Chiseled?

A man at work last night asked me how my diet is going. He is trying to eat healthily so we do talk about these things a lot, but last night he confessed that up until the last week or two he could see I’d lost weight on my body but he hadn’t really noticed much of a difference on my face. He said that now he can see the change he can tell me the truth, and that I’m now looking very ‘chiseled’. I had to laugh, firstly because he’s entirely wrong. There has been a huge change in my face, which has been noticeable for at least 6 months. I know this because I have mirrors, photos, and eyes, and also because it’s the first compliment everyone else started giving me. ‘Ooh, you can really see it on your face now!’ Secondly I had to laugh at his choice of words. Chiseled seems quite a masculine word, but do you know what? If this guy (who clearly doesn’t have the best powers of observation) can see that I’m looking a helluva lot different now, then I’ll damn well take the compliment. Backhanded or not!

The last couple of days have just been mildly irritating. I’m generally behind on everything. Blogging doesn’t really help, it’s not an essential task, but because I like doing it I’m saying to hell with it and doing it anyway. Work has been crazy busy, but because I’m one of the faster workers I’ve been put on a job just putting pallets away into storage. I must have moved thousands of Christmas trees this week alone! This means that I’ve barely been getting off the truck each night and my calorie burn is really suffering for it. It also means that with it being colder anyway, I also have to contend with wind chill factor. I had to finally relent and break out my big winter thermal hi-viz jacket. I have to wonder though- if I’m this cold now, what am I going to be like when the temperature gets into minus figures? It doesn’t bare thinking about.

I do work hard, but it’s not the kind of job that takes up a lot of mental capacity so my mind is free to wander. I was thinking last night – we sell a crazy amount of artificial Christmas trees, but who is buying them? Our family always keep a tree until it completely disintegrates, but are there families out there who get a new one every year? Are there that many people from a new generation reaching adulthood who are moving into their own place and getting their first Christmas tree? Are there people who have one in every room? It boggles my mind to think that along with the amount my employer sells, there’s also all of the other companies that sell them, and there are the people who buy real Christmas trees, too. It makes my brain hurt. As you can see it’s no wonder I start thinking about Christmas so early. It’s just one of the many joys of working in retail.

In other news I dropped my glasses on the floor and they are now completely buggered. I was somewhat clever when I bought my last pair and got my prescription sunglasses in the same frame, so that if I have any bother I can swap the lenses over. But I broke them not long before work and I couldn’t undo the damn screws, so I had to wear an old pair that I thankfully came across the other day. I’m also lucky in the fact that the prescription is only marginally different to the one I have now so I can still see well enough to do my job safely. When I found them I took a picture of myself and compared it to my go-to awful ‘before’ picture.

I hate the style of them now, probably because I’ve had them for donkey’s years. In fact in the first photo I’d dug them out to see me over until I could replace the most recent pair of glasses that I’d bought. If I remember rightly I sat on that pair… What I am pleased about is the difference in my face, and despite not liking them I think they look a lot better on me now!

Today I had a delivery from The Ethical Superstore. I bought some exciting Slimming World-friendly vegan treats- fake mayo that’s 3 syns per tbsp, sausage and burger mix, mock duck, and best of all… tins of sausages and beans! I’ve already tried the sausages and beans and they taste just like the ones I remember having as a kid. They’re 6.5 syns a tin but well worth it I’d say, especially since I don’t tend to spend syns on snacking these days so tend to have a fair few left over daily. The mock duck is free, and probably the one I’m most wary of even though I hear good things from other vegans. Finally the sausage and burger mixes are only a few syns each per packet, but I hear on the grapevine that they’re being discontinued so even if I love them I probably won’t get them again. I like trying new things though.

