Not my best start ever

Let’s get right into it. How did I get on at Slimming World? Well, for the first week of my restart it must have been a good one, yes?

Er, no.

4 lbs on this week and I just keep getting bigger and bigger. My current weight is 15st 10.5lbs and I’m really not happy with that. I’m moving further and further away from my goals as the days go by! What the hell is going on?

To be honest I was doing great until Sunday. I’d been 100% on plan and I was feeling pretty good in myself, but not convinced the weight was coming off. So I had a sneak peak on the scales. Ah, 3lbs on? I couldn’t believe it.

So I did what any sensible stoooopid person would do and ordered a takeaway. As such, today’s result was, unexpectedly, a nice big gain. Damn.

Something that is good is that I went to group anyway, even though I strongly considered throwing a sickie. I am glad I didn’t, but still, I’m fairly annoyed in general as you can imagine!

Good lord, I seriously need to get my act together! I try again then. What else can I do? My action plan for this week is to cut back on added salt, hold up on the white pasta, which bloats me, and no home weighing!

In the meantime I’ve had a busy weekend. I spent several hours today editing wedding photos, and they’ve gone down well. Despite spending all of my free time today on it, I’ve only got so far as the wedding morning. I’m hoping to finish up by the end of the week though, but we shall see.

This is one of my faves – the bride getting laced up into her dress. Look how happy she is!

Yesterday I was out walking with my little bro in Kent. First stop was a nature reserve in Wye, which is very small but also very steep.

Millions of years ago all of that was under water. How bonkers is that? We were there maybe an hour, just long enough to walk the nature route and realise how unfit we’ve both become. Time to get back into training I think! I also got some lovely shots.

Up until the wedding I found it very hard to enjoy photography because I was just so worried about letting my friend down, but now it’s over and done with I can relax and just enjoy taking photos again.

Since the walk didn’t take up much time, I had a back-up plan. We headed to Dungeness, also in Kent, because a friend of mine told me there’s an old boat that’s popular in with photographers. He was right, I even recognised it, but I’ve never seen anyone take the same shot as me.

There’s a kite-flying club just down the road, too, which made for some cool shots.

If that was the last summery day of the year (and I suspect it was) I’m glad I had my camera with me!

So I shall just crack on now, because what else can I do? Fitting back into my lovely clothes is so important to me, I really need to make some progress.

So here we go again, let’s hope this week is better than the last one!

Hayley x

I vs It

I’M IN LOVE!

Before you start wondering what the hell I’ve got myself into this time, then fear not. My new love cannot break my heart, because the object of my affection is just that, an object. It is a set of watercolour paints.

I must say Instagram seem to be making rather a success of their targeted ads, because they appear to know exactly what I like. When I saw these watercolours, I followed the company and saved a post in my ‘wish list’ collection. I’d come back to that after pay day.

But once posts from people using the products started filling my newsfeed, I just couldn’t wait. So what’s so special about these paints? The coolest thing, the reason I bought them, is that they are kind of printed in a little cardboard booklet! Talk about portable, they fit so nicely into my pencil case. The colours are also so vibrant and blend so well, and you only need a single brush pen with you to use them. It’s just genius.

But when they came, they turned out to be even more fabulous. Check out these colours! But the descriptions don’t quite fit, right?

Right. These paints clearly come directly from Diagon Alley, because they’re nothing short of magic. And you only need the teeniest bit on your brush for a whole load of colour.

I neither know nor care how they do it! They are expensive, but they’ve already been so much fun to use and it’s nigh on impossible to paint a bad picture with them. I’ve used them every single day since I got them.

Check out Viviva Color Sheets if you want to know more.

In between painting, sketching, and stressing about weddings, I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking. I reckon my inner toddler has been showing up in full force, because truth be told, I think I’ve just been rebelling against all things diet.

I didn’t want to eat my veggies. I didn’t want to be healthy. I wanted ice cream for breakfast, and on more than one occasion, I did just that.

It started off with hormones, medication, life-changing decisions… all of that making me reach for unhealthy foods in an effort to comfort myself or try to relieve the intense cravings I was experiencing. But I’ve done the work on this before so it didn’t take much for me to go back and revisit what I learned previously.

My findings come from the book Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hensen, but knowing me I’ve quite possibly got everything arse about tit. If it sounds like something you’d find useful, I’d recommend cutting out the middle woman and just reading the book.

Anyway, the book theorises (I think the brain is too complicated for solid conclusions and in any case, the author isn’t a scientist) that the more primitive part of the brain (It) is just trying to keep us alive in times of food deprivation. If my brain thinks I’m starving, it’s going to send out strong signals for me to find food.

As I lose weight, part of my brain thinks there’s a problem and tries its hardest to protect me. This part of the brain is a bit behind with the times and doesn’t know there’s a 24hr BP garage down the road. I tried to tell it but it just will not listen to reason.

