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

Sea and City

I’ve got to admit – I’m still not 100% back on plan. I’m not even 10% back on plan! But I will be tomorrow. I’m feeling so much better today, so in typical fashion it’s also (almost) time to go back to work. This is my last night off in fact. There’s nothing like the end of a ‘holiday’ coinciding with the 1st of the month to make you feel like it’s time to go and smash those goals. This is the time it’d be reasonable to be cheesed off, but not for me. I never do things conventionally!

I did feel like I’d wasted my entire week off but when I look back on it, actually I haven’t. As long as we don’t put food into the equation that is.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were dire. My best day was the Sunday where, because I’d been at work until 6am, I actually had some steps under my belt. 8533 steps to be exact. Monday was 1925, Tuesday was 3722 and Wednesday was 1761. If I get less than 70,000 steps over the week then I feel extremely guilty, and even then I still feel like I could have done better. Well I could have! 70,000 is the absolute bare minimum!

So I needed to turn it around. Thursday I had my walk to, around and from the country park (18236 steps), Friday was a rainy walk up a big hill and back (15731 steps), Saturday was the park (16745 steps) and Sunday, well, that was the icing on the cake.

I didn’t realise how super cheap train fares are on a Sunday, so I paid for me and my brother to get the train to Leigh-on-Sea. From there we walked along the coast, passing through Chalkwell, Westcliff-on-Sea and Southend-on-Sea, finally reaching our destination of Shoeburyness. We were gone for a good few hours, mainly because we kept stopping to look at interesting things. The beaches were absolutely teeming with oysters, both alive and long dead, and I was really hoping to see an oystercatcher (the bird, not a fisherman) but it was not to be.

Crabs are actually my biggest phobia, so the photo credit goes to my little brother for this one. I’m fine with them from above, but when you see the underneath… Well… I just did a genuine shudder. I accidentally threw a crab once (when I was young), in the hands-on rock pool bit you get at Sealife centres. I was fine picking it up, but then I turned it over to look and it was one of those purely primal instincts to get the thing as far away from me as possible. I do hope the little guy was OK though, because it wasn’t his fault! This one is carrying another, smaller crab, and I’m hoping they were having (ahem) ‘sexy time’ rather than partaking in crab cannibalism.

It turned out to be an absolutely glorious morning for a walk, as you can see from the pictures. Passing through Southend is always depressing as it’s such a dump of a town. I had to pop to the loo and there are places for you to put your used needles. That’s the kind of town Southend is. But as soon as you’re five minutes away from there it’s beautiful, with quaint little beach huts to rival Brighton and hardly another soul about. 

By the time we got home I was rather pink, rather tired, and rather pleased to have accumulated 28,901 steps. That meant I was over 80,000 for the week, and that’s not bad considering it got off to such a lazy start.

Today was another very bad eating day, but it’s the last one, I absolutely promise! I went to Canterbury with a friend with the intention of going to a vegan pub where all the food and all the drink is totally vegan. I’ve only been vegan for a few weeks and already I can only imagine the joy of being able to go somewhere and just eat something without having to research it thoroughly beforehand. I checked their Facebook page and the week before last, when they were closed for a private function, they let their customers know. But there was nothing for this week so I thought it must be OK. WRONG! Even though online it said they were open, they were in fact closed.

Thankfully Canterbury just happens to be a lovely little city that caters for all sorts, and because of this situation I found a fantastic little pub that I’ll definitely be visiting again, called The Lady Luck. It’s an awesome place – they have regular live music, and I haven’t seen anything live for an age so I just have to go back and see something. The walls are plastered with album covers and artwork, the staff are lovely, and they are so inclusive. There’s something for everyone, and although when my food came out my heart sank just a little, because it didn’t look all that tasty, it was actually bloody lovely! I had a soya burger with tofu bacon, onions, gherkins, fake cheese and fake garlic mayo. It was so nice! Everything about the place just made my heart sing. The day was certainly not wasted!

I took just a couple of snaps of Canterbury, because we were a bit short on time and because I hate going anywhere without recording a memory of it. They’re not going to set the photography world alight, but here they are all the same!

