was getting a chocolate frog from my brother, which I had intended to save until Hallowe’en. Just because. But as soon as I opened him I lost control and bit his poor little head off.

I’ll be honest. The rest of him did not last much longer. Then I opened my next present, which was a gorgeous little box of 6 gold-dusted vegan truffles (not real gold, I’m assuming) and they didn’t last long either. I followed that up with toast smothered in peanut butter, then finally with dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s. Not the healthiest breakfast I’ve ever had. On the plus side, I stopped eating before I felt sick, although in ‘normal person’ terms by rights I should have been feeling sick already. I probably ate 1/5th of the ice cream before I put it back in the freezer, which I’m fairly certain has never happened before.

I then opened a present from my mum – a size 14 sweater-dress that I was quite sure would be a bit tight even though the style is deliberately oversized. Nope! It fits perfectly. I’m not sure if it’s how it’s supposed to fit, but I felt just brilliant wearing it, plus it has a nice high neckline that will keep me nice and warm but still shows evidence of my actual neck. I absolutely love it and at that point I felt over the moon.

After a little more present-opening, including a very sweary cookbook called Thug Kitchen – Eat Like You Give a F*ck (check it out, there are loads of healthy recipes that look easy enough to convert to Slimming World) I went to bed for some much needed sleep.

When I woke up, before I was even aware what day of the week it is, a wave of guilt at what I’d eaten this morning washed over me. So I did what I promised myself I would do the next time I found myself feeling bad about food, and that’s to reach out for some help.

I messaged my friend and favourite blogger to confess, and I was given some excellent advice. It was all stuff that any of us slimmers would tell each other in the same situation – that we’re only human, that it’s not the end of the world, that beating yourself up doesn’t do any good whatsoever. Sometimes we just need to hear it from someone else. And as the messages came pouring in I felt myself exhale and my shoulders drop (they had been making their way up to my earlobes) because I was so tense and I hadn’t even realised. I remembered to just breathe and that actually, everything is still OK.

Another result of talking to a fellow slimmer is that I’ve cemented a goal I’ve had floating around in my head for a while. My target weight (for now) is 12st 10lbs, which will take me into the top end of a healthy BMI and also give me leeway of a couple of pounds. But more than that, I want to comfortably fit into a size 14 from any high street store such as Topshop, River Island, New Look, Next etc. Once I can do that, there won’t be many (perhaps any) places I can’t shop and from then on I’ll only have to worry about getting clothes that are long enough, rather than wide enough, to fit me. Wouldn’t that be something?

Tonight I’m at work but tomorrow I’m out and about in London with my sister, and although I will still have my vegan pumpkin spice latté, that’s the only thing I’m going to have while we’re out unless it’s a free food. I’m taking a packed lunch with me, and I’ve given my sister instructions to knock any bad food straight out of my hand if I do pick any up. Although I don’t think I will even want to now. I still have all of my goals in sight and I can’t afford to be distracted any further.

This is where I’ve gone wrong in the past – one bad morning, or evening, or whatever, has sent my spiralling out of control. And it doesn’t have to be that way. It WON’T be that way.

I’m going to enjoy the rest of my birthday guilt free and safe in the knowledge that I’m still on my way to target. It feels damn good.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Losers Club

This is my pin collection. Every one of them represents a half-stone that is gone forever, and rather than rewarding myself with food or with clothes (that I will inevitably shrink out of) I wanted something that would last forever. These are in no particular order, but to begin with I chose things that meant something to me. As time went on that got harder and harder, so they’re mostly just pins that I like now.

The one I ordered for my 6.5 stone award came today and this one does have a bit of a deeper meaning. Regular readers will know that I went to see IT recently, and although I’ve read the book too it’s not my all time favourite Stephen King (which is The Shining, by the way…) Having said that when I saw my latest IT-themed pin I knew I had to have it. The group of kids from the story call themselves The Losers Club which I absolutely love. I was never someone who just ‘fit in’ and I never will be, and I’ve always liked it that way. I don’t want to just do what everyone else is doing, no matter how unpopular it makes me. I like what I like and I will make no apologies for it!

Then there’s the obvious other meaning, that since I’m losing weight with Slimming World it’s a losers club of sorts! To top it off the year on the pin, (1958, the period the book is set in) happens to be the year my mum was born. I was obviously meant to have it.