As I start to agree with its compelling arguments to find sugar and fat, I build myself a nice little habit of binge eating, and thus find it incredibly difficult to break out of once I’m feeling better.

The thing is though, it’s the more recently developed part of the brain (I) that is in charge. I can choose to listen to the other part of my brain’s compelling arguments (you had a hard night at work, you deserve to binge. You are worried about the wedding, a binge will make you feel better) and ignore it. The more I do this, the better I become at doing it, and eventually urges to binge subside.

I know it works, I’ve done it before! I just needed to re-read the book to remind myself of all this and get myself back in control. The book talks about ‘intrusive’ thoughts to binge, as if it’s not really coming from me. That’s exactly how it feels.

I don’t want this. I want to be healthy and in control.

I can be, because I am ultimately in charge.

Now I’m back in this good mental space, I felt it was the right time to return to Slimming World. I have put on just under three stone since last November, but weirdly I’m not too worried. I know I’ve got this now.

I’m doing a complete fresh start. My start weight is 15st 6.5lbs, with a target of 13st. There won’t be much to write about in terms of my diet, because I have no doubt I’m going to smash it. There won’t be many struggles to get out onto the page. I will however update you every Monday. Let’s do this!

Since I’m getting back into healthy habits, I started yesterday with a big long walk, in the rain no less. My waterproofs just about still fit me, as long as I don’t attempt to bend over.

It’s a really nice feeling knowing I don’t have anything scary coming up and I can spend my time enjoying art and nature exactly as I see fit.

Today I finally timed the route in the park near me without stopping for photos. I only took one shot, still moving, as I was joined by this wonderful entourage. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take them home, boooooo.

Well, I’m back at work tonight after a quite wonderful week off, but to be honest it’ll be nice to get back into something of a routine!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The One and Only Wedding

Finally I can stop worrying, because the wedding is done! The relief is almost palpable. Friday night I had something between four and five hours sleep, that’s how stressed I was. I just couldn’t get off.

I learned a lot this weekend. I learned that anything related to a wedding will take at least four times as long as it would ordinarily. I learned that you need someone to boss the wedding party around otherwise nothing will ever get done. I realised that wedding guests are like particularly unruly cats who just refuse to go where you want them to. In short, I learned I am never doing this again!

I’m not complaining though, because despite all of the negatives I actually had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the experience. The first plus point was meeting Kerry, my friend’s parents’ goddaughter. The usher dropped out last minute at which point Kerry stepped in, and she was BRILLIANT.

I’ve rarely met someone I’ve liked so quickly and so fully – she’s an absolute diamond and I truly believe the bride would still be getting into her dress now if we hadn’t had her to keep everyone in check. She’s a pure soul, completely and utterly herself at all times and so full of life. She helped me fulfil my photographic duties no end, and even had some great suggestions for shots which came out beautifully. I will be forever grateful that she was there. She’s also a wonderful hair stylist, with her own salon no less, so if you’re ever in Devon and need your hair (or beard) tended to, you can find her at Shortcutz.

Here she is taking a break in her ushering duties getting the groom’s beard under control.

At this point I even managed to sneak in a selfie of me in the wonderful dress!

The scariest part for me was the bride coming down the aisle. It was a particularly short aisle, and I just didn’t have the time to screw up. But I got the shot, then I could relax a bit. That was probably the part I was most worried about. Anything else could be redone. After that I could breathe again.

Then came the group shots, and a really weird thing happened. I kind of ended up in charge, taking over from Kerry, but the especially strange thing is that I was pretty good at it! I really surprised myself. What’s more, I enjoyed it.

I well and truly found my very loud ‘do as I say’ voice which certainly carried itself all the way to the stragglers at the bar, but when people were being particularly stubborn I found that I was bossing them around in a nice way, with a smile on my face. I actually spent a large portion of this stage of the proceedings laughing my head off. I never knew I had being confident in front of 60 people all looking to me for direction in me!

Next up I got into a stunningly beautiful VW camper van with the newlyweds where we drove to a nice spot to get the couple shots.

In a way I’m disappointed with what I got, because if I’d had a couple of hours to play around I could have done so much more. But I didn’t have a couple of hours, I had about 20 minutes. The couple have seen an initial couple of edits and thankfully they’re over the moon. I don’t have to move away and change my name after all!

The chap who drove the van, Lawrence from Retro Rides 4 Brides, was just an absolute star. I told him I’d never photographed a wedding before and he chipped in straight away with the best shots he’d seen other photographers do during the course of his work. He was so friendly and helpful, I honestly could have cried with how sweet everyone involved was. I’m feeling the love!

The DJ in the evening was the same. He arranged his lights the way most photographers asked it to be done to make sure they didn’t ruin the shots for the first dance, he took the time to learn my name and made sure I was available before he announced the dance or the cake cutting.

