Choosing

I’ve been feeling real bad lately. Real, real low. When you’re feeling like that the last thing you probably want to do is put on your happy face and go to a job interview – one where it’s essential that you are warm and positive and enthusiastic.

It’s hard. In fact it’s exhausting, but in some cases it’s also really, really worthwhile. You see, I’ve been playing the long game.

I know from experience that my low patch was only going to be temporary, and that if I didn’t take the bull by the horns and throw everything I had at my interview then I’d deeply regret it. So rather than curl up into a ball I put on my brave face and went out there and did it.

I have only ever had one proper interview. Seriously, ever. It was in the early 2000’s and I had absolutely no idea how to prepare for it. What’s more I was going for a job I didn’t really want, as I have done with every single job I’ve done so far. My criteria is ‘can I actually do it?’ With the only other factor being ‘how miserable will it make me?’

As such my interview was a complete and utter disaster, with the low point being, in my nervous state, me forgetting to let go of the interviewers hand during a handshake and him having to pry himself out of my grasp. Mortifying.

Weirdly, I didn’t get the position, and it put me off going to another one until this very week.

Coming back to the present, my interview yesterday was for something that I badly want. I’ve been thinking about it on and off for years, because the idea of it has always grabbed me but I didn’t have the confidence to actually do it.

In 2012-ish I went to find out more about it, and the very thought made my palms sweat with anxiety. So I put it to the back of my mind for the time being.

Then more recently the idea presented itself again, but this time I started fantasising about how brilliant it could be and what I personally could bring to it. I’ve never felt like that about anything. I realised that not only can I do it, I can actually be really good at it AND make a difference. At 36 I’ve finally found a thing I want to do! What’s more, the stars seemed to have aligned and everything fell in to place. I was in exactly the right position to to be able to do it.

Then the blues hit. I thought to myself – if I get this job, then I need to be able to do it and do it well no matter how I’m feeling, because people are going to be looking to me for advice. I strongly believe that sometimes you have to listen to your instincts and if they are telling you that you’re doing too much and it isn’t the right time, perhaps you should heed the warning lest you completely burn out.

At other times though, it’s worth pushing through because the end result is worth it. It’s a tough one to judge, but in this case I got it right.

I woke up this morning feeling like the dark cloud had lifted from above my head and everything seemed more-or-less back to normal.

Relief!

I was told I’d possibly find out about the job by the end of the week, all being well, yet as I got on with the chores that I’d been neglecting in favour of other more enjoyable things, the phone rang.

It was the lady who did conducted my interview.

Since it’s only Wednesday I thought she must need some more information from me. I didn’t expect for one second she was phoning to tell me that I got the job.

So, my good readers, it is with great excitement that I can announce to you…

I’M GOING TO BE A SLIMMING WORLD CONSULTANT!

The best bit though is that I’m going to be taking over the group I currently go to. We’ve had various temporary consultants since before Christmas, trying their best to keep us going till someone was recruited to run it permanently. Who knew that person was going to be me?

I’m not the only one who has found the uncertainty tough, so I’m chuffed to bits that I’ll be able help the people who have been keeping me going to the last few months. That’s why it was especially important to me to do this now.

Although I’ve been struggling like mad, I have no doubt at all that I’m going to get to target with Slimming World. When I rejoined in August 2016 I made the decision there and then – this is going to be for life. I may flirt with unhealthy eating from time-to-time (especially lately) but Slimming World is going to be in my future for years and years to come, so it seemed fitting to cement that idea by making it my career, too.

Ha, career. A word I never thought I’d have the vaguest interest in. Yet here we are!

Yesterday I had no trouble at all getting back on plan after a day of eating some naughties. The sole reason is that although I was still feeling bad, I got back in control. When I ate some vegan treats with my sister during a visit to London, it was because I chose to, not because I was trying to self-medicate with food. It made alllll the difference.

This time I actually enjoyed my food sensibly rather than eating till I felt sick, and thought about whether or not I really wanted it before eating it.

I had a doughnut the size of my head from Doughnut Time, but it wasn’t just on a whim. I’ve been wanting to try this thing since it came into existence. It was worth the wait.

This photo was taken in Covent Garden, London. A trip to London always makes my contemplate how far I’ve come because it’s not a city that’s friendly to fat people.

Apart from to eat, drink or pose, we didn’t sit down the whole day. When I was a teenager I went to London a lot with a couple of slim and fit friends. We did a lot of walking, which always left me feeling sore and exhausted. It was an ordeal, but I put up with it because we were usually there to see bands. Music was EVERYTHING to me back then.

Thankfully, I’m unrecognisable from that person now.

What’s more I can sit down on a seat in a ridiculously cramped tube train without touching the people either side of me. I can trot up and down broken escalators, and I can go into almost any high street shop and find something to fit me on the rails.

