Hmm, Maybe

Flipping HECK I’ve been busy! There have been countless times over the last week where I’ve wanted to blog but something else has had to take a priority. That something has mostly been sleep. For once in my life I’ve done the sensible thing that will pay off in the long-term rather than just making everything harder for myself.

Now it’s time to remember what on earth I’ve been doing lately.

One day I had to pop to the local shops, which are now mostly shut down, but the post office and the charity shops are still there till next month. After dropping off a parcel to be returned, I headed to the Sue Ryder which is where I get my best and most bargainous purchases.

Since I’ve been looking for materials rather than actual items of clothing, I find it really hard not to just zoom in on my own size and the things I automatically know will suit me. I dragged my eyes away from the 16’s and started from the beginning of the rail nearest me.

Bingo!

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I now have a lovely selection of sequins to fulfil all of my craft project needs, but can I really butcher this rather fetching scarf for materials? Well yes, because that ain’t no scarf.

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It is in fact a size 8 mini skirt that wouldn’t look out of place on a Spice Girl. My mother, bless her, thinks that I can shrink into it but I proved that unless I have reconstructive surgery on my skeleton, then that will never be the case. My hip bones are wider than the actual skirt, which I really don’t have a problem with – as a 6-footer getting into single digit clothing has never once been an aspiration of mine! Regardless, it’s a brilliant non-scale victory to be able to feel my hip bones at all. The NSV’s are coming thick and fast lately.

For the record I don’t think I would wear it even if it did fit me.

On Friday I, wait for it, went for a walk in my favourite park. No surprises there then. The light was gorgeous though, and after carefully making sure my shadow was out of shot I then took another photo with my shadow in shot. Because, and I know it doesn’t exactly count because it’s stretched anyway,  my shadow has never looked that good! Another NSV for the collection…

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On Saturday I went to my dad’s to have a soak in his tub before he came back from holiday in the afternoon, where I spent a good couple of hours reading and getting wrinkly. It was delightful.

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Did I mention I’ve been getting lots of NSV’s lately? While I was waiting for enough hot water for my bath, I decided to get on my dad’s exercise bike and get my minimum 30 minutes cardio in for the day. Except even with the resistance set to the maximum and cycling as very fast as I could go, I just couldn’t keep my heart rate up enough for it to count! I know it’s not the best bike, but there was a time when I couldn’t do ten minutes on it and half the resistance, so I’ll take that and run with it.

After getting home, doing 30 minutes on my own exercise bike with one of the fancy hill-climb programs, the rest of the day was meal prep and sleep. The meal prep was especially important because I was out for a birthday lunch with a friend today, at his mum’s, and I insisted on taking my own grub so I could remain totally in control. It might seem a bit drastic, but being vegan I have a cast-iron excuse for doing it that people don’t tend to question. I told you, I’m serious about this getting to target business!

While we were in the area we took a peek at Abberton Reservoir which looks stunning. We didn’t have time to have a proper look but we’ll definitely go back to explore in future.

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My friend insisted on my wearing one of his many flat caps because he said it suited me, and though his noggin is quite a bit larger than mine and I’m not entirely sure I carried it off, I’m now taken by the idea of hats. Maybe I am a hat person after all.

Perhaps I can’t pull all three off at once though?

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Either way I’ve been thinking about my personal style more and more lately, and I’m rather excited now that I’m brave enough to wear pretty much anything that catches my eye. Except sequined mini-skirts perhaps…

This post reads as rather sedate, but I swear I haven’t had a minute to myself! Knowing me I’ve probably forgotten half of what I did.

As for tomorrow, I was thinking of having a waaaaaay overdue get-stuff-done day, but when my sister reminded me she’s off work for the week instead I asked if she wanted to meet up and do something. My being sensible streak couldn’t last forever you know, and in any case the boring chores will still be there on Tuesday.

I’ve suddenly been reminded of #onplanoctober, and I’m happy to say every single day of the month so far I have been absolutely 100% on it. As ever I’m not convinced this will show on the scales tomorrow, especially after my long walk and fabulous loss last week. Oh, and I should also give the appearance of star week this very morning an honourable mention. Damn.

I can’t control any of these things, but I can control what I eat. So that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Until tomorrow,

Hayley x

Awards & Results

I had intended to get up early on Monday morning and be on a train by 6am, but do you think I could wake myself up? Course not. Taking into consideration the epic walk I had planned, I thought it best to snooze for another hour. It was probably wise.

By 8:30 I was at the train station, in a massive queue for the ticket office. Of course all of the machines were out of order, which is just great for a monday morning. I got my tickets at 8:35, the exact time my train was due to leave. However my train was exactly 1 minute late, and I got on the platform just as it was arriving. Woo!

I got off at Benfleet station, which is just around the corner from my favourite park, and is actually two parks – The Benfleet Downs and Hadleigh Park. As I started trudging along my planned route I decided that I wasn’t going to stop too much to take pictures and things, mostly because leaving late meant that time was now against me. I’ve walked this part of the route what feels like a thousand times now, but there is always something that catches my eye and I have to stop for. Last time it was a caterpillar, this time it was some teasels with a lovely pinky/orange background.

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The autumn leaves and a very small amount of editing make the day look a lot nicer than it was. In actual fact there was an oppressive iron grey sky for the entire day, but I’m sure not complaining. There was no rain like there was supposed to be, just a really fine mist that kept me cool while I was walking and made my fringe go curly.

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So where does one walk to on such a day? The beach of course! My route took me through the two parks and right down to the coast. After a few hours of walking I was thoroughly enjoying the views and just having a good old think to myself, but there was nothing very photogenic until I got to Southend-on-Sea.

