Not my best start ever

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

Er, no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

The One and Only Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right, time for me to get on now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Duxford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

City Limits

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

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

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

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

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

Look at that. Actual olives on trees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Right Buttock

In my last post I described myself as clumsy. I’d like to add ‘accident-prone’ to that as well, because clumsy just isn’t adequate.

I’ve been away this weekend, but before I went I hurt my fingers by accidentally punching a cupboard. I reached to get something out of it, missed, and somehow punched it instead. That’s just me.

On the long, long drive up to visit my friend my accident-proneness thankfully didn’t extend to the car, because I had quite enough trouble to be getting on with thank you very much. I haven’t had much luck with the M25 lately – last time I did a long journey I got stuck for hours as both sides of the motorway were closed while an injured child was helicoptered out and the police investigated.

This time an hour was added to my journey to avoid multiple crashes on the M25, and although in general I’m happy enough as long as traffic is moving, my new route sent me around the outskirts of London, which is nightmarish. Sirens everywhere, people cutting each other up left, right and centre, shouting, horns blaring, a set of traffic lights every five minutes… not fun.

Eventually I made it onto the M1 where a lorry had broken down in the middle lane of three particularly narrow lanes, in the middle of a huge stretch of roadworks, and was causing absolute havoc. Add another half-an-hour to my journey. Yay!

As these things go it wasn’t too stressful, because there was no particular time I had to be at my friends and for once in my life I wasn’t too desperate to pee. I arrived with dry underwear and plenty of time for us to do something fun.

The fun thing came in the form of disc golf, which is like golf but played with frisbees which you have to get into a metal basket. Golf is something I’ve never been the slightest bit interested in, so I wasn’t expecting to like disc golf either, but it was actually awesome!

The park it was in is absolutely beautiful, and I was doing loads of exercise without even realising it. It was also a gorgeous evening, so even a few mishaps couldn’t bring me down. In fact they added to the experience.

Before I went away I shared my location with my mother via an app on our phones, because I usually forget to tell her I’ve arrived safely or give any information as to what I’m actually up to. Shortly into the course I get a text from her:

‘It’s saying you’re in the river Avon. You’re not in the river Avon are you?’

Or something along those lines. My reply?

‘Well… I’m not in the Avon now.’

The thing about frisbees is, it’s really hard to get them to go where you want them to go. I’m also not very good at throwing things (weak arms) so one of my discs was almost guaranteed to go in the river. It didn’t go too far in, so I was getting that baby out!

It is nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t fall in.

Later on I lost a disc in a huge patch of nettles, and although I had to admit defeat, that didn’t stop me from trying.

I got stung. A lot.

There was plenty of laughing and plenty of swearing as I tried, and failed, to beat the nettles down with a stick whilst getting stung around the ankles. All good fun. Then later on, as it started to get dusky and the grass started to collect dew drops, I slipped whilst walking down a hill.

I always, ALWAYS land on my right buttock, and it ALWAYS hurts like hell. Once a boyfriend of mine picked me up. I was feeling pretty good because I’d lost quite a bit of weight at Slimming World at the time (the time I stopped going and ended up putting it all back on) but then he dropped me and, you guessed it. I landed on the right butt cheek. The annoying thing though is that it never bruises, so although it hurts for days afterwards I never have anything to show for it. Life is sometimes so unfair!

For the next day we had planned an epic canal walk, but sections of it were closed off for repair so we gave that a miss (for now, anyway) and just ended up doing a local route before heading back home to chill out while the rain eased off. My friend is just getting into walking and isn’t quite at the ‘all weathers no matter what’ stage.

Later on we just chose ‘a nice bridge’ as a place to aim for and ended up here.

ACS_0984

It’s not my usual way of doing things, but we did end up doing more than 20 miles over the course of the weekend, so I can’t really complain. As for me, I prefer to drive somewhere especially nice then explore from there rather than having to do a long trek through town first.