Well I suppose I really should get on now. I have some chores to do but they will be made easier with the power of music. It’s been ages since I last properly listened to anything, so I bought both of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks. Because as the title suggests they really are awesome! I will dance around the house like a loon and see if I can bump that calorie burn up a little.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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Harvest

Pea is growing new feathers again which means that she is grumpy. This usually manifests itself by her shouting at me all day to be let out of her cage then resolutely refusing to come out – her ideal scenario is that I am awake but leaving her alone while she sits on her perch with the cage doors open. I’m fairly certain I could go to sleep and she’d be absolutely fine, but there’s always the chance she’ll go exploring without me and chew through an electrical cable or something else equally as deadly. So it’s not worth the risk. When she’s like this, which thankfully isn’t too often, I don’t tend to get much sleep during the day. Yesterday I slept in until the very last minute then very lazily drove to the Lidl’s around the corner because the only speed foods I had left in the house were lemons and limes.

I went in for mushrooms and courgettes but I came out with neither. I completely forgot about those before I even stepped into the shop because outside my eye was caught by some beautiful autumn heather. It was only £1.79 so I thought why the hell not!

I’ve got to say that Lidl is totally on it when it comes to the autumn produce. I’ve already been getting excited about fig season because I love them and the season is oh so short. Lidl provided, and I had my first figs of the year.

I’ve also been keeping my eye out for seasonal squashes. Again Lidl did not disappoint! I picked out all of the prettiest ones, and although it’s almost a shame to eat them it’s an even bigger shame not to. On top of that I got some beetroot, which I’ve never, ever cooked for myself (I’ll be having a go later), ‘Unicorn Carrots’, which are baby carrots and parsnips in various colours, and I got the very last packet of buttonhole kale. Just look at all the colours!

I ate the carrots with dinner yesterday – I just roasted them in Frylight and a little bit of garlic salt – and they were heavenly. As was the kale, it’s the prettiest-looking veg in the pan.

Today has been another day of not quite enough sleep, as I spent the morning driving my friend around after he scrapped a car. I was glad to help thought because it’s the same car/people-carrier-type thing that he loaned me to help my sister move. Thankfully the engine didn’t choose to fall apart until long after the job was done. My friend is obsessed with anything that has an engine and has another two cars left, plus a motorbike, so I think he’ll be OK getting around for the time being.

Last night at work marked a sign of things to come. I ordered some cheap thermals to keep me going until the work allowance comes through and last night I had to wear them for the first time. It’s all downhill from now on! All in all I’m feeling really happy about it though, because in the past I’ve bought all of my own cold weather gear due to being too ashamed for my manager to know my size. This year though the large I bought for myself fits comfortably so when it comes to ordering from work I’ll be getting medium tops and large bottoms. MEDIUM! REALLY! That’s something of a far cry from the XXL’s I was wearing last year that fit me like a second skin!

As anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows I’ve spent the last few months struggling to get into the rhythm of things, but as bad as I felt over that period of time, that’s as good as I feel now. I’m sure it’s because for the first time in my life I had a bad spell and instead of letting it consume me I worked through it and carried on. If I can do that after all these years of failing, then I think I can do just about anything.

Hayley x

Thoughts & Excuses

First things first. My week 60 (yes, 60!) weigh day results are in and I have lost a very respectable 2.5lbs. This puts my current weight at 15st 0.5lbs so there’s just one teeny insignificant pound to go until I can see those 14’s! In recent months as soon as I’ve got close to a new stone bracket then self-sabotage has set in and I’ve had a massive gain.

Not this time though.

I’m still 100% focused. I still have two chocolate bars in the fridge that are untouched and I’ve even added a tub of the new vegan friendly Ben & Jerry’s that has just been released. This may seem very dangerous, and in the wrong hands it is, but never fear because I’m totally in control. I did save up the syns over the week for one of the chocolate bars, but then I found that I didn’t want it. So in the fridge it stayed.

I’ve noticed a real change in my attitude towards food since I’ve been back on plan, and it’s also made me think hard about things that I always assumed to be true.

