Such a Perfect Day

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

Brain Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a fabulous Sunday people,

Hayley X

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

Nice Weather For Ducks… and Hayley 

Since I’ve decided that for every day in June I’m going to do 10,000 steps a day or more, I realised that on my days off I just have to get out of the house. My usual routine would mean me doing about 1,800 steps and that just ain’t good enough! I don’t feel like I’ve done all that much today but the day has disappeared nonetheless . I did the vacuuming, popped to Lidl for supplies, pottered around on the computer then before I knew it I had to leave to meet my brother. On his way home from work he rides through a park so I walked to meet him there this evening.

I deliberately got there about 45 minutes early so I did a few laps of the lake and got my 10,000 steps. Then I only went and saw a bloody heron! He had a fish in his mouth, which I watched him eat, then I quickly rooted around in my bag for my camera. He was too far away for me to get a decent pic (the one below is cropped) but there he is just the same.

I’m glad I’ve got a picture because for some reason seeing a heron feels really surreal to me. This first time I saw one it was about 6 am and I was on a stress-induced walk. It was a few years ago and I was still with my boyfriend, who had a habit of going off the radar whenever he went to visit his kids. He has a history of falling asleep at the wheel so when after a couple of days I still hadn’t heard from him and I eventually plucked up the courage to call (I wasn’t allowed to in case his ex found out he was seeing someone… go figure…) his phone was switched off and I couldn’t get the images of him lying in a hospital bed out of my head. In such situations my anxiety was just too much to bear and I just had to move, no matter what. So I went out walking in the early hours.

I walked up a hill I’ve driven up a thousand times, and as far as I knew it was just rows of very posh houses up there. I was stomping along when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was eerily quiet and I hadn’t seen another soul so I was shocked when I looked to the side of me to see a little stream which runs underneath the road, one I didn’t even know was there, and a heron just standing there looking at me. I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating or not!

Today was similar. There were kids all around playing football, lots of dads riding bikes with their kids, people walking dogs, yet all of a sudden I was completely alone except for the geese, ducks and cootes (who had gone for a swim, frightened off by the footballers) and Mr Heron here.

My brother arrived just seconds before the heron flew away, then we tempted the geese out of the lake with some tasty porridge oats. It also started to rain, but such things won’t deter seasoned walkers like ourselves, and I kept my camera dry but putting it in a carrier bag and making holes for the lens and the viewfinder. 

 

I cannot believe how quickly these geeselets have grown. This is what they looked like when I saw them last, on the 13th of May. I wish I’d taken my camera that day!

I suppose they must be teenagers now, although it was the parents who were the worst behaved. This one had clearly taken offence to us feeding the kids and it kept hissing and sticking its tongue out. How unfriendly!

We saw some ducks too, and at least someone other than me didn’t seem to mind that it was raining. I know it’s not really smiling but seriously how happy does that duck look?

But this little one though, THIS one was the absolute cutest. JUST LOOK AT THAT FACE!

I’m pleased I had a good photo day, I love getting home to find out what I’ve captured. It was especially fun today because of the rain – I couldn’t review the pictures as I took them so I was completely in the dark as to what they’d come out like.

When I got in I was starving but there’s only one thing that can truly distract me from food, and that’s editing my photos. Once I was done though I had a potato salad with Quorn crispy fillets. I’m just loving simplicity when it comes to my food the last few days – the salad was just baby plum tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and boiled potatoes and it was just so damn good.

I can’t quite believe it’s weigh in tomorrow because it’s come around so quickly. It honestly feels like it was only yesterday I was last at group. I suppose that’s what being back at work has done to me, I’m completely up the wall with my sense of time. Ho hum, hopefully I’ve lost weight, which I’m not sure about because Star Week (sorry, TMI) has arrived early. I did wonder why I was extra angry at work this week, I just put it down to resenting being back after all that time off. I’m not usually one to sulk about things like that though, so it’s making a lot more sense now!

Ok, I’m going now before I ramble at you any further.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

On Top of the World

Denial is something I’m really, really good at. When I’m on plan I log every morsel that passes my lips, I look in the mirror regularly to try and spot changes, and usually there are some. I’m generally pleased with my reflection these days, too. But when I’m off plan, like I have been since I last posted, then I’m adept at not thinking at all about how I look, how my clothes fit (or don’t as the case may be), the huge volumes of food that I’m eating and the effect it’s having on my body. All I allow myself to think about it what I’m going to eat next.