Nothing went exactly as was planned this week, but lessons have been learned and I’m feeling positive about the week ahead. I haven’t forgotten those Long Tall Sally jeans, and I’ll be fitting in them before I know it. Tomorrow the scales are going to show a simply ENORMOUS gain, and the week after that most, if not all of it, will be ancient history.

Thank you 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

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

 

BBQ Time!

Thankfully weather forecasts aren’t 100% accurate. Since Friday I’ve been checking various weather apps and websites, most of which said it was going to rain for the whole of Sunday afternoon. The Met Office however had the best forecast, so I went with that and decided to go ahead with the BBQ. I’m glad I did, because the weather was like this aaaaall day. Just beautiful. Everyone melted apart from me and my sister. My mum says we are lizards because we are usually cold, but this time of year we get to reap the benefits by being able to not only survive but really enjoy the heat.

I had a plan to prepare loads of Free and Speed food and stay in control for the whole day. My brother was issued with instructions to punch me hard, right in the mouth, if I even suggested otherwise. And…

…I did it, I actually managed to have a BBQ and stay on plan! This is a fantastic achievement, especially since the last time we had one I spiralled out of control and ended up spending four days trying to scramble back on the wagon. I certainly wasn’t perfect – I definitely overate Free Foods (namely my favourite corn-on-the-cobs) but that’s not the end of the world. I ended the day on 11 syns and that is something to be damn proud of.

Even though there are some tempting bits here – namely the rolls, houmous and halloumi – I managed to avoid it all by focusing on what I could have. I made a huge bowl of coleslaw which was 4 syns for the whole lot and that went down a treat, even with those who aren’t trying to lose weight, and everyone loved the fact that I’d put strawberries out. We were lucky too, they were the most strawberry-ey strawberries I’ve had in a long time! Another big hit was the yoghurt and mint dip, which amused everyone who wanted to know how it’s made. It’s very complicated so pay attention – you have to mix yoghurt… with mint… Got that? Good!

My sister’s boyfriend is avoiding gluten at the moment so he was very interested in my sweet potato ‘bun’. It was absolutely lovely and it held together really well, but I only had it for one burger because it would be ever so easy to overeat that way. Even on Slimming World, common sense must still be applied!

The burger is a Linda McCartney mozzarella burger (5.5 syns) and the cheese is a light cheese slice from Tesco (you can have 3 for your A Choice).

I made so much food that I had plenty left for dinner late in the evening and I have a full-on dinner of leftovers ready for today, too.

I’ve got everything crossed that I lose at least a pound tomorrow. Pleeeeeaaase let me have my five-and-a-half stone award!

Hayley X

Club 15

I had my weigh in yesterday, and it’s the first time in a fair few weeks that I’ve had two losses in a row. I lost 2.5 lbs which I’m super-duper happy with, and I only have 1 lb to go to get my 5.5 stone award. I’ve been so close to the 15-stone-something mark for weeks and weeks now, but every time I got within half a pound I sabotaged myself. I finally broke that particular pattern and am (for now at least) part of the 15 Club! I don’t intend to stay here long, I’ve heard that Club 14 has a lot more benefits so I’m hoping to join as soon as possible.

It’s been a bit of a weird day today. I was a lot sleepier than I usually am after a night shift so I had to upset Pea and have a little bit of extra sleep. She was NOT happy about it, but if I don’t look after myself then I can’t look after her, and sometimes a girl’s just gotta get her head down. I feel a lot better now but although I know I want to write a blog post, the words are really not coming easily today. I should probably leave it and come back to it another time, but I have too many things to do before work and also I am being bloody stubborn!

I have these things to do which is annoying because I want to be outside. The weather is glorious again, and looking back on my memories of last summer it’s so fleeting I don’t want to waste it. I was out in the garden yesterday, just assessing what work needs to be done, only to find that some greedy little buggers are eating our apple tree. We are going to have a bumper year for apples this year, the tree is abundant with them, but they’re also not very good quality which is due to the hungry, hungry little buggers. I feel for them, I really do, but steps need to be taken to save next year’s crop. It’s too late for this year unfortunately, I just hope some of the apples make it through OK. It was a good photo op anyway!

