London

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_2190

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

151017_2291

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

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

IMG_2192

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Advertisements

A Pleasant Surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just gorgeous.

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

One For The Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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

Indulgences and Inner Voices

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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

Hatfield Forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

An Incontinence of Yellowlegs

After getting a healthy dose of inspiration from my favourite blogger, this week I have decided to do 20,000 steps per day. This is only feasible because I’m not at work, and it’s good I’m actually sticking to it because it may negate a fraction of the extra calories I’ve consumed. But I’ll get back to that later.

Monday I got up bright and early and took a stroll into town via the nearest (normally a bit dodgy) park. As all of the schools are now on holiday there were more people about and I felt a little bit safer, so that was nice. I saw not one but two grey herons, but they flew off before I got a chance to photograph them.

I did a couple of laps of the lake, apologised to the geese for not feeding them, then hit the shops. I decided to explore the places in town where I don’t normally go, and I discovered that we have two St Luke’s Hospice charity shops. One is tiny and absolutely crammed to the brim with stuff, and the other is huge with not much in it. I think someone’s missing a trick there! I nearly bought a doll’s house for a fiver until I realised that I am a grown up and also that I’d have to carry it around with me.

I went in all the other charity shops and nothing really grabbed me but I did discover that the best items appear to be donated to the British Heart Foundation. There was a lovely dress in there that would have fit me, but it was too nice and I wouldn’t have had any occasion to wear it. I’ll be keeping my beady eye on that shop though.

I didn’t leave town empty handed – I found that there is a fruit and veg stall – and the man sold me okra (the supermarkets never have any) and four delicious nectarines (which are fast becoming my favourite fruit). I also bought two tops from H&M, which is a massive deal for me because I’ve never been able to fit in anything from H&M! Their sizes are infamously all over the shop, but I’m pleased with that all the same!

On the way home I stopped to drink my traditional cold brew, the geese had the last of my bag of porridge oats, and I took a couple of  snaps to show just how many geese there actually are. These photos were taken seconds apart – it’s not the same geese in both shots, there really are that many geese.

Yesterday was not so exciting. I walked to the hospital for my blood test appointment, and I’m glad I went to the doctors now because something is definitely not right. My food cravings have come back with a vengeance and I’m ashamed to say I have given into them. It seems to me there’s more to it than a lack of willpower. I feel… kind of empty. Even with my family I feel like I’m going through the motions, saying the right things, smiling when it’s appropriate, but I’m not feeling much at all deep down. If it were up to me I’d like to be completely alone and in complete silence. When I wake up in the morning, even after a decent sleep, I’m tired again after an hour. So yeah, something’s up, I’m sure it’s psychological, and I’m frightened. Because this isn’t me. I have down days like everyone else but the bit where I come out of the other side doesn’t seem to be happening, and I don’t really know what to do. I should have sought advice yesterday, but my thoughts only really came together today. Even then they’re not very coherent! I don’t know… I think that I need to keep plodding on then one day out of the blue I’ll wake up feeling awesome again! It’s just keeping those damn cravings at bay in the meantime that is the hardest part.

My plans for today were to get up early and go to Aldi and Farmfoods because they get absurdly busy and there’s no way I’m setting foot in either of them after 9am. But after 8 hours sleep I was still tired so I went back to bed for another two. After me and Pea had breakfasted together instead of doing some boring old shopping I walked to the nature reserve, getting 18,000 steps while I was at it.

As I arrived I saw a group of swifts, so I sat down on a bench to find out what the collective noun for them is. Then I got a little sidetracked, because the whole deal of collective nouns for birds is insane! Some species have several, and some have a different noun depending on what they are doing. If geese are on land they’re a gaggle, in flight they are a skein, and flying in a ‘v’ they are a chevron of geese. If a ducks are on land they are a safe of ducks, on water a paddling or a raft, when diving they are a dopping, or when in flight they are a plump! How could anyone possibly remember all that? My favourite has to be the title of this post though – an incontinence of yellowlegs. Who even thinks these up I ask you? I nearly forgot about the swifts again. Their collective noun is a box, a drift, a screaming frenzy (???) or a swoop. I think I prefer swoop personally.

Apart from swifts and crows there wasn’t much bird life about, but I need see two randy horses, an inquisitive pig, and plenty of mushrooms. I have a guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools, and so far I don’t think I’ve been able to successfully identify a single species.

