Hmm, Maybe

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

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

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

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

Bingo!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until tomorrow,

Hayley x

On it in Oxford for On Plan October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d call that a win.

Hayley x

Worrywart

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

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

This is temporary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So sue me!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

In Search of ‘Cheese’

I told a lie. I told a big, huge, whopping mountain of a lie. I said I wouldn’t mention Christmas again (yet) but I’ve started to get excited and, y’know, since all my self control is currently being channelled into getting to target something had to give somewhere.

In the family group chat it was decided that this year’s budget will be £10 per person. I think last year it was £20, but I went a bit overboard with special gifts and spent way more than I was supposed to.

This year I’m going to stick to the rules, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be effort involved. I’ve already bought five (very nice) presents and only spent £3.77 in total so I’m off to a great start, but I’m also going to be making some gifts too. And in order to do that I need to start on my projects right away.

I intend to do this every year, but this year I really will because I’m actually feeling the creativity. I mentioned this to a friend who asked me to draw him a picture, so I did. Or rather, I painted it. It’s so hard because I’m never entirely happy with the finished article – all I can see is everything that’s wrong with it – but I need to just carry on anyway. I can’t get better if I don’t practice.

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Considering it’s generally months and months between me picking up a paintbrush I suppose I am happy with it really, just not ‘showing anyone else’ happy. But I’ll still give it to my friend, because it’s time to get out of my comfort zone once and for all. And to practice some consistency!

Yesterday morning I went on a little mission straight from work. The first stop was the big Tesco which is right out of my way, but it’s hard for me to get Oumph vegan products anywhere else. I do love my burgers and sausages, but I could feel that I needed something a little different. I wanted to change things up a little bit before I decide I’m bored and fall off of the wagon.

The kebab spiced pieces are one of my all time favourite things and they really did the job.

I also picked up Tesco’s own unsweetened soya yoghurt (newly Free on Slimming World) and discovered that I really like it. I was expecting it to taste like soya milk, which I can’t stand, but nope I found it really tasty. It has a nice yoghurty twang which I suppose comes from the bacterial cultures in it.

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Next stop was Sainsbury’s to try to find the Daiya cheddar-style cheese which now counts as a Healthy Extra. The only problem is, by now I was feeling pretty tired after my night shift. So by the time I got into Sainsbury’s I wasn’t quite with it and spent far too long fruitlessly looking for Koko cheese. Which Sainsbury’s do not even stock.

Thankfully though I stumbled across the Daiya products and thought I may as well have a look, before it slowly dawned on me that I was supposed to be looking for them anyway.

I was in for a shock though – a 200g block is £4.50! I bought it anyway, because I came all that way on a mission and I damn well wasn’t leaving without it.

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I decided to just sprinkle it on my dinner (chips, roasted veg, kebab pieces, YUM) and first impressions as I was grating it were good. The other brands I’ve tried are all rock hard but this was soft and grated really well. It melted well too.

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A little (40g) went a long way, plus although it smelled a little weird it had a really good taste. After being horrified at the price and vowing never to buy it again, to be honest I probably will. But only once a month I reckon.

Daiya have been around in the US for a while and have only just started selling in the UK, so I hope that once they’re more established and more supermarkets stock them, the price will come down considerably.

Either way it’s nice to be able to support a vegan brand and have it fit in easily with the Slimming World plan.

In other news I had a delivery today after forgetting to cancel my Papergang stationery subscription. Is anyone else a total stationery addict? I bet you are. I’m pleased I was forgetful, because this months box was designed by one of my favourite artists (Gemma Correll) and was very apt taking recent events into account.

It’s all about self-care and I love everything in the very generous haul.

So much good stuff! There’s a notebook, a huge poster with a calendar on the back, stickers, a notepad, an A4 poster, a November calendar (one of these comes with every box and I LOVE them) and even a cuppa, although tea with beetroot in it does sound a little rank…

I put a couple of bits up on the motivational area above my desk. Wonderful!

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Now it’s that time of day again and I must get on my (exercise) bike and do some weights. Then hopefully tomorrow I’m out for a nice long walk, even if it rains!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Going for it!