When I was in junior school we went on a bus that had been converted to be an educational space about health. The man there gave a talk and although I can’t remember much else about it, the thing that sticks in my mind was him saying that quite often when we have a headache it can be because we are hungry. Well I clung on to that ‘fact’ like a lifebuoy and never let go! How many times in the last 20+ years have I assumed I had a hunger headache? How many of those times have I loaded up with sugary foods and probably made my headache worse? Too many to count I’d guess. In fact I used to suffer from daily headaches but now I think of it I’ve probably had about 4 in the last year. Even then they were most likely hormone-induced. I have no doubt that the decrease in frequency is directly related to my weight loss.

Another thing I remember hearing about, more recently this time, is that the brains in people who are overweight may not know when their stomachs are full. Again I just assumed it to be true and used it as an excuse for eating really excessive amounts of food, even when I’ve been dieting. It may well be true, but it isn’t necessarily true for everyone. It might have even been true for me, once, but I know that certainly isn’t the case now.

In the last two weeks I’ve half-consciously been modifying my meals. I’ve reduced the amount of chips or wedges I have with any given meal and upped the less energy dense foods. On top of that my overall portions have been smaller and have even fit on one plate! This is unheard of for me. I haven’t noticed that I’ve been any more or less hungry than usual, but last night I cooked way too much food by accident yet piled it all on the plate anyway.

Half way through, and I’m talking literally as I’d eaten half of the food, I noticed that I didn’t want any more so I stopped eating. It wasn’t the kind of meal that would keep well and I knew I wouldn’t want it later, so although I hate wasting food I threw it away there and then rather than putting it in the fridge for a couple of days and throwing it away later. It seems that my stomach and my brain are perfectly in sync after all, and if I’m honest in the past I’ve known full well when it’s time to stop eating and have simply ignored the signals and carried on until I feel sick. It’s hard to admit to at the time though.

The other thing that often weighs heavily on my mind is that (apparently) after dieting only 5% of people keep the weight off. In the past I’d use that as excuse when the pounds started piling back on (I’m sure you can sense a theme here, I have a whole plethora of excuses!) I’d tell myself that it was inevitable, that it wasn’t my fault. I don’t doubt that there are biological functions that make it hard (OK, really damn hard) to keep the weight off. But it’s not impossible and regaining the weight is not inevitable. The more knowledge we arm ourselves with when it comes to things like this the better, because it means we know what to expect, and more importantly how to fight it.

At the beginning of this journey I was saying to myself ‘I’m going to be part of that 5%’. Now I’m saying to myself, ‘I’m going to be part of the awesome group of people who make that 5% go up to 10%, and beyond’. Because now I truly believe that we can all achieve our goals despite everything that’s against us.

On a lighter note (no pun intended) the fabulous people at Quorn have been working on expanding their vegan range and I’ve managed to get my grubby little mits on vegan burgers and BBQ strips. The strips have just been added to Syns Online and they’re free, but the burgers aren’t on there yet so I’ve sent pictures of the packaging off to Slimming World. I’ve also sent pictures of the Ben & Jerry’s, so that I can eat it as part of the Slimming World plan as and when I feel like it.

Linda McCartney are also bringing out a load of new stuff for autumn/winter and although I couldn’t get my hands on a delicious-sounding roast, I did manage to pick up vegetarian beef, mushroom and spinach bites. How nice do they sound? Linda McCartney already do a fairly large sausage roll and despite the pastry it’s a very reasonable 7.5 syns (and it’s delicious dipped in Tesco Free From salad cream, too) so I think these bites will be reasonably synned. I’ve sent pictures of the packaging of these, too, so we will soon find out!

Finally, although it has taken weeks of looking I’ve found Oatly Barista, which counts as an A choice and is meant to be really good in coffee. The thought of a black coffee still makes me feel a bit iffy at the moment, but I could really go for a latté right now and Oatly Barista is meant to be the best plant-based milk when it comes to hot drinks. I’m looking forward to giving it a go, and if you’re really into fancy coffees the label says it’s foamable too!