There didn’t seem to be much open that would sell a coffee, but when I came across a really nice looking place advertising that it was family run, I decided to give it a go. The gentleman who served me was so sweet, even suggesting that I have my drink in a mug instead so I can stay and sit in the very nice covered outside seating area, but I didn’t have much time to spare so I declined. I was already thinking about how lovely it would be to leave a good review and shop independent (which usually it is of course) but unfortunately the coffee was absolutely vile and I had to throw it away. You can’t win ’em all! The man still left me with a smile on my face so that’s nice.

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A quick shot of the water fountains, which kids and dogs LOVE to play in during summer (who can blame them) and I headed for the beach.

Walking along the beach seems to be a great butt (perhaps I should say glutes) workout, because that’s the only part of me that is still aching a little today. I’ll keep that in mind for future outdoor pursuits.

I always love looking at the shells and struggle not to take more home with me every time. Oyster shells are so beautiful, I just love the blues and purples. As far as bird life goes you are always guaranteed to see oyster catchers, so I’m assuming they are responsible for all the empty shells!

As I got away from Southend and headed into the less touristy areas I took the opportunity to use the camera remote on my watch again. It’s not the composition I was after, but I didn’t want to stop for long so I just went with the first one. I am enjoying how either the boat looks small or I look like a giant!

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11 miles and four hours after setting off (NOT including the train journey), I arrived at my destination – Shoeburyness. So I turned around and started walking back in the other direction.

This next part of the journey was completely uneventful. When I got to Leigh-on-Sea train station I checked my watch and Fitbit. I was wearing both because I am totally smitten with my Apple watch, but also wanted to go out on a bang with Fitbit. Had I beaten my previous record of 35.5k steps?

You bet!

I was currently on 45k, so despite being quite weary by this point and wanting to cheat and jump on the train at Leigh, instead I decided to continue. Google told me that it was another 1 hour 45 minutes of walking back to Benfleet. I had time, I could do it.

So on I trudged.

I took a different route back through the park and to the station, which was extremely fortuitous because it was cow and mushroom heaven! This was the boost I needed to get me through the rest of the journey.

When I got in, more than 8 hours and 22 miles after leaving, I reflected on how mental the journey had been. Not because of anything that had happened, but because I’d been on my feet for that amount of time (with a few stops for food and drink but not for any length of time) and for that distance without coming home a complete wreck. My feet were a little achy (as well as the bum cheeks) but other than that I was still good to go.

My fitness and stamina has improved so much this year, I can hardly believe it. I checked my email and I had three letting me know that I’d earned new Fitbit badges for 40k, 45k and 50k steps in a single day. That was the main purpose of my walk so I got exactly what I wanted before I abandoned Fitbit forever!

After getting in you’d think I’d be spent, right? Nah! I had to get ready to go to group and get weighed in! It was a taster night so I prepared some food. I couldn’t decide what to take out of the available options in my freezer, so I cooked up all three. I took Tesco sweet potato falafels (half a syn each), Sainsbury’s veggie meatballs (half a syn for 5) and Tesco meat free nuggets (1 syn each).

I had no idea what the taster was in aid of, because I hadn’t heard anyone on my vegan Facebook groups talking about it as I would have expected. It soon became clear though.

It turns out my consultant, who has been the one constant in my Slimming World journey since 2012, is leaving our group! It’s terribly sad, but I’m not completely despairing because there are some positives.

She isn’t leaving Slimming World, so I can still get weighed in at her Tuesday group from time to time. The only reason I haven’t popped in to say hello to the group members I know there already is that I don’t want to weigh in at a different day or time until I’m at target!

Also, I have a really good feeling about the new lady, Amanda. She’s very friendly and upbeat, I found it easy to talk to her from the off, and she was wearing sparkly shoes. I’m sold.

My consultant pointed out that it’s the members that make the group, not the consultant, but I don’t think that’s true. I’ve found that it’s a lot of different factors that make my group the best. It’s the day, the time, the WONDERFUL people, a good consultant, that all come together in exactly the right combination. I think Amanda will be a perfect fit for this group so I’m not at all worried. I think we still have our winning formula.

So how did I do? I must admit to having a sneak peek before I went on my walk. The reasoning behind this is that if the walk caused a drastic gain, then I would know what was going on and wouldn’t feel bad. Or, if on the flipside I had a massive loss then I wouldn’t get too cocky.

What actually happened was that Slimming World’s scales corresponded with my own pre-walk weigh in and I lost a magnificent four flipping pounds! 

Do you know what that means? I GOT MY 8 STONE AWARD!!!

I got a HUGE round of applause that made me feel really emotional. God knows what kind of a state I’ll be in when I’m at target.

I left group feeling like Christmas had come early – tired and flushed but also happy and excited. It was a really fab day.

This morning I weighed myself again just to check it wasn’t a complete fluke (and it wasn’t) so that’s it for sneak peeks this week.

6.5 pounds to go!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Birthday Weekend

I’m currently a little bit behind with my blogging. Last week was such a busy one! It’s not just the blog that’s fallen by the wayside – I’m behind on absolutely everything. I did want to get started with some crafty pursuits but I decided to make activity a priority instead. I’ve probably done too much if I’m honest (and work was exceptionally hard as a result of that) so I’m looking forward to a calmer week this week.

Friday was a walk in the park before work, which took 1 hour 23 minutes. It wouldn’t have been quite that long, but at one point I was down on my hands and knees getting photos of a furry little critter. I also had to hang around to make sure it made it safely across the path. As you do.

I wonder what it’ll grow up to be? It was an absolutely beautiful day – it was the perfect temperature and everything looked really picturesque. I know that’s not going to last so I’ve been making the most of it.

Saturday was a walk into town (via the park) with two of my absolute favourite human beings, namely my brother and sister. It was my birthday weekend so my sister had visited to drop off my presents and spend some time with me. If Friday was a nice day it was nothing, nothing, to how gorgeous Saturday was.

We took some oats and fed the birdies, and I found some mushrooms. They’re everywhere right now. It also occurred to me how utterly absurdly long a swan’s neck looks when it’s fully extended. Weird.