Sunday morning we went to a boot sale, which I was quietly optimistic about because people from that area seem to give away/sell much nicer stuff than I am used to at home. I have been on the lookout for a cheap Ikea POÄNG chair since I first sat in one over a year ago, at another friend’s house. He lives in the same area, and got his chair super cheap. The friend I was visiting also got his POÄNG chair locally and it was also super cheap. Surely it was my turn?

The boot sale turned out to be really small, but… there was someone selling one! They’re about £60 to buy new, but this one was going for £15. When I asked how much it was going for the seller informed me that a lady had just enquired about it and gone off to get her husband to carry it. However, since no cash had yet changed hands he was happy to give it to me. I felt a bit bad but, y’know, I’ve been waiting for sooooooo long and I wanted it sooooooo badly. So eff it. I now have my comfy chair! Plus I saved that poor chap from having to lug it around, because it really is heavy.

Now I’m back home again and feeling rather pleased with myself. My friend is getting healthy but he is still in the phase where he doesn’t want to give up the ‘nice’ things. Therefore he’s been trying to convince me (and himself) that we deserve the nice things, because we walked far.

My mindset is currently a million miles away from his, so I was able to say no over and over, to the suggestions of pizza, rhubarb crumble, chocolate, and (a favourite of mine) Wagamama. I could have fit a huge bowl of ramen (14 syns for my favourite one) into my day, however he had convinced me to go to a cafe for breakfast and I’d already used my syns for the day on wholemeal bread as the best option available to me was beans on toast.

On the return journey various crashes and holdups mercifully only added half-an-hour onto my trip, and I’d already prepared by packing Quorn vegan ham and cherry tomatoes as my car snacks.

I passed about 20 McDonald’s as I drove home, and I must admit it did take a lot to not stop off and order five portions of salty fries. No one would know, after all. But if I want to get to target this year I have to stay strong. So that’s what I did. When I got in I didn’t feel much like cooking, so I just whipped up a plate of Free pretend chicken and, exhausted, got myself to bed. After assembling my chair of course!

Although this weekend has been slightly lacking in the Speed Food department, I have stayed on plan overall and I’m dead chuffed with that.

ACS_0991ACS_0992

This morning I went out for a walk in the park whilst hoping that the fresh air would clear my head and let me remember where my GODDAMN KEYS ARE. Thankfully I have two cars (sounds fancier than it is) and most luckily the car keys don’t live on the same keyring. So I am still able to get out and about.

I only have one key to each car, so I really need to find them. They can’t have gone far, I drove the car home for eff’s sake! I’m really trying not to let it wind me up. That won’t help anything.

Several Hours Later…

The keys have been found! I sometimes put them on the water butt (as you do) whilst I’m carrying heavy things in through the back door. For some reason I decided to check in the clump of weeds wild poppies growing at the base and there they were! What a numpty.

I’m now back from weigh in. I’ve lost half a pound and I’m cheesed off, because it’s not an accurate reflection of my week. I’ve worked so damn hard, but clearly my body doesn’t know that and how I deal with this for the next seven days is pivotal to my success.

Normally I’d be thinking ‘what’s the point, may as well go and eat crap’ but deep down I know that if I just carry on, then it’ll likely show as a nice big loss on the scales next week.

Time to stop repeating past mistakes. I’ll just keep going.

Hayley x

Perfect Week

I’m currently laying in bed feeling tired, a little crisp (sunburn, didn’t realise how… sunny it was) but most of all content.

For the first time since I’ve had my Apple Watch I’ve had a perfect week – meaning I achieved all of my activity goals every single day. Finally!

What’s more, I’ve had a week of being perfectly on plan for what I believe is only the second time this year. It hasn’t even been that difficult, which is something I struggle to get my head around. Why, oh why does it have to be so damn hard sometimes and plain sailing the rest of the time? Why am I unable to channel whatever it is I’m doing now during those other times? If I had the answer to that I’d be sorted for life.

For the first time in a long time today I went on a little adventure with my siblings. I was looking at Google Maps for potential walks near a friend’s house as I hope to one day badger him into getting a little fitter, when I swiped a little bit too far and ended up in Kent.