Oh my, so it’s all kicking off again in the Slimming World community it seems! Yesterday the news broke that all flavoured yoghurts will now carry a Syn value, and of course, people aren’t happy that the Mullerlights are no longer free.

For me though, vegan agenda aside, I think this is a good thing. Even before I went vegetarian I stopped eating Mullers because basically I thought they were crap. Overpriced, chemically tasting, watery nastiness. But it is really easy to overeat them, and although they’re ‘only’ 99 calories per pot, if you eat six a day (as some people I know have done) then there’s a chance it’ll negatively affect your losses. Slimming World are just trying to protect our losses, and I’m glad they’re on the ball.

It’s an unpopular opinion among the plant-based members out there, but I agree with Slimming World that avocados shouldn’t be free. I would like to see them given a Healthy Extra allowance or maybe even see the Syns reduced, but if they were free… oh boy, I doubt I’d lose a single ounce!

But there is some EXCELLENT news for us vegans. In fact I was the only one in group last night with a massive grin plastered across my face. Canned jackfruit is now FREE. Plain/smoked seitan is now FREE. And… AND…. we even have FREE plain yoghurt we can eat! I’m chuffed to bits, because it’s nice to be able to plonk a dollop of (soya) yoghurt on a curry or something without having to worry, or to make a salad dressing or whatever.

I’ve just checked the app and Alpro, Asda, M&S and Tesco unsweetened plain soya yoghurts are all free now. Wonderful!

Some Syns for the Alpro yoghurts have increased by a small amount, but again I’m not bothered. I’d rather have to use an extra half a Syn than be frustrated that I’m not making as much progress as I should be.

To top it off we even have TWO vegan cheeses we can use as a Healthy Extra now, but I wasn’t able to get either in town yesterday. But on Thursday I’m going out hunting so we’ll see what I can find.

There will be a new book coming out late December reflecting all the changes, and I’m pretty sure current members will get a new one for free. At least that’s what’s happened in the past when I’ve been a member.

You can read all the info in full on the Slimming World website, which I’d recommend because there are other changes I haven’t talked about here.

Anyway, enough of that. Let’s talk about yesterday. I’ve got into a really good routine where I pop in to visit my dad before going to group (he lives just around the corner) then I leave the car at his then walk the rest of the way.

But yesterday I’d just got up to leave when I realised I’d left my book and card at home. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but since I joined at another group (and wasn’t sure if my details had been transferred over) I’d probably need my card in order to weigh in.

So I rushed back home, grabbed my book, and rushed back to group. I did make it (with plenty of time to spare actually) which was such a relief because I was very anxious indeed to find out how I’d done. It turns out because it’s the same consultant at both groups I needn’t have worried, so that’s good to know for the future!

I held my breath and stepped on the scales…

3lbs off! 

I now weigh 13st 12.5lbs (mini goal achieved, yay!) and have a mere 1st 2.5lbs to go till I reach my target weight.

Now, I’ve been giving target quite a lot of thought and it occurred to me that it’s now truly within reaching distance. At first I was worried to even think about it, but I’m feeling so confident about Slimming World at the moment that I’ve decided.

I’m going for it. I’m going to try to reach target BEFORE Christmas. 

For me there are 13 weigh-ins lefts before the big day, and if I lose 2lbs a week I will be at target in nine weeks. At the start of the year I was convinced that I would hit target in 2018, but assumed as time went on that I’d blown it. But it IS still possible. There is a chance I’ll fall short, but eff it. I’m going to try anyway.

How amazing would it be? I’m daring to dream, and why the hell shouldn’t I?

Group itself was fab as always, and by the end I was absolutely made up to have got Slimmer of the Week. When you have been at it for as long as I have (I’ve been on this current ‘journey’ for over two years now) you just don’t expect to get it any more.

But get it I did, and it was a very generous haul. Among other things there was a bottle of Fry Light, some delicious looking apricots, a tin of water chestnuts and a bunch of flowers. What a nice thought! I especially thanked the lady who put them in because it was such a lovely idea and really brightened my day.

Earlier on in the day I made a fantastic start to week 3 of my Gold Body Magic Award with a 2.5 hour walk around the park and into town. I was thinking about putting it off till today but I’m so glad I didn’t, because the light was so much nicer yesterday.

