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.

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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

Awards & Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You bet!

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

So on I trudged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.5 pounds to go!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

On it in Oxford for On Plan October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d call that a win.

Hayley x

Scheming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Doing Too Much?

I’ve had a really good week, where I’ve tried to cram in as much as possible. But by the time Saturday night came around it occurred to me that I may be pushing myself too hard.

I suppose the way I’ve felt over the last week can only be described as driven. And I’m just so excited about everything right now, about the possibilities for the future rather than not being able to see past the next day.

On Saturday I got up after only a couple of hours sleep in order to be an awesome friend. One of my bestest chums was working overtime and had no possibility to pick up his prescription before he ran out so I offered to get it for him. So pick it up I did, then I posted it through his letter box.

This friend happens to live right near my favourite park, so I took my brother with me and we went for a wander. A two hour wander actually. Week three of my Gold Body Magic is now complete!

The weather was boring, all grey clouds and flat and ‘orrible. But that’s why I like photography, because even if on the surface everything looks rubbish, if you look closer you can always find something beautiful. Ok, you can’t beat beautiful golden light, but there’s still good stuff to be found.

And even more good stuff.

My brother opened a few of these little things up and it seems that an earwig lives inside every single one. That a lot of earwigs.

Later on we came across a herd of cows I’d tried to approach before but they were way too nervous. But I had little bro with me, and he has a curious affinity with cows. They weren’t interested in him (one gave him a sniff and went back to munching on its grass) but they didn’t run away either, as they did with me.

I zoomed in on one cow when I got home and had to laugh. Even though she’s just chewing the cud she looked super grumpy!

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By the time we got home I crawled straight into bed, but I didn’t sleep very well. As soon as I get disturbed, to wake up for a tinkle for instance, I’ve been finding it really hard to get back to sleep again because I just want to carry on with my day.

This is great in one way, but I need to make sure I don’t burn myself out or I’ll be right back where I started before I know it.

As such when I got into work and found we were seriously overmanned, I jumped at the chance of an impromptu night off. To be honest since I’m out of annual leave I had to take it unpaid, which isn’t exactly sensible given my current financial situation, but this will now come out of my pay at the end of October. So I have plenty of time to adjust my outgoings accordingly. That’s how I’m convincing myself it’s OK anyway!

I actually ended up having a fantastic weekend, doing some walking and hanging out with friends. I really enjoyed a rainy wander through the glen Sunday morning.

Since I’m feeling in a cooking mood lately, yesterday when I got back I made dinner and dessert. I want to cook for people but don’t really want to eat it, so after dinner I made a decadent apple crumble. It went down so well that one friend kept eating it till he felt sick. I’ll take that as a win.

As for me I’ve been avoiding sweet stuff entirely, apart from unsweetened soya yoghurt with fruit and wheat biscuits for breakfast. Because anything like chocolate or ice cream will set off my sweet tooth. With Slimming World (if you aren’t familiar with the plan) nothing is off limits. If you want to eat a chocolate bar every single day and still lose weight, you can totally do that (though it might not be the healthiest way to go!) But when it comes to the sweet stuff I always crave more and more once I get going, and since I’m really enjoying my food lately I’m going to carry on with cutting these things out entirely. It seems to be working well for me anyway, as I haven’t felt deprived at all.

On Thursday I have another friend coming over for tea but I’m planning on making him something healthy. He’s been working so hard and such long hours, he hasn’t had time to feed himself properly and I want to get some goodness into him.

Other than that I want to make sure I get a good balance for the week ahead with plenty of sleep as well as exercise and creativity, because I need food for the soul, too.

Tonight is weigh in and I’m not sure how it’s going to go, because my hormones have gone a little up the wall and I’m feeling huge. But then I felt like that last week and it all turned out OK anyway. Time will tell!

I’ll update tomorrow with how it went.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Earls Colne, and Other Things

Last week was really good. Friday was my brother’s birthday, and although I had work that night I stayed up for the afternoon/evening in order to hang out with the family. And it was great! It’s testament to how much better I’m feeling as hanging out with brother, sister and mother (and all the noise and chaos that brings) was so much fun.

I also had my Body Magic for the day to complete, so I took my hula hoop and kettlebells downstairs and socialised at the same time. When my brother got home from work we had a laugh by comparing what weights we could lift and how many push ups we can do. It wasn’t really competitive – my brother is really tall and naturally strong, I’m tall and fairly weak in comparison, and my sister is a tiny little thing – so we all knew how it was going to go anyway. I still had to laugh at my sister trying to lift a 10kg weight, while everyone laughed at me trying to do one of those push ups where you clap on the up part (and nearly smashing my face into the carpet while I was at it!)

