Brain Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a fabulous Sunday people,

Hayley X

Nice Weather For Ducks… and Hayley 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Weigh In Results: Did I Lose the Epic Gain?

I’m not going to keep you waiting. Last week I gained 9 pounds, this week I LOST 9 POUNDS! I’m not going to get complacent. I was incredibly lucky to get that off all in one go. Now it’s time to knuckle down and get some serious weight off! I want to lose another 1st 12.5 by the end of the year, so let’s get cracking. Today I did a kettlebell workout for the first time in absolutely ages, and my legs have forgotten how to go up and down the stairs. But apart from being rather wibbly it feels damn good!

Last night I was doing the more physical aspect of my job as a warehouse operative. It used to be all on foot and an excellent workout but now we have a little electric contraption that ferries us around the warehouse. Although I only do a fraction of the steps I used to at work, I figure that since you stand up on these machines that very fact will mean that I’m burning more calories than I am when I’m sitting on my butt. So it’s not ideal but better than nowt, and at least I’m getting paid to do it.

Tomorrow I need to catch up on the housework and take delivery of an Ocado shop (the final one just before my free Smart Pass trial runs out) then on Saturday I’m walking to a local park with my brother. He has reliably informed me that we will see plenty of ickle baby geeses, so I’m totally sold on that.

I have been preparing for my Snowdon trip and now have pretty much everything I need, including an enormous (plastic) jar of peanut butter. I’ve decided that will be my main energy source for if I start to flag, because it’s packed with energy and protein, is relatively light and easily transportable. And scrummy. Normal Slimming World rules shall not apply! I’ve bought a lovely backpack that sits nice and snug against my back, has comfortable padded straps and does up at the front. It was a close call – just a couple of pounds heavier and I don’t think I would have been able to do the clasps up. So that was a nice non-scale victory right there.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m terrible with money, and I haven’t made any progress on sorting that out just yet. Instead of being sensible Mr Credit Card treated me to a pair of beautiful Swedish Clogs by Lotta From Stockholm. They’ve just brought out a vegan range which is absolutely awesome, because since turning veggie I haven’t bought any leather products. I have had a red pair for several years and thought I’d never be able to get another, but here they are. In a lovely aqua green!

They’re going to be so perfect for the summer, and they’re totally comfortable and easy to walk in so I can wear them anywhere. Yay! In my defence the vegan range has completely sold out in my size already, so, y’know, really I had to get them when I did. And I’ll pay the whole lot off as soon as I get paid, honest!

If you remember, a couple of blogs ago I was talking about how I don’t enjoy drinking any more. This week I nearly forgot everything I learned when I was invited out by the work people on the 2nd of June. To a club. I nearly said yes, because it’s an alternative club so the music would be much more up my street. But then I remembered that my expectations vs what it would actually be like would be very different indeed. So I put my foot down and said no despite lots of cajoling. Then not five minutes later I was invited out on a pub crawl on the 3rd. Nope, nope and nope again! I have had so many people tell me that I’ll be missing out, and how much fun it will be, but they just aren’t listening to me. They seem to find it impossible to understand that just because they find something fun doesn’t mean everyone else does too! I shall stick to my guns no matter what, especially as me and my sister are going to a parrot show on the 11th. Now THAT is my idea of fun! Perhaps I should start pestering all of my colleagues to come with me. They won’t know what they’re missing out on!

Hayley x

Smashed It

By the time work came around yesterday I was absolutely knackered and wondering how I’d get through the night, let alone go out walking with my brother the next day. But then there was a minor miracle and I got out of work 5.5 hours early. Things had been going well until that point – when my Fitbit reset at midnight I’d hit over 18,000 steps and burned over 4000 kcals (by a smidge) plus I’d helped out a nice manager with my superior knowledge of the system. The two-and-a-half hours I managed to stay in work were productive then! That being the case I went home without an ounce of guilt and got some sleep ready for today’s walk.

Some people might think that an estuary is not the best place to go when it’s a little, shall we say, on the cold side? But I am obviously a hardcore walker because even though it was snowing when I got in the car at 9am it didn’t put me off. 40 minutes later I arrived at my destination which was a little car park at Heybridge Basin. Well I didn’t see any kitchen or bathroom sinks, only a canal that leads into an estuary. I was looking forward to seeing the lock and hoped a boat would be going through at some point but unfortunately Heybridge is currently undergoing a facelift and all the boats are trapped where they are for the time being.

It was (or would have been) a short walk to the lock from the car park but me being me I accidentally went in the complete opposite direction. This wasn’t such a bad thing because we got to see more of the canal, got more exercise, and we also saw some ducks and moorhens. I took a few pictures on my travels and was surprised at how well they came out. I took my old camera and lens that I bought when I first got into digital photography as I was afraid all of my better gear would get snowed on. I needn’t have worried because it stayed dry for the rest of the day but there you go.

After the canal ran out of boats and became a lot less interesting we turned back and headed for one of the two pubs at the lock. As usual when I’m out walking I find I need the ladies room as soon as we set off, which I’m sure is psychological. I don’t know about anyone else but I find it impossible to go in a place just to use the loo so felt obliged to buy a coffee even though I had a flask back in the car. Happily it was a very nice cup of coffee and it was good to have a little sit down before we set off again. I would also like to point out that the sugar didn’t get touched!

img_3531As we headed out along the edge the estuary it was a lot colder but we walked along the sea wall for a good while, all the time my brother telling me interesting ‘facts’. My brother is really good at retaining information and it’s interesting to hear what he’s learned recently, but he has a terrible habit of mixing in some stuff he’s made up himself. A small part of me finds it infuriating that he can so convincingly make up elaborate lies but the rest of me is mostly impressed and finds it fun. Just don’t tell him I said that…

I’m pleased I had him with me because there wasn’t really a huge amount to see, though a passing local (this awesome old dude who left us in the dust) assured us that it’s much nicer in the summer.  We carried on walking until we reached what looked like an industrial estate and decided to turn back. In some ways it’s nice that we’re never far from civilisation but in other ways it really, really isn’t! All in all we walked for about 8 miles, did 14,000 steps, met some friendly dogs, and spotted a cormorant (I couldn’t get a good picture sadly). It was also nice to see the last remains of autumn which added a little colour to an otherwise gray day.

We were out for about 2-and-a-half hours in the end which I think isn’t bad for 8 miles-worth of exercise, plus I got to christen my new boots. I was right- I don’t have a single blister and my dodgy right knee didn’t ache at all despite us trudging through quite a lot of mud. That usually does me in! All in all I’m feeling virtuous for getting off of my back side and braving the cold.

When I got home I decided I wasn’t quite done with exercise yet, so after hanging out with my parrot for a while (she was very displeased indeed that I’d gone and left her for the morning) I felt that I needed to get walking again. I mentioned in my previous post that I wanted to hit 30,000 steps in a single day before weigh-in, and since I was over halfway there already I thought I might as well smash it out before the end of the day.


And smash it I did! My sister’s record is 31.5k steps and I did have a fleeting desire to beat her, but I’ve got to admit I am EXHAUSTED, and my knee has started to hurt. That’s my signal to stop.


I also exceeded my weekly step record by 12,000 steps. And now I’m off to bed before I fall down. 

Good night!