I’ve got to say, I felt especially wonderful on Saturday. I put on my dungarees and a mustardy stripy top, and came down to check with my sister that it wasn’t a little too much.

I bumped into my brother first who exclaimed that my outfit was just ‘so me’. Which made me very happy because I thought the same thing! My mum and sister agreed wholeheartedly, so I went into town in (what I think is) a bold outfit without worrying what people would think.

Non-scale victory? You bet! As it happens my outfit went perfectly with a sunny autumn day in the park.

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It was also the perfect opportunity to play with my new gadget – a series 1 Apple Watch. As anyone who has read more than one of my posts will know, I’m absolutely terrible with money. Having said that, even I have been sensible enough not to blow several hundred pounds that I don’t have on something that isn’t really necessary.

But then my good friend offered me first refusal on his old watch and I managed to get myself a bargain! You would never know that it wasn’t brand, spanking new, it’s been that well looked after.

The first picture I took using the camera remote is one of my favourites of all time. I love these guys!

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Sunday was more birthday shenanigans, but I was so tired I can barely remember what happened. The day passed in a blur really. I opened my presents in the morning, then a friend visited and we went shopping in Tesco and Lidl. It was crazy busy, so somehow that managed to take up a huge chunk of the day. After that I did a little food prep for my walk on Monday.

I really wanted to get ahead on some chores but I was so tired I just had to have a little sleep.

When I got up I realised that I hadn’t done my official exercise for the day, so I managed to squeeze in 30 mins of hula hooping before I went to visit a friend for some dinner and more presents, and some flowers too. Yay!

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Actually, when I got there I hadn’t quite filled my green activity ring (I’m really getting into the Apple Watch fitness app now, but more about that another time) so while my friend was having a quick shower I jogged around the house to make sure my goals were entirely complete.

By the time I got home I was cream-crackered, so I got myself straight to bed. Not before reflecting on how proud of myself I was. My friend really wanted me to have a bottle of prosecco but I outright refused, my mother listened to me when I said I didn’t want cake, so I spent my whole birthday weekend entirely on plan.

I did do the same thing last year, but it was different then. I didn’t really want to be on plan, so I spent the whole time feeling like I was missing out on something. What happened next was that I eventually cracked and had a massive binge.

I’m so glad I didn’t feel like that this time around.

So, did all of this hard work pay off at weigh in yesterday? Well, you’ll have to wait till the next post to find out otherwise this post will turn into a novel!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

Teeny Hot Water Bottles

I am happy. Really really happy. It’s mostly down to some marvellous purchases I’ve made over the last couple of days, and although I’d say generally I’m not that materialistic, I’m quite happy to call myself a material girl in this instance. Mostly the best things in life are free, but some of them are £36 and £4.50.

I love dungarees. Always have done. I have a memory of being at play school (so I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old) of the teacher having to undo the clasps of my denim dungas so that I could pee. I think that was the last time I had a pair that fit me though.

After that I remember wearing pinafore dresses at school, which is like the top bit of dungarees that then go into a dress, and it makes me so, so happy that they have made a serious comeback in recent years. I have two in my wardrobe currently and they are among my very favourite things.

Dungarees have now also become readily available, but the last pair I tried on (about a year ago) looked bloody awful on me. Until now my tummy has been covered up with something loose-fitting at all times, and I didn’t imagine that would be changing any time soon. But after my success at getting my Levi’s to do up I decided to give dungarees another go.

As luck would have it, I’ve been following a company on Instagram called Lucy and Yak for some time, who make the most wonderful collection of dungarees and other cool items of clothing. The dungas though… they are particularly awesome.

I’ve been thinking about them for a while, but when I saw a post where someone had put a mini hot water bottle in the front pocket… well I knew I had to have a pair.

It’s not my birthday just yet, but my dad always gives me £40 every year without fail, so that’s what I used to buy mine. I did want a more vibrant colour, but they were sold out in my size for almost everything I clicked on so eventually I went with cappuccino. The cappuccino at least is very autumnal and I have some lovely tops that will go really well underneath.

So my dungarees arrived, and I felt a wee bit disheartened when I took them out of their little (plastic free) bag that they’d come in. They looked really small, and I’d ordered the biggest size they do.

Well then, I’d just see how far they were from fitting. Except… they already fit! They went over my tummy easily, and even though I’m 6ft and they don’t seem to do anything more than a 30″ leg in a large, I could tie them up so that they were long enough, or pull them up properly and have roll-ups. Either way I feel absolutely fantastic in them, and basically intend to live in them and my two dresses for the rest of my life.

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They are pricier than your usual supermarket/Primark stuff, but the extra money comes with extra benefits. There’s been a lot in the media lately about how terrible for the environment ‘fast fashion’ is, but Lucy and Yak are a really ethical company.

This is from a little note I got with my package:

Your Lucy & Yaks are handmade by a fabulous small family business in an impoverished rural part of north India. We know all of the tailors personally. We helped build their factory and we know how much they are paid. Our UK warehouse, studio and offices all run on 100% renewable energy and we are now an accredited LivingWage.org employer. We are 100% self funded and we think profit comes last.

Yep, that’s a company policy I can get behind. If that’s not enough the particular dungaree I bought used cotton woven on an old loom to give it character, so every piece has slight imperfections. It was made by hand, by the same tailor from start to finish, meaning that there’s no other pair of dungarees out there quite like mine. I think that’s awesome.

Of course this is all wonderful, but it hasn’t been all plain sailing this week. On Wednesday I got out of work early, intending to get to the 24 hour Tesco for supplies, get a good sleep, then go for a nice long walk in the afternoon. But things did NOT go to plan.

By the time I got to Tesco, which is a ten minute journey from work, my engine temperature gauge was nudging the red. Damn.

