Accidental Fright Night

I got myself into a great little routine. I visit a friend once or twice a week for dinner before I go to work, but he gets home right in the middle of rush hour and I cannot STAND rush hour. So I head over to his neck of the woods a couple of hours before and go for a nice long walk.

Unfortunately I’m going to have to stop doing this though, because I forgot about daylight savings. Well, I didn’t completely forget since I was working Saturday night and had to stay an extra hour on Sunday morning, but I did forget that it gets dark sooner now.

Halfway around the park nighttime was setting in, and being on your own in the woods at night is not exactly the best idea!

It started out ok, but when it really started to get dark I must admit I felt more than a little uneasy.

Especially when I happened upon a fake bat that someone had hung from the park sign!

Luckily I had my head torch with me for the return journey, as I think I would have struggled to find my way without it.

So it’s time for a rethink when it comes to my park walking. I may have to stick to more local parks and I’ll definitely have to go earlier in the day. Unless I have company that is.

Yesterday I also made a proper start on my Christmas present-making. I had subconsciously been putting it off so whenever I got my materials out I’d just be concentrating on organising them, planning what I was making or deciding that I needed something else before I could begin. I was worried that the ideas in my head wouldn’t live up to the real thing, which of course sometimes they don’t, but if I keep thinking along those lines I’ll never get anything done. Now I’ve actually started, a fire has been lit and I’m ready to do all the things. I’m so excited!

Unfortunately I can’t share ANY of it here until after Christmas day, because lots of people are getting personalised versions of the same thing so I simply can’t make it public. But it’s worth it, because this is what gives me the fuzzy Christmas feelings!

People who aren’t used to making stuff sometimes think that a handmade gift is a bit of a cop out, that it’s a cheap or easy way of giving, but it often isn’t either of those things. If you knit you will know that shop bought things are way cheaper, and if I added up the hours I’ll be spending on making my presents, at minimum wage, I’m guessing they’d rack up a hefty price tag.

For me, apart from the fact I love to give something really personal as a gift, a big draw is that handmade doesn’t count towards our family’s £10 each Christmas budget, so I can give extra presents. Muahahahaha, I’m so crafty!

One thing I can share with you is another project I’ve got on the go. I’m really enjoying my calligraphy lately so I decided to give bullet journaling another go. I got three cheap notebooks, because when I tried before I had a gorgeous notebook but as soon as I did a page I wasn’t happy with I gave up.

ACS_0488.jpg

This time having something that isn’t up to scratch is OK, because I want to be able to look back and see how I’ve improved. I need to stop being so damn precious about these  things.

Right, there’s nothing else to report so I need to get on and do a hundred things before work tonight.

Exaggerate? Me? I don’t think so…

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Feelin’ Slinky

Years ago, back at my old Tuesday Slimming World group, I was voted our group’s Miss Slinky. At the time I was doing well with my weight loss, but I felt anything but slinky! It’s one of the stranger Slimming World awards I think, but at least when my lovely group nominated me this time around I was at thankfully feeling a lot better about myself.

In fact I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks becoming familiar with my body again, because after pretty much maintaining for six months, the recent changes have been pretty drastic. When I first started it took about three stone before I even noticed any physical changes, but as I get closer to target I’m finding that half a stone can make a huge difference.

It seems like every day I’m finding a new part of my skeleton that I never knew existed!

Yesterday was such a busy day. I did my laundry, I took my mum to an appointment that took a lot longer than it should have, then when I got home I headed straight back out again to go veggie shopping in Lidl’s. I bought all the veg I’d need for my meal prep (and then some) that I would start as soon as I got back.

I then spent roughly three hours in the kitchen. The fruits of my labour were three soups for the freezer (syn free), four work lunches (half a syn in each) and four dinners (max two syns in each). Since I’m out Friday I don’t have to prepare any more food until Saturday lunch time. I like that a lot!

There are other benefits to this batch cooking malarkey. I don’t have anything in the fridge that needs to be used up so I have completely eliminated the prospect of any food waste. The only fresh thing I have is a bag of apples for snacking and I’m sure to use those up.

I also wildly overestimated how much veg I’d need so next week I’ll be spending even less money on food.

After meal prep I got on the exercise bike and I felt really in the zone so I smashed my workout, then I went to visit my dad before walking around the corner to my Slimming World group.

By this point I was feeling very sleepy, and since it was lovely and warm in group by the time Image Therapy started I was feeling a tad spaced out (but totally content!) I remembered to pick up my Gold Body Magic award, so I have a nice new shiny sticker and certificate, and I lost a marvellous 2 lbs! 3 to go till target!