Once those bits were done I really started to enjoy myself. Official duties were over, so I dumped my flash in my room, grabbed my fastest lens (the lens that lets in the most light, so it’s good for low light conditions) and did what I do best – just capturing little moments throughout the night where the subjects are none the wiser. Because I don’t have to think so much about this kind of photography, I unashamedly got on the G&T’s. Which explains the dreadful hangover I had the next day.

Now the editing really begins, and I have a lot of work to do. Professional photographers often allow months for this turnaround, so I’m happy to take my time and do it over the next couple of weeks. I don’t want to rush it.

Plus I have other things to be getting on with, which I’ll talk about in the next post. The wedding day felt very much like both an ending for me and a new beginning, which I wasn’t expecting.

Right, time for me to get on now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Student Digs

Whenever I’ve stayed away from home lately I’ve been spoiled. Over the last year or so I’ve grabbed some serious bargains when it comes to accommodation (the cheapest being FREE) and I’ve been super lucky that everywhere I stayed was rather lovely. I suppose my luck had to run out eventually.

Tonight I am staying in Canterbury ready for my friend’s wedding tomorrow, which I’m photographing. I only wanted a place nearby where I could sleep, because I don’t want to be braving the motorway on the morning of the wedding. Especially as the M20 is closed in both directions near my friend’s house. That would not be wise.

Since I’m only sleeping here, it’s not too much of a problem that it’s not exactly the nicest place I’ve stayed in. It smells like dog, and it’s generally all a bit forlorn, but it’ll do. I can just about see Canterbury cathedral from my room.

Since it’s a university town this kind of accommodation is to be expected, and it was dirt cheap, so I’m sure not complaining. I spent the money I saved in a Mountain Warehouse round the corner as they are in the midst of a massive sale. I bought a couple of quick-drying bits which I love, love, love. I wear moisture-wicking clothing whenever I can these days, it’s the best!

Anyway with this wedding imminent I can’t decide if I’m being calm today because I think I know what I’m doing, or if I’m in complete denial and will freak out tomorrow. It’s anyone’s guess.

I ate at Wagamama and spent the time between courses arriving finalising my shot list as well as making sure I have everything covered and appropriately planned. I am feeling positive but I’ll also be mightily glad when it’s all over. My friend hasn’t had the best track run when it comes to weddings, so this better be the last one he has because I sure ain’t photographing another one!

In the meantime, for all of my talk about avoiding diet culture I finally hit my limit. I have been unable to locate my off switch so I’m going back to Slimming World for help!

Basically I have put on a rather large and unacceptable amount of weight (the dress I bought only a couple of weeks ago for this very wedding is already rather tight) and I’m feeling downright uncomfortable now. My own reflection is looking odd to me. I look like I’ve been stung by several bees.

I don’t regret my actions of the last few months. I made big changes in my life and I needed to get to a good place before I could really think clearly about my diet.

What I do wish is that I could have figured out exactly what was going on at the time. The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing is it not?

I think what I wanted deep down was a break from it all, and that’s what I got. But boy did I beat around the bush first!

After years of dedicating most of my thoughts to making progress with my weight, I’d just had enough. Plus my brain was too busy focusing on other things.

Now I really, really feel ready to continue, and it’s actually quite an inconvenience to have this wedding in the meantime. To be honest I’d like to start eating properly RIGHT NOW, but instead I have another day before my food is back in my own control.

It’s not the end of the world though. Tomorrow is going to be so busy (I will be on the go from 7am to midnight) it’ll be over before I know it.

I might not feel comfortable as I am, but I also know I’ll be feeling a million times better in just a week or two. It won’t take much to turn this around.

My plan today had been to explore Canterbury, but I didn’t even get a chance. The time has just disappeared. Instead I’m going to get as much sleep as possible to I’m in the best condition for tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Hayley x

Duxford

I’ve got a lot to do today but since most of it needs to be done in my room, and I don’t want to disturb Pea (who is eating her breakfast) I thought I’d settle down with a cup of coffee and get a blog post on the go.

Yesterday I had the most wonderful time with my little brother. I took him to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, as that dude basically loves everything that either has an engine, makes loud noises, goes fast, or has some combination of all of those things.

I’m not exactly fussed about those things, except for maybe one time when I had an Alfa Romeo and had a sports exhaust put on it. The only reason I did that was because it worked out cheaper, but it did sound amazing and I did rather enjoy my boy racer phase.

But as far as planes go, it’s not really my bag. However I’m always up for an opportunity for learning about new things and a chance to get a good photo.

What I did find is that I’m absolutely in awe that anything ever got into the air. Especially as things became more advanced. How did anyone figure out how to make a jet engine? Especially the ones made before computers came along. I figure it must be witchcraft. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

I’m also shocked that my brother knows as much about these things as he does. Sometimes he makes up pretend facts to see how much he can get away with making me believe, so I’ve developed a healthy level of suspicion for anything he says.

But yesterday he was telling me all kinds of facts about aircraft and engines, only for us to turn the corner and see exactly what he’d said written on the information boards. Clever little git he is.