I’m stuck in this horrible pattern of losing a large chunk of weight one week and gaining it back in a fortnight or so. It’s not good for me, and I need to stop it. Unfortunately I’m expecting my biggest gain yet at group on Tuesday. Now I’ve faced up to what I’ve done I need to face the scales, and I think that’s best done at my usual group. Plus I’m not back at work until Wednesday night so there’s no excuse not to go. I’m dreading it, but I need to break the cycle. This has happened to me before, in 2013, and my consultant suggested that I call target for a while until I get my head straight. I didn’t, and I regained everything I’d lost plus more. This time I’m not going to let history repeat itself. I have a few weeks left of a 12 week countdown, so if I’m back to my lowest weight (at least this time around) by the time it’s finished I think I will maintain for a while, probably for a month or so, to take some of the pressure I’ve given myself off a little bit.

On the plus side (and it’s a very big plus indeed) on Thursday my Snowdon trip finally came around. It was a 6 hour drive to our campsite so on the way there me and my brother had plenty of time to plan our strategies. We both admitted that we were rather worried about not being able to reach the summit, and agreed that if we needed to we’d turn around and go back. I don’t like giving up as much as the next person, but it is dangerous and if we got out of our depth we needed to be able to admit that. We also agreed that we’d set off from the Pen Y Pass car park at 5am the next day. It sounds a little bit bonkers, but Snowdon gets really busy and we both like peace and quiet so it was worth getting up early for.

On Thursday the weather was absolutely glorious, and baking hot, so we were looking forward to it being at least slightly cooler up the mountain. Despite the long drive we did have time to get some dinner at a local pub and check out a little waterfall. As we bought cold drinks from the café it was free for us to get in, otherwise it would have been a pound each. It wasn’t the most spectacular waterfall I’d ever seen, it was more of a big stream really, but it was a nice little walk and you really can’t go wrong for that kind of money.

We did try to get an early night but I really struggled to get off, so I must have had about 5 hours tops. Not ideal for when you’re about to go up a mountain but there’s not much I could do about it! I did wake up for a tinkle at 3am and the sky was just stunning. We were camped about a 30 second walk, literally, from the lake you can see in the picture below. What with it being so remote there was no light pollution, and happily at 3am there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, either. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life!

When we set off for the summit the next day, as we’d hoped there was barely another soul around. We did see people occasionally as we made our way up, but they were clearly seasoned walkers and they overtook us every time. We saw one man carrying a mountain bike up, which was inconceivable to us. How did he manage to carry it over the precarious parts? When did he actually get to ride it? Who can say… Anyway we didn’t mind being overtaken, and considering it was our first time doing anything like that we were making really good progress. The best part though was seeing the sun come up behind the mountains.

Another benefit of leaving so early was that we were able to cope in the heat! And considering 90% of the year visibility is pretty awful we couldn’t have wished for the views to be any better. We gradually made our way up the Pyg Track which is one of the steepest yet shortest routes, and it involved actually climbing at various points. I’m talking using both arms to clamber over the parts where the path isn’t actually a path. It was scary, but so exciting and so much fun!

We checked online before we went and apparently a ‘reasonably fit person’ can complete the Pyg Track in about 3 hours. Somehow, we managed to do it and three-and-half and I honestly couldn’t be prouder of myself. 7 months ago I couldn’t walk from the clocking out machine at work to the car park without getting out of breath, and I certainly couldn’t hold a conversation. But on Friday I climbed a mountain. An actual mountain! I still can’t quite believe it!

The views from the top were absolutely spectacular and we even had the summit, which is very small, to ourselves for 15 minutes or so. My camera is old and very heavy, but I’m so glad I lugged that extra weight around. I mean just look at it!

I must admit I found going down a lot harder than going up. My legs were like jelly by the time we got to the lake you can see in the picture above. The picture below? Yep, same lake! We took a different route back down, the Miners Track, which took us right down to the shore where I put my feet in the numbingly cold water and rinsed my hair. It was just an amazing feeling, I can’t even describe it. It was a magical experience. And the water was so clear.

The very last bit was reasonably flat and eventually it turns into what can be described as an actual path, but it was a hard slog as I’d run out of steam at that point. In all, including stopping for breaks and to take pictures (I also video-called my sister from the summit, the only place we could get mobile internet bizarrely) it took us 7.5 hours to get there and back.  When we got back to the campsite I felt super happy and content though! Until this morning I’ve been enjoying my holiday and have continued to eat and drink anything I wanted, but today I’m back on plan before I cause any more damage.