After our group chat we voted for our Miss Slinky and Mr Sleek. There was only one Mr Sleek nominee present in group, so he won by default, but I would have voted for him anyway. He’s a smashing guy who is always helpful in group and always has a cheesy joke to tell, plus since I’ve been going he’s been roughly at target. If he’s been out of target range he’s just worked through it till he’s back where he wants to be, plus he loves walking. A man after my own heart, and an inspiration too.

Then the lovely people voted me as their Miss Slinky which gave me all of the warm fuzzy feelings inside. This is my weight loss graph for 2018 so far, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the graph has taken a nice downward trend since I started coming (and staying) to that group.

IMG_5992.PNG

Once home I had just enough time to scoff my dinner, pin my new certificates onto the wall of inspiration before going out again.

301018_3009

My current favourite part of my wall is my October calendar, where I’ve been crossing off every day I’ve spent on plan. And I’m nearly there!

301018_3010

So I headed in to work on my day off to say farewell to my manager and hand over the cash that everyone had so generously parted with. It’s certainly the end of an era – this lady has helped me so much since I’ve known her and I’ve made a friend for life, so I’m very happy to see her go on to better things.

Once home do you think I could sleep? Nah! As is usual lately I was too excited after group, but I did have a nice lay in before I start another busy week. There’s lots of hard work to be done to make sure I don’t mess up over the weekend, because I would so love to have a loss next Monday. I’ll do all I can to make sure that happens, but if luck isn’t on my side then I have no doubt that I’ll sort it out the week after!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Prep

The only reason I made it through last week with #onplanoctober intact was planning and preparation. I’ve thought about meal prep quite a lot but I’m desperately unimaginative. All I could think of was freezing piles of curry, chilli and bolognese, none of which I’m overly keen on anyway.

My attitude towards food has certainly changed over the last couple of months though, and rather than eating being a significant part of the day (although I still really enjoy my food) it’s become more of a something-to-get-out-the-way-so-I-can-do-more-interesting-things situation.

My work lunches are always standard – pasta, veggie meatballs and passata bulked out with veg – because even though it’s repetitive I always enjoy it. Besides, my coffee is always the highlight of my lunch break anyway.

As for dinners my favourite veggies are the kind you can roast, so I’ve been cooking up huge piles of aubergine, courgette, peppers and butternut squash which all keeps well in the fridge. I’m still totally addicted to aubergines and have been getting through at least seven a week, so weirdly I’ve been enjoying my veg more than any other part of my meals.

Now I have everything down pat there’s no reason why I should have to cook more than twice a week, plus I’ve got a good supply for emergencies consisting of rice pouches, the Slimming World frozen curry sauces from Iceland, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas. These are things that are easily stored, easily transportable if I’m visiting friends and family, and can be whipped up in the microwave in ten minutes. Oh, and totally on plan!

This week planning is more important than ever because I’m out for a meal on Friday. I’m doing my food preparation today, so that leaves me loads of time during the week for plenty of exercise which is more important than ever.

I’m staying over a friends house Friday night, so I’ll make sure I take my wheat biscuits and oat milk with me for breakfast the next day, then I’ll go on a nice long making-up-for-the-night-before walk first thing in the morning. I really mustn’t let that one night out seep into the next day, or the day before for that matter. I think I’ll be OK because the main draw of the meal for me is the amazing dress I’ll be wearing, and if I want to keep on wearing the collection of amazing dresses I’ve been building up, then I simply can’t afford to backtrack.

After the meal there are four weigh days left for November, and I really, really want to be at target before December. I don’t really see why I shouldn’t be, as long as I stay focused. I can do it!

If I am delayed for any reason (such as undeserved gains) then I do have a little buffer which I’m SUPER PLEASED about. My last weigh in was due to be on the 17th of December and I was really worried about it being so long between then and Christmas day. However our new consultant has decided to do a session on Christmas Eve morning, which is bloody brilliant! She is doing the same thing for New Year’s Eve, so I have a fantastic incentive for getting straight back on plan Boxing Day. I wonder, I just wonder, if I could scrape through the holiday season without a gain? It could happen! What does it all come down to? PLANNING!

In other news yesterday was extremely productive. First of all, I officially qualified for my Gold Body Magic award with a walk into town and back. That’s 8 whole weeks of 30 minutes exercise a day over five days of each week (or more). Next up is the Platinum award, which I kind of qualify for already anyway. It’s when exercise has become a permanent part of your lifestyle, which it absolutely has for me. I can’t imagine going back to sitting on my bum all day watching TV!

Nature trumps TV all day long.