I checked the oil (all good) and water (oh dear, dry as a bone) then went to get my shopping. I topped up the water when I got out but it wasn’t going anywhere. Not good.

I waited for the engine to cool and got home by stopping repeatedly to make sure I didn’t kill the engine completely, then after a very restless sleep I spent the rest of the day with my friend making arrangements to get it fixed.

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He very kindly discovered what was wrong (the water pump is broken), bought the new part, and got underneath the car to see how difficult it would be to replace himself. It would be a load of faff it turns out, so he’s arranged for a mobile mechanic to fix it Tuesday, and is insisting on covering the entire cost as my birthday present.

How flipping wonderful is my friend?

More wonderful than that even, because he has lent me his Jaguar until my car is fixed while he drives around in an old banger. Seriously, I am so lucky.

While we were outside the Amazon guy delivered the package I was waiting for and in it was… a teeny tiny hot water bottle (which is where the £4.50 comes in). I may have car troubles, but my life is actually now complete I think. Winter, I am ready for you!

I’ve spent the rest of my time being a little concerned that my weight isn’t changing (though it’s prolly hormones), but there’s nothing to do about that except carry on with what I’ve been doing. Sometimes I’m easy going about it, other times it niggles at me constantly.

I volunteered for the more physical job at work last night and got some extra calories burned, I’m going out for a walk later, I’m walking into town with my sister tomorrow and will probably do something active Sunday too. Food has been on point, so I’m doing all I can. I just have to be patient and wait for my body to play ball. A loss or not this week, I still fit into some pretty damn awesome items of clothing!

As ever the clock is ticking, so I’ll say bye for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Rituals

I’ve developed a certain set of rituals that I now perform every Monday before weighing in, and now that they have been established it’s almost inconceivable to think of changing them.

Every week I eat exactly the same food- wheat biscuits and plant milk for breakfast followed by a punnet of mushrooms and smoked tofu for lunch. I wear the same clothes each week, even down to a specific pair of knickers and a specific pair of socks. I also try to do the same level of activity but this is a bit hit and miss.

This way, I figure, my weigh in result each week will be as accurate as possible. However there is a problem.

It’s getting cold and I need to wear thicker clothes!

I suppose it’s just one more motivator for getting to target as soon as possible – once I’m there I can afford to wear heavier clothes. Until then, I will try not to change anything, with the exception of next Monday.

Since I’ve decided that’s the day I’m going to do my long walk and smash my step record, despite the possibility of it messing up my weigh in I’m being stubborn and sticking to my guns.

My walk is sure to help with a loss, it’s just a question of when it’ll show on the scales. It could throw a temporary spanner into the works in the form of an undeserved gain, but as long as I stick to plan I’ll get what I’m owed.

This week I had my fifth loss in a row, which I’m chuffed with even if I would have liked more than 1 pound off. But a loss is a loss, so I shan’t complain.

Now is a great time to look at non-scale victories, especially as I had a doozy of one yesterday.

Almost a year ago now I bought a pair of vintage Levi 501s in the biggest size they do for my leg length, which is a 34 waist and 34 leg (the equivalent of a UK size 14).

When I tried them on I was really disheartened. I couldn’t even get near to doing them up, and eventually I stuck them in the loft because they were making me feel bad. I couldn’t bear to get rid of them though. These are some pictures I took back in June before I squirrelled them away. I was also wearing control knickers at the time.

Since they have absolutely no give in them whatsoever, I figured I might have to be realistic and abandon the dream of ever fitting into them.

Then I was up in the loft going through some old clothes when I came across them again. I hesitated, because if they still fit like the last time I tried them, I knew it would put me in a terrible mood.

I couldn’t help it though. I had to know!

I can actually do them up. Compared to when I was bursting out of size 24 jeans and still wearing them every day, these are practically comfortable. There’s certainly less muffin top than I used to have on a daily basis, and I can even sit down in them. I reckon by the time I’m at target (10.5 pounds to go) they will fit PERFECTLY! Can you tell I’m excited? Oh I am so excited!

But it doesn’t even end there. On Sunday I went out for a walk with my friend to a lovely little village just around the corner that I never knew was there. You walk along a fairly uninteresting path, up a hill, then BOOM, you get a great view.

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As we stopped to drink in the scenery my friend took a photo of me which, after he forwarded it to me, I realised was just begging to be used in a comparison photo.

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Although it was only a short walk (we had to make it to Tesco before closing time as so far that day all I’d eaten was 6 grapes) it’s possible to walk for hours along the… estuary? I don’t know, whatever body of water that is! So that’s one to keep in mind for a future trek.

On the way back I had a Slimming World-related accident. I saw a nice juicy blackberry sitting atop a bush, but it seems that the blackberry bushes have become sentient. To stop Slimming World members stealing its fruits one sneakily grew it’s brambles over a really deep ditch, so when I stepped over to get my blackberry I fell right in.

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My buttocks (where I fell backwards) and my knees (from getting out again) bear similar injuries. And I never got my damn blackberry! I am however still picking thorns out of various body parts.

My plan for this week is to try and get more sleep, give myself time to be more mindful about what I’m eating, to keep up with the exercise, and try not to fall over.

It’s also my birthday this week but I have no plans whatsoever to ‘celebrate’ by being off plan. All I have scheduled so far (apart from my walk) is a boot sale with my friend (more walking, yay!) and coffee with my sister.

Perfect!

Have a fabulous week everyone,

Hayley x

On it in Oxford for On Plan October

Saturday was a day for friends, and it was FANTASTIC. Where my head has been so fuzzy lately I personally made meeting up with these particular humans more difficult than it had to be. When me and two other magnificent bloggers (Dave and Marjolein) decided we would meet in the first place, we had a little discussion about what we could possibly get up to.