I feel like I’ve been given a rare bit of clarity today – I can see how easy it would be for me to give up now and undo all of my hard work, or I can do something I’ve never done before – to just keep going even when the going is really tough. Even if I don’t lose much more weight for the time being, I need to remember how different I feel now. I’ve achieved something I never, ever thought possible, and I’m looking forward to finding out what else I can do when I put my mind to it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley X

Holiday Mode

Tuesday was a bit of a weird day. I weigh in on a Tuesday, plus it’s the first day of my working week, and I’m finding it difficult to get into a decent routine. But I have a plan – I’m going to switch groups and weigh in on Tuesday morning instead which works a lot better for me. The walk to and from the group is about the same distance but it’ll be good for me to get some steps in at the beginning of the day. Once I’m weighed and home I can then get some sleep to prepare me for my night shift. At the moment group occurs just as my body starts to think how lovely it would be to have a nap! There is a small problem – I’m not keen on the consultant and the last time I went I wasn’t that taken on the group either, but I’m finding I’m getting less and less from group as the weeks go on. To be honest I’m just finding it boring at the moment. Also, my time is very precious to me and it just drags on for so long. I’m out of the house for two-and-a-half hours every week, and it’s just crazy. So I’m going to weigh and go for a while, but when I have the chance I’ll still pop back to my old group. I do like that about Slimming World, that you can go to any group in any part of the country!

This week I lost a very respectable 2 lbs, which I’m very pleased with. Although I’ve been on plan I expected water retention for various reasons. There’s always that little part of you that wanted more though, isn’t there! I needed 3 lbs to get into the 15 stone bracket, but that will just have to wait until next week. I have found it incredibly difficult to stay on plan for the last couple of days, and that’s because my brain is well and truly in holiday mode. I’m not actually on holiday until next week, but I only went into work Tuesday and probably won’t be back until next month. I can’t go into the details as I might get in trouble, so let’s just say there’s a dispute going on. Either way, as soon as I’m off work my brain is thinking HOLIDAY FOOD but I’m keeping it firmly in check! I have been given a fantastic opportunity to get stuff done around the house, and also I have plenty of time to exercise. When I’m off work my typical calorie burn (according to my Fitbit) is about 2700 so I’m going to fight to keep it above 3000 a day for the whole time I’m off.

This afternoon I’m taking my mum to visit one of my numerous aunties but tomorrow I’m walking into town. This does serve another purpose – my sister wants me to see if Primark has a jacket she wants in her size. It’ll be quite odd, size 20 me buying a size 8 jacket, but things like that don’t bother me as much as they used to. In the past I’d be really embarrassed and looking at the teeny little jacket would have made me really miserable. Not now though, I’m feeling too good to be worried about such trivial things! Plus I think my skeleton is probably a size 8, so if something like that ever fit me I think I’d be in quite a bit of bother.

It’s currently 10am and although there’s not much sun I’ve been out in the garden photographing the first poppy of the year. Well, we’ve had some little wild yellow poppies for a while but they’re not quite as interesting!

We also have some cherries growing on our still rather small cherry tree, and if only half of the little buds on the apple tree turn into actual apples, then we are going to have a bumper year this year! Which is an improvement on last year where we had one single, stunted apple right on top of the tree that just sat and rotted up there. Poor show, apple tree.

Right, I’m going to toddle off now and get on with my day before the time starts running away from me!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Gloriousness

Has it or has it not been the most beautiful day of the year so far? At least it has been where I am, so if you have had bad weather then commiserations to you. Yesterday was a work day but I burnt the candle at both ends and went in search of geeselets (goslings, whatever!) with my brother and at the same time I got a load of steps in. It was also part one of a little test to see the average time it takes me to walk a mile, without putting any extra effort in. The verdict was 18 minutes and 30 seconds, which seems quite slow to me but as I say I certainly wasn’t pushing myself and I didn’t get out of breath.

We found the goslings straight away but the parents wouldn’t let us get too near (and of course I forgot to bring any food for them) so we went for a little walk around. My brother suggested we sprint up a hill and I decided to go along with it. In the process I learned something about myself – I have forgotten how to run. You know those dreams you have where you’re trying to run but it feels like you’re in quicksand? That’s what my normal run is like! My brother honestly thought that I was playing around, but I really am that slow. I did have a second and more successful attempt (with him shouting at me to get my knees up) but it’s definitely not my idea of fun! At least now I know that if I encounter a fight or flight scenario then I’d better be ready to throw some punches.