Along with other kinds of mojo I’m definitely getting my photography mojo back. My favourite thing from the walk though was a silvery bush where the odd few leaves had gone yellow and green.

One of my favourite things ever is light shining through the leaves, so it was good to be able to combine these two things.

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Just… gorgeous.

In town I didn’t get much except a couple of bottles of Fry Light, and a little retro robot for my brother for 99p, but it was such a lovely day I’m really glad I got out. Of course it goes without saying really, but I did feed the geese as well.

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It’s back to work tonight so my only real plan for today is to get some exercise in and have a nap. Normally I’d feel that this wasn’t ‘enough’ but I had a really active weekend so what the hell!

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

Already?

Guess what popped up on my (dedicated Slimming World, no less) Instagram feed this afternoon?

You’ll never get it, so I’ll tell you.

MINCE PIES. 

This is too early, even for me! I’ve found combining slimming with veganism really hard, not because finding vegan options is a problem, but because there are so many options now.

My trigger foods have always been pizza and ice cream, for as long as I can remember. I thought that not having access to these things would really help my efforts – I can no longer order a 20″ pizza and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s right to my door for £15 after all. But then along comes the release of two (incredible looking) vegan pizzas and a vegan Magnum in the last couple of weeks alone. Oh and Violife have bought out a mozzarella substitute that I like the taste of and melts really well.

That’s now six or so vegan pizzas that are readily available in major supermarkets! And now the vegan mince pies are popping up already. Damn.

Of course I’m not really complaining, it’s fantastic for the vegan movement after all, but it is really hard not to get carried away and try ALL THE NEW THINGS.

I feel a sense of responsibility to try to support businesses making the effort to bring these products to the shelves, but for my own benefit and the benefit of others attempting the same thing, my time (and money) will be better spent showing that it’s totally doable to combine Slimming World with veganism.

For those wondering, you can still eat pizza and ice cream on Slimming World (and sometimes I do) but for me personally I find it best to avoid them all together or I will more often than not lose my head and eat way too much.

As it is those mince pies got me thinking about Christmas already (sorry!) and this year I’m looking for some decent middle ground.

Since I properly started my journey (sorry again, that word!) in 2016 I’ve had two Christmases – the first I stayed mostly on plan, only gained half a pound but felt really deprived. The second I was out of control from the end of November till the beginning of February, put on over a stone and felt really miserable.

This is me in December vs me last month. I don’t think I’m imagining that there’s quite a difference there, but it’s genuinely hard for me to tell what with the angles being different and whatnot. I do remember how the Hayley on the left felt though, and I don’t want a repeat of that.

Thinking back on it, what do I really remember about last Christmas? The actual day was brilliant – the best Christmas I’ve ever had. I remember making the Bosh mushroom wellington which is hands down one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten, seeing my family’s faces when they opened the gifts which so much thought had gone into, and playing silly games in the evening.

As far as other food and drink goes, the only ‘must have’ vegan things I remember was the vegan Baileys Almande (quite nice but my tastes have changed a bit, wouldn’t bother with it again) a liqueur from M&S (it was revolting) and trying Besos de Oro which is a vegan-friendly Bailey’s kind of drink (doubly revolting). So if I don’t get all of the must have things this year, it’s no big deal and I won’t even remember what they were by the end of January. Unless they stick out in my mind for being particularly awful.

I also stopped going to group at the end of November, and I tell you now, that is DEFINITELY not going to happen this time around!

My plan of action is to not buy anything at all until about a week before the day, because if it’s in the house I’ll definitely eat it, and only buy enough for one single day of eating and drinking.

If a certain item I want is sold out, so what? Does it really matter? Of course it doesn’t! In the meantime I shall write down my plan of action in my journal, so it’s even more cemented in my mind, then say no more about it at least until December.

I’m glad that’s out of my system (for now) and anyone posting festive pictures on social media is getting temporarily muted!

Anyway! On to more pressing matters. Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, and luckily I can’t eat the enormous cake my mum has bought for him. Considering she’s a diabetic and my brother is doing fantastically well with his weight loss and fitness efforts, I’m not sure it was exactly wise for her to get a 16-portion cake for the two of them, but what can you do.