I was feeling a bit (a lot) low at the time so I went ahead and booked my train tickets for Oxford as soon as we’d decided which day we were doing it. My reasoning was sound – I’d booked them way in advance, when I actually had some money, so that when it got nearer the time I wouldn’t find I’d run out of cash and have to bail. That wouldn’t do at all. Plus I’d have something solid to look forward to that I could focus on.

The only problem is that I’d invented a memory in my head that we’d decided on Oxford, which we absolutely hadn’t! Thankfully Dave and Mar are awesome and didn’t mind a bit, or if they did they were kind enough to reassure me that it wasn’t a problem anyway.

Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it was the 6th of October and it was time to meet!

I was a bit anxious about the journey, starting with my tickets. I had to phone up and change them (in actual fact a simple task, but I managed to blow it out of proportion in my mind) as I thought I was booking an any time ticket for the outward journey when in fact I’d managed to book a time that would get me there much too late.

For the return journey I thought I’d booked an any day and any time ticket, but I hadn’t. It was just for the 7th, which was the Sunday. I’d had half a mind to book a B&B and stay overnight, but eventually decided against it mainly because I didn’t want to put myself in the path of temptation where food is concerned. I’m sure I’d have made some good choices, but I want to be totally in control of what I eat for the time being.

After waking up at 4:15 (damn) I started the day as I meant to go on – I had my wheat biscuits and oat milk for breakfast, followed by some veggie sausages, butternut squash and tomatoes. I ate until I was full, but that didn’t stop me being famished by the time I made it through London to Paddington Station. I was afraid that would happen.

After a little trek to find a loo (this was to be a theme of the day in fact, needing to pee) and paying 30p for the privilege, my nostrils detected the intoxicating smell of Cornish Pasties. The scent was coming from a shop I’m familiar with which I know sells a delicious vegan pasty, but this is Hayley version 2.0 we’re talking about, and she doesn’t eat such things. Hayley v2.0 went to Pret for an Americano then M&S for a berry medley to eat on the train. That’s more like it.

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The journey to Oxford took a hefty three hours or so from leaving my front door, but I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly public transport seemed to be running on this particular day. Everything just seemed to go my way.

When I arrived at Oxford, before my companions, I had time to pee again and grab another coffee. Then I had just enough time to have a little worry. For some reason I’d assumed Dave, who I’ve met before, would get there first. Then it suddenly occurred to me that it could in fact be Mar. I started worrying if I’d recognise her from the picture on her blog or not.

As is the case for practically everything I’ve worried about so far this year, it was a complete waste of time since I recognised her instantly as she came through the ticket barrier, closely followed by Dave.

The first task was to obtain coffee and to decide what to actually do, because we’d only come up with the vaguest of plans thus far. I don’t think you could even call it a plan to be honest! It just so happened that having a coffee and a chat first of all was probably the best idea anyway, because it meant we got to relax (out of the rain) and get to know each other a bit more before heading out into the city.

It was actually really cool to hang out with people who interests overlap as ours do. We visited a few Harry Potter-related places, and since both myself and Mar are Hufflepuff’s (or so the sorting hat tells us) this pleased us greatly. But there was also plenty of history, architecture, art and stained glass to keep Dave happy, too. It was lovely to see that we could all visit the same place but take something different away from it.

Whilst visiting the Divinity School, where a scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was filmed, we snuck past Madam Pince (possibly) and had a look around in the Restricted Section.

There we became trapped by a group of people on a tour, so we had to wait quietly until they were finished before we could escape. We were caught and told we weren’t allowed there, but only on our way out and only after we’d had some fun with selfies and whatnot.

Personally I blame Dave for my uncharacteristic naughtiness, since he seems to have a complete disregard for the rules. My theory was proved later on when he recklessly encouraged us to eat our packed lunches in Café Nero. It’s a slippery slope – no doubt this time next year I’ll be making a living stealing car stereos.

After lunch we went to the Ashmolean Museum which I liked very much. Again there is something for everyone and I even took away some inspiration for a future craft project. I’m keeping the details under wraps for now though.

Later on we visited the Great Hall at Christchurch, which features in all of the Harry Potter films. It was a great chance to geek out, and I made sure I messaged my sister afterwards to check that she was sufficiently jealous. We’re all Potterheads in our family.

Next door was a beautiful cathedral with some very pretty stained glass windows, though I’m more impressed by the colours than the subject matter (which to be honest I never pay that much attention to).

With this one however I’m pretty sure it’s depicting how someone on a lads night out got drunk, stole a life buoy, and wore it as a hat for the rest of the night.

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Soon after it was time to part ways after a thoroughly satisfying day spent with the loveliest people.

The minimal planning I did before hand, namely the food prep I’d done, definitely paid off because I took enough for lunch and dinner with me. I could feel my resolve slipping by the time I got back to London (with another hour or so of travel to go) so I was glad to be able to munch my leftovers on the last train journey of the day.

I ended the day with lot of steps under my belt, a warm fuzzy feeling inside and my goals for #onplanoctober completely intact.

I’d call that a win.

Hayley x

Worrywart

It’s been a bit of a funny couple of days. I haven’t been sleeping all that well, because I’ve been too busy worrying about silly things. The circular thoughts and catastrophising have returned somewhat and I’ve been feeling more than a little anxious. I know my brain is lying, so I’m just carrying on regardless, and it helps to know not to pay attention when that annoying little voice tells me everything is going to go wrong.

When I feel like this all it takes is one little thing that’s bothering me to get stuck in a (seemingly) never ending loop in my mind that drowns out every other thought. The good thing though? The last time I thought it was never ending, it ended, and I felt better.

This is temporary.

One great thing about blogging is that you often find others out there are just like you.

For instance this week I’m really worried that I’m not going to lose weight because I haven’t wanted to enough.

I feel like because I’ve taken my eye off the ball (where I’ve been busy with other things) although I’ve been within my syns every single day I won’t lose because I haven’t given it enough headspace.