I think these caterpillars most likely belong to a moth species, but I’m having trouble finding out which one. Maybe I’ll find out as they continue to grow (and decimate the poor tree…) Phase one in the garden is definitely going to be a wet area for frogs so as long as my wages are OK come pay day I’ll get some pond liner and dig out a little space for them. We have a little area near the compost bin that should be perfect – it’s already home to loads of creepy crawlies but I’ll only be moving them a couple of feet to make a space so I should imagine they’ll be happy enough. I really hope it attracts some frogs because I haven’t seen a wild frog in years and that’s such a shame! Then if I have enough money left I want to get to the garden centre and get as many colourful yet easy-to-keep-alive flowers as I can. I believe they call them hardy in the business! I want to get all the flowers my grandparents had in their garden when I was a kid. My granddad used to take me out and let me pick marigolds, pansies, giant daisies and snap dragons. It was awesome and also the only fond memory I have of my grandparents who were not all that nice. But they did have a lovely, colourful garden! My nan on the other side of the family had strawberries and runner beans but she didn’t garden much because she was too busy going out and being a total old lady badass. She was great, I miss her a lot.

So far the weather forecast is looking good for Sunday, and since it’s my mum’s birthday next week my sister is coming over and we are doing a surprise BBQ. My mum has a whole range of health problems and I’m trying to help her lose weight but unfortunately her underactive thyroid is really not helping, so I want to help her stay on plan as much as possible. Therefore although my last attempt at a healthy BBQ failed miserably, I am trying again and this time I will succeed! My sister has been out on the town a few weekends in a row so she also wants to be sensible, so with most of the family on board I should be OK! I’m not sure what kind of crap my brother will be eating, but knowing him it’ll be meat-based so at least I won’t be tempted there.

Well that’s enough rambling now I think, it’s time to get Pea’s dinner and have my first cup of coffee of the day. That’s probably why I feel weird, I haven’t been medicated yet!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley X

Edit: The last paragraph originally read ‘crap my first cup of coffee of the day’. You ever have that where you’re thinking one word but type a completely different one? No? Just me? Probably…

 

 

Baker’s Dozen

Yesterday was the Think Parrots exhibition and I thought I’d have tons to write about, but unfortunately I wasn’t all that taken with it. We watched a talk by a specialist avian vet named Matthew Fiddes who seems to be more or less at the top of the avian veterinary game. He even name dropped the Supervet who he knows personally, so in the bird world it was probably a very rock n’ roll event! He went through common bird health problems but where I did so much research before getting Pea I honestly either knew it already or it wasn’t relevant to her species. In fact I felt the small parrots were very under-represented! God I sound like such a big head… But it was interesting to watch anyway and it was fun to hear him being heckled by a macaw in the audience.

As for the rest of the event it was very small and was mostly people selling bird stuff. I bought a desk perch for Pea for £3 which will be useful for training but at the moment she is absolutely terrified of it. It’s going to take some training just to get her on the thing. I also bought her some dried grasses for her to pick through which will be good for enrichment. It was very nice to see my sister but for the money I spent on petrol and the time I wasted on the M25, there would have been better ways to have a sibling meet-up. In fact she’s coming over for dinner next Sunday (hopefully for a BBQ if the weather is good) so it could have waited until then, but ho hum, now I know to try a different bird exhibition next time!

As for the food, the lunch I took with me weighed 9 pounds so you could say I went a little bit overboard. I arrived just before my sister so I ate my cereal bars (B Choice) then when it came to lunch I wasn’t all that hungry so I just ate my four scotch eggs. I made them with panko breadcrumbs which cost me 4.5 syns, so if I make them again I’ll leave them off because they didn’t add anything to the flavour. I’d rather save the syns in future.

So I brought all the rest of the food back home with me and had my quiche for dinner. For breakfast yesterday I had two eggs, Quorn low fat sausages and garlic mushrooms. After dinner I was still feeling full although I could have had dessert if I wanted it. Turning down dessert is most unlike me, and at that point it occurred to me that I’d had quite a lot of protein. I had a count – yesterday I ate a total of THIRTEEN EGGS. God help my poor mother who has to live with me for the next couple of days! As a result of all this things, um, aren’t quite working as they should be and if this feeling keeps up I’m predicting an undeserved gain or maintain on the scales tomorrow. I think egg bound is the phrase I’m looking for (sorry, TMI I know…)

Yesterday my sister complimented me on my weight loss and told me I was looking particularly slim. That’s the good thing about not seeing her for a few weeks at a time – she picks up on the things I can’t see. I am feeling pretty fantastic this week so I decided to do some comparison pics which, when I’m doing well at least, is one of my very favourite (and most narcissistic) things to do to help keep me motivated. For me the most shocking aspect is my back!