Today has just been the absolute best, even though I’m exhausted. Last night I went to bed at 1am feeling like I’d drop off instantly, but my brain had other ideas and transported me back to when I was about ten and my best friend’s older sister randomly started bullying me at school. If you had asked me yesterday if I was bullied at school I would have said no – I’d completely forgotten about it up until last night. It went downhill from then on with me remembering awful things, some of which made me burn with shame in the darkness. So yeah, thanks for that brain! Through sheer bloody-mindedness I forced my thoughts back to my happy place and eventually got to sleep.

Sometimes after nights like that I wake up feeling dejected, but thankfully that didn’t happen today even though I got up at 7am after less than 5 hours actually asleep. There were things to be done! I got to town before most of the shops were even open so I decided to pop into Asda, which always opens earlier than everywhere else. I told myself to just look at the dresses, strictly no buying.

Yeah… that didn’t work.

As I was browsing I came across the most amazing dress. If I wrote a list of all the things I want in a dress then this one would tick almost every single box. I was convinced I was the wrong shape for it though, so I decided it was worth trying it on. It might put me off buying it.

So on it went, and when I looked in the mirror I was genuinely shocked. It’s like I was looking at the me I want to be. It’s almost the perfect fit, and the perfect style, and perfect for the season. And only £16 too!

I raced around town getting the other bits I needed because I wanted to get home and show my mum. When I got in I tore up the stairs to get changed, and when I came downstairs my mum (who is used to such shenanigans and just turned around reluctantly at my request) actually let out a genuine gasp because it’s such a lovely dress. And it really shows off my weight loss.

I’m not going to post a picture yet because I don’t have anyone around to take a good one for me, and I want you to see just how pretty it is. It is also the perfect vehicle for wearing pins as the material is thick enough, plus there are straps that are the perfect place for them to sit. I’m aware that I’ve said perfect about a million times (she says, not exaggerating at all) but it’s the only word for it! I’m going to wear this dress when I go to London with my sister next Sunday and I’m sure she will be amazed too. It even has pockets! I’m sure it’s not just me and my sister who think the holy grail of the dress world is the pocketed dress. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, it really is, I’m telling you.

This weekend I’ve done some drawings for Inktober, but to be honest after today I decided to give up on that. After a few nice sketches I just completely ran out of inspiration – the bee in my bonnet has flown off! There are other things I want to do more, and I’ve decided to just follow my instincts. That doesn’t mean I won’t be drawing anymore, but I’m not going to force myself to do something when I’m just not feeling it. What I am getting excited about it making some gifts for my family which I think are going to turn out great, I just need to wait for some additional materials to arrive after Hobbycraft completely let me down today.

That’s the reason I don’t do anything creative for a living. Part of me would love to just make things all day, but I could never build up a business because it’s so dependent on my moods. If don’t have my mojo then I find even the most basic artistic pursuits utterly draining. So I just do it for the love, as and when the mood takes me!

One thing I have sort of enjoyed today is having a good clear out. I have a veritable mountain of stuff for the charity shop, and three black sacks of things that are no good to anyone. I have been absolutely brutal when deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, and my room is going to look a lot better for it. I’m going to throw the toot out first then sort out the charity shop stuff, because I really don’t want to two to get mixed up.

Other than that I do need to increase my activity this week. I only barely managed to avoid last week being my worst ever in terms of calories burned, and I’m worried I haven’t lost weight too. It’s weigh day tomorrow so it’s not long until I find out, but either way I need to alter the balance a little because I’m not enjoying the lack of exercise. If anything I’ve found I have less energy and I don’t want to slip back into bad habits. As for food I have been absolutely PERFECT (sigh, there I go again) but the fact that my portions have decreased in line with my drop in activity only makes me feel marginally less guilty.

So there we have it, with a few tweaks I should be a lot more on my way to achieving goals than I feel I am this week. Only time will tell though, so I’ll let you know how I get on tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Twelve Week Countdown

If you’re familiar with Slimming World you’ve probably heard of a 12 week countdown, where you pay for 12 weeks in advance and you get a discount. As it happens I always pay for 12 weeks at a time because of the savings, and I know I’m going to use it because there’s no way I’m giving up! That’s not what I’m talking about here though, and I’m so sorry to mention the C-word again, but I have twelve weigh in’s left before Christmas Day.

I weighed in this morning and was exceptionally relieved to find that I’ve lost 1.5lbs, taking me officially into the 14 stone bracket. I am now 14st 13lbs to be precise. And isn’t that an excellent starting point for my 12 week challenge? I even made myself a little motivational thing to keep a record for the duration of the challenge which should help to keep me on track.