There was more to this post, but WordPress kindly deleted it somehow so goodness knows what I wrote. I don’t think I could have had a huge amount left to say, apart from the fact that I hopefully have a friend visiting later and I’m out visiting my sister tomorrow (as well as somehow getting my steps in too). The gist of it was that I will just keep on swimming. I’ll get there in the end!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

PS – Oh, there was something important! And I wrote a huge paragraph about it. The fungus that looks like something that’s burnt? Well I’d just love to know what that is but so far my book and the internet has failed me. At first I wasn’t even sure it was a fungus, but as I looked closer I could see it had pores and was definitely a living thing. Curiosity got the better of me and I carefully used a twig to have a peek underneath. The smell of rotten fish was almost overpowering, it was all gooey, there were maggots in there, and something bright, bright yellow. It was really weird! Hopefully one day I’ll come across something and figure out what it is. Until then… it’s a mystery…

The Wagon

I haven’t just fallen off the wagon this week, the damn thing stopped and reversed over me just to make doubly sure it got me!

It’s coming up to my one year anniversary as a Slimming World member and I’ve struggled this week more than I have in a long time. I say struggled, what I really mean is I practically gave up. I’ve had this week booked off work for months and I couldn’t wait, but when the day actually came my mood changed and it hit me like an absolute ton of bricks. I’m fairly certain it’s hormonal so rather than just try to get through it as best I can I have sought help. The first available doctors appointment I could get was for the 8th of August, by which time I’ll probably be feeling better, but I need to see someone anyway or this is just going to keep happening. I’ve been meaning to try an implant or injection to regulate my hormones for ages, but the annoying thing is it could increase my appetite. But if I still stick to plan it doesn’t matter if I eat more, as long as I’m eating the right stuff. I have to just bite the bullet and give it a try, because right now I’m finding it nigh on impossible to stay in control of my moods/cravings and my sense of perspective (and enthusiasm for just about anything) has up and left me. It took me four days just to get dressed and leave the house, and if it wasn’t for my little Pea then I doubt I would have got out of bed unless it was to get food.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Although I’m finding it hard to really feel it deep down in my bones I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’ve felt this way before and I can still feel it’s different this time around because I will keep trying and trying until I get to my target weight. No matter how many times I slip up, I will never truly give up. I have been reflecting over the last year and it is super annoying that my mood should hit me like this right now, because I wanted to make a YouTube video about how the last year has gone and how fab I feel (felt/will feel?), but all I want to do is curl up in bed and sleep. It’s hard enough writing this blog post! So I’ll put that on hold until things even out a little, even if at my next weigh in will be exactly a year since my first and I’ll be celebrating it with a nice big gain. Never mind, I’ll just practice damage limitation as best I can until then.

My time so far hasn’t been totally wasted (although that’s a matter of opinion) and I’ve been reading, playing a game (Zelda on DS, and I’m a gnat’s whisker away from completing it) and watching the latest series of Orange is the New Black with my mum. I did have plans to go out visiting some friends I haven’t seen in a long time, but there’s something wrong with my car and it won’t be looked at until Monday. I certainly cannot risk any long journeys. I looked at getting the train but the prices were astronomical – no wonder people drive when they have the option!

Although I do enjoy these ‘sitting around’ activities it’s really hard for me to enjoy them without guilt, especially when my Fitbit tells me how few calories I’m burning this week. But there was a little inspirational moment on Orange is the New Black where one of the characters says something (I don’t exactly recall) about how feeling sad is like when there are loads of clouds in the sky. You don’t think that the sky’s still blue, but it is, it’s just hidden behind the clouds. And the clouds are your mood. They’ll pass eventually.

Speaking of clouds even though it was chucking it down yesterday I went out walking and it was really nice to be outside and to be pretty much alone. I walked to the local country park from home and when I last did that walk I was too tired to do any exploring and had to go straight back home again. This time however I walked around for about an hour and a half, plus I only saw four other people the whole time. One was a hardcore jogger and the rest were dog walkers. One particular dog went absolutely berserk at me because he had never seen an umbrella before. I must have looked pretty scary! The sun even came out just as I was leaving (typical) but it was nice to dry off on the walk home and top up on some vitamin D.

I will go out for another walk later, especially as I’m nearly out of coffee, but this time I won’t eat a load of crap when I get in. I am determined to stay on plan until at least Monday, as I might be going out with a friend and I’m not sure what the food plans are. We might be visiting a vegan restaurant but all this is up in the air for now and I’ll have to see. I think I can handle having one meal out off plan, whereas I have learned this week that if I have stuff in the house then I just cannot control myself, even when I’ve gone way past the point of actually enjoying what I’m eating. I still keep on stuffing it in! This morning the nice man from Ocado delivered an absolute ton of fresh veggies, so I should be OK now that all the bad food has been eaten.