Things are so different to how they used to be. When we were kids my sister would be out with her friends, my brother would be playing Runescape on the PC, and I’d be trying to get him off the PC, because it was my turn dammit! Then my sister would come home and also want the PC, and the place would turn into a war zone.

But the real difference isn’t that we are all such good friends now (although that’s awesome and one of the best things about my whole life) it’s that we are so much more healthy and active. I’m not sure we’d be as close if we didn’t get out and do things together.

Speaking of getting out, the weekend has been very outdoorsy. I went to visit a friend on Saturday on one condition – that we go out for a walk. I had a load of stuff I should have been doing that day, mostly to prepare for my Sunday, and if I was going to put it off it had to be for a good reason. For one thing I wanted more Body Magic, and this particular walk meant I completed week two of my Gold award. Whoop whoop!

Signs of autumn are beginning to show everywhere, and I have a very strong impulse to make the most of every single day before everything is grey and barren again. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year, and I don’t want to waste a second.

When I got home I got myself straight to bed for an hour’s sleep, then made sure I got up in time to at least do some prep.

Me and my brother agreed that we were going to do a walk from my ’50 walks in Essex’ book, that I bought months ago and hadn’t looked at since. Weirdly, since I’m useless at planning such things, he left the choice of walk and all the details up to me.

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So I chose a walk, worked out how long it would take us to drive there, how much sleep I’d need in the morning in order to do the drive safely, and told him what time we were leaving. Then (even more importantly) I pre-made my lunch for the next day, because if I don’t have food with me it could mean disaster. That done, I toddled off to work for my final shift of the week.

In the morning we were out of the door by 10:15 am (I almost managed 3 hours sleep) with plenty of coffee in tow. We were headed to Earls Colne to do a 6.5 mile circular walk which would take us through Chalkney Mill.

I had a little moment where I wasn’t sure what to wear – I didn’t think I had anything warm enough to hand (the weather looked a bit grim) but eventually I decided on a t-shirt dress and leggings because I’d no doubt warm up during the walk anyway.

I made the right choice – when we got there the skies turned blue and we were treated to a beautiful day. So beautiful I was starting to worry that I should have bought sun cream with me.

Do you know what my favourite part was though? THE FOOD! First of all we found plenty of blackberries, and since I’d left my lunch in the car to have once we were finished these were most welcome.

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Further along the route we came across an apple tree, but all of the fruits within reaching distance had been started on by birds and bugs. But I had my brother with me, and he’s always up for a challenge. He found us a couple of really tasty looking apples.

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I do like apples, but I’m seriously fussy about them. I’ll NEVER buy them from a supermarket (unless it’s for a pie or crumble) because they are invariably disappointing. The apple I had from the tree though – it was hands down not only the best apple I’ve ever had, but the tastiest fruit I’ve eaten in my whole life hands down. It was utterly delicious!

Later on we came across a friendly little family, whose young son was very interested in what I was doing with my camera. I was photographing fungus at the time (as you do) and I marvelled at the fact the kid has clearly been raised to appreciate the outdoors rather than simply plonked in front of a TV or tablet. Most other kids his age would probably be more familiar with technology than nature.

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I don’t normally know what to say to tiny humans (I find them quite frightening) but it was easy to explain what I was doing and show him the camera screen. Then we got talking to the dad who told us what other kind of fungi we could expect to see around this time of year.

As it happens we didn’t see any stinkhorns (although I’d really like to) but it’s good to know they can be found in that area for when we return at a later date. As I’m sure we will.

In contrast to all the nature, one part of the route also took us directly underneath a pylon. I’m quite happy with that, as I’ve never been so close to a pylon, so I took the opportunity to get an ‘arty’ shot.

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When I got home I had leftover curry that I made the other day which was completely Syn free, packed with Speed foods and even tastier than when I originally made it. Thinking ahead has definitely helped me this week.

As it happens I have group this evening and despite feeling really confident earlier on in the week today I’m feeling a bit bloated so I don’t know how it’s going to go. What I do know, is that I have been completely on plan without a single slip-up for two whole weeks now. And that feels soooooo good.

Another thing I know is that if I don’t get the result I want today, I’m just going to carry on what I’ve been doing. I’m not going to use it as an excuse to have a blow-out.

The only other plan I have for today is to walk into town (Body Magic, yay!) and hunt for Koko vegan cheddar which has been spotted by my fellow vegans in Home Bargains. When I first went vegan there were no cheeses you could have as a Healthy Extra, but this one does count so hopefully I can get my mitts on it.