My personal highlight though was the ‘trying on’ section, which just reinforced how important it is to me to keep my weight under control. I love dressing up, which becomes much harder in larger sizes. The first jacket below only just went on, but the other jacket actually looked really good on me. Part of me (a big part) wanted to walk out wearing it and hope no one would notice.

I don’t want to ever have to miss the opportunity to look ridiculous in public, although the following hat would look the same at any size I think.

Yup. Rocking it. Although they had my number by this point so it was safely chained up so I couldn’t steal it. Damn.

Another thing I found out is that some of the visitors are brutal. There’s a board where you can write on a piece of card about ‘what aviation has done for you’. A lot of it is what you’d expect – people being saved by air ambulances and getting to visit beloved family members abroad. Others went the other way…

Jesus Helen-aged-14, that’s a bit dark, and the ‘kerboom!’ may have been in poor taste. I suppose I shouldn’t really judge after my fashion sesh though…

In all we spent over five hours there, and I didn’t get bored once. My brother on the other hand said he’d quite happily live there. I think that means he liked it.

Today is just a sorting and cleaning day for me. Pea should have finished her meal by now, so it’s time to go and clean up her poops. At least life is never dull.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Love Conkers All

Aha, I’m BACK! Where have I been you might ask?

I don’t rightly know.

In fact I didn’t realise just how far I’d wandered until I returned. I started feeling a bit more like myself last week, but as I said in my last post, part of me was waiting for it all to go wrong again. I certainly wasn’t going to be counting any chickens before they’d hatched, not this time.

But the weird old month of August did its thing – I set some boundaries, I accepted some things that couldn’t be changed, I stopped waiting for apologies and explanations that I knew wouldn’t come, and I started living for myself. It was like my inner self knew that it was safe to come back home.

Now we’re back together again we’re stronger than ever, and we are finally on the same page as far as weight loss goes. I might not be miserable where I am now, but I’m not prepared to settle for simply ‘not being miserable’. I can do be better than that. I can make a really good life for myself. Can and WILL.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much conflicted. I so, so want a world without diet culture, because there’s so much wrong with it. Most of us know that the vast majority of people who go down that road end up right back where they started or, worst case scenario, with a serious eating disorder. I know that my relationship with food is not a good one, and I know that as a dieter (especially one who does it in the public domain) I’m part of the problem.

Whenever I post a before and after picture, I’m sending out a subconscious message to everyone who still looks like my ‘before’ picture that they need to change. I’m making an assumption that because my life was horrible at that size, then theirs must be too. I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want the way society views fat people to carry on as it is now.

On the other hand (and this is where I start myself running around in circles) I am SO GOSH DARN DETERMINED to get back to 12 stone 10 pounds and nothing will stop me doing that! I want to fit into my nice clothes that have become too small. I want to continue to take advantage of vastly more clothing options than I used to have. I want to continue to be able to find things that fit in charity shops. I JUST WILL NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.

I’m aware that I’m a hypocrite, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept about myself for now. That’s probably the least harsh thing I’ve thought about myself in recent times, so there’s progress there at least.

So it’s a new season, a new start, and autumn is coming in strong! I’m off work this week and I’ll be honest, I’m currently sitting in the garden wearing warm socks, a cosy cardigan, with a lovely glass of red wine at my side. The big push to get back to my target weight starts properly next week when I don’t have so much going on. Until then I’m simply refusing to give it too much headspace.

My disentanglement from my last post continues however, because despite what I’ve eaten I’ve still managed to hold on to the enormous value of going for a lovely walk. Typically if I’ve eaten rubbish I default to a ‘what’s the point’ attitude, but there’s always a point.

My most recent walk was intended as an experiment. I devised a new route that I think will take me about 45 minutes, but the last time I did it, it took me about an hour as I kept stopping to take photos.

What I want is a decent, shortish route that I enjoy walking so that I can do it every day and still fit in all of my arty pursuits, which I am loving with an absolute passion right now.

So Saturday morning, straight after work I told myself sternly – ‘no photos, ‘kay? Let’s just get a move on and see how long it takes’. 30 seconds later, however…

Well! I can’t be blamed, can I? It was a beautiful morning and there was so much to see! The route that took me an hour last time took me an hour-and-a-half this time round. Oh well, it’s not like the park is going anywhere.

I did nearly get stuck in a ditch trying to find my way into a field isn’t officially part of the park and that was full of early-morning mist. The sun was hitting it just perfectly, but I couldn’t get the shot. After escaping from the deceptively deep ditch, I took a detour thinking I could get through but I hit a dead end – a little cul-de-sac in the woodland with one special feature. A frikkin horse-chestnut tree!

I don’t find a decent conker in years then I stumble across this untouched treasure trove! Quite simply, I am winning at life.