Right now I’m off to rub myself with Ibuprofen gel as my neck is still playing up. The good thing about that though is that I get to marvel at how I can feel my shoulder blades and every little vertebrae in my spine. It’s just amazing!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Quickly, Quickly!

Even with the most boring of posts I often spend an inordinate amount of time writing them. But I don’t have time today, so I’m not going to agonise over every sentence (and still not be happy with it) I’m just going to get my thoughts down on the page. And after that? Bed time!

Work was worse than I thought it was going to be, because I completely forgot that my favourite work buddy has gone on holiday for three weeks. How could he do this to me?! On the plus side it means I don’t have to stress about reaching my performance target. When he’s in the temptation to natter is almost too much for us both. The last time I saw him I was literally in tears over some silly joke he made and I can’t even remember what it was now.

After my shift I wanted nothing more than to get into my nice warm snuggly bed, but I knew I was running out of nut milk to use as my Healthy Extra and that I had also eaten the last of my tomatoes. I HAVE to have tomatoes in the house, it’s the law. I also managed to get some sriracha mayo which popped up in Aldi some months ago. The vegan Slimming World community was going nuts for it because as you may have guessed it’s vegan friendly, but also it’s only 2 syns per tablespoon. I think normally mayo is at least 4 syns and probably more. Well I couldn’t find it in Aldi for love nor money but Tesco’s have just started stocking it. Woo! I’m ridiculously happy about this.

After my fruitful shopping trip I got into bed, but do you think I could sleep? Nope. Eventually I had two separate two-hour sessions of very broken sleep which is obviously not enough! And I couldn’t find my fancy eye mask either, which makes sleeping in the daytime that much harder. Hopefully Mr Postman will deliver my replacement by tomorrow, at which point the original one will no doubt turn up. Ho hum, at least I’ll have a spare.

I spent the afternoon spending quality time with Pea. We both have to get back into our routine, her especially, as she seems really confused that we aren’t spending as much time together now I’m back at work. It won’t be long before she adjusts though, clever thing that she is.

Speaking of routines I’ve decided to switch mine up a bit so that I have a sleep just before work. I find it really hard because on the one hand I like chilling out before I go in, but on the other hand it’s just too long a time between me waking up and actually getting to work. By the time I get there I’m ready for bed. So this week is not only about achieving goals but is also about being doing the sensible thing.

As such I’ve already prepared tonight’s work lunch and tomorrow’s too, had an early dinner, and prepared a low-syn snack to eat just before I go to work. That way there’s not a huge gap between my work lunch and the last time I ate. If I’m too hungry that affects my energy levels and concentration at work, so I have to be careful. If I actually stick to it, then this routine could be one I’ve been looking for. We shall see.

Because I am so pumped about being back on plan and am feeling so determined right now, I did something that could be disastrous. But it won’t be. I had an email telling me that a website I subscribe to has new vegan halloumi in stock, and I just HAVE to try it. It’s been around for about a month now but as soon as I try to buy it it’s sold out. So I clicked the link, and it hadn’t sold out at that point! But (and I’m proud of this) before I completed my order I checked the syn values. A quarter of the block is a very reasonable 6.5 syns, so I can try it and still have absolutely no reason to fall off the wagon. It’s dangerous, but I can handle it. Perhaps I won’t even like it. Either way I’ll find out tomorrow, because there is only one option for next day refrigerated delivery for, wait for it, £7.99 (shock, horror!) In my defence the only other option is travelling to London to get some and in all likelihood they’d be sold out and I’d come home empty handed anyway. There we go, I have justified the purchase to myself!

Right, now I have half an hour left to relax enough to get off to sleep. I can potentially get another two hours (that’s the plan, anyway). Here’s hoping!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Races and Light Shows

A while ago Fitbit added a feature to their app where you can virtually walk along famous trails and races. When you get to each checkpoint you get to see a photo of what the view is like. It’s pretty cool, and fun to see how long it takes you to complete, but they’ve recently updated it so that you can race with people. Now that is cool. I’m currently in two races in Yosemite National Park – I was in the lead in both but I’m trailing behind so I need to get my butt into gear.