On that note I’d best get cracking, so I’ll say goodbye for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A Mixed Bag

My head has been a little bit all over the shop lately (I say lately, more like for months and months) but at the moment it’s compounded by pure tiredness. I’ve simply been trying to cram too much in and something had to give somewhere!

This weekend I went to see a wonderful blogger buddy and we had some fun times, but on Sunday I reckon everything just caught up with me and I had to go home early. By the time I got back my lips had turned blue (slightly worrying), my hands had turned purple (also not great) and even though I’d been in a car so warm that my iPhone came up with a temperature warning message and wouldn’t work again until it cooled down, I just couldn’t get warm.

Sleep fixed me though, and after sleeping the whole afternoon and all through the night I just about managed to put my weekly sleep average up to seven hours. Some people can get by on less sleep, and for weeks I myself have been getting by on 6, but that clearly isn’t sustainable for me and I need to make sure I get more down time.

Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom! On Saturday, because the weather was awful, my friend eagerly agreed to see Avengers: Infinity War for the second time. Well, his second time and my first. I really feel like Marvel have found that sweet balance now between action, comedy and story and I loved every minute of it. It’s just pure joy to watch!

After that I had my first ever meal from Las Iguanas since I don’t have one near where I live and I only even learned of its existence fairly recently.

I had hearts of palm to start, which I thought I’d never had before. But it was only a couple of weeks ago when I was out with my trainer and I had something from his plate that we couldn’t identify. Now I’m pretty sure that’s what we were eating. It was nice, but I probably wouldn’t bother having them again.

The Brazilian curry however (moqueca de palmitos) was flipping amazing and I could eat it all day long. They had a fair few vegan options too, or veggie options that can be made vegan on request. I’d highly recommend it as a very tasty and vegan-friendly place to visit.

In the evening we were eating out again. I bloody love trying new places, and it turns out the restaurant we were visiting, Fusca, is the first fully vegan restaurant I’ve been to. I’ve been to a few places in London but since they are takeaway restaurants as far as I’m concerned they don’t count.

I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the place and I cannot even describe how nice it is to be able to order a glass of wine without having to do extensive research first to find out whether it’s vegan or not!

The food was tasty, but perhaps a teeny bit overpriced considering that the portions were quite small. That’s probably a good thing though, it means I didn’t feel guilty for getting dessert. Which was DELICIOUS by the way!

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The day after getting home the weather was awful but really I still needed to make up for overindulging at the weekend so I did an hour on my exercise bike. It still astounds me that I can even do that – I remember struggling to complete ten minutes when I first got it. The remainder of the day was spent fairly restfully, but I still didn’t manage to get a decent sleep. Which I put down to a lack of proper training.

Yesterday I went out training on my own and oh my, what a start to the month! The weather was absolutely perfect for running. It was sunny but not too warm, there was a fresh breeze and along most of my route it was dappled shade. It was so gorgeous, and the vibrant colours everywhere made my heart happy.

I didn’t break any records this time around. Well, I can’t smash a record every single time I go out now, can I? But I did feel absolutely fantastic and loved every minute of it. Today the weather is back to being awful so I’m using the time to catch up on some rest, do boring household chores and do some meal prep for the rest of the week. Exciting stuff!

Then I’m training for the next three days in a row which should help regulate me sleep and help me to get better quality sleep, then I have a relaxed Sunday with my lovely siblings planned.

Life is tiring, but good!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Great Outdoors

It has been so flipping cold this week, but at least the sky has had the decency to be blue from time to time. It makes finding the motivation to actually go outside so much easier.

Yesterday me and the brother went on our long walk, and ended up being out for three-and-a-half hours. It was windy, and bitingly cold, but we both had hoods which kept the worst at bay. When I took mine off I actually got brain freeze.

I was working the night before, so we went out about 6:30am, which coincided perfectly with the blue hour (the hour before golden hour).

I checked the light and sky indices using the (free) app GoldenHour.One, which tells you how likely you are to have a nice sky for a decent shot, but I also use it just to tell me whether it’s likely to be a depressing grey day or a nice interesting one. As it happens Thursday is looking to be a stonker!

The skies were lovely and clear yesterday so I managed to get a blue hour shot that I’m really happy with. There’s something really magical about that these times of day. 110218_2479

And my app informed me that the sky index would be quite good. It was right!

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How gorgeous? We did a gentle 7.5 miles, since my brother is way out of practice with his walking after spending most of the summer either fishing or on his motorbike. I was happy with that too actually, since I was feeling pretty tired after all!