As I mentioned before, my arty pursuits are becoming so much fun. Trying to make something used to exhaust me, because I always found it hard to push through the ‘ugh this is going to be sh*t’ moments. From what I can tell I think everyone has those. What I’ve found is that things always look a bit pants halfway through, so now I just accept it as part of the process.

Yesterday I spent all day making a really cool present for my brother. I’ll share that in a couple of weeks once his birthday has come and gone.

What I can share now is my journal progress which I’m oh so happy with! This morning I woke up at 3am, unable to get back to sleep, so I painted this whilst watching the new Netflix series of The Dark Crystal.

I absolutely adored those weird 80’s movies, whilst simultaneously being rather terrified of them. In fact David Bowie in Labyrinth used to scare the absolute bejaysus out of me and often I couldn’t watch it without my mum in the room. I kinda miss being that kind of scared of things, it was fun!

A few birdies later and it was time for a check up at the dentist, which is testament to how much better I’m being at taking care of myself. My check up was a year overdue, but thankfully no treatment is needed so after a clean I went on my merry way.

After that I went to visit an old work friend for coffee and a catch up, but I needed some serious nap time when I got home. Which again will leave me awake at stupid hours when I have another early start tomorrow. Ah well, what can you do? I’m taking my brother somewhere fun as a surprise, so more on that after the event.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Disentanglement

Although I’m not ready to jump straight into the world of intuitive eating, that doesn’t mean I haven’t considered some small and immediate changes I want to start making. It also doesn’t mean I haven’t been giving things a significant amount of thought. That’s kinda my thing you see, chronic over-thinker for sure. As long as my thoughts aren’t going round in circles and I’m making progress though, I can deal with that particular character trait.

What I’ve started doing is untangling the mess that is my current view of what my health means to me. The problem is, the threads of diet culture are mixed right up in there, and it’s going to take a while to separate them. There are a fair few knots to undo.

My first priority is to isolate my reasons for eating healthily that have nothing to do with weight loss. If I were giving intuitive eating a proper go, then I’d have to put weight loss completely out of my mind, however I’ve already established I’m definitely not ready for that. What is clear though is that my increasing weight is not enough of a motivator to stop my binge eating behaviours.

What I’ve been doing then is thinking about my other reasons, and it turns out they’re pretty damn solid as reasons go!

    Smells. When I eat a lot of rubbish, my tummy goes wrong. TMI? Undoubtedly, however you guys know I keep it real on here as much as I can. I’ve eaten well for just under 48 hours and already this windy situation has drastically improved (much to the relief of my poor family).
    Indigestion. It only takes one day of me eating well for any heartburn/indigestion to completely disappear.
    Mood. Healthy food helps with a healthy mood!
    Taste. I really love fruits and vegetables. I genuinely don’t think there’s a person on earth who is as into kale as I am. So when I’m eating rubbish I have no idea why I don’t include lovely veg in my meals. I want to think about what I genuinely enjoy rather than how I can use something sugary to self-medicate my depression.
    Sleep. When I eat better, my sleep quality is better. If I’m having trouble getting off I can send myself into a ‘sugar coma’, however a good sleep that does not make. Afterwards I’ll wake up after a short, restless sleep with my heart pounding and feeling like it’s trying to escape my chest.
    Skin quality. Crappy food means crappy skin, and lots of really itchy, painful spots that get redder and sorer without breaking the surface of the skin.
    Energy. The more crap I eat, the more lethargic I feel, the more I crave a sugar fix, the longer the cycle continues.

As you can see that’s more than enough to be getting on with! At the same time I’m going to switch to weighing myself on the first Monday of every month, starting in October. I’m going to try really hard not to weigh myself at all until then. I’m tired of being a slave to the scales, but I also want to keep an eye on things to a certain extent.

If I can do this (and I’m sure I can) I think it will reinforce the above reasons for eating well rather than waiting for affirmation from the scales. This way I hope to be more in touch with how I’m actually feeling. All the while I’ll keep reading and learning more about intuitive eating on the whole, building up my knowledge for when I take my next step.

Since this morning was the first time I managed to control myself whilst going to the shops straight after work in over a MONTH, I’m feeling very positive about it all. I thought about what I actually wanted to eat, and it turned out to be a big juicy orange!

I’d tentatively say that things are on the up, since I feel better than I have done in months, but I’m also staying alert and looking out for signs that it’s another false start. I don’t think it is though.

I think that’s enough reflection for one day. I’ve been out for a few walks lately and plan to go straight from work tomorrow morning, but despite the heatwave of the last few days there are definite signs of autumn in the air.

My plan is to get out walking as many times a week as possible from now on, because last year (and every year now I think of it) I’ve failed to find a single conker. This is unacceptable. Since autumn is so gosh darn beautiful, I’ll be recording as much of it as possible in my journal, which I’m completely addicted to.

I won my current journal in a YouTube competition, perhaps two or three years ago, and I’ve only just figured out the style of journaling that works for me. It took trial and error to find out what I like, but better late than never, eh?