I used the opportunity to ask her not to buy me any food items for my birthday (which is next month) to which she responded ‘Ok, but do you want a cake?’ Bless her, she really does mean well, but NOOOOOOOOO I don’t want a cake! While I was at it I messaged my sister to ask her not to get me any food either, and to cancel plans we had for a food-based get together. I still want to do something, but it doesn’t have to revolve around food. So I think I’m covered. I don’t think anyone else would get me anything edible anyhoo.

On Sunday me and my brother are doing some sort of healthy ‘outdoorsy’ thing in order to celebrate, though we haven’t decided exactly what yet. Whatever we choose I’m sure it’ll be fun though. He’s my number one adventure buddy.

I also want to start taking more photos again, which is best done with my brother because he’s so patient with me. Some friends wander off while I’m trying to get a good shot whereas my brother is more than happy to mill around for a bit while I get totally lost in what I’m doing.

He’s such a good brother, and I am so lucky to have him.

The Google Photos app has yet again been reminding me that last year I was taking a lot more photos than I am this year…

This needs to be rectified, and I need to get out and do more interesting things, more often.

Today though, so far, all I’ve managed to do is write this post which has taken hours because I keep procrastinating. I reckon I’m done for now though, so it’s time to get exercising. This Gold Body Magic award won’t earn itself you know!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Bad Decisions

This is the third attempt at writing this blog post. Sometimes they just don’t come easily, and in this case it’s mostly because I haven’t had much at all to write about!

This weekend I have made a couple of bad decisions, which revolve around staying up when I really should have had an early night. Sunday I spent the afternoon with friends and had a lovely walk in the park.

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I was planning to get home early Sunday evening, be in bed by 8pm and get up early the next day to get sh*t done. Instead I let myself be tempted into staying and watching a couple of movies. I didn’t have any dinner with me, as it was Sunday the shops were shut, and I was starving.

So we went to the local Co-op which is mercifully open till 10pm even on Sundays, and I was presented with an array of vegan-friendly goodies. Unfortunately only one item (apart from fruits and veggies) also fit in with Slimming World, so I ended up eating a pack of Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages for dinner. It’s only 3 syns for the pack, and I ended the day on about 7, but let’s just say it’s not the most exciting of dinners!

My friend tried his hardest to convince me to have a pack of Jammy Wheels (Co-ops own Jammy Dodgers) which are vegan and delicious, but I wasn’t budging off plan for ANYTHING.

I am very glad that I didn’t let one bad decision turn into two bad decisions.

Yesterday (much like today actually) I found it really hard to get going, even with a shed load of coffee. I did get all the boring stuff done though (laundry, hoovering, cleaning Pea’s cage, blah blah blah…) and got up in the loft to dig out my thermals for work. The days have been lovely and warm but the nights? Yeah, not so much.

In fact in about a month or so I reckon I’ll be digging out my work salopettes, but I’m hoping I can lose a bit more weight before then.

Last year was the first year I was able to fit into them – before then I’d end each winter shift on the verge of hypothermia. I’m not even exaggerating – it would take me hours and hours to warm up. I’d go to sleep straight away because I was so tired, but be woken up an hour later by my body being absolutely wracked with shivers despite having the heating on, extra blankets and two hot water bottles. I’d touch my thighs and they’d still be ice cold to the touch. It was no laughing matter.

Yet last year I had one of my biggest non-scale victories to date when I could not only fit into the salopettes, but also not feel that everyone was looking at me and sniggering behind my back.

This is me when I first got them last November, and I already know that they fit me better already despite only being a few pounds lighter now than I am in the pictures. Because of the exercise I’ve been doing my body shape has changed quite significantly and I’ve lost a good few inches from the waist and tummy area.

I want to make as much progress between now and… whenever it’s so cold that I have to wear them, so that they feel really different when I wear them next. Then next year I can get another pair (we get a free pair every two years) because the only thing better than one pair of the coziest salopettes you can possibly imagine is having two pairs!

Speaking of making progress, last night was weigh in and for the first time in ages I was really looking forward to stepping on the scales. I didn’t feel like I’d managed to lose much, but I was confident I had at least lost something. Which is a rare feeling these days!

So I was pleasantly shocked to find that I lost 4.5 pounds.

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That’s more like it!