By the way I now have some serious hiking aspirations after seeing some of those views. The only thing that the puts me off is the sheer scale of the place (my mum was freaking out over the prospect of me falling down Snowdon, imagine how far away from help you’d be in this national park…) and the fact that there are other things that want to kill you, i.e. bears and stuff. But if I ever get around to doing it, it’ll be years from now and hopefully I’ll give less of a damn about what could go wrong. And I’d have a proper guide too, I’m not that mad!

The reason I’ve lagged so far behind in the races is that I spent the morning cooking, then I had lunch, spent some time with Pea, then I needed a nap. I’ve had a nap every day this week I think, but I’m allowing myself that because it will help me get back into a night shift pattern. That’s my excuse anyway!

Today I made an absolutely delicious mushroom orzotto (a risotto using orzo instead of rice) inspired by a recipe a nice lady posted in a vegan group on Facebook. I made a mountain of it too. I used a packet of frozen mushrooms, a punnet of fresh forestiere mushrooms (a fancy variety from Tesco) a grated courgette, a grated carrot, garlic, a mushroom stock cube and half a pack of orzo. You could say it’s fairly mushroomy. It’s so simple but really rich in flavour – in fact it’s so simple that I won’t write out a recipe. It’s just one of those bung-it-all-in-a-saucepan-and-job-done meals.

I had a very small portion as a pre-lunch snack. I’m out tomorrow with my brother on one of our adventures so I’m saving the rest for lunch on the go. As it happens I’m also starting to collect odds and ends to make my own vegetable stock. It seems that every variety of stock cube I buy is just more salty than having any particular flavour, so after seeing a short video about how to cut down on food waste I thought I’d give it a go. All of your veggie odds and ends get added to a ziplock freezer bag until it’s full, then you make the stock. What you don’t use you can freeze in ice cube trays, then you start again. Perfect!

After I’d finished my orzotto there was a first for me – I finally got around to trying jackfruit. You buy it in a tin, and I was a bit freaked out by the look of it at first. Veggies and vegans use it as a meat substitute, especially for things like pulled pork, and it’s eerily meaty to touch.

Not to be deterred I smothered it in jerk seasoning and lime juice while I prepared my chips and salad.

It looks much more appetising now! I cooked it in a frying pan (with Fry Light) for about twenty minutes, which I’m not sure is right but it didn’t kill me so I’m assuming it’s OK. Because I wanted to keep it low-syn I tried using just the jerk seasoning but it definitely needed something else, so I added two tablespoons of BBQ sauce for two syns. The jackfruit itself was two-and-a-half syns so my meal worked out less syns than a packet of Linda McCartney pulled chicken, but was probably more expensive in the long run. I don’t remember how much the jackfruit was but I bought it from Amazon. Individual items like that are not normally very cheap at all.

Last night I was treated to a very rare light show. Normally when there’s a storm I’m at work and miss the whole thing, but last night I was home and awake. So I used the slo-mo feature on my phone to see if I could capture anything. I got a couple of strikes before it died down again.

Another reason I was pleased to be home is that Pea was frightened. She’s not bothered by thunder or lightning, but when it started to hail so pooped her little green pants. Parrotlets don’t have very good night vision, so if she panics she’ll just flail around the cage and possibly hurt herself. So I put the light on and calmed her down a bit. Poor little bird!

Anyway here’s a little video of some slo-mo lightning:

You’ve got to love modern technology!

Right then, I’d better get moving (story of my life…)

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Hello Autumn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Hayley x

Back in Control

Ok, something really strange is going on. The other day I ran out of my favourite Lidl ground coffee, and since I was in Tesco anyway I decided to try one of their French varieties. I didn’t like it at all, in fact it made me feel a little bit sick so unfortunately it ended up in the bin. After that I was out walking a lot so mostly just stuck to water, but yesterday I stocked up on the Lidl coffee again but after drinking it I still felt sick. I didn’t think anything of it, but since I had to pop into town anyway to get a last minute birthday present for my dad I thought I’d get a cold brew from Starbucks while I was there. I enjoyed it as I was drinking it, but I felt sick as a dog afterwards.