One thing I have learned is that there is absolutely no going back with this veganism thing. When I first became a veggie and I had a ‘treat day’ one of my friends just couldn’t understand why I didn’t eat meat! I tried to explain that stuff like that just isn’t food for me any more, so even on a cheat day it’s not an option. Although I’ve eaten so much bad stuff this week (I’m talking Biscoff spread straight from the jar bad) I am happy to say that not one speck of it came from an animal!

Well I think I’ll end this post now before I depress you all too much.

As ever thank you for reading,

Hayley x

PS I nearly forgot to say – I saw a gosh darn green woodpecker on my walk (and if that’s not a positive then I don’t know what is!)

How are you paying for that?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that when I fall off the wagon, I fall hard. The subsequent gains are usually of epic proportions, and sometimes it takes me a few weeks to get back to where I started. We live in a world where we simply cannot escape the lure of food – it’s absolutely everywhere and available 24/7 – so I’m on a continuous quest to learn how to cope with slipping up, rather than letting it completely derail me.

Yesterday morning I had a breakfast mishap. I was very tired and very hungry when I got in from work, but I knew I had to be up again in two hours to take my mum to a doctor’s appointment. I used this as an excuse to convince myself that I wanted to have a little breakfast treat. I’m still in the transitional period of using up any non-vegan items, so I decided to take the opportunity to get rid of some bits and bobs I had kicking around that contain milk. 20 minutes and about 50 syns later I went to bed, feeling rather guilty.

While I was laying there questioning why on earth I’d just completely sabotaged myself, I realised that I now had a number of options:

  1. I could do what I always do, which is convince myself that since I’ve messed up I might as well spend four days stuffing my face full of all the stuff I fancy before, bloated and disgusted with myself, I have to get back on it.
  2. Draw a line under it and just carry on as if nothing happened, or,
  3. Pay for what I’d done

That sounds a little bit drastic, but hear me out. With everything we do there are consequences. Number 1 is just going to get me further into debt, so obviously that option is out the window. Why it took me so long to see it that way, who can say, but I got there in the end and that’s what matters. With number 2, I’m not making things any worse, but there’s a strong possibility I’m going to charged interest come weigh day! But number 3, now that’s something I’ve never actually tried before.

This week me and my sister have been discussing maintaining weight, which she is doing spectacularly well at right now. But she wants more cake in her life (understandably so) therefore she is taking steps to make that happen. As she is moving closer to me this month, we have agreed that we are going to meet up regularly to exercise. I love her approach right now – she wants more treats, but she’s going to earn some credit before she indulges.

And it was thinking of this that spurred me into action – I decided to earn back the progress I’d lost.

This still isn’t something I want to make a habit of, as unlike my sister I still have problems controlling myself around junk food. When I’m at target I do want to increase my exercise in order to make it easier to stay there, and so I can start adding more healthy fats into my diet like nuts, seeds and avocado. I don’t want to get into a habit of eating rubbish and trying to make up for it afterwards, but right now I feel really good about accepting the consequences of my actions but also taking steps to make up for what I’ve done rather than just sit on my backside and accept my fate.

That evening I ramped up my steps and did twice as many as the previous day, I worked my absolute butt off during my shift, and as soon as I got in at 6am I went straight back out again for 3 hour walk at the local nature reserve. I’ve also just embarked on a 30 day squat challenge and have a step aerobics workout planned for tomorrow. Maybe I will have done enough to avoid a gain/maintain, or maybe I won’t have, but one thing I’ve certainly got rid of is the guilt that normally comes with a slip up, guilt which would be a sure-fire way to make me want to eat more junk. It feels like progress to me, anyhow.

As for the walk I took my camera out but the light was rubbish. There are so many lovely flowers in the gardens at the visitor centre, I can’t help but wonder how much more beautiful they will be with a bit of sunshine! Hopefully I’ll be able to go back there when the weather is nicer, but we’ll have to see. I daren’t go on my own because I have absolutely no sense of direction and will be lost for hours (good for exercise but not so good for getting everything done that I need to) and my brother (or the human compass as he is otherwise known) selfishly has to go back to work tomorrow whereas I am off until Thursday.

There were two major highlights though – seeing a baby coote (it’s a scruffy little creature!) and the one single, solitary, ripe and juicy blackberry in a sea of other completely unripe blackberries that was obviously just waiting for me to come along and eat it. Note to self – get a blackberry bush ASAP.

After the walk I stopped off at Lidl’s to pick up some Guatemalan ground coffee, which I like better than the fancy Tesco Finest one and a posh one from M&S that I tried recently, so now I must be off to get my caffeine fix. The posh coffees were OK, but I like my coffee to be nice and (figuratively) punch me in the face. The Lidl one certainly fits the bill!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x