This is completely illogical. Laughable even. But I’d bet all of my worldly possessions that I’m not the only one.

On a lighter note, one thing I believe I am completely alone in is that sometimes I have an itch and I don’t know where it is.

I’ll scratch my elbow thinking the itch is there, but after I’ve scratched I still have an itch. But I’m not sure if it’s in my knee, or on my shoulder, or a butt cheek. It’s not until I scratch the right place that I discover where it is.

Weird right? C’mon internet, prove me wrong and tell me it’s not just me!

Anyway…

Today I’ve been keeping busy with lots of preparations. I’m out early tomorrow and I’m taking lunch with me, which is already done and in the fridge.

I also have a big breakfast already made which I’ll eat before I go to give me the energy I need for the journey (and beyond). I’ll explain where I’m going in the next post, you’ll have to be patient for that part!

Lunch is ENORMOUS – I’m already wondering how many extra calories I’ll burn by lugging it around. It’s also completely free on Slimming World and includes some interesting ‘unicorn carrots’ from Lidl.

There is also the standard orange colour and a carrot masquerading as a parsnip, but I don’t have pictures of those.

I have a microwave meal for 6.5 syns that I can have when I get home if I’m too tired to cook, so I reckon I’m sorted.

I’ve also been wondering (vainly) what to wear because I don’t feel all that comfortable in my usual walking stuff, which would come in handy as it’s looking like it’s going to chuck it down tomorrow.

Instead I’m going to wear mostly practical clothing which I’m comfortable in and will mostly keep me dry. Plus my coat has a hood and I have a brolly. I’ll be fine.

Lately I either look like I woke up in a bin or I’m super fancy. Today the most exciting thing I’ve done is go to Aldi, but I dressed up anyway because I felt like it.

It’s nice to feel confident enough to go out both looking like a tramp and completely overdressed!

Other than that all I’ve done today is take autumnal photos when really I should have been catching up with other things.

So sue me!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Scheming

I must admit that writing that long post yesterday took it out of me a bit. It took forever as my brain cogs aren’t used to thinking so comprehensively about something. Later on in the day I felt a little bit deflated, which makes no sense whatsoever, and I had one of my fairly regular ‘this isn’t going to work, I’ll never make it to target’ thoughts.

Of course this is nonsense. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t make it to target. I was invited out for dinner this weekend which I declined, even though I really wanted to go. The truth is I don’t have the money for it anyway, even if I did want to risk delaying my weight loss for the week. Which I don’t.

The place I would have been going was a Turkish grill-type restaurant, and the only vegan option (which admittedly looks lovely) is also likely high in Syns. In general I’m a fan of saying yes to such occasions – you can easily fit this in with Slimming World and normally I’d be happy with a small loss or maintain if it meant I could also go out with friends. But right now I’m so happy with my progress I don’t want to do anything, anything to jeopardise it over the next few weeks. The friend who asked me is also super fit right now and eating really well so thankfully he totally gets it! There will be other opportunities in the future anyhoo.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a nice long, quiet, contemplative walk during which I completely changed my outlook on things back to how they should be.

I’m totally going to get to target, and I’m going to try my darndest to do it this year. Every step I was taking was helping me on the way to achieving that goal.

As I was walking I was also scheming. It’s one of my goals for this year is to beat my steps in a day record, which currently stands at 35,660. I’m going to attempt this on the 15th of October by starting out at my favourite park, namely this one:

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I’ll be continuing all the way along the coast to Shoeburyness, and back again if I can make it, which is a round trip of about 22 miles. I intend to start early and just spend the whole day plodding along and taking in the sights. I’m actually really excited about it!

I’m definitely going to do 40,000 steps – I won’t be going home until I have. But I’d like to completely smash that record too, if I can.

Once everything was back clear in my mind, I really enjoyed the rest of my hour-and-a-half walk.

Today has just been taken up with boring things that needed to be done, so there’s not much else to say. I only have two nights in work this week (including tonight) but it’s the busiest week I’ve had in a long time.

I have so much to do, I’d best get on and do it!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Starting Out

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This is a bit of a long one, so I recommend grabbing a cuppa first!

My Slimming World consultant has been asking me a lot lately – what advice would you give to someone just starting out on their weight loss journey? Whenever I’m posed with such a question my mind instantly goes completely blank. The same goes for if I’m asked something like ‘how is life different now?’

It’s not that I don’t have an answer, it’s just that my own answer to those questions is made up of a thousand tiny little answers that I’ve come up with over the course of a lifetime. No wonder I can’t give a decent response on the spot! So I decided to write a post to see if I can come up with something helpful. And perhaps something that I can refer back to when the question inevitably comes up in the future.

First of all a little disclaimer – these are just things that have worked for me. It might not be the right way for others, and that’s absolutely fine. Try things out and see what works for you.

Which brings me nicely to my first bit of advice.

1. Trial and error

I’ve been in my current job for 10 years this month, and I’ve been trying to lose weight that whole time. One of my major issues was getting in from work at 6am and being starving. In the beginning I’d be so hungry after my shift that I’d stop off at the 24hr Asda at the end of the road and buy the biggest pizza they sold. And I’d eat the whole lot for breakfast. That only stopped when they went back to normal trading hours (and I found plenty of other food to replace it with).

The pattern of going over the top after work only stopped when I started actively seeking a solution, and it took a good year before I came up with something that worked. I had to work out when is best to eat dinner, what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat my work lunch and what to have when I come in.

For me what works is an enormous Slimming World dinner as late as possible before my shift starts at 10pm, which will see me through to my lunch break at 4am. Then I have a substantial lunch (normally pasta and low-Syn vegan meatballs with passata, packed out with fresh tomatoes and roasted veg) which ensures I’m not famished when the shift finishes shortly after. Often I don’t even need anything when I get in and go straight to sleep, but if I do need something I have my healthy extras (wheat biscuits and chocolate oat milk, yum!)