Yesterday I sort of spent the whole day on plan. Whilst I was waiting in the Starbucks queue I spotted a really yummy sounding salad, which also happened to be suitable for vegans. My turn to be served was coming up, so I just grabbed it without checking the Syns first. As my drink was being prepared I justified the purchase to myself – For one, it was absolutely jam packed with healthy ingredients such as several different grains, pumpkin seeds, sugar snap peas (oh my they were so, so sweet!) butternut squash, chargrilled broccoli, peppers and more. Also it was only 300 kcals, so whatever the Syns it couldn’t be that bad for me. Finally, because it was specifically labelled as vegan I felt it was my duty to buy it so that Starbucks know there is demand for such things and carry on stocking them. I am pretty damn good at talking myself into eating things!

I took my wares to the park to eat, but before I opened it I realised it didn’t come with a fork, so I just finished my coffee and then went home. I was feeling very sick indeed by the time I got in, but I’d only had a cereal bar for breakfast and it was almost 3pm, so I just put it down to hunger. I ate my salad and oh my gosh I swear to you it was hands down the most delicious salad I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Unfortunately it’s a new product so it’s not on Syns Online yet, but I emailed photos of the packaging to Slimming World and popped it through the Syns calculator. Using rice, which is the first ingredient listed, as the free food allowance part, it comes up as 7.5 Syns. With no free food allowance, it’s 15 syns. Since there were so many free and speed foods in there anyway, there’s no way it can be the full 15 syns, so I counted it as 10 and only had one other Syn that day which I used on nutritional yeast. So even though I couldn’t be 100% certain on the Syns, I still made really healthy choices and enjoyed my food.

I felt better immediately after eating, but I’ve felt queasy ever since. I can’t stand the thought of having a coffee, which really isn’t helpful when I’m trying to be ‘good’. Until now I’ve used coffee as something to occupy myself when I’m feeling like I want to eat out of boredom or tiredness, but I just can’t do that right now. I walked to Lidl this afternoon and got myself some peppermint tea as a replacement that might also settle my stomach, but so far it hasn’t helped. I did have a cup of hot water with Marmite, which might seem like the devil’s creation to some people, but I really enjoyed it! It also contained 100% of my recommended daily allowance of B12, and I checked that B12 can withstand high temperatures before I made it. I definitely intend to make sure that eating for health and happiness is right up on my list of priorities along with taste, enjoyment, and Slimming World suitability. This evening I’m having half an avocado with my dinner, and I’m going to add more nuts and seeds to my diet too.

Where food is concerned I’m feeling certain that I have everything well and truly back under control for the time being. I also have good news where exercise is concerned! My goal for last week was to do an average of 20,000 steps per day. Monday to Wednesday were excellent and I was ahead of schedule, but Thursday was dreadful with only 6,461. Friday wasn’t much better (11,010) and I thought about giving up, but on Saturday I absolutely smashed it with 36,571. That left me with just under 19,000 to do on Sunday, and although I was feeling iffy and the last 1,000 was done pacing around the living room, I still did it.

That’s a weekly record for me, and I’m happy to report that although I found it boring at times because I didn’t exactly choose exciting places to go, my body held up to it quite well. I didn’t get any blisters thanks to my lovely comfortable trainers, and I only got some minor aches in the small of my back. I remember when I first got my Fitbit, trying to do 10,000 steps a day used to absolutely kill my hips. My body is being a bit weird lately, but it didn’t let me down in this respect. I also found out today that my iron levels are completely normal, so that’s another bonus right there!