As you can see my goal is to get into the 13-stone-bracket, but more than that I would like to stay in the 13 stone bracket over Christmas. I’d like to lose enough to have a little wiggle room. Last year I tried to stay on plan 100% but I did feel a bit deprived on Christmas Day and ended up eating crappy non-Christmas food, and finding that nothing hit the spot. I only gained half a pound which I’m still majorly proud of, but I’m taking a different approach this year.

I’m going to be prepared but there are three potential days over the whole period where I might go off plan.

The first is a work outing. The young chaps want to get suited and booted and go out disco dancing in London (that’s not quite how they put it but that’s the crux of it) and I really want to go. I don’t care about getting ‘wasted’ and not remembering any of the night, I just want to go out feeling confident in a gorgeous dress and dance the night away! No date has been set and there’s a very high probability I won’t be able to book the night off work, so although it does sound like it’ll be fun I’ll leave it completely up to fate. If I can get the time off easily I’ll go, if not I won’t. Swapping shifts with someone or sweet talking my manager could swing it for me, but I’m not going to do that because my sister’s birthday meal on the 20th of December is more important. I’d rather save any favours for that.

My sister’s birthday meal is occassion number two. I may have already mentioned it (my memory is awful!) but she wants to have a meal in an Italian restaurant near her house. She is going to call them beforehand to check they can cater for a vegan, which I’m sure they can, and ask if I can have Penne Arrabiata (basically pasta in a tomato sauce) which also happens to be super Slimming World-friendly. It won’t be totally on plan because there will be oil in there, and I should imagine there will be some prosecco doing the rounds, but as far as these things go it should be easily manageable and there’s no reason it should mean disaster for my diet. Again this is dependent on getting the night off work, during our peak season, which could prove very difficult.

The last occasion is Christmas Day, the one day I’ll completely let my hair down. Working in retail has turned out to be very helpful this year, because the way my shifts work out will mean that I only get Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. There is a work Christmas dinner in the staff canteen but I stopped having it years ago because it’s so gross, and they never cater for vegans so I can’t now even if I went insane and did want to! Other than that on Boxing Day it’s right back to normality and the daily grind.

Christmas Eve I’m going to stay completely on plan because I don’t want to feel bloated and sluggish Christmas Morning – this year will be the first year in absolutely ages where all of my siblings will be together and I cannot wait so it’s all about family. Food definitely comes second!

So there we have it. For the next 12 weeks and beyond I’m going to be 100% on plan apart from those three exceptions. And even then they might not all happen.

I know it’s really early to be thinking about all this, but I needed to get a plan in action. If a situation arises there will be no shall I/shan’t I because I’ve already made the important decisions. As such now it’s all straight in my head I will just concentrate on my weekly losses, fill in my charts and graphs and enjoy myself whilst being happy and content that I’m completely in control.

Speaking of charts and graphs today I filled in my measurements so I can compare them again at the end of the 12 weeks. So today was an excellent opportunity to compare them to the ones I took roughly at the beginning of my journey. Here’s how many inches I’ve lost so far:

  • Waist -14.5
  • Hips -10.5
  • Bust -7.5
  • Thigh -6
  • Upper arm -3.5

That’s a total of 42 inches which I’m incredibly happy with! In all of my previous weight loss attempts I never kept these kind of records, and I’m glad I do now. It’s really helpful, especially when the scales aren’t moving as fast as you’d like (not that I had to worry about that this week after all).

As usual this weekend has passed in a blur but I made time to hang out with my friend yesterday. We had booked our tickets to see IT in the evening and he was running a bit late (that’s kind of his thing!) so we had to rush to Tesco to get something for dinner and also cook it in time. This would have been a perfect opportunity to use the lack of time as an excuse to eat peanut butter sandwiches but instead I used my noggin and got Bannister’s microwave jackets which are really nice and 1 syn each, a tin of beans and Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages. As such a filling 2.5 syn dinner took me just 15 minutes to prepare. If I’d had more time I would have had mushrooms too, but the only other thing I’d eaten the whole day was porridge with hazelnut milk so the lack of speed food didn’t bother me at all.

If that wasn’t enough to make me feel pleased with myself, my friend kept glancing over and saying that he swears I’ve lost more weight every time he looks, plus I decided to wear a nice outfit and do my makeup properly. In case you haven’t noticed yet I’ll reiterate that I LOVE autumn, so I wore an acorn necklace and acorn earrings and got out my orangey lipstick.

I felt pretty damn fantastic!

It’s back to work tonight but I don’t even care. Nothing can bring me down!