So my advice is to keep trying different things until you find the thing that works. Try big meals and little meals, healthy snacks, eating at different times… and listen to your body. If it’s hungry you should feed it, just work out when you really are hungry and work around that. If I need two lunches in any given day, then I have two lunches! As long as you follow the plan, you’ll lose weight.

2. Be REALLY kind to yourself 

No one can thrive when they’re being spoken down to all of the time, and that counts for our internal voices too. I’ve been there and I get it – you think you look like crap, you tell yourself you’re disgusting, greedy, lazy and a whole load of other awful LIES.

Being genuinely kind to yourself takes a lot of practice, and even then I’ll admit I’m not perfect. I have days where I look at myself and despair, but it’s usually not long before I’m back thinking rationally.

We are conditioned to think that only slim bodies have worth (just look at the mainstream media, at the images we are bombarded with every. single. day.) But honestly it’s just… bullsh*t (‘scuse my language). Most of the people we see are Photoshopped to high heaven – even models don’t look like like models in real life.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t lose weight. If you want to, then go for it. Quite possibly you’ll have more energy, a longer life, have less aches and pains and a whole host of other benefits. But while you’re doing that, know that fat bodies are beautiful. Flawed bodies are beautiful. Thin bodies are beautiful. And all of them have the right to exist because it’s your body and you can do WHATEVER THE HELL YOU LIKE WITH IT. It’s really hard, but I’d recommend embracing your body every step of the way. I go to group and I look around me and see so many beautiful people, in all shapes and sizes, and when I think of how different people are when they start to lose weight I’m not thinking about how their tummies have shrunk or if their butts are smaller.

More often than not the real big changes are in confidence, how people carry themselves, how big their smiles are. But you don’t actually have to lose weight to do those things.

I’d recommend following real people on social media. There’s a huge Body Positivity movement going on and it’s awesome. If what we see is saturated with bodies only a tiny percentage of us are even physically capable of having, then change what you see. It could change your life.

As far as weight loss goes, you might find (as I have) that how you actually look is a secondary benefit of losing weight. And when you discover the other benefits, it’s a HUGE motivator to carry on.

3. Take the focus away from food

This was a real turning point for me. I’m not talking about distracting yourself if you feel hungry, I’m talking about finding things you love that aren’t eating.

In 2012 I lost 7 stone, but I put it all back on again because even after I’d lost it I was still miserable. Looking back I think it’s because food was the only thing in my life that I truly enjoyed. I was seeing someone at the time and not happy at all. I was bored with sitting in front of the TV every weekend, so much so that my only consolation was a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. I never really did anything for myself, and thinking back I have no idea how I used to fill my days. I didn’t do anything.

So my advice here is to find the things you love more than food. For me they are my parrot, walking, exploring new places, photography and spending meaningful time with family and friends. Luckily for me these pursuits all go hand-in-hand.

I do still enjoy things like reading and films, but I used to find it really hard to sit down and read without a glass of wine in hand, or to watch a film without popcorn. But you can train yourself to enjoy relaxing without mindlessly consuming a thousand calories in one sitting as I was doing. Now I just get fully immersed in a film, and if it’s not grabbing my attention enough that I’m bored and want to eat, then I turn if off and do something else. Life’s too short to watch bad films, and much too short to waste it on ice cream.

4. Ask for help, and give it freely

Really that should be the other way round, because I found that when I started trying to help and encourage people, it was much easier to accept help in return. I’m shy and a bit of an introvert, so this is something that was (is) hard for me so I started small.

I started online. If you think someone is doing well then definitely, definitely tell them, as it could make their day. You can change a bad day into a good day for someone. And you never know what friendships will bloom from that. I get so much support and encouragement from people I’ve never even met (at least not yet, in some cases!) and I know that help is only a message away.

Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Ok, some people will inevitably not be quite up to the task. Perhaps they aren’t the friend you thought they were, or maybe they just have something else going on in their own lives that needs their full attention. But there’s always someone out there who cares. Need a bit of extra support? Then hit me up. Seriously, pop a comment in at the end of the post and I’m all ears. In fact, once I’m done here I’ll see if I can add a contact page to the blog. My inbox is always open.

As far as ‘real life’ goes, I found that after doing these things being encouraging to people face-to-face became much easier too, although I fear I’m still terribly awkward when I talk to people! But trying to lift people up (as best as I can) is more important than worrying about transitory awkwardness.

It’s not always easy to know what to say to people, but I’ve found that a simple ‘what can I do to help you?’ or ‘I’m here if you need me’ is often enough in those cases.

5. Keep going to group, and do what you can

Even, no, especially when you’re struggling. When I lost weight before as soon as I hit a stumbling block I stopped going to group. After all what’s the point in still going if you aren’t even losing weight? What’s the point of going if you’re gaining weight.

I’ll tell you now – there is every point in going. When I went back to group in October 2016, tail between my legs and almost every pound of my 7 stone loss regained, I noticed a little group of ladies who had been attending the same group even before I originally started going in 2012.

They didn’t have anything like as much as I had to lose, even at their start points, yet they still weren’t at target after all this time. Did I think any less of them for that? Did I think they had failed in some way?

Nope. I was envious. Insanely jealous.

They had done exactly the right thing. They might not have been making as much progress as they’d like. They all have active social lives so I’m guessing a lot of the delay was due to having a fantastic time with friends, but they still kept going and chipping away, half a pound at a time if necessary. When there were gains they were taken on the chin. When there was an off plan day, there were another six of being on plan. They didn’t talk down to themselves or beat themselves up over it.

I’ve tried to emulate that attitude and it has worked. In the not-so-distant past an off plan day for me would always turn into an off plan week (or two) and it was not unusual to see me gain half a stone in a week.