Whenever I’ve been really big (i.e. most of my life) I’ve avoided going out in summer. Or ever really, so I never really got much daylight. Now I’m out and about more for my excursions I’ve found that suncream makes my face itch, and being a ginger not wearing any isn’t an option. So I’ve gone miles out of my comfort zone and bought myself two hats in the New Look sale. One was £3, the other £3.50, and although I don’t think they particularly suit me I am not ashamed to wear them in public and they will prevent me looking like a tomato!

It’s a shame the sun has disappeared for now, which is probably my fault for buying hats. Sorry!

It is almost time for dinner now and I can hear that avocado half calling me from here. Thank you for reading my ramblings!

Hayley x

Not Quite Forgotten

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway!

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Cooking

It’s been absolutely ages since I went out of my way to create something from scratch. Although I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, yesterday I actually made something from the packet of black turtle beans that I bought several months ago.

I’ve been seeing recipes for black bean burgers online for a while and they all look delicious, but they either contain synful binding agents or synful breadcrumbs, so I decided to create my own recipe and see how they hold up.

I cooked the beans in boiling water for an hour and ten minutes (they didn’t need soaking), prepared some quinoa, then I added sweetcorn, red onion, smoked paprika, garlic, chilli flakes and a generous splash of Henderson’s Relish. I decided to do away with any binding agent at all, even though I have egg replacer in the cupboard, just to see what would happen.

I mixed it all together and shaped them, and they were looking pretty good at this point, then I popped them into the fridge until it was time for dinner. They stayed in there for about an hour and a half in total.

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When it came to cooking them I fried them in a little fry light, and when turning them over they stayed together quite well but I could tell I’d have problems later.

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By the time I got them onto the plate they were falling apart, and as soon as I stuck a fork in them they just crumbled. If I was eating them in a burger bun I think they would have been absolutely fine, but just having them on the plate they definitely need something to hold them together. I’m still on the search for something syn free, so next time I might add sweet potato mash and see if that helps at all. I’ll keep trying though, because I only used a third of the pack of beans and that made 12 burgers, so I popped the rest into the freezer to have another time. The whole pack of beans was only £1.10, so it’s definitely a cheap dinner to have in my repertoire (if I can perfect the recipe that is!)

With some extra beans I had left over I also made some black bean and lime dip which was based on this recipe here, but I left out the olive oil to keep it free. I ate that today with a whole cucumber and it was lovely.

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The experimenting with new recipes has been fun, and I definitely want to do it more!

This week I only have two more nights left at work, and due to industrial action it’s quite possible that I’ll be off for the next three weeks. I have to be really careful during this period, as the last time I wasn’t at work I put on 11 lbs. I simply cannot view this as a food holiday.

As such I’m going to be going to bed early, getting up early and getting my butt out walking every single day, no matter what the weather. On Tuesday I’m walking to the hospital for my blood test, then Wednesday I’ll go to the local park (despite someone getting stabbed there the other day) and on Thursday I’m going to walk to a nearby high street. Because the area I live in is not so nice, it’s hard to go out walking just to see the sights – there aren’t many sights to be had. So I’m trying to go places where I have a proper destination in mind. Even if (in this case at least) it’s just to visit my nearest Oxfam! I’m also going to try to find the good/interesting in even the crappiest of places.

As if that wasn’t enough I’m also on a mission to save money as I’m absolutely determined not to go into my overdraft this month. Frugality is key! So I’m on the lookout for some excellent bargains. I think I might go to Debenhams and try on expensive dresses too!

I have a few ideas to be getting on with, and perhaps from time to time I’ll drive somewhere further afield. The only constraint I have is not wanting to leave Pea alone for too long, but she’s going to be spending more quality time with me anyway so every now and then won’t hurt.

The last time I was due to be off work I was already starting to feel inexplicably down in the leadup to it, but now although I don’t exactly feel ecstatic I have solid plans and I know I’m going to make the most of it. The fact that the industrial action could be called off at any point is also a huge motivator – I have to make the most of it in case I get sent back to work at short notice.

Speaking of work I suppose I’d better start getting prepared for my penultimate shift. Boo!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

Full of Beans

Today I am full of beans! I’m full of actual beans (pulses and legumes, too), coffee beans, and just the general beans of life!