Once in town I had a simply BRILLIANT shopping session. I have almost, almost, completed my winter wardrobe with a couple of Primark finds. I now have enough pinafore dresses and tops to go underneath to see me through the entire autumn, winter and spring. This one completed the set.

ACS_0481.jpg

But the real game changer is the Primark leggings which have a furry lining and are super warm. I got a couple of pairs so now I know they’re a good fit I’ll go back for a few more. Then that’s it, I don’t need any more clothes until spring!

I did need a nice coat for winter, but no longer after a most successful charity shop crawl. I spotted a few coats that would have been suitable but they were all in the £20 price range and I wasn’t really wanting to spend that much. Then I spotted one in my size that I didn’t really like so much, but I decided to try it on anyway.

ACS_0482.jpg

The moral of the story? ALWAYS TRY THINGS ON! Not shown in the picture is my behind, which looks really good as the coat is fitted and kind of flares out at the back. I absolutely love it! Do you know what I also love? The price tag – £4.99 from the PDSA shop. Get in! And doesn’t it go well with my scarf from Sue Ryder?

Now I must be off as I’ve got a very busy Monday ahead of me.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Funny Old Week

The theme of this week has mostly been tired and hungry. I haven’t had a huge appetite lately – I’ve even become someone who has dinner left overs. This has never happened before. But over the last couple of days I have felt myself getting hungrier. I’m sticking to Free and Speed food if I need it, but I think it’s my body trying to get more energy in me from the tiredness.

I was about to write that I have no idea where all this sleepiness has come from, but it’s probably down to only getting two hours sleep on Sunday and not really having a chance to catch up since then. I just paused for a little think and I still don’t know when I’ll have an opportunity for a nice big chunk of unbroken sleep, so for the time being I’ll just have to do what I can.

I’ve also been a bit stressed at work, for the most silly reason. My manager is leaving for another job next week and I’ve been put in charge of her collection. Because she has been so good to me over the years I’ve been worrying constantly that I’m not getting enough money out of my colleagues.

I meant to get the card this morning so I could start to collect signatures tonight but I couldn’t find a nice card at the local shops. Instead of driving to the big Tesco, instead I selfishly chose to go for a walk, so now I feel bad about that too. All the while I’m struggling to find the energy to tell myself how stupid I’m being because I’m just so (yawn) damn (yawn) TIRED!

I must go to the shops straight from work in the morning and get the card then, otherwise I really will be cutting it fine.

I probably would have stayed in bed all day today but I had to get up and do some bits for my mum so while I was out I went for a walk around the local nature reserve. The car park was rammed (ah, half term…) but as always seems to be the case away from the main paths I barely saw a soul.

What I did see was a huge amount of fungus – there was so much that the air itself smelt mushroomy!

Considering I am now in full-on winter mode at work, it was lovely to walk around without a coat and not freeze my butt off. Especially as it looks like from tomorrow the weather is going to be taking a turn for the worse.

The walk was quite gentle but it really took it out of me and I was ready to drop by the time I got home. So drop I did, right into a deep sleep. It’s just a shame I didn’t have time for a few hours more.

I did still make time to model my latest charity shop purchase. I bought a bright yellow scarf the other day – just because winter is cold it doesn’t mean it has to be dull. But then I decided I also needed a more festive scarf when the occasion calls for it (Winter Wonderland, I’m looking at you) so I grabbed this bargain while I had the chance.

ACS_0458

I’m definitely feeling a lot differently about the upcoming ‘party’ season. I did mean to go to Winter Wonderland with my sister for the last couple of years running, but it never happened for one reason or another. What I do know is that when I thought about going, the first thing that came to mind was the FOOD. This time though I’m definitely going, and it’s with a friend from work. What I’m most looking forward to is the atmosphere, the lights, photo ops and (most importantly) good company.

Also on the agenda is another trip to London with another friend, a sibling outing, a meal out, and another trip with the wonderful people I met up with in Oxford not so long ago. Out of nowhere I seem to have a social life! I’m so looking forward to just making time for people in the next couple of months, rather than just stuffing my face at every opportunity.

Finally, my wonderful group has nominated me for the Miss Slinky award, which is so kind because I haven’t been going to this group for a huge amount of time. If I remember rightly I have to get up and talk a little bit about my weight loss, and despite writing about it weekly for the last two flipping YEARS I really have no clue what I’m going to say.

IMG_5783

Maybe I’ll just have to wing it!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Wishing

It took me a while but I realised last week’s taster session at group had nothing to do with my consultant leaving. Although I’ve been anticipating it for the last few weeks, the other event at group kind of eclipsed the fact that we were given our Slimming World Christmas Wishes.