Quite accidentally I came across ‘Deer Park’. On further investigation I found out it’s part of a National Trust site called Knole House, so that’s where we ended up going.

The whole place is rather beautiful, but I fancied being outside on such a lovely day so rather than pay full admission I asked if it was ok to just explore the grounds. Their website said the car park gets really full on Sunday’s so we arrived slightly before opening, and as the gatehouse was unattended at the time the lady at the information desk told us we didn’t have to pay a thing. Result!

As soon as we entered the grounds we discovered that the deer are really not difficult to find. Some hang out near the house and are clearly accustomed to scavenging from visitors (even though you are told not to feed them) where as some who seem to live nearer the middle of the park are a lot more skittish.

It was great for all kinds of nature. We saw woodpeckers, squirrels a rabbit and plenty of bugs.

And a huge mushroom. I didn’t pick it though.

When it comes to food these kind of places can be really difficult for me, especially if they’re National Trust. They sell a dark chocolate-covered bar of marzipan which I find really hard to resist, but resist it I did. We bought packed lunches so everything I had was Slimming World-friendly.

After all this hard work if I don’t get a good result on the scales tomorrow I may well throw a hissy fit. This week has also been the first week in maybe a whole year where I haven’t weighed myself at home at all. Not even once. Weigh in will be complete surprise, and I’m already a bit nervous about it.

Not long till I find out though! Here’s to another good week ahead,

Hayley x

It’s Really Happening

Despite all of the preparations I’ve been making for relaunching my Slimming World group on the 24th of June, nothing made it seem quite so real as picking up my equipment from head office.

ACS_0891

I’m just back from my foundation training, which was an intensive three-day course. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still loads more to learn, but this is the last bit of official training I get until my group opens. Until then it’s a case of practise, practise and practise some more.

The training was second-to-none, and I just wasn’t prepared for how bloody hilarious my trainer would be. She is absolutely superb at what she does – I couldn’t have asked for better.

It’s also been a week of exciting things for me. I never really have much occasion to dress up (with the recent Swingamajig shenanigans being a notable exception) so it was nice to have to dress smart for my training. I felt pretty fab in the three different outfits I bought.

Who am I kidding? I didn’t bring three outfits at all, it was more like eight, because I have nice things to choose from now. It’s still a novelty, and I’m still extremely chuffed at my first ever outfit from Topshop. I could never get anything that fit from there until now.

It didn’t really register at first, but this is the first time I’ve stayed at a hotel on my own, the first time I’ve travelled for ‘work’ on my own, and the first time I’ve eaten in a restaurant on my own.

If that wasn’t enough I also went swimming IN PUBLIC for the first time since 2008. When I went down to the pool there were other people in there (very scary) and they all had their mobile phones even though there was a sign saying no phones allowed.

Personally I think that rule should have been enforced, because I did feel really uncomfortable knowing that someone could take a picture of me if they wanted to. I went ahead and did it anyway though!

When I think back to how little confidence I used to have, I can hardly believe I did any of these things. There’s another layer to all of this though, which is that I’ve been seriously struggling with my mental health again. I had some great times while I was away. I met some wonderful people, I laughed, I learned, I found out new things about myself… but at the same time it has been such hard work because I’m feeling so desperately low. It’s like trying to run though custard.

I am rather proud of myself for lifting my head high and just getting on with it (private meltdowns notwithstanding), but in a way I feel cheated out of the fabulous few days I should have had. At any other time I would have been bouncing off the ceiling right now. As it is I’ve been listening to a constant tirade of ‘you’re stupid, you’re ugly, no one will want to come to your group, no one likes you, you’re an idiot, you don’t know what you’re doing, stupid, stupid, STUPID‘.

All of that from my own gosh darn brain.

It seems unfair.

So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to go to the doctors, and I’m going to speak to my Slimming World manager, just to let her know that I’m struggling. Because if there’s one thing I’ve taken away from all this, it’s that everyone in the company genuinely cares.

The same goes for the members (not that I’ve met all of them). On my first day of training I was feeling particularly nervous because I hadn’t made any friends yet, but it wasn’t long before I spotted a familiar face on the wall of my particular training room.