Hayley x

A Pleasant Surprise

Last night I wore my three layers to work, as has become the norm over the last week, and I nearly bloody melted. It’s been so warm today! I’m not complaining because it’s been beautiful, and it was absolutely ideal as me and my brother had already planned to visit Eltham Palace today.

Autumn colours are always lovely, but it’s even better when the sun is shining on them and there was barely a cloud in the sky all day. After arriving we headed straight to the house (palace my backside) and picked up one of the free audio guides. In fact it was all kind of free now that we are English Heritage members. That’s a very good thing because I would have been slightly cheesed off if I’d paid for the audio guide because it really was dreadful! It sounded like the narrator was trying to be seductive, and I don’t know who wrote the script but after one description of a painting I had to turn if off because I wanted to throw the thing through the window.

Hence I came home knowing nothing about Eltham Palace at all. I have just had a quick read on Wikipedia though and it seems it was a palace once, but it was all but destroyed in the 1600’s. What’s there now is a house that was built on the site, which includes the restored great hall of the original palace. The Art Deco house was apparently a ‘masterpiece of modern design’ and I read a little plaque that said it was inspired by Scandinavian design. I’d much rather kit my home out with Ikea though because I thought it was ugly. The only pictures I took inside the house were not Art Deco at all!

The grounds though, now they are lovely. There’s a big lake that goes part of the way around it and the fish there (I think my brother said they are carp) must be used to being fed because they are so friendly. Normally I have oats in my bag as a matter of course, in case I need to tempt a water bird on my travels, but I didn’t replenish the last lot I used so we had nothing to lure the fish closer with. Then along came a family eating their sarnies who decided to throw bread in the water.

I’m sure most people know that you shouldn’t feed birds bread, because uneaten bread can pollute the water and it doesn’t provide enough nutrition to see them through the winter. I’m not sure what the deal is with fish, but it would be irrelevant in this case anyway. The fish snaffled up the bread immediately and I’m not sure even a single crumb was missed.

We spent most of the afternoon just wandering around exploring the grounds or watching the fish, and I was just loving the colours of everything so much. I’m going to find out what kind of flowers they have because everything was still in bloom and it would be lovely to have our garden looking something like that this time next year. Not that I’ve done anything at all with the garden since I decided I was going to sort it out, however many months ago. I really must do my research in time for spring.

I don’t know why this year has been so different, but documenting the changes in the seasons and trying to enjoy every minute of it has been really important to me. I need to make sure I’m out every week until all of the leaves are gone because I don’t want to miss a single photo op!

Just gorgeous.

When we left in the late morning I’d just eaten breakfast and wasn’t hungry at all so I didn’t take food with me, but I did have the foresight to have a lunch already prepared for when I got home. That was a good call because on the drive back my tummy was rumbling like mad. I’m frightening myself with all of this organisation.

You may notice that I didn’t put any weekly goals up last week, and that’s because I had no intention at all of avoiding the sneak peek. I’m feeling really bloated and I think it’s possible I’ll have a maintain but the important thing is to not freak out about it.

That’s if it does happen at all, because a lot can change between now and Tuesday morning. What I do know is that I have had an impeccable week as far as food is concerned and if I don’t get a good result I only need to look to the people I admire who deal with gains and maintains spectacularly well. There are two in particular. One is Just Julie and I’m pretty sure the other can guess who he is, and the thing about these spectacular people is I see them have disappointing and undeserved results at times, and although they’re obviously not happy about it, they don’t let it derail them. I wait with anticipation for the following week’s results and watch all of the hard work pay off as they are rewarded for sticking with it. Even when it might be the last thing they wanted to do at the time.

And that’s where I must leave you because it’s 8pm and I haven’t even started dinner yet. So much for being organised…

Hayley x

One For The Road

If you’ve been reading my blog for the last couple of weeks then this post will come as no surprise to you. I haven’t fallen off the wagon, I’ve just kind of stepped off for the evening. The thing is, I’m back at work tomorrow after three weeks off and I’m partly really looking forward to getting back into a proper routine and partly dreading the very thought. I’m not going crazy, I’m just having a some crumpets, avocadoes, and I really fancied a bottle of rosé, so that’s what I’m having.

Yesterday I watched Guardians of the Galaxy with the family, in preparation for Volume 2 being delivered today. Me and my brother have already seen the second one, but my mum hasn’t so we’re all sitting down together to watch it tonight. Then that’s it- once the film is over then it’s back to reality. I’m going to try and stay up as late as possible then sleep as much as I can during the day tomorrow, because I have to get back to my usual vampiric ways! It’s been really nice sleeping normally for a while though. I really feel that I’ve recharged my batteries, and that if this time off work hadn’t come when it did then I would have really struggled to cope. It all worked out OK in the end.