I found out that my expensive new boots are in fact waterproof as advertised, which is always nice to know.

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They’re not quite as shiny as when I first got them though…

After we’d finished exploring one half of the nature reserve, we crossed the road to visit the other part which is also home to the visitor centre.

We arrived there at the exact right time, when it was still empty, so we purchased a bag of duck food and sat down for a cup of coffee. Just as we had finished the place started filling up so we moved on to the duck lake.

Before we got there though we met a friendly robin who hopped into a bush just feet from me. And it turns out robins like duck food too. Who knew?

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In fact the robin seemed to like the duck food more than the ducks, who weren’t all that hungry. We did see some tufted ducks, but they were timid and wouldn’t come very near. Mostly it was just seagulls dive bombing and stealing it all.

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By the time we got home I was absolutely exhausted, and vaguely aware that the only thing I’d put into my body since two in the morning was coffee. But I needed sleep more than food, so I had a quick nap.

When I woke up it was a mad rush to get ready to go to my friend’s house. I took him over a load of dirty washing, because I’m nice like that, and we left the washing machine running while we went to the cinema to see Downsizing.

On the drive to the cinema I realised that I was actually ravenously hungry, and Tesco was due to shut in 15 minutes. Once there I just grabbed whatever I could find, which ended up being a vegan sandwich and wrap from the new Wicked range, and some chocolate.

Not the healthiest choices ever, but in terms of calories in vs calories out I reckon I was way in credit for the day, so I don’t feel bad about it at all.

The film was not something I would have chosen to see myself, it’s mainly that the showing time fit in with mine and my friend’s schedules. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and although it’s been slated it’s actually quite an interesting film. Not great, or perhaps not even good, but interesting (if poorly executed). Hardly a glowing review, but there you go!

After that I dropped my friend off, picked up my laundry, then crashed out for an epic sleep. Today I have a day filled with bits and bobs to do, but with the sun shining through my window it’s not all that bad.

From tomorrow I’m looking after my sister’s birds so that should sure keep me busy, training with my friend has been pencilled in for either Wednesday or Thursday, and I’m doing the physical job at work for four weeks that I should have been doing for the last four weeks, only for it to be cancelled. Hopefully it actually happens this time!

I will update again tomorrow with weigh in results, especially since I’ve no clue how it’s going to go.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

Renewed Focus

I was so excited about going walking with my new friend that I almost forgot about weigh-in this week. It’s a double-edged sword – on the one hand it’s been freeing not being quite so concerned about food and the scales this week, but for now it’s not what I need. I need to keep my eyes on the prize, so this week is all about staying focused on my goals. It still has its positives – I’ve managed a few days without weighing myself at all which I really need to work on.

This week’s main goal is to STAY AWAY FROM THOSE SCALES. I’ve said this so many times, but it’s incredibly important because daily weighing is not healthy and is making me miserable. I need to learn to control myself dammit!

The results of official weigh-in are half a pound on. I’m now 14 st 11.5 lbs and need to lose 2 st 1.5 lbs to reach target. I’d like to lose at least 2 lbs this week to make it so I have less than 2 st to lose in total. I am disappointed in myself, especially since I had another day of bad eating yesterday, but I am glad I’m still in the 14 stone bracket and that my gain this week wasn’t more.

Over the next seven days I am going to be on it.

Well, on to my walk. It was great! Walking with my brother is good and all, but when we go somewhere we’re mostly just strolling around and I’m looking for stuff to take photos of. The incidental exercise is wonderful, but it’s not the primary aim.

Walking with my new friend is a whole different kettle of fish. His focus is absolutely on fitness, and although at first he asked if I’d like to come on a hike, it quickly became clear that what he really meant was would you like to come training? After all, hiking does not normally involve press-ups (I’m getting better at those by the way!)

There were no gentle strolls to be had on this occasion, and no stopping half way up a hill to catch my breath. Even walking up the hills he usually runs up had me lagging behind slightly, which just goes to show what regular training can do. Although I’m no stranger to hill walking, I was still eating the dust of a man 16 years my senior.

In between hills I did have enough breath left for us to get to know each other better, which is good because if I’m to go training with him in future then there won’t be much chatting. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that I will have to RUN (Shock! Horror!) and I have agreed to this torture. I’m not sure when this will be happening, because I don’t want to interfere with his usual training and hold him back (plus I’m very busy over the next couple of weeks) but it’ll sure be happening one way or another.

I can’t say with any certainty that I’ll do it again afterwards, but I get the feeling I will. And maybe running with him a few times will give me enough confidence to do it on my own. I sure hope so!