As we were deciding to go home we noticed that the geeselets were having a swim so I stopped to take some video. As luck would have it they came right over to the shore where I was standing so I managed to see the cuteness first hand. Goodness me I wanted to pick one of the fuzzy little lumps up, but I’ve been chased by a goose as a child and I do not want to relive that experience. Especially since we have established that I’m not going to be able to outrun it.

After having a quick nap this morning I got up, fed Pea whilst having a coffee then since it looked so nice out I decided to head into town to mosey around for a bit. I walked of course, there’s no way I’d be taking the car on a day like today! This also constituted phase two of my little experiment and again it took me 18-and-a-half minutes to do a mile. So there’s a good baseline to improve upon anyway. It was so lovely and warm out, but with a nice breeze too, and I broke out my sunglasses for the first time this year.

In town I went to Starbucks with the intention of getting a flat white, but then I saw cold brew iced coffee advertised. I’ve never had a cold brew before so that’s what I had, and since it’s just coffee it must be Syn free! A cold brew is supposed to be smoother than ordinary iced coffee and it certainly seemed that way. I’m pretty sure it’s not just my imagination. Either way it was lovely walking home in the sun sipping on my summery drink! Weirdly though, I’ve only just gotten around to putting the cup in the recycling and three hours later there is still solid ice in there. Um, HOW?

For the rest of the afternoon me and the green one chilled in the garden. I read a chapter of my book while she shouted at a sparrow, so we were both doing things we enjoy!

After all the fresh air and exercise I’m feeling super content but just about ready to drop. So I’ll leave it there for today, I just had to come and tell you how beautiful the simple things in life can be.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Health & Safety

You may or may not know that I work in a warehouse. When you start your training in such a place one of the first things you cover is manual handling. I’m not sure about other sites but at my place the maximum we are allowed to lift is 25kg. For anything heavier we have to find another person to help us. Even with anything up to 25kg there are certain rules we have to follow, like making sure we are in the correct position and assessing the load before attempting to actually lift it. Today I worked out my loss so far in kilograms, and I have already lost more weight than it is safe for me to lift. How frightening is that? My weight loss so far equates to just over 30kg, which I can lift, but not easily and not for long. I was carrying that around with me. Every. Single. Day. And I still have that amount to lose again! It shocked me to think of it like that, but I’m also very much looking forward to finding out how much more of a spring in my step I get once the rest of the excess weight has gone. It’s just mind-boggling…

I’m currently executing a brilliant plan. I buy so many food items on a whim and my fridge, freezer and cupboards are full of random crud that I never get around to using. I have part-used bags of quinoa, macaroni, lentils, couscous, chickpeas, kidney beans… I need to stop buying more things and use up all the stuff that I have. Plus I desperately need to de-ice the little freezer compartment in my fridge that I REALLY WISH WASN’T EVEN THERE! Whoever invented that needs a slap, bloody pointless things. It doesn’t even keep anything frozen!

I begrudge going to my local Asda because you have to pay for parking, so next week as I have to pick up a parcel from town anyway I’m going to walk there and get the Asda-only bits I that I need. Tesco is a bit too far away to do that, but I need to plan better so that I make less trips. Really I only need Quark and frozen fruit from there so that’s not too bad. As for any fresh fruit and veg we have a Lidl round the corner, so I’ll be walking there every couple of days to top up on my greens and whatnot whilst I run down my freezer and cupboard bits. After that I want to keep my food items to a minimum because I’m so sick of all the clutter and sometimes having too much choice hinders me as much as having too little! As for eggs and Quorn products, I’ll bulk buy those from Ocado once a month.

Having said all that, I did fail from the offset. I went to Lidl yesterday with the intention of only buying soy sauce and frozen fruit, but in addition to those things I also bought sour cream, guacamole and mustard mayo. On the plus side they were super cheap and they range between 1-2 syns per 20g portion (that’s absolutely excellent) but let’s face it I didn’t need them so I should have left them on the shelf. As it is I’m refusing to open them and try them until I’ve used the other condiments I have already started on, such as pesto, mustard, garlic mayo, BBQ sauce and hoisin sauce. Well it’s a work in progress!

