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

29.9

After 47 weigh-ins today I hit a pretty significant milestone. In a way, anyway. I don’t believe that BMI is that helpful in the big scheme of things, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to be in the healthy range. At my heaviest recorded weight my BMI was 42.3 but today it is 29.9. And do you know what that means? I am no longer classified as obese! As of today I am ‘only’ overweight!

I feel really heavy today, which I did put down to the heat, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on these things and I had a sneaky suspicion it was to do with my hormones. I’ve also been pretty hungry. So I checked my lady-things app and sure as dammit, exactly the same as the last few months, these feelings coincide precisely with my ovulation! This is a really useful tool for me, because when I look in the mirror I actually see myself as fatter than at other times of the month, even when I weigh the same. I can look at a photo and see that I’m not any bigger, but in the mirror it’s a whole different story. If I recognise what’s happening though, it means I can stop myself from panicking.

This week I lost 1.5 lbs, but if I’d had a gain or maintain I would have been able to look at the facts rather than overreacting and burying my face in a tub of ice cream. Just a few months ago, maybe even weeks, I know I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Knowledge is power!

To top it all off, I also got my five-and-a-half stone award, so I’m somewhat over the moon! My goal for next week is to lose a pound, which seems a bit safe but when I lose that pound it will mean I have less than three stone to go until I reach my target. Plus it’s an achievable goal, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself and start thinking too much about the future.

Do you know what, I just can’t help it. My sister took some updated progress pictures for me this weekend, and even though I’ve only just done some, I just can’t stop myself sharing these. So I sincerely apologise for not being able to control myself!

I’m also finding that I’m lot happier having my arms out. I’ll probably write a proper post about this one day in the future, but when I was in my teens/early twenties I self-harmed, and I’ve never really spoken about it properly. I’ve thought about it a lot, and now know why I did it (and why I stopped) but if anyone asks what the scars on my arms are I kind of freak out. But I’m learning not to worry about it so much, and I’m also less concerned about my rather large bingo wings. They look OK when my arms are down, but if I point to something in the distance I look like one of those gliding squirrels! However a friend of mine video called me the other day to show me his homemade forge (it was awesome) and I was wearing a sleeveless top but I found that I didn’t care if he saw my flappy arms! I’m pretty sure he couldn’t give a damn either!

I’m really enjoying my new found body confidence, because I’ve weighed less than I do now in the past but never, ever been as comfortable in my own skin as I am now. Perhaps I’ll be a nudist by the time I’m at target?

I’ll leave you with that rather disturbing thought…

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

Bye Bye Bullies

Since I first changed my hairstyle I’ve noticed a change in the way people at work treat me. I’ve mentioned it here before, but it seems like because I come across as being more confident people think they can be more brutally honest with me. When I walked into work in the past bulging out of my size 26 clothes, people were too polite to say anything. But now they don’t seem to feel the need to filter their thoughts and opinions before forcing them on me.

At first I just sat there and took it because although I’ve shrunk considerably, in my mind I mostly still feel like the old me. Not physically, because there’s no denying I can move around easier and whatnot, but I still see myself as a morbidly obese person. So when someone would say something extremely rude to me, I wouldn’t say anything back. I was frightened that their next move would be to call me fat, and I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone voicing what I was already thinking. Which makes no sense – everyone can see how big I am – but there you go.

Fairly recently one particular man started insulting me, mostly about my hair, and when I called him up on his rude behaviour he’d just say that he was joking. The more I got to know him, the more I realised that he’s just a nasty person. It came to a head when I asked him, very calmly, to ‘stop being a c**t’ (I kept my cool in a way but inside I’d totally lost my temper!) and for a while he stopped. But it was short lived.

Years ago I went to night school to learn how to be more assertive and although I still wouldn’t call myself an assertive person (except when there really is no other option) I learned a lot. One thing was about people who treat you like crap. I asked the tutor what you do if you’ve told the person how you feel and they simply don’t care. She said that you can’t force someone to change, so you have to decide if you want to keep that person in your life or not.

Sadly I can’t just stop seeing this person because we work together, so I made a point of distancing myself from him. And it was working until a couple of days ago when he came up and asked me why I don’t talk to him anymore. So assertive Hayley made a rare appearance and I told him straight – that he is mean. And although other people make fun of me, and I have a laugh with them, that’s not all they do. We have ordinary conversations too, about life and our passions and our struggles. And if they upset me (or vice-versa) I tell them and we work it out. At this point he apologised and I thought we’d made some progress. Then on the way out at the end of shift I heard him telling someone about his plans to bully several other members of staff, because he has decided that they ‘deserve’ it, and that if they ask him to stop he’s not going to until they report him.

If he starts on me again, or I hear him doing it to anyone else, report him I will. And I’ll do it without the fear of any comments about my weight. They may still come, but I have realised that I don’t care anymore if they do. The most important thing is that I surround myself with good people in my life, and don’t give any headspace over to the poisonous people of the world. It feels incredibly good to know that I’m strong enough to do that now!

Anyway on to a different subject, namely FOOD! I have a new obsession and I’ll be honest – I had to have strong words with all of the Polish people I know. I mean, how could they fail to mention that Poland is the capital of the gherkin world? It’s just not on!

Since I started working with Polish people I’ve tried some delicious food, but I don’t eat it now because it’s either meaty or chock full of calories. I tried homemade pierogi that a friend donated to me when her mum visited, which I fried in butter, Fasolka Po Bretonsku (a delicious sausage and bean stew), Krowki (a crumbly fudge that translates as ‘little cows’) confit chicken (the first and only time I’ve had confit anything), and Polish bread, oh how I love Polish bread!

For this reason I normally avoid the Polish food section at Tesco, but this week I decided to have a little look. I’ve noticed recently that gherkins can be inordinately expensive, so when I saw soured gherkins (ogúrki kwazone) and noticed that they were slightly cheaper than our boring old English ones, I knew I had to give them a try.

And oh my, I LOVE THEM! They have the kind of salty, savouriness of olives, but they’re SPEED FOOD! So I had to go back for more.

I shall be eating these until they come out of my ears, they’re just the perfect snack!

My other food obsession right now is fresh cherries. My mum has been poorly and can’t taste anything so I’ve been having the pick of all the perfectly red and juicy cherries every day, just as they ripen. It has been heavenly.

I do have a couple more things to share with you but I just looked at the time, expecting it to be about 5.30pm and thinking I should get a move on. It’s actually 7.15pm and I need to get a shift on!

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

 

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