This week’s theme is ‘garden birds’, and I’m copying (emulating?) a wonderful artist by the name of Matt Sewell. I have his book ‘Our Garden Birds’ but I never looked through it properly until now. In fact I have a few birdy art books I’ve never dedicated any proper time to.

It’s good practice, and Mr Sewell is SO TALENTED. At the beginning of the book it explains about jizz (is that a rude term in your neck of the woods? Because it certainly is in mine!)

In the bird world it refers to capturing the overall ‘vibe’ of a bird, and I doubt anyone does it as beautifully or simply as this particular artist.

I haven’t felt this inspired to keep up with my art since I was doing my GCSE at school. I got an A* by the way, one of the things I’m still very proud of to this day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a much more positive blog than I’ve been posting of late – I’m sure I enjoyed having the opportunity to write something truly happy for a change!

Until next time,

Hayley x

Uncharted Territories

I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this here post. I feel like I have travelled enormous distances these past few weeks, and from here on in we venture into the unknown. It’s scary, and exciting.

I’ve changed so much in the last 18 months. At my core I’m still the same, as a wonderful friend pointed out to me. Perhaps neither of us knew it at the time, but I felt like I was drowning and she threw me a lifeline. I still have the same core values – I may mess up, and I may have messed up more frequently and severely lately than ever before in my life, but I’m still me and I still want the same things. I want to be the best version of me that I can, and I want to be happy. I want the people I love to be happy too. That’s it in a nutshell.

I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads, because the best version of me no longer equals the slimmest version of me.

One of the ways I’ve changed a lot relates to dieting, and because of that Slimming World is no longer a good fit for me. I have much to be thankful for, such as incredible friends I may not have met otherwise. That’s the most important thing to me of all. The support at Slimming World is great, but with around 50 people attending a group it’s understandable that you can only delve so deep. After all, consultants aren’t trained as psychologists. Even if they were they aren’t there for full-on emotional support, and although most I’ve met would do it in a heartbeat it wouldn’t be fair to ask that of them.

I’ve scratched the surface, but I have a lot more work to do. A Slimming World group just isn’t the place for me to grow anymore, as much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I’ve been going for the best part of three years now, and trying to force myself to carry on when I don’t want to has been having a negative effect. I felt guilty because I didn’t want to abandon my friends, I felt scared I was using it as an excuse to abandon my diet, and I felt trapped because deep down I really didn’t want to be there. In the end the new part of me, the one I’ve been nurturing for a while, decided that I was just going to do what was right for me. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’ve been thinking about learning how to eat intuitively for a while now, because there are a whole bunch of people out there learning how to have lives free from diet culture. It’s possible to be happy, and whole. It takes a long time, but it can be done. I can barely even imagine it, but I want it. I want it bad.

However, I know I’m not ready yet. Intuitive eating isn’t about weight loss, and I want to get my recent gains off, for good. Ordinarily as soon as I feel happier or resolve something that’s been bothering me, I jump straight back on the wagon and get on with things. Since a lot has been bothering me lately, I figured I’d got the taste for the sweet stuff and needed to go cold turkey, but no matter how good I felt or how much I filled up on healthy food, I couldn’t seem to get it together.

This last week I’ve had a few downs, but now I feel good. Not just good, SUPER GOOD. So why then, do I still feel truly, ravenously, tummy-achingly hungry ALL THE FRIKKIN TIME? I normally feel a bit like this when I’m hormonal, but it never lasts for this length of time.

I just couldn’t understand it.

I decided to spend a few days just eating what I wanted whenever I wanted, whilst trying to gauge my feelings and cravings as an outsider. To just be an observer, and not be invested in what was happening. There was no need to feel guilt, or worry about gaining weight. It was an experiment. Weight gain would just be an interesting data point to analyse.

I didn’t worry or fret about the results, and do you know what happened? I only went and figured it out. It was a genuine facepalm moment. I went back to check my dates and weight history to check I was right.

Yup.

It’s the flipping anti-depressants messing with my appetite, I’m sure of it!

Now what I feel is sweet, sweet relief. If you don’t know what the problem is how can you fix it? But now I have something I can change! I have to consider my options. Am I ready to come off of the pills now I’ve removed so many damaging things from my life? Shall I go the doctor to ask about trying a different medication where I may get different side effects? Something else I haven’t thought of yet? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that there is hope. In any case I’m not taking my mental health lightly and I’m waiting for a referral to come through for some kind of counselling, so I’ll still be getting help.

When I thought about intuitive eating I never thought it could ever work for me, not when my body was screaming at me that we really, really wanted a tub of Ben & Jerry’s even though we’d just eaten a pizza, a load of garlic bread, plus 3 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That’s six slices of bread on top of what is already a significant amount of pizza dough! I’m pretty sure that in such cases the body is not to be trusted.