I’m really pleased at the progress I’ve made there! On the left I’m bulging out of a size 22 top, one that I only used to wear around the house because I knew it was becoming like a second skin. I wouldn’t have dared to go out in it. The dress on the right is a size 18.

I’m really happy with how things are going right now, and I absolutely love my dress (I got one in a pink stripe too) which I will no doubt wear until it disintegrates. I feel so comfortable in it, plus it has a drawstring waist so it’ll see me through for a while as I continue to lose weight.

The rest of yesterday was dedicated to crafty pursuits, as I need to take more time to do the things that I enjoy. After Pea had gone to sleep I got my watercolours out and sat down to do a quick painting of one of the geeselets I photographed the other day.

I have an important thing to say about doing anything like this: it’s OK to be a bit crap.

You might think my little painting is alright, but then just look at these pictures below, all done by my remarkably talented little sis.

They’re such incredible little paintings, but I don’t let that take the joy out of sitting down and taking the time to paint something. Just because you’re not good at something doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it! In fact I’m going to try to find an art class nearby at some point, which seems a bit silly what with my sister being an art teacher and all. But I know if we met up to paint we’d just end up chatting for the whole time and never get anything done!

Today for breakfast I had defrosted berries and a pot of vanilla Skyr, which was originally supposed to be yesterday’s lunch, then yesterday’s dessert. So now I need to go and get my lunch, which is Shredded Wheat, almond milk and two oranges, and which should have been today’s breakfast! Confused? Yeah, me too!

Until next time,

Hayley x

Victory Is Mine

The Workweek Hustle is over and the results are in – between Monday and Friday my sister did 74,392 steps but I did a winning 87,581! My sister was gaining on me considerably, that is until Thursday night when my manager put me on a really physical job and I worked my absolute butt off. I’m really hoping this increases my chances of a good loss come Tuesday because I am seriously chasing that 15 stone bracket now. I want to see those numbers so, so badly!

It’s been a weird old week. Wednesday I wore two layers of clothes to work and needed a hot water bottle to warm me up when I got home in the morning, but today it’s absolutely gorgeous out there. I did a bit of washing as I’m out tomorrow and my favourite summer outfit was dirty, but it took me a while to get it on the line. The first time I went into the garden my brother was out there with Chester, our ginger cat. He has to be supervised outside, on a lead (Chester that is, not my brother), because he has kidney failure. He can’t go exploring by himself because where he isn’t processing protein properly his back legs are weak so he can’t get himself out of trouble if he needs to. Weirdly he seems quite content with being on a lead. So I just had to run in and grab my camera.

After Chester had finished posing I went indoors and actually managed to get the wet washing out of the machine before Kitt came along to say hello. Kitt (named after the car from Knight Rider) and Chester are brother and sister and they are both getting on a bit now, so Kitt doesn’t venture far these days. Most of the time she escapes through the back door then goes straight round to the front of the house to sit on the window ledge and meow to be let back in. They’re not the brightest of creatures! Eventually I managed to stop getting distracted and the washing is drying in the sun and the wind as I type.

Whilst out in the garden I noticed that it can’t be long now until the cherries are ready to eat. There’s nothing like eating them straight off the tree, although it’s still more of an overgrown twig at this stage.

It occurred to me today that in a way I seem to have aged considerably in the last year. I have become a person who watches Springwatch on purpose, I have started doing embroidery, I joined a bird identification group on Facebook, I am contemplating learning how to do gardening (what kind of stuff do I plant where? Will it come back next year? Do I need to know what pH my soil is?) and I love being outdoors. In my early twenties I harboured a secret ambition to become a hermit but now I’m the complete opposite and I’m absolutely loving it.

My sister is the same, and we talked recently about how we used to be so different yet we have independently become practically the same person. She went to university in Southampton, moved to London, became a teacher, met a guy… I never had a clue (still don’t) about what I want to do, never had any luck with relationships, never had much interest in nature or animals, yet here we are, for the most part sickeningly happy and both obsessed with birds, nature and absolutely anything arty or crafty! I think we both agree on one thing though – being happy certainly didn’t come naturally to either of us and we had to work bloody hard to get to where we are now. If you asked us how we did it though, I doubt we could come up with an answer. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution sadly.