I’ve also been naughty in regards to weighing myself too often, but this week it’s actually worked out to my advantage. I weighed myself before, ahem, lady time and it showed a massive loss. But then lady time happened and now it shows a moderate loss. If I hadn’t seen that big loss then I’d be disheartened by what I saw after, but I know it’s just bloating and whatnot. I have no idea what the scales will show tomorrow, on official weigh day, but I have to be honest here and tell you exactly what’s going on. So if it’s a gain, it’s a gain, and I won’t try to hide it. Despite all of my ‘next weigh day will be fantastic!’ promises. I really do mean it when I say it, that’s the sad thing. Anyway I still intend to get all of my gains off by the end of the month – it ain’t over yet!

Yesterday was nice and active, which is handy because today I’ve just been chilling out in a spectacularly lazy fashion. Apart from doing a load of washing because I somehow only had one pair of undercrackers left, I’ve just lounged around reading. It’s actually been quite lovely!

Oh yes, I was going to tell you about yesterday. Me and the brother went to visit Lee Valley Regional Park. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what we were after because it just doesn’t do a good enough job of making us feel like we’re away from civilisation. That’s been something of a theme with the last few places we’ve visited in fact. We walked around some lakes, and that was nice, but as we walked along the canal everything become more and more, well, disgusting. There was litter everywhere and people passing us were really rude, either just not wanting to walk single file down the narrow track or not even bothering to look up from their phones. It was really sad. But enough of that, on to the highlights!

It must be a great park for kids, because there are little sculptures to find all over the place. Some of them you are even encouraged to climb on, but I’ll come to that later.

The first lake we came to was filled with friendly swans. Well, as friendly as swans ever get I suppose!

Then, possibly for the first time ever, I saw some tufted ducks. I say possibly, because I may well have seen them before without noticing. But they’re certainly the first I’ve seen before I became interested in birds. I didn’t even notice them to begin with, despite their really cool yellow eyes. How did I not see that?

Tufted ducks are excellent divers, so I tried to get a shot of one mid-dive. They were just too fast though, so this is the closest I was able to get. But when I got home and reviewed my photos I noticed the little coot in the bottom right-hand corner.

I think he was coming up from a dive, but it looks like he’s just happily hanging out under water! 

I did see a heron but he was just too far away for me to get any kind of shot, and this cormorant was too far away for me to get a decent shot. This one will just have to suffice!

When we came to the canals we stopped for my brother to buy a cheese roll and a coke from an ice cream boat, as you do, and as we sat down we were treated to a couple of swans and their almost completely grown up swanling slowly making their way towards us.

And then, my favourite part of the day. We found a giant’s chair!

Although it seems like a pretty insignificant thing, I am really proud of this picture. For one, this time last year I would have been too self conscious to do this. And even if I had dared to, my arms are pretty weak (despite me trying to strengthen them with kettlebells) and there’s simply no way I would have been able to haul myself up. Yet here I am, posing for a photo. In a way it’s hard to believe that’s even me. But there I am, I even have proof. I wonder what kind of photos I’m going to be posting next year?

Do you know what, despite not entirely wanting to go back to work I am feeling really positive about the coming months. I really do find it so much easier to lose weight in the autumn and winter and I’m going to make so much progress. I’m going to make promises in this here blog, but instead of going back on them or making excuses I’m going to see them through.

The proof shall be, as they say, in the pudding (for want of a more slimming-friendly phrase!)

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Hello Autumn

On the surface today has been a bit of a non-event, but I’m feeling good all the same. I haven’t been out, so I’m writing this while simultaneously doing a figure of eight between the kitchen and living room. Hopefully it makes sense, I just need more steps!

Frighteningly, I’m back at work Tuesday night. This is not ideal, because I don’t give the place much thought when I’m not there. For the last three weeks I’ve sort of forgotten that I even have a job, so going back is going to be a shock to the system.

As the weather has turned a bit chillier the last couple of nights I thought I’d better start thinking about my winter work wear. In the next few weeks I’ll no doubt be in thermals, it gets that cold in the (unheated) warehouse.

On Monday I thought I’d have a peek at the Long Tall Sally website. As luck would have it Monday was the last day of a huge sale, and I managed to get three pairs of jeans that are normally £60+ EACH for £56 in total and free delivery to boot!