But if my body returns to sending me proper signals again that I can tune into, then one day I can be free. Free from a lifetime of trying to shrink. Free from points or Syns or macros. I used to think such thoughts meant I was deluded, that such a thing couldn’t be done. That the balance I’ve yearned for all these years could never be attained. In the meantime the evidence keeps mounting up that it yes it can!

As such I now begin a new chapter of my life and I’m absolutely ready for it! As I mentioned before, I still intend to get these gains off, which is going to take a lot of hard work whilst I feel like my tummy is a huge, gaping hole that can never be filled. While I’m doing that my plan is to learn, learn and learn some more, along with feeding my soul with books, art, friends, family and experiences. In other words, with life.

Before I sign off I’ll briefly return to the ordinary kind of blogging where I ramble on about everyday life a little bit. After a few years now of falling in love with nature, I’d say I’m more attuned to it than most. I’m pretty good at spotting things others might miss.

Perhaps that’s why, at work last night, I spotted a small-yet-perfectly-formed mushroom growing out of the wall outside the toilets. It was absolutely thriving in some seepage leaking out between a crack on the wall and the floor, though I dread to imagine the exact nature of said seepage.

As such today’s journal page was dedicated to mushrooms, though the work one was not as exciting as those shown here. They are all drawn from pictures of mushrooms I found myself whilst out and about.

I then spent a ridiculous amount of time going through my photo albums. Even with some relatively nice experiences I’ve had over the last year many of my photos had bad, bad memories attached to them. I was conflicted for a while, thinking that if I removed them it wasn’t an ‘honest’ record of my time.

I then realised it was stupid to hang on to things that hurt me, and when I looked back over what remained for 2018, my year clearly was not nearly the write-off I thought it had been. There was plenty of good stuff to look back on and I ended the exercise feeling a whole lot better.

No more hanging on to the bad stuff, it’s time to move on.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

City Limits

Before I get into things I’m so pleased I can finally share the below picture. It has now been received by Mr Daveywankenobie and partner so I can show you what is possibly the loveliest thing I’ve ever made.

Although I haven’t met said partner yet she seems absolutely wonderful, and I couldn’t have made something that adorable without their relationship as inspiration. #relationshipsgoals right there, and whilst in general it’s not helpful to compare yourself to others, I refuse to settle for anything less than what they have in future. Because I’m worth it! Check out Davey’s recent blog post on that very subject in fact -it’s a good ‘un.

Today I’m still feeling upbeat after a lovely day out with my little sister yesterday. Since she’s off work for an obscene amount of time (bloody teachers!) it has now become tradition for us to go to London for tasty treats every summer holiday.

We headed to Camden because we wanted to go somewhere from our extensive list of vegan places to try, and that’s where Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner happens to be situated.

It wasn’t open for a while (we like to start early) so we had a mosey around Camden. First up was the garden centre, which puts the measly little sections you get at B&Q and Homebase to shame. I’m fast transitioning to a plant lady, so I thought I’d get some inspiration.

Look at that. Actual olives on trees!

Then we went into Cyberdog which I’ve seen from the outside many times, but my sister, who has been in before, suggested I give it a go.

It’s full of flashing lights and neon rave attire, but the most interesting part is the downstairs section. Unfortunately no photography is allowed in that part, but let’s just say it’s not every day your sister takes you to a sex shop. Camden never ceases to surprise!

Changing the subject briefly, apart from being worried about letting my friend down when I photograph his wedding, I was also feeling worried about what I’d wear since I’ve put on weight. I don’t feel comfortable in anything I have already so I’ve been on the lookout for something in a larger size for the occasion. I also didn’t want to put pressure on myself to attempt losing a large amount of weight before the 7th of September. That kind of thing never works out for me.

It felt like admitting defeat though, and I wasn’t feeling great about it.

Since I like vintage-style things, my sister pointed out a clothes shop called Collectif. We went inside and they had so much stuff I liked. I picked up a few things to try on, but when I came across a beautiful blue lace dress everything else went by the wayside. This was the one.

I tried it on and I felt fabulous. I didn’t even care that it says it’s a size 18, which I haven’t bought for a long time. It doesn’t matter, it’s just a number! What matters is it fit me properly and has a beautiful swishy skirt that is so much fun to twirl in.

On the label it said reduced from £125 to £43.75, but when I got to the checkout they applied a further reduction. I paid just £31.20 for this gorgeous piece of clothing. Sweet!

After a coffee the diner was finally open so we filled our tummies full of vegan junk. I had a burger and a peanut butter ‘milkshake’ while my sister went for the hotdog. It was all sooooo good, but the milkshake was heaven.

We absolutely had to go to Doughnut Time, because they ramped up their Biscoff doughnut (now called the David Hassel-Biscoff) and I’ve been hankering to try it ever since.

It was just the absolute best. I’ve never had anything like it before, but there’s so much sugar in there it’s probably best I only have one a year. Much more delicious and hefty than the last Biscoff doughnut I had.