I’m refusing to do any more shopping whatsoever until Tuesday, so today I’ll be using some freezer bits including frozen stir fry mix (I’m a little afraid of that after my recent frozen veg fails) and I’m going to use up the last of the frozen courgette as although it’s fairly gross I refuse to bin it. I have a butternut squash which is enormous (thank you Ocado) so that will last two days and I’ll be making some sort of concoction to take with me on Monday when me and my brother visit Ivinghoe Beacon. It’s a really bloody big hill, so we’ll be getting there super early and going up and down it a fair few times as training for Snowdon, which we will be climbing at the end of May. We will also attempt a nearby hill which isn’t as high but is very  steep. We were too chicken to try it last time, but we’re a lot fitter and braver since we visited about a year ago. I think this is it, and I assure you the picture doesn’t do it justice! I am also a lot better at photography since the last time we went so I’m looking forward to updating my photo album.

Look how tiny the trees are at the top. It’s the only thing in the picture that gives it any sense of scale. So yeah, I’m very much looking forward to that and I also welcome any excuse for a picnic. Ooh, I think I’ll make some Slimming World-friendly scotch eggs!

My sister sent me a couple of pictures she took from Dover, including one of us together, and one of me and my brother. They are such lovely pictures they brought a tear to my eye, and it was also a lovely feeling that I didn’t think that me being in it ruined the picture.  In this one I can see myself from behind, and I’m almost unrecognisable. It’s very odd to look at a picture of myself and not hate it. Odd, but very nice indeed.

Right then, it’s time to get moving as I’m only halfway to my step goal for today.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Not a Minute Wasted

Blimey I am tired. But it’s the satisfied kind of tired you get from being outdoors and actually doing stuff. Loads of fun stuff!

On Monday I went shopping with my sister as planned, and it was good. My sister is 28 and I am 34, yet Monday was the first time ever that we have been clothes shopping together. She’s such a tiny thing so for one we couldn’t have shopped in many of the same places before, and for another I never really felt we had the same kind of interests relating to clothes and makeup or whatever. But we do now!

First stop was Starbucks as the shops weren’t open when we got there. We went to Westfield in Stratford, London, and I was really surprised that nothing opens until 10am there. Very strange. Anyway a flat white has been on my list of things to try for absolutely ages, and this was finally the day! I checked the Slimming World app before ordering and it’s 6 syns, but then I remembered some people use their A choices and deduct the syns from their fancy coffees. Well I added sweetener so the only syn-able item in my drink was milk. An A choice of whole milk is 6 syns, so that was absolutely perfect! A (technically) syn free fancy Starbucks? Don’t mind if I do. It was very nice – strong enough to blow your head off but smooth enough not to!

Then we headed to John Lewis where I discovered Studio 8 and, at least for now, I have found a brand that I love. I can’t afford to buy anything they sell mind, but that’s a minor technicality. All I need is a fancy occasion to use as an excuse and I’m heading straight back.

This was the one. It fit so perfectly, I can’t even describe how comfortable I felt. It was like it was made for me, but unfortunately the price tag wasn’t. At £140 I sadly had to put it back. Quick, someone invite me to a wedding and it’ll be mine! We tried some bits on in a few other shops and I’m so close to being a size 18 I can taste it. I could get all of the 18’s I tried on, even the fitted styles with zips, but I’m just not quite there yet. I’m patient though, I can wait. Eventually I bought a £13 dress from Primark that is perfect for summer evenings as it’s black but has some fancy details on it, plus it has a really relaxed fit and is very complimentary to my apple shape.

After shopping we headed back to Starbucks but this time I kept it syn free with an iced Americano. We had lunch while we were out and I stayed angelic with a Spudulike. I considered having cheese too but unless I could weigh it I just wasn’t going to risk it. It was actually really tasty so I’m glad I didn’t take the chance.

Time flies when you’re having fun so before I knew it I was on the train home, with 15,000 steps under my belt and a walk from the station the other end waiting for me.

Then on Tuesday I was out and about again, this time checking out the bluebells to see if the light was better this time. It was a bit better, but the bluebells are just really ropy so they didn’t photograph all that well. I’m actually pretty chuffed with myself that I managed to use my photography skillz (note the Z, that means extra skilled I believe) to get a few passable shots.

We found white ones too. What are they? White bluebells? Whitebells? Who can say? After traipsing around the woods for a couple of hours all I wanted to do was lay down, but nope, group was calling! It was taster night so I got my Quorn mini kievs in the oven (half a syn each) got the twigs out of my hair and generally tried to make myself presentable.