My parcel arrived this morning and it was one of those very rare and magical moments. I have three pairs of jeans that fit absolutely perfectly. I mean so perfect that they stay up without a belt. That never happens! One pair I bought in a larger size so I can wear two pairs of thermal long johns underneath. Sigh, I love autumn and winter, just not the part where I have to go to work and freeze my butt off!

September is also my brother’s birthday month, and although I’m normally an excellent gift-giver, this year I’ve been coming up short. But then it came to me. We’ve been wanting to visit more historical places but it’s just so darn expensive (Leeds Castle last year was over £20 each) so I thought I’d get him an English Heritage yearly pass. And since I’m the driver and he’s not going to get far without me, I bought one for myself too!

There are loads of sites with plenty of walking involved, so it’ll be good for my step goals, for photographic opportunities and for some plain old fun. I checked with my brother that he didn’t have a problem with me buying myself a gift for his birthday too, and luckily he is all for it. I’m looking forward to us having some interesting adventures soon.

Other than that all I’ve done is try on some dresses in my wardrobe that are too small for me. What with all my yo-yo-ing lately I’ve been too scared to see how close I am to fitting in them, but I braved it and was surprised to find I’m not as far away as I thought I was.

I know it’s only the first day of autumn and I really shouldn’t be dropping the C-bomb already, but I have one lovely little black dress that I’m planning to fit comfortably in by Christmas. It’s unlikely I’ll be going anywhere exciting, but hopefully now my sister is in her new place she’ll invite me over and we love an excuse to dress up together. And if she doesn’t I’ll just invite myself anyway.

Now I’m waiting for my shopping to arrive (I decided to get it last minute and my slot is between 10pm and 11pm) and yet again torturing my family with unpleasant emissions. I am short on speed foods so most of my 1/3 was made up of red onions. Which I coupled with Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausages. That is NOT a good combo!

I’d better get concentrating on those steps now, so I’ll say bye for now.

Thanks for reading!

Hayley x

Indulgences and Inner Voices

I’ve been a bit quiet this week, and that’s because I haven’t really had much to talk about. I haven’t been 100% on plan, though I haven’t been terrible either, but most of all I’ve been making real choices based on whether I want something or not rather than just reacting to whatever emotion I’m feeling at the time. Tomorrow I’m out with little brother and sister, then since I haven’t really made much progress weight-wise since, hmm, April or so, September and October are going to be spent absolutely smashing the hell out of my goals.

There was an iffy moment on Thursday where I thought I may have to go back to work (scary prospect) but it seems now that I’m not back until the 5th of September as planned. Fingers crossed. So from tomorrow it’s going to be a 20k-a-day jobby again. Tomorrow I’ll be in London, and I used to just get a Travelcard which will take you anywhere in central London you want to go for the whole day. It costs about £25 these days (I remember when it was £13… Wow…) but my tube days are in the past. Now once I get into central London I walk everywhere it’s feasibly possible to get to on foot. Which is pretty much anywhere to be honest, as long as I don’t have a time limit. My travel costs tomorrow should be about a fiver, which is much better for the bank balance, and better for my legs too. Plus the weather is supposed to be really nice, and who wants to be stuck underground with someone’s armpit in your face at the best of times?

The reason I don’t have much to talk about is because I’ve been allowing myself a week of pure indulgence, and I’m not talking about food. Although today has been an exception (I’ll explain why in a mo) I have been having wonderful amounts of sleep and finally, finally, I feel like me again. I feel perfectly happy, healthy and energised. Saturday night I slept for ten hours followed by a three hour afternoon nap. And my sister and I agree on this point – it’s perfectly reasonable to count any sleep up to three hours as a nap, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong. I finished embroidering a flower in the evening, then I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I tried to watch the series that recently came out on Channel 4, but I couldn’t get along with it because of the adverts and how television is produced around them. They have to make them so that you don’t lose interest during the ad break, which affects the flow of the story. Books are normally better anyway, so I thought it would be easier to just read it. So I did, and I finished at 5am today. Unfortunately I was bitterly disappointed with the total cop-out of an ending (seriously, I can’t stand bad endings in books and this is right up there with the worst of them) and I can’t understand why it’s rated so highly. Why aren’t people furious? I do believe the first series ends where the novel ends, and that the story will be picked up from there. Which may give me the resolution I crave, but it’s not the way I would have preferred it. I have to let it go!