Last year we were given a bauble, and my wish then was to get into the 13 stone bracket. As it happens I didn’t even get close, and it took me till just last month before I finally made it. Better late than never though.

This year we have a snowflake. The idea is that you put it on your tree as a reminder to stay on track over the Christmas period. Since our tree is obviously not up yet (I’m not quite that Christmas mad) I have hung mine from the light fitting so it bonks me on the head every time I cross the room.

ACS_0443

ACS_0441

I felt really guilty about group last night. My friend asked me to visit so I agreed to pop over after weighing in, but I completely forgot it was my new consultant’s first night. I really wish I had stayed to offer my support, but I went on the Facebook group to assure her I’d definitely be staying next week.

As for weigh in, I lost a very respectable 1.5 pounds meaning I have just 5 lbs left to go before I hit target. I do have a meal out a week on Friday, and I’ve already chosen what I’m having – vegetable tagine with herb couscous. I’m guessing there will be a lot of oil in there but it’s certainly the best of the bunch out of all the options. If I do drink I’ll just have a few gins and slimline tonics, so I’m hoping I still get away with a loss the following week.

This week I have everything crossed that I lose another 1.5 pounds or more, because it will mean I’ll be in the 12 stone bracket for the first time since April 2004! My exercise has suffered today because even though I’ve been on the go all day I haven’t filled my green ring on my Apple watch. Same for yesterday, too. I am letting myself off, just on this occasion, because I am so busy and so tired. Once we hit November I’m going for a perfect month though so no excuses.

Thinking of other things that could delay me getting to target, I have also agreed to go to Winter Wonderland in London with a work friend some time after payday at the end of November. I’m hoping to be at target by then, but if I’m not the fact remains there are 8 weigh ins left, 2 days of not being entirely on plan, and 5 pounds to be rid of. That is entirely within the realms of possibility.

Yesterday I spent the whole day with my sister and it was brilliant. We started off the day with an enormous coffee and a tour of the charity shops near her house. Disgracefully, she had never set foot in one until now! I was on the lookout for a hat, and I found one that suited me in the first shop. It was brand new though, and a bit pricey, so I decided to give it a miss.

In the next shop though, I found my hat! I put it on and straight away my sister said ‘YES! That is the one!’ One minute and £6 later, I was walking out of the shop wearing my new purchase.

ACS_0450

After our charity shop crawl we headed to the park for a nice long walk. There were so many swans! We found a little group of our own but there were easily twice as many again congregating around a toddler who had FOOD!

ACS_0451.jpg

We then had lunch back at my sisters where I dined with a gold knife and fork sitting at her expensive table (she’s super fancy) before doing something creative.

ACS_0455

The creative thing in question was calligraphy. My sister did a workshop last year and fell in love with it, so shortly after I got myself the basic equipment and gave it a go. We both love it, but as with everything else I let it fall by the wayside while I concentrated on other things.

When I picked up my new pen, that my sister got me for my birthday, I was incredibly rusty but by the end of our little session my hand was getting steadier. We had the radio on and were sporadically chatting, but it’s a nice thing to do because you can’t rush it and it takes a surprising amount of concentration. There’s not really room for thinking about other things. I really must do it more regularly.

ACS_0448

After calligraphy time my sister let her boyfriend’s parrot, Kiwi, out to stretch her wings. When I first met Kiwi she was fine with me, but every time after that she has either tried to bite me or has been successful in biting me.

I’ve made the effort to see her more often and going by body language, I’ve been getting the impression that she’s been warming to me. So yesterday was the test.

ACS_0449.jpg

THANKFULLY it seems that, at the very least, there is a truce. Phew. My sister tells me that Kiwi has never been this friendly and well behaved in front of anyone other than her and her boyfriend before, so we have definitely made progress. No blood offering was necessary this time!

I haven’t had time for any crafts today because I’ve been batch cooking, doing a mountain of washing, cleaning and tidying. But that does mean everything should be in enough order by tomorrow for me to do something creative in the afternoons.

That’s the idea anyway!

Until next time,

Hayley x

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!

ACS_0425

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.

ACS_0426.jpg

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…

ACS_0435.jpg

ACS_0434.jpg

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.

ACS_0444

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.

IMG_5473

ACS_0445

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?

ACS_0446

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.

ACS_0418

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.

ACS_0396

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.

ACS_0416

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!

ACS_0414

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.

ACS_039094f76387-f795-4d25-a952-a8fe91b836f4

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!

ACS_0387

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!

ACS_0395.jpg

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.

acs_0372

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.

img_4731

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.

acs_0370

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.

Enlight8I still have trouble believing that the woman on the right is me.

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.

img_4643

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