Either way I’m so pleased I decided to go out and be sociable, despite the warnings of snow and ice, because otherwise I wouldn’t have seen anything like this:

060218_2473060218_2472060218_2474With the sun out (mostly) it actually wasn’t that cold – we couldn’t have picked a better day I reckon.

Afterwards my friend treated me to breakfast at a local café by the name of Café Max. To be honest I expected to be taken to a greasy spoon that didn’t have a hope in hell of having vegan options, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There weren’t any vegan options on the menu, but the nice lady serving us said that they have one other vegan customer (a regular) who has a selection of vegetables with hash browns and beans. So I ordered that, and wasn’t too excited about it but glad to have something.

We sat down at a nice table which was spotlessly clean (no grease here!) and got stared at by some old ladies. That was weird, but I think it might have been because me and my friend are both so big. I’m not talking about being overweight, it’s just that I’m 6ft tall myself and my friend is so tall he makes me feel dainty (a first) so we probably look quite imposing as a pair!

Anyway when breakfast came I was blown away. The hash browns were light, crispy and fluffy on the inside, and the accompanying veg wasn’t just your bog standard fried tomatoes and mushrooms swimming in oil. I had cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, yellow pepper (I don’t know what they did with it but that was especially delicious) and asparagus. I would be more than happy to have that again every single time, even if I wasn’t vegan.

It’s now gone 3am and I hope I can get some sleep soon (the joys of being a night worker) because tomorrow I have more strength training planned with my new kettlebells. I have started a little routine that I want to do three times a week, along with two exercise bike sessions and at least one day of yoga. And of course some running (eek!) thrown in at some point. I honestly never thought I’d get this excited about exercise, yet here I am. The girl who faked notes from her parents to get out of P.E. for five years (and got away with it) is now working out ON PURPOSE.

People actually can change!

Hayley x

 

Sideswiped

I honestly don’t know what has happened. I went to bed on Sunday night feeling really good. In fact I’ve been ecstatically happy for the last three weeks because everything has been going so well and I’ve just been enjoying life!

On Sunday morning me and my brother went to Tilbury Fort which is just down the road from us, and we had a great time. We got there a little early so checked out the surrounding area first, which was honestly a complete and utter dump. We wanted to walk the coastal path to another fort, then come back on ourselves before we visited the English Heritage-run site we had come to Tilbury to see.

But the path was covered in so much dog poo and so much rubbish, it was too dangerous and/or depressing to continue.

But when we actually got into the fort it was great. We had the whole place to ourselves for ages, the man who gave us our tickets took the time to give us some history, and my brother really enjoyed himself playing with the guns because you can actually climb on and have a tinker with most of the stuff there (although of course you can’t actually blow anything up).

When I went to bed I was feeling tired but content, and got a decent sleep.

But since Monday morning, I haven’t even been able to wake myself up properly because I feel totally and utterly depressed. I’m not talking about a bad mood – I’m no stranger to those and know the difference. This is a whole other kettle of fish. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to be around people, I just want to be unconscious. But my dreams are just… insane. Every time I close my eyes I’m being chased or threatened or I’m seeing animals in pain. It’s really not good.

I feel like I need to adopt the fetal position and have a good cry, but the tears won’t come.

This week I’ve also had a totally unexpected gain of 4 lbs, my heart rate has just skyrocketed for no apparent reason and I wake up with my heart feeling like it’s trying to escape my chest every single time I’ve been to sleep. I suppose it’s a reaction to the bad dreams?

And I’ve been eating crap because I literally didn’t have the energy to prepare anything. Today’s low point was eating pecans dipped in vegan buttercream icing.

I’m refusing to go into February carrying on like this, so tonight I’m forcing myself to make something for my work lunch and getting back on plan. Because what else can I do? I can’t stay in bed forever, as much as I want to.

I’ve had to dial back on the exercise which adds another layer of guilt, but I have still kept up with my press-ups and planks, so that’s something.

My step count is atrocious, but I’m determined to make it to 70,000 steps for the week regardless. The last two weeks I’ve been above 120,000, so I’m sure I can make 70k. I WILL make 70k.

Since this depression has just come out of nowhere, I’m hoping it’ll disappear just as quickly. I’m just going to hang on for dear life until it goes away. It’s as good a plan as any!

Sorry for the negative post, but that’s what’s been happening so there you go.

Hopefully the next one will be better!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

PS I just thought of a positive – My new boots came and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM! They are so comfy and worth every penny of the £150 paid. I reckon I could walk to the moon and back on these babies and not even get a blister. Yay!

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