Group was another good one, though I did miss the lady who gave me the high five last week. She’s on holiday in Devon (and determined to stay on plan) so I’m looking forward to finding out how she got on next week.

I now have 1st 5.5lbs to go till I reach my target, and it occurred to me yesterday that it’s still within the realms of possibility that I could achieve that this year. I’ll try not to think about that too much though, as I might get disheartened.

One day at a time, Hayley!

I did spend a little bit of time yesterday evening looking at my Fitbit stats and reflecting on how far I’ve come since I started recording everything in September 2015. And as it happens it’s almost exactly a year since I came out of the ‘obese’ BMI category and entered the ‘overweight’ one. As you can see I’ve had some ups and downs (I briefly went back up into obese over Christmas) but I’ve managed to stay ‘only’ overweight for the best part of a whole year.

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My goal for the week ahead is to try my hardest to get into the 13 stone bracket, but I also want to keep a level head and prepare myself for the fact it might take an extra week or two. As long as I keep going, I’ll do it. I’m still bloody excited though!

I went to bed late again last night. Monday’s are always late anyway, because group doesn’t finish till around 9pm, but I also stayed up to watch Deadpool 2 with the family. Yep, another bad decision. I’m so sleepy today! It was good, with some laugh-out-loud moments, but not brilliant.

As such there’s not a huge amount going on today even though there is plenty I could be getting on with.

I’ve just had an Iceland shop delivered, now that there’s enough of a vegan range to warrant getting a whole shop, which has come at just the right time. My local shopping centre is being knocked down and rebuilt, so that it’s had a knock-on effect at the local Lidl’s. They just can’t cope with the extra business, so every time I’ve been there lately it’s been an absolute ordeal. Plus the shelves have been virtually empty anyway.

As I need to save money shopping at the big supermarkets isn’t an option either, so getting the best part of a whole shop from Iceland, for £35 with free delivery, has been a huge help.

Along with these bits I also got a load of fresh stuff, and I’ve sent off photos of the new vegan range to Slimming World so hopefully the bits that aren’t listed will be added to Syns Online soon.

Now I’m off to prep all of my work lunches for the week so I don’t have to worry about that, then I need to get some exercise and sleep in before work. It’s not the most exciting of tasks, but I’m happy that I’m on top of things and looking forward to the week ahead.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Absolute Truth

I’ve got to be honest here, I was thinking of taking a little blog break because I’m feeling so down in the dumps. But it’s so, so important for me to be straight up in this little corner of the internet here. I’ve been wanting to start this post for a while, but getting out of bed has been a big enough challenge.

Thankfully this evening I’m feeling a little more with it.

I thought I’d feel better once some changes had been made in my life, and I was really looking forward to getting some time to myself back. But the problem is… me and myself aren’t great friends right now.

Over the last 6 months or so my self-esteem has gone from being pretty damn good to slowly getting to the point where I basically despise myself. I know it’s a temporary feeling, but at the moment all I have to keep me company when I’m alone is guilt, shame, disgust and other lovely things along those lines.

Being with people is better, but not great, because I can’t concentrate properly on conversations, and if there is background noise/more than one person I’m finding it almost unbearable. Texting is best, and my sister has been brilliant. Plus my mum and brother have been super patient and always available for hugs.

Work has been tough too, but there are also some good, good people that I can speak to there who have been great.

Up until recently I had someone in my life who was not so supportive, and one particular colleague really hit the nail on the head – he said it’s like I’m carrying around a really heavy backpack, but this person keeps adding rocks to it. And is trying to trip me up at the same time.

He gets it.

I haven’t been following Slimming World at all. At 9:30pm Saturday night, even though I started work at 10pm, I was literally crying into a tub of (vegan) ice cream. Of course that’s only a very temporary way of making myself feel better, and I have to stop doing that RIGHT NOW.

So what the hell am I going to do about all this?

First of all, I’m going to keep talking. I had a major breakthrough with my brother and sister who have been helping me get my thoughts in order, and my main problem at the moment is that I had someone in my life who was larger than life (mostly not in a good way) and even though I know I’m better off without them, I’m left with this massive gaping hole that I don’t know how to fill.

I used to love my own company, but thinking back on it, that was something I had to learn how to do. I need to relearn it. If I did it once, I can do it again.