It was only my friend Dave! *read his blog here, you won’t regret it*

ACS_0892 (1).jpg

This little coincidence really did perk me up for the rest of the day, and, as the real Dave (as opposed to photo-on-the-wall-accepting-his-Man-of-the-Year-award Dave) does on a regular basis, reminded me that I’m not alone.

I have my ups as well as my downs, so I’m sure it won’t be long until the fog clears and I can look back and truly appreciate the experiences of the last few days.

But first? I need to get a damn good sleep. Everything feels better after a good kip.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Swingamajigging

I’m so sorry, I just can’t believe how long it’s been since I last blogged! The last time I wrote I was talking about hoping to scrape a loss the following Monday, but what actually happened was I didn’t just scrape a loss, I had an AWESOME loss! Of 6.5 pounds!

Do you know what? I really needed that. Just to prove I can still do it I suppose.

After that I took the brakes off in spectacular style, and Tuesday evening I weighed in (a day late, but I’ll come to that later) with a 9.5 pounds GAIN. When I go, I go large.

Let’s be realistic here. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve a gain, but the likelihood I ate enough calories in order to gain 9.5 pounds of pure fat is not very great. I’m bloated like hell (partly because of what I ate/drank and partly because of the dreaded HORMONES) so as long as I get right back on plan NOW, I should be fine. Plus I’ll get extra steps going to the loo and back because the theme of the next few days is going to be peeing, peeing and more peeing.

I’m so convinced that this is the case, mostly down to past experience, that I’ve pledged to lose 12 pounds by next Monday. It’s totally possible! To help me achieve this I’m committing to filling in a food diary, I’m going to do a couple of SP days, and I’m not going to give into cravings.

I’m feeling genuinely excited again. I don’t have any events coming up that I can use as an excuse to be off plan and I’m starting to feel better about my relationship status, so much so that I’m mostly just looking forward to the forthcoming relationship with my new employer – Slimming World! I signed the contracts last week so it’s all official now – there’s no going back! I have six weeks till I do my first group, and I’d love to great some great losses in between now and then.

What I do need to do is be organised, because I’m going to be busy and if I don’t plan my meals I will almost certainly slip up. It’s true what they say – fail to plan and plan to fail.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to feeling healthy again, in my body and my mind. It’s been long overdue. It’s time to pull myself together, in more ways than one!

Anyhoo, this bank holiday weekend was awesome, but it sure was a financial drain (totally my fault by the way).

On Saturday I met up with the lovely Mar in Nottingham, a city I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time. Unfortunately Nottingham wasn’t quite the place we were both expecting it to be, but we did still have a great time catching up and visiting Wollaton Hall and Deer Park.

We only saw one single deer, but I’m glad we saw at least one otherwise I would have been disappointed. I was particularly taken with the paper sculptures – so cool.

After spending the day in Notts I headed to my friend’s in Leamington Spa as he’s the chap I’d be attending Swingamajig with. It was really great to catch up with him, but I’ve got to say, Tara stole the show. Tara is my friend’s Bengal cat, and she is beeeeyoooootiful!

After a catch up my friend and I both fell asleep – he was jet lagged because he’d been on holiday to New Zealand (poor thing) and I’d simply got used to having early nights while I’ve been off work.

In the morning I got glammed up while he made me shots for breakfast (yes, the boozy variety) then after some actual breakfast we headed off to Brum for the festival.

Now I had a choice to make – sensible shoes or pretty shoes? Yeah, pretty shoes won…

I think that day was the most fabulously dressed I’ve been in my entire life.

But it gets better. I’d been hanging out at the cocktail van, so by the time we got round to checking out the quirky little stalls I was already quite tipsy. Hence… the hat of magnificence!

It was expensive, though not unreasonably so as a lot of work must have gone into making it. Still, sober me probably wouldn’t have splashed out, though I’m glad I got it. I got talking to so many people because of it and already have plans to meet up with other madly-hatted people next year. Yep, I’ll no doubt be attending Swingamajig every year for as long as it keeps going, which will hopefully be forever.