 

This week I have also read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which I’ve read before but it’s been a while (like I say, it’s been a week of indulgences) and today has been spent reading graphic novels, specifically the Sandman series which is also by Neil Gaiman (and others). Since reading Watchmen some time ago, which I LOVED (it’s also one of my absolute favourite films) I’ve wanted to read more comics/graphic novels/whatever, but with the long-running stuff I have no idea where to start. So the Sandman series is perfect as it’s contained in 12 or so volumes – it’s not too overwhelming for me. If I wanted to read Batman for instance, where on earth do you begin? How would one find the time in their life to read everything? And how could one afford it. It’s just too big for my lil ol’ mind to contemplate.

Friday was a busy day I suppose. I drove my brother to work and back because he picked up a suit on his lunch break and (quite sensibly) didn’t think it prudent to attempt cycling home with it, and just as I was about to go into the hairdressers my sister asked me to come and pick her up because she sliced a fair old chunk of her finger off with a brand new bread knife. She wouldn’t listen to sensible suggestions like seeing a nurse in a walk-in clinic, she wanted my mum (who is notoriously bad with coping with any kind of difficult situation) to administer the first aid. So by the time I got out of the hairdressers she’d already made her way back to mine on the train. I suppose she just wanted her mam!

As usual my latest hair cut also means trying to quiet my inner voice which is telling me that I have made a mistake, that I have had it cut too short, that I look too masculine, that you can see too much of my face… I think I do look quite boyish from certain angles, but I can’t answer why that should be a bad thing. It isn’t a bad thing! Without thinking, if I catch myself in the mirror, I love my hair cut. And it feels nice on my head. It’s easy to style in the morning, and above all it’s just… me. It’s a reflection of my personality for all to see, I’m not hiding a thing.

 

What doesn’t help is when I see someone I haven’t seen in a while, like today, who after saying hello just blurted out ‘I liked your hair better long’. The last time I saw this person I looked like this:

It truly astounds me the amount of people who thought that was better. Are we not seeing the same thing? Like the ending of the Handmaid’s Tale, I need to stop trying to figure it out or I’m going to lose my marbles. Thankfully each time I get a new haircut it becomes less of a big deal, although people’s rudeness and inconsiderate comments sadly don’t seem to change. I can choose how I react to it though, and that’s the main thing.

So that’s it, not much has been happening. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll some some interesting London tales for you!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Hatfield Forest

Today I was up before the crack of dawn, at 3:50 to be precise, and out the door shortly after. Me and my brother wanted to go to Hatfield Forest, because it’s not too far away and we’ve never been before. We both like getting to places while they’re still empty, and I had my fingers crossed for some nice morning light. I did my research (I do that before I go anywhere because I like to be prepared) and discovered that one of the car parks is open from ‘dusk till dawn’, that you pay at a machine, and that the actual park is open 24 hours. But when we got there, there was a cover over the machine saying ‘Please Pay at Kiosk’, which doesn’t open until 9am or 10am, depending on which sign you read. I have a thing where I freak out if I get in trouble or get told off, so if I was on my own I probably would have turned around and gone home. But as my little bro was with me we decided to go into the park and come back later to pay when the kiosk was open. Which I didn’t like, but was actually a completely reasonable course of action.

When we got into the park we walked for about twenty minutes before we came to an internal car park, that we couldn’t get to by car because the gate to it was locked. But there was a pay & display machine. So I bought a ticket and walked it all the way back to the car. Because that’s how much of a stickler for the rules I am! Ridiculous, I know, but it allowed me to enjoy the rest of our walk with a clean conscience.

As you enter Hatfield Forest (on foot at least) the first part is a long road interspersed with plenty of cows and plenty of cow poop. I was also provided with some of that morning light I’d been hoping for. There was morning dew on everything and although I hate the word when it’s applied to food or people, I have to say that it was lush.

The thing about Hatfield Forest is that although it is huge, and has loads of really old trees (which is wonderful) it’s just not all that exciting and doesn’t seem to have much character. It’s lovely that there are so many trees being looked after, it was just more of a strolling around kind of place, rather than an exploring kind of place, which given its size (about four times the size of my local nature reserve) I was a little disappointed with. I’m maybe being a little harsh – I did enjoy the greenness and freshness of it all – I think maybe I just need more excitement after some of the cool places I’ve visited this year (Snowdon, I’m looking at you…) I still got a couple of really nice shots though, and as of right now I’m on a very respectable 22,500 steps.

I’ve had something of a meltdown the last few days and have done so much damage to my diet. I’ve completely gone off all of the usual foods I eat and feel sick at the thought of eating them. I’d just like to get it out there that no, I’m not pregnant, unless the next baby Jesus is on his way!