The results were pleasing enough – I lost 2.5 lbs which is a thoroughly decent loss, I was just mildly peeved that I still have half a pound of gain to get rid of. On the other hand, I’m trying not to focus on the numbers. I’ve been on plan, I’m staying on plan. If I stick to it, the numbers will take care of themselves. Most importantly I didn’t weigh at home, and I felt so much better for it. I’ll be doing the same again this week in fact, and the week after, and the week after, and blah, blah, blah!

Today was my fourth exercise-filled day on the trot as we had a sibling day out at the White Cliffs of Dover. When we got there we had a brief spell of sunshine before it clouded over and became bloody cold, but it was loads of fun and I got a few nice shots before the light became horribly flat and dull. That wasn’t such a bad thing though, sometimes it’s nice to put the camera away and just enjoy the view. Plus we took all of the most difficult-looking paths so I needed my hands free as there was some clambering at times!

Sadly it’s back to normality tomorrow, but I’m so glad I’ve managed to completely fill my long weekend. I feel like not a minute has been misspent, and I haven’t felt like that for a long, long time. There’s still more time to be used today as I’m going to attempt to stay awake until at least 1am to try and ease myself back into a night-working pattern, but considering it’s not even 7pm and I’m ready to drop we’ll see how that goes!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Super Sunday

Oh it’s been a great day today. I am tired and should be in bed (it’s an early start tomorrow for shopping with my sister) but I kind of need to get this blog out there in order to unwind. I need an empty head before I sleep so what better way than to pour all of my thoughts out onto this page.

I have been so busy today that the only time I’ve thought about food it was either in the context of ‘ooh, I can make a video/blog about that’ or ‘poo, I forgot to eat!’ And that’s the way I like it. Since I came home early from work Saturday night, early in this case meaning I was given a full night’s holiday before the shift even started, I used that time wisely by watching a film (the original Swedish version on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and eating the lunch I had prepared for work. It was all Free/Speed and also lovely. Then I got my customary (during the work week) five hours sleep. Which was enough in this case.

Notable events of the day were as follows:

  • I tried the new flavour of Alpro Go On, which was strawberry and raspberry. It was OK but tasted a wee bit synthetic. Plus it’s 1.5 syns, whereas my favourite blackcurrant flavour is only 1 syn. My nan used to make her own blackcurrant jam so that brings back loads of memories. Not of my nan because I didn’t care much for her, but of slice after slice of jam on toast. Yum!
  • I tried quail eggs for the first (and no doubt last) time. They tasted exactly like chickens eggs. I’m not sure what I was expecting but hey ho, at least they didn’t taste like duck eggs which in my opinion are simply icky.
  • I made THE BEST iced latté. I decided to use 1 litre of unsweetened almond milk as my A choice instead of my usual portion of cheddar cheese. It’s good to mix these things up a bit. Out of the 1 litre carton I had three delicious glasses of Havana Rum flavoured coffee. That’s definitely one for the summer! I used a jar of Little’s flavoured coffee so there’s so much more that can be done with this drink, so many different varieties. I can’t wait to try them ALL!
  • Now for an NSV. I bought the top in the picture to slim into. In March 2016. It took a while but I got there eventually! Plus I’m sticking my middle finger up to people I used to know who said adults shouldn’t wear band t-shirts. What nonsense.
  • Dinner was amazing and I’m finding more and more often that a vegetable is the star of the show in my meals. In this case it was some samphire which I sauteéd in a pan with some garlic. I could have eaten it ten times over, it was utterly delicious.
  • I ended the day on 13.5 syns and I feel fabulous.

The last thing is important so it deserves its own little paragraph. I went to the woods to photograph the bluebells but they haven’t fully flowered yet so despite thinking I was going to be too late, I was actually too early. In addition to that I need to go at sunrise not sunset, because their position on the hill means at sunset they’re in shadow. Or maybe I need to go midday when the sun is directly overhead but filtered out by the trees. I don’t know, I’ll have to experiment! I did get a couple of nice sunset pictures, one of which I definitely like, and the other I’m not sure of. I’ve played around with it and looked at it for too long so I need to step away and look again tomorrow. Here they are anyway:

Hmm. Still not convinced. But either way it was a beautiful evening and I got my steps up to over 18,000. That’s my best day for steps in a few weeks so I’m really happy with that.

Anyway it’s definitely bed time now because in half an hour it’s the start of a brand new week. I hope all of you out there have a fantastic one.

Hayley x

PS I’ll just leave this here…