Entertainment-wise the highlight for me was the Electric Swing Circus (an awesome band) who my friend knows personally so I got to meet loads of the band members too (and even got a hug in one instance).

I now have their albums which I’ve been listening to on repeat ever since.

After the main festival ended we headed down the road to the after party, where I was enjoying myself as the music was BANGING, and nothing at all like the chart rubbish they play where I live. However by 3am I was flagging so we went back to the hotel, though not before stopping for hangover-preventing curly fries. Perfect!

The next day I made sure I set off with plenty of time to make it to group for weigh in, but some drink-driving idiot had other ideas and I spent 3 hours sitting on the M25 instead.

So that was that. If this blog seems somewhat rushed, that’s because it is. I have so many things to get done and very little time to do it in, but I wanted to get my thoughts down anyway.

Since Tuesday I’ve been perfectly on plan and for the first time in a while I have no doubt that there won’t be any slip ups. It’s time to make real progress again.

As of this moment my dinner is now cool enough to eat, so I’ll say by for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Time to Lose

So, after my grand plan of learning how to do things in moderation, have I made a good start? Have I heck. This week I’ve felt especially low, and eating well started to go down the toilet from Thursday afternoon. I’m really quite cross with myself (understatement of the year!)

Thursday should have been perfect. My friend put his car in for its MOT so I kept him company while he was waiting for a call back from the garage. I dragged him along for a walk at Langdon Hills, and although it was still much too cold for my liking, it was a beautiful day.

Comparisons have been made between that second picture and one you may remember from Windows XP. I’m pretty sure the Windows picture earned the photographer an obscene amount of money, so I’m now patiently waiting for several thousand pounds to hit my back account.

So, after a healthy and hilly stroll, what did I do? I went out for lunch. At a pizza restaurant. Did I search out a tomato-based pasta dish with salad? Nope. I had a three-course meal including sugary drink and I didn’t even enjoy it that much.

Things went downhill from there, though I did still get out of the house, this time with my little brother. Now we’re members of the Essex Wildlife Trust I’m on a mission to visit all of the sites in Essex, so we started at Fingringhoe Wick.

I didn’t have any expectations as to what it would be like or do any research, but it turned out to be lovely. It’s a bird-orientated place with loads of hides and loads of wildlife. We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but we did see a cormorant eating fish which was really cool. It disappeared under the water for ages it a time and came back successful about five times as we watched.

We also made friends with a pheasant, who we have named Bertram.

It was a really rubbish day in terms of weather, and the light was flat (bad for photography) so I was happy looking for the little details.

Another trick is to look for things that suit black & white.

That evening though, once I was home, I felt more out of control with my eating than ever. I honestly haven’t made myself feel that ill in years.

Yesterday I didn’t eat much, but for everything I didn’t eat I made up with several gin & tonics. Perhaps I’m understating things. I mean a lot of gin and tonics.

In this instance I have no regrets (not even the fact that I’ve been in bed all day nursing an awful hangover) because I had a lovely time. I bought me and Steve tickets to see ABC months and months ago and it finally came around.

They were accompanied by an orchestra who played an instrumental medley of their most famous hits. It was spine-tingly awesome. The band then played in two halves – the first half didn’t grab us so we went out to find more gin (strangely the venue closes the bar when the band is on, never seen that before) and we came back just in time for the second half. Then the band played their most famous album, The Lexicon of Love, in its entirety. It was seated but we got up and had a dance and I had just the most fabulous time.

I weighed in this evening, and was actually quite surprised that I only put on 2.5lbs. Now I really do have to make some changes to my current lifestyle, especially because I have something really exciting happening next week.

Next Tuesday I’m going for an interview for something really cool, and this is a massive deal. Traditionally I’ve been terrified of interviews and it’s probably definitely the main reason my career never progressed.

So me going for an interview now is especially great because it means for one I feel confident enough to actually do it, and two the thing I’m interviewing for is important enough to me for me to risk failure and rejection. No small deal at all.