Last night work was… OK. And that’s weird, because normally it just isn’t. The shift started off with us being given little tokens with our names on, to be put into one of two boxes. One for yes and one for no. And the question? Do we want on on-site gym. Of course I’d be voting yes anyway, because it’s a great idea, and in all the time I’ve worked there it’s the most positive and health-conscious suggestion that’s ever been put forward. But did I think I’d actually go to the work gym and exercise in front of my colleagues? Well, no. But I have a most excellent work friend who I think the world of, and we both confessed that we’d be too self-conscious. And that’s what’s great about friends, and being open and honest. Good things can come of it, because as we both feel the same way, we agreed that we would go together.

Then at 34 years old I did my first ever ‘pinky swear’, upon his insistence. When I was a young lass we didn’t have pinky swears (as far as I know) which I think must have come from our American cousins. But my friend is a mere whippersnapper at 23-years-old and has been exposed to much more Americanisms in his youth than I have. It is therefore a done deal, and if the gym does actually get built (I think it will because one of the top managers is really driving it forward) then I will from that point forward be a gym person with my very own gym buddy. I’m kind of excited, and also terrified, because there’s a chap at work who I think is simply a beautiful human being (and I’m not just talking physical attributes here, although he is a very unconventionally attractive person), and if he goes I will be mortified. But I won’t let it stop me, because even if I thought he would be vaguely interested in me I know he isn’t the right chap. Not that I even have to consider that eventuality! I’m actually grateful for that – I just want a simple life.

A couple of hours into my shift my manager sent a message asking for volunteers to go to another department, so I thought what the hell, let’s just do it. When I first started working there I was on said department permanently, and since there is an area with small, light items to be picked that’s where I went. I call it the girls’ area. The men were consigned to the area containing weights and flat pack furniture. But last night I ended up in the man area, which was probably an error on the manager’s part, but I decided to stick with it and see how I did. And it was an absolute breeze! I wouldn’t want to be doing it every day but I had no trouble with the heavy lifting at all! The last time I picked I probably spent about 40% of the shift in that area and then I had to ask to be moved because it was just too much. That was a few months ago, and I’m happy to find that I’m so much fitter and stronger than I was back then.

We also have to wear a pack around our waists that communicates with the servers and tells us where to go and what to do. For the last 8 years I have felt anxious every time I’m given a pack as I don’t know whether I can get one that will go around me. Some selfish people adjust it to their waists and cut off the excess. But I realised in the last year I haven’t had to do that. I can just pick up any pack and not have the humiliation of having to ask to change it if it doesn’t fit. Because they all do! In the eventuality I get one that doesn’t fit, I know it’s because a super slim person has had it before me, not because there’s anything wrong with me personally. That’s a liberating feeling.

Steps-wise being on a more physical department hasn’t had much of an impact, I’ve maybe done a couple of hundred more, but I think it will definitely have an impact on my calorie burn. I will know for sure after midnight.

When I woke up this afternoon I got out in the garden, with a bath towel over my camera, to take another picture of the giant thistle which is open even more today. I think the relentless rain is doing it the world of good, but I do miss the sunshine already. If the rain actually stops at any point I’ll be out there again taking macro shots of raindrops, but it’s not looking all that likely. I just didn’t have time to get a decent raindrop shot before I became soaked through. There’s always hope though!

Finally I will tell you about yesterday’s dinner and my attempt at a tofu bechamel sauce. It was a DISASTER. It was so bad that (you may want to sit down for this) I couldn’t finish my dinner. The actual main part of the dish though, the ragu with aubergine, fresh on-the-vine-tomatoes, soya mince, onions, and my new love – Henderson’s Relish – was absolutely delicious. Next time I will just syn some vegan cheese substitute to go on top or (and this could well turn out just as disastrous as the tofu) I’m thinking something with blended cauliflower? Hmm, this needs more thought and experimentation…

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Hayley x