Secondly, I have a doctors appointment on Thursday because it can’t hurt to get a professional opinion. I do think I would benefit from a little chemical assistance to ‘level me out’ a bit. I’ve taken that route before and it’s worked for me in the past, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t help again.

Thirdly, even though I don’t feel like doing anything but adopting the fetal position, I’m going to eat healthily and continue with my running. In the morning I’m going shopping for supplies straight from work (to hell with my budget, staying healthy comes first) then I’ll go for a run in the afternoon. I know it’ll make me feel better once I’m out there doing it.

Finally, I’m going to be strict and get my routine back, because it’s something that I’ve sorely missed. I like structure. I need structure. And it will help everything else fall into place.

I already feel better getting this blog up, and taking a little time for myself. That includes a vegan-friendly clay face mask from Superdrug. I’m not sure how much they really help my skin, but it feels nice and refreshing plus it makes for quite interesting selfies!

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Once I’m feeling better in myself, I can crack on with things I’ve been meaning to do since the beginning of the year. It’s nice to put others first sometimes, but not all the time, and my own things that I wanted to do have recently gone right to the bottom of the pile.

If I can get some concentration back then starting on my ‘to be read’ pile is high up on the list. This doesn’t even scratch the surface though, I haven’t even thought about what’s on my Kindle.

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Plus I really can get back to my Slimming World group which is way, way overdue. I’m going to be in for a huge gain, but I need to take that on the chin and just get on with it.

Everything will be ok in the end, I just need to keep fighting.

Here’s to never giving up x

Budget

I’ve written about trying to be more careful with money several times since starting this blog, but somehow I never seemed to do anything about it. In fact being sensible financially ended up right at the bottom of my list of priorities and it’s now caught up with me. I’m in just a little bit of a pickle, so trying to be careful has turned into ‘really Hayley, you MUST be careful now or we’re screwed‘.

Thankfully I checked my accounts and my outgoings kinda just in time. I’m currently £30 into my planned overdraft, I have £87 left to pay out for the month, and £36 in cash to spend on food. Oh and 10 days until payday.

Because I have some catching up to do and a few expensive things to pay out for, things are going to be tight until about November, and then it’s Christmas. It’s going to have to be a frugal one this year!

I only just got around to trying ‘The Chunk‘ which is a vegan meat replacement from Oumph! I’d already tried the kebab pieces and the pulled ‘pork’ which are both delicious, but they have syns so I thought I’d try the plain pieces, which are syn free.

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I wish I hadn’t put if off for so long because even without seasoning ‘The Chunk’ is really tasty. After I’d tried it on its own I added garlic and paprika and it was delicious. The only problem is, although totally worth it, the Oumph! products are quite expensive and I can’t afford to get any more for the time being.

Ho hum, it’s my own fault entirely.

Thankfully some of the best things in life are completely free, so I took advantage of a very rainy Thursday and went out for a run. It’s probably an unpopular opinion, but running in the rain is FANTASTIC! At least if it’s still quite warm, as it was then.

There’s something really peaceful about it all, especially as I had the park almost exclusively to myself. I only saw one little family with their brollies and wellies walking in the opposite direction, right at the beginning.

I did 3.7 miles, at what is a good pace for me, without stopping. My knee was a bit stiff the day after, but I think as long as I don’t run on consecutive days then I can keep going.

It. Felt. So. Good!

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Not my best photographic work, but an accurate representation of my afternoon!

Yesterday I didn’t do much, because after a couple of weeks of not sleeping all that much I’ve been allowing myself extra time in bed. I did however still get out for a walk before I went back to bed before my shift, and took some nice flower pictures up at the church. I’m not religious, but I do like going up there and the church gardener definitely takes pride in their work. Plus it’s right at the top of a very big hill, and hills are bloody good exercise.

I have work tonight so I’ll have another little walk soon to top up my steps then have a nap, and think about what I’m going to do with my weekend. I know that Monday evening I’m going out for dinner at Harvester for my dad’s birthday, and I know that I can stay on plan, too. Unlimited salad it is, and do you know what? I may even have a jacket potato. I know how to live!

I hope you lot out there are having a lovely weekend, and don’t have to work tonight.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x