After picking up some art supplies for an art day me and the sister have planned in the coming weeks, I was all Londoned out. After a while all the people start to get to me and I hit my limit, so we got ourselves back home just in time. It all worked out perfectly.

Although I ate a lot of junk yesterday, it’s a whole different ball game to a binge. It’s a case of eating junk because it’s delicious and I’m enjoying time with my sister, rather than shoving down crap because I feel sad and I’m trying, desperately trying, to smother my real feelings with food. It doesn’t exactly feel like that when I’m doing it, but when I consider what happened afterwards it feels like that’s what was going on.

Today I feel in control, and whilst I have a planned meal out this evening I’m not tempted to eat a pile of rubbish beforehand. This is a very good thing, because ordinarily it would be the perfect excuse. ‘Well I’m being naughty later so what’s the point in being good now?’

None of that today though. I’m too busy getting my s**t together and generally feeling good. No time for any nonsense!

The coming days are going to be good ones. Even though I’m back at work.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A Rock and a Hard Place

For some months I’ve been spending too much time with people who set great store by someone’s physical appearance. I’ve met people who I thought were quite nice only for a Facebook status to pop up saying something like obese people are a waste of space and should euthanised. They are of course now blocked, and although I am totally, passionately opposed to these kinds of views, because of the way I tend to put myself down, hearing/reading such things chipped away at my self-worth alarmingly quickly.

When I removed myself from that environment I found that a lot of my motivation to lose weight lately has been to keep others happy. Or perhaps it’s more a case of subconsciously trying to gain their approval, now I look back on it. When I came back to my senses, I took the brakes off and ate EVERYTHING, and I haven’t stopped since. This alone would be problematic, but since eating rubbish does nothing to help depression, my mood has plummeted. On top of that I’ve slipped back into binge eating behaviours with absolute ease, I feel like a failure, I need to retain some confidence to photograph my friend’s wedding and I’m terrified of letting him down. Every time that particular thought comes to mind I find myself back at the fridge door.

The rock is me knowing that my self-worth doesn’t stem from my weight or size, so I’ll eat what I want, right? The hard place is knowing that I’m not at a point yet where I can stop following a plan and just be a bit more relaxed – instead I immediately develop a huge problem with disordered eating.

I know, I know deep down that I want to be 12 stone 10 pounds. I want it for me, only for me, and I will stop at nothing to get there. I’ve had so many doubts about this lately, and in the back of my head I’ve been trying to think of a way out other than admitting that the only way I’ll get to where I want to be is by facing up to the mess I’ve made of the last year-and-a-half and starting over.

Well, not entirely over, I’m still 6.5 stone down from when I started, but you know what I mean.

I’m not going to make promises, because I’ve made promises to myself every day this week and I’ve broken every single one. I’m out with my sister tomorrow for vegan eats in the city, and I’m out for a meal Tuesday for my dad’s birthday. Once they are done with all I can do is try my hardest to truly have a fresh start.

Except I also have other events dotted around up until the 10th of September, and I don’t cope well with having things in the pipeline. After then I’m not making any plans unless they involve coffee, walking or art, all of which I can do with my favourite people. I’m going to do this, I know I’ll never be satisfied till I do.

It hasn’t been all bad though. Today I started my Christmas shopping record-breakingly early, although that was not my intention when I left the house this morning.

My brother and I went to seek out antiques, and that’s just what we found, at Battlesbridge Antiques Centre. There are loads of different traders there, but they were all much of a muchness. Antiques dealers are FLIPPING WEIRD. I found them all invariably unwelcoming, there were all kinds of odd smells that cannot be attributed simply to old stuff, and it was mostly junk that was waaaaay overpriced. Most strange of all was that they didn’t seem to want you to buy anything.

I overheard some people discussing whether their business would take off, while standing in the doorway blocking access to potential customers and ignoring people in the vicinity who clearly wanted to come in. We found this a lot, especially in the spaces that were especially cramped. Either the dealers wouldn’t let you in, or we couldn’t find them. It’s like… we would like to give you some money please?

If proof of strangeness is needed, consider this:

Definitely odd. It certainly wasn’t a wasted trip because as I say I managed to stumble across a present that a friend of mine will love, I took my brother to the motorbike museum (he’s a total bike nut) and I found a great place that my nerd friends will love. I shall take them all there one day, though perhaps not at the same time.

Behold, the Nerd Base!

Inside the Thundercats theme song was playing on a loop, there’s a life size model of Deadpool and I found loads of 80’s toys I’d forgotten I even had back in the day. Wicked!

As for buying old stuff I shall stick to the charity shops because to be quite honest I tend to find more interesting things in them than anywhere else. You just have to keep looking. Plus the staff are way nicer (and also actually in the shop).

In between the search for bargains, I really will keep trying to get it together. I’ll never give up!

Hayley x