My weight has yo-yo’d dramatically in the past, but somehow during my most recent period of real struggling (which was between November last year up until the end of August) I managed to more or less maintain my weight for the first time in my life. And it was all down to sticking with the plan every moment I felt I was able to, and not letting a bad weekend spiral into a bad week. Sometimes I had to take one meal at a time, but it meant that when I found my current group after being an online member for a while, I’d only gained 2 pounds rather than, well, everything I’d previously lost.

6. Don’t take things at face value

This is something I’ve been thinking about after starting my new group, because the people there haven’t seen me at my biggest. On the face of things it’s easy to look at me and think ‘blimey, she’s lost over 7 stone in a fairly short space of time, why can’t I do that?’ I’ve had those thoughts, I still do have those thoughts. It’s natural I suppose. But then you have to dig a little deeper.

It hasn’t really taken two years for me to get to this point. In reality it’s taken decades of learning about myself, of falling down and picking myself up time and time again. So don’t feel bad if you feel you’re not making progress as quickly as someone else is, you will get there in your own sweet time.

This is my weight graph from September 2015 to now, and as you can see it’s been anything but plain sailing.

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The important thing is to focus on an overall downwards trend, and not worry about how long it will take. It will feel impossible, until all of a sudden it isn’t and target is within reaching distance. If it’s anything like my experience, it’ll sneak up on you when you least expect it!

7. Think about what scares you, and face that fear

This is something that came up in group last night, and something I’ve given a lot of thought to. Whenever I’d just had a weight loss award, I would tend to self-sabotage, and it takes a lot of introspection to find out why you’re doing it.

At first I thought my own theories were nonsense, but as I get to know myself better I realise they aren’t. The truth is, getting what you want, what you’ve fought for so hard for, for so many years, is actually quite scary.

My number one fear is what I’ll be left with when I’m done, particularly loose skin. I think it’s something we all worry about, and I know for sure that I’ve failed at weight loss attempts in the past due to negative ‘what’s the point I’ll still look crap’ thoughts sneaking in.

Going back to body positivity, those thoughts should be ignored for that reason alone, though there are others. Your body is a miraculous thing that made space for you when you were bigger. It might have been under a lot of pressure (I have had knee problems myself) but it still kept you going, and those things sometimes leave their mark. That’s OK!

I worry that people wouldn’t be attracted to me because of my body, and yeah in some cases that’s true. It’s true if even if you have a ‘perfect’ body. Not everyone is going to find us attractive! It’s easier to say this than actually believe it (it’s a tough one for me) but if someone likes you for you but can’t accept your body, then they are NOT THE ONE.

It’s a concept I’ve struggled with recently – I met someone I really clicked with, but I knew my body was not for him. It took me a long time to accept that, and it really affected my confidence (it was even a factor in stalling my weight loss) because you just can’t help it when you have intense feelings for someone.

I even started considering a tummy tuck, an idea I’d dismissed some time ago, because deep down I just wanted him to like me. But if you have to cut bits off of yourself for someone to like you, again, they are NOT THE ONE.

The other thing I’m frightened of is getting to target and it never being enough. I’m scared of what I’ll replace the buzz of getting a good loss with once I’m not losing any more. It’s a huge part of my identity right now, what happens when I’m ready to stop losing for the first time in my whole life?

The truth is I’ll be stumbling around in the dark for a while, but it has to be done anyway. When I do think about how life has changed for me (that’ll be covered in another post as soon as I can find the words) it’s even scarier to imagine going back to how I was before.

Well, I suppose I’d say those are my top tips so I’ll leave it there for now. In any case I hope it has been useful, and it’s definitely been helpful for me to get these thoughts that have been swimming around my head into some sort of order.

If you made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with it!

Hayley x

Hello October!

If you were reading my blog last year (can someone please tell me where the time has gone?) then you may vaguely recall my disastrous attempts at #onplanoctober. I had the best intentions at the beginning, but overall I didn’t do very well. This time around I’m going to do it – have every single day on plan throughout the whole month, NO EXCEPTIONS.

Why am I going to succeed this time around I hear you ask? Well the difference is my attitude I think. This year I really want to do it, whereas last year I was using it as a tool to try and force myself to stay on track. It had its uses, as I did do better than if I hadn’t tried at all, but now I have no doubt at all that I’m going to do it.

By the time the month is through I will be lighter than when it started, and I will have my Gold Body Magic award under my belt. I’ve just made a strong start to week 5 (of 8) with a 2 hour walk into town and back, with plenty of plans to do more throughout the week. In fact it’s going to be quite a busy week, but I’ll talk more about upcoming events as they occur.

I’m enjoying making the most of these blue skies while they last, as there’s a definite nip in the air now.

Although technically it’s now Tuesday, since I haven’t slept yet I’ll let you know how ‘today’s’ weigh in went. I would have been in bed earlier, but I stayed up to watch a film with the family. I still would have had time to update the blog while it was still Monday, but we paused halfway through when my brother noticed a mouse had somehow found its way into the kitchen.

It was soooooo fast, it was impossible to get a good picture. I took some video but this was as good as I could get:

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Please excuse the bare floor – we should be getting a new kitchen next year so there’s no point decorating until then.

Anyway, I got sidetracked! Group was awesome – I lost 2.5 lbs meaning I’m still on track to reach target in 6 weeks or so. Amazing! Group also gave me a lot to think about, but since I’m so tired I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to explore those thoughts further. Hopefully I can pick up on all the threads in my brain.

I really didn’t think I’d lose that much again this week, and I probably didn’t look as chuffed as I should have when my consultant told me I got Slimmer of the Week again.

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I really wasn’t expecting it, and it’s been such a long day I was a little bit dazed to be honest. I only have 11.5 lbs to go before I reach target.

Less than a stone.

I’m reading the words as I write but it doesn’t seem real.

As I’ve just been wracked with yawns I think it’s time for bed and a good sleep to help me process everything.

Until next time,

thanks for reading!

Hayley x