I need to swear now, because when I’m passionate about things my language gets filthy. You’ve had fair warning!

I might fuck up but I will never give up. The last few months have seen a succession of monumental fuck-ups as far as my diet is concerned, and I’m desperate to get my positive head back on. On the 28th I’m going out for vegan treats in London with my brother and sister, so from tomorrow until then I need to be 100% on plan. And I need to get straight back on it as soon as I get on the train home. I say this every time I have something like this planned, and every time I mess up. I’d really love it if I could post here when I get home that I did what I said I was going to do. This time is the one!

I also made a promise that I was going to do an average of 20,000 steps a day this week, but over the last couple of days I’ve got really behind. By the end of tomorrow I need to do 33,000 steps if I’m going to achieve my goal. There’s a huge part of me, the part that’s currently winning over happy Hayley, that questions what the point is when my weight has shot through the roof. It’s counter-intuitive, because any extra activity is going to help. Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand of course, but one can still be done without the other! Still, she’s practically screaming at me – why bother? I’m going to ignore her though, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

I’m giving myself two weeks, and if my mood hasn’t improved then I’m getting myself straight back to the doctor because although there’s plenty of things I can do to help, I don’t think I can fix the way I’m feeling by myself. It won’t stop me trying though.

I’ll say it again – I’ll fuck up, but I’ll never give up

Thank you for reading, and many apologies for the potty mouth…

Hayley x

Not Quite Forgotten

Today the universe conspired to dig out a little memory that had been buried beneath 20 or so years of accumulated rubbish. It may never have resurfaced if it wasn't for today's meaningless chain of events. My brother asked me to drive him to the tip, or whatever fancy name they give it these days, to dispose of some oil. And whilst it's normally quiet there, the good weather must have fried everyone's brains and there was an enormous queue to get in. As we were stuck stationary for a good 15 minutes my eyes started to wander and I spotted an animal sanctuary that I didn't know was there. Or did I? Suddenly it all came back. When I was little my nan adopted a horse for me, and we used to go and visit him together. I can't for the life of me remember what his name was, but I remember he was black with a white stripe down his face (like a Shire horse, but there's no way he actually was one, he was no way big enough) and I used to get newsletters come through the post telling me how he was getting on.

Once my brother's motorbike oil was safely disposed of we parked up at Wat Tyler Country Park (another blast from the past, I used to go there on trips when I was in infant school) and walked a couple of minutes back down the road to the sanctuary.

It was £2 each to get in, which all goes towards taking care of the animals, so we were happy to pay it. The animals all seemed well looked after, and there was one ecstatic looking little girl grooming one of the horses, which you can buy as an experience gift for someone. I may have to do that myself one day!
If you look closely I'm actually in the last shot. Here it is zoomed in a little:There were also other farmyard animals to see, and one of the goats treated us to a view of him cleverly scratching his butt…
When we got out of the sanctuary all of the traffic had miraculously disappeared, so if we had gone any other time of the day I may never have rediscovered the sanctuary. It scares me to think of what else I've forgotten over the years, but it's also comforting to think that it may not be gone forever.

Although we didn't have a chance to explore as much as we would like we still had a stroll around the park, and took a ride on the miniature railway. It was really fun, but we may have just been getting high from the diesel fumes.

Since being home I've finished four loads of washing which is not very exciting, but it's a job I always leave till I'm down to my last pair of under-crackers so it's not like I could put it off any longer.

And then I made the most AMAZING dinner. When I was still at school I was a huge Manic Street Preachers fan, and I always remember the lead singer, James Dean Bradfield, (I was besotted with him) talking in an interview about his mum putting Marmite on roast potatoes. I always meant to try it, but I didn't get around to it until today (about 15 years after I ceased to be a fan of their music) But better late than never, eh? They were absolutely delicious, especially as I added some rosemary that I foraged from the county park. His mum sadly passed away some years ago, but I like the fact that her life sent out little ripples that are still influencing complete strangers all these years later.

Anyway!

I've been craving mushrooms lately, so I ate two whole packs of the most delicious chestnut mushrooms from Lidl, just cooked simply in Fry Light with an absolutely obscene amount of garlic. Let's just say vampires aren't going to be a problem for the foreseeable future… It was the tastiest meal I've had in ages.
Now I'm feeling wonderfully content it's off to bed for me. All being well I shall be living like a normal awake-in-the-day-sleeping-at-night person for the next few weeks, the prospect of which makes me very, very, happy!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x