This week I’m aiming for a decent loss (I’ve pledged five pounds in group) because I’d love to be feeling properly back in control for the first time in months when I have my interview. From then on I want to start making proper progress again. I’m not happy right now, and I know that making progress will undoubtedly bring me happiness.

I just have to stop stalling and get the hell on with it.

Hayley x

A New Chapter

Now that the thing I had hanging over my head has been resolved, I can be a tiny bit more open in my blog (without airing my dirty laundry in public of course).

I am once more a singleton, and whilst this is OK it has affected my eating in more ways than one. Even if you know it’s absolutely the right thing to do for everyone involved, ending a relationship is scary, and it hurts. The feeling scared part had me reaching for the bad foods, that’s for sure.

It’s not just that though. Once I’d made the decision and I realised I wasn’t morally obliged (although I never really was, these are obligations I totally put on myself) to tell a partner my results after going to group, I had a bit of a free-for-all. Hence last week’s 5.5 lb gain.

This week I had a bit of anxiety leading up the telling-the-other-person part, which again saw some bad food choices, but not as bad as the week before. I had a 1 lb gain this week which is about right. I knew what I was doing and I’m cool with it.

Whilst I’m feeling super-duper positive about the next chapter in my life, there’s still a little foreword to get out of the way before I really begin. I’m going to the pub with a friend on Thursday, then I’m out with the youngsters from work Sunday night. This is not conducive to a good result on the scales!

I could play it a few ways. I could go to the pub and drink diet coke, and do the same on Sunday. I could say ‘to hell with it’ again and have another mahoosive gain. I’ve thought about it and have decided to do something in between.

My main strategy is to be ‘on plan whenever I can’, so rather than thinking ‘I’m going to be naughty Thursday so I might as well not bother now’, I will make sure that today, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are perfect days. Although Slimming World do not recommend it, I’m also going to be setting aside a few syns.

As for Thursday and Sunday, they are going to be gin-and-slimline-tonic kinda days, rather than the high-syn red wines I’m normally drawn to. Damage limitation is not my strong point, but I’ll never stop trying anyway.

The Sunday after will be a similar situation, then it’s a clear run till Swingamajig.

Anyway, onwards and downwards.

The week before last I went to Warley Place, which is run by the Essex Wildlife Trust. There was a chap there trying to sign people up to be members, but he was really pushy. I also didn’t have a huge amount of time and could see that he wanted me to fill out forms and things. I said I’d think about it and do it online later if I decided I wanted to go ahead.

‘I’d rather you didn’t,’ was his curt reply. Hmm, that got my back up.

I went on my walk and on the way out he said ‘if you just come over here I’ll finish your application’… Er, no way. You just lost yourself a sale mate!

Pushy people who have no idea how to speak to members of the public aside, the Wildlife Trust do loads of good work so last week I went ahead and registered online. I got a voucher through the post to exchange for a guide to all of their sites in Essex.

I did that today at the visitor’s centre at the nature reserve just down the road, since I was planning to go for a walk there anyway.

As it happens my walk was sublime. There was absolutely no one else around and it was so peaceful. All I could hear were the scurrying of squirrels, a woodpecker pecking, robins singing… it was just the best.

At the visitor’s centre there are some beautiful gardens but they’re looking a bit sparse right now. There were loads of volunteers out working on them though so I don’t imagine it’ll be long before there’s colour everywhere.

The best bit though was walking back and finding a bumper collections of mushrooms.

260319_0579.jpg

Nope, not these ones. Though they are pretty cool.

260319_0626.jpg

Look even closer…

260319_0611.jpg

And even closer…

260319_0615.jpg

That last one was in a dark crevice right at the back. An honourable mention must also be given to the fungus that looks like a poo.

260319_0583.jpg

After seeing a jay, several green woodpeckers, blackbirds, tits of all kinds, pied wagtails, robins and a sweet little wren, I can safely say it has been a most productive day! My plan now is to visit every single site in my guide. Who knows what other treasures I might find?

I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x