Oops I seem to have got a little bit too thoughtful there and have gone off on a tangent! Anyway, this evening I don’t have to go to work because I booked the night off. I’m leaving early in the morning for the Think Parrots show and I have a ton of food prep to do before hand. It’s going to be an absolute feast! I also have an enormous batch of ‘chilli-non-carné’ that I prepared yesterday so that’s today’s and tomorrow’s dinner sorted, meaning I can just concentrate on making my enormous Slimming World picnic. Another dinner highlight this week has been Fishless Fingers (thank you Quorn, they really hit the spot) which I served with all of the most summery-looking veg I had in my fridge.

Well, I’d better stop sitting on my butt now and get cooking!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Healthy Competition

Me and my sister are currently embroiled in a bitter battle for first place in the Fitbit Workweek Hustle challenge. The challenge is a simple one – whoever gets the most steps between Monday and Friday gets first place. It has not been easy, but for now at least I am holding first place with a 4000-step lead. I can’t get complacent though, she could sneakily overtake me at any time so I need to keep walking! An early morning trip to Tesco today certainly helped, because I kept forgetting things and I retraced my steps a lot.

It’s doing me a lot of good though, being back on plan and keeping my activity levels up. My heart rate is gradually getting back to normal after my holiday at least!

Today Google photos sent me one of those ‘this time last year’ notifications and it was quite good to reflect how much things have changed in a year. I remember this time last year I was really pleased with myself for getting down to 20.5 stone. Now I’m 16 stone and half a pound! And there was a lot of upping and downing still to come.

As you can see it’s been one hell of a rocky road! The light blue line is my actual weight loss graph whereas the dark blue is my weight trend. For the last couple of months I think it’s been quite kind! I’m really excited to start seeing a downward trend again.

But a lot has changed apart from my weight. This time last year I was out drinking with people I now realise aren’t very kind people at all, and I was already paralytically drunk by this point (5pm). Thanks to modern technology my phone photos auto upload to the interwebs and even when I delete them off my phone I don’t delete them from Google, because you never know when you might need something. I probably could have done without keeping this little gem, but part of me thinks perhaps it’s good that I did. You see, I am never going to feel (or hopefully look) like this again, ever. Unless I get dragged through a hedge backwards, although I hope it doesn’t come to that.

That was one dreadful hangover. I woke up in the morning fully clothed, even with my shoes still on. That night I had fallen asleep in a toilet and all of my companions had gone on to a club without me. For some reason (I have no idea why) when I came to rather than go home I decided to join them! Never again. Never, ever, again.

This weekend instead of going out on the town I am looking forward to going to a bird exhibition type thingy called Think Parrots, and I’ve been getting excited thinking about what I’m going to eat. I have the night before booked off work so during the day I’m going to be making a crustless quiche, vegetarian scotch eggs and potato salad. There is only junk food to be had at the venue so I’m taking a ton of food for a few reasons – I don’t know how long we’re going to be there, 90% of the journey is M25 so if I get stuck in traffic I may need sustenance, and finally I LOVE FOOD! Whatever I don’t eat can be eaten for dinner when I get home, and if I do eat it all then what the heck, it’ll all be on plan. I’m also taking two pots of Alpro Go On (1 syn for a pot of the blackcurrant flavour) vanilla Skyr from Lidl (it reminds me of custard and it’s syn free) and some speedy fruit (mainly strawberries I’m thinking). I’m also having a cooked breakfast before I set off.

After that night out last year, once I’d recovered enough to eat, I ate an entire 20 inch pizza. This has been my favourite dinner of the week so far:

There’s an entire broccoli on that plate. Plus sweet potato, tomato, kale, red onion, tomato, carrots, veggie burgers, extra mature cheddar and mustard mayo. I used to think that I’d never be able to change, not really, but now I truly believe that I can. I’m never going to be the unrecognisable woman in the picture again. This is me now, and I like her much, much more!

Holy moly, I’ve just had a notification from Fitbit that my sister is on my tail! I’d best be off.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x