We went into Zara, somewhere I’ve never shopped before. Their sizes range from S to XXL, so when I saw something I liked I automatically picked up the XXL, whilst hoping against hope that it won’t be too small.

Turns out when shopping at Zara I’m an M. A flipping MEDIUM people!

I’ve also wanted something from Oliver Bonas for an age. I picked up a dress in a 16. I’m a 14-16, but since I’ve put on a few pounds lately I went for the larger size. It drowned me!

I’m now the proud owner of a size 14 gingham dress that I have no doubt I will wear the HELL out of over the summer.

I knew things would turn around. I’m so glad I grit my teeth and saw it through.

The icing on the cake? Despite the fact I normally have light meals on weigh day, I just about made it to weigh in on time Monday evening with a tummy full of vegan goodies and came in with a loss of half a pound!

I’ve never been happier to lose such a teeny amount.

Things are on the up!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Someone asked me a question the other day, which I don’t believe was meant in a concerned, sincere way. It was this: why do you have to eat a whole pizza? Why can’t you just have one slice? Why can’t you just have a little bit of what you fancy?

If there wasn’t anger and accusation behind those words, I would have answered it. But for my own sake and anyone else who struggles with ‘a little bit of what you fancy’, I’ve given it some thought.

First of all, I don’t have to, not really. In theory, it’s completely within my power to just have a little bit. I’ve done it before, though admittedly not often, and on those occasions it has meant that I’ve been able to enjoy social events revolving around food and/or drink without feeling deprived. What’s more, I’ve invariably surprised myself and lost weight come the next weigh in.

There’s a lot to be said for simply being sensible, but if it were that easy then I would never have had a problem with my weight now would I?

It’s a many-layered problem. Since I was a kid any situation slightly out of the ordinary meant FOOD as far as I was concerned. Family party? BUFFET! Holiday? Cooked breakfasts and McDonald’s. Funeral? BUFFET! Visiting a family member? WHAT’S IN THEIR FRIDGE? So as soon as I arrange to do anything, the first thing that pops into my mind is ‘what nice thing can I eat?’

One thing I’m finding it really hard to get away from is the mentality of eating as much ‘nice’ stuff as I can before getting back on my so-called diet. This is ridiculous, because Slimming World especially really discourage this way of thinking. No food is banned, so there’s simply no reason to have to binge on it when you’re being naughty. You can have it any time (in moderation).

That’s the hard part, isn’t it. When I eat something nice I want to eat it till I feel sick, and I experience a genuine feeling of euphoria as I’m doing it. It’s like a drug. But the comedown is oh so bad. There’s a lot of guilt, and that makes it all the harder to get back on plan. When I feel that amount of shame it’s hard to get into a positive mindset which makes eating healthily that much easier. It’s difficult to feel good about what you’re doing when you see it as desperately making up for a terrible mistake.

What’s more, there’s also the troublesome fact that I’m an emotional eater. Happy? Let’s celebrate with food! Sad? Let’s commiserate with food! I’m getting better at this in recent years, but I’m far from perfect. Miles away actually.

The way I see it, I have a two options. I could not eat the ‘high risk foods’ ever again, as my old consultant used to call them. If I don’t have them for a while (cake, ice cream, pizza etc) then I do find it easier to avoid them as time goes on.

Or, I could really and truly learn, once and for all, how to be sensible with food.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tried to do this and failed, especially since I started blogging. I’d write a post about it, saying how determined I was to just have one meal off plan then get back on it the next day.

If we look at my track record then the odds are not great. I fail many more times than I succeed. That’s doesn’t mean I’m giving up though.

There are things I want to do, places I want to go, and I would dearly love to be able to make decent choices at the same time.

I’m out Sunday night, and I want to have a few spirits with low-calorie mixers. This seems perfectly doable, but my danger area is the Sunday morning beforehand. I tell myself I’m bound to screw up so I might as well eat half a loaf of bread with peanut butter and jam for breakfast. I’m not exaggerating, it really would be in the region of half a loaf.

I’m going out with my sister on the 12th for various non-food related pursuits, but she suggested checking out a vegan burger place I’ve wanted to sample for months and months. I can do the just-eating-the-burger part, but when I get home I’ll start to feel guilty about it which will lead to the ‘eff it all’ thoughts.

When I dress up as Mary Poppins I’ll take some food with me but I’m not sure how long I’ll be there and when I’ll be able to eat. If I have to eat out at any point I want to be able to make a sensible, well-informed choice.

Then we have Swingamajig, where food will be largely of the takeaway kind for an entire weekend. When faced with a load of food stalls, I want to be able to make a wise choice. When it comes to breakfast at the hotel, I want to ask for grilled veg and beans, instead of cracking and asking for slice after slice of fried bread with greasy mushrooms or who even knows what.

I can do this, it’s within the realms of possibility. I’m choosing to see it this way – the coming five weeks are a perfect opportunity for me to practice doing those things. I think it’s like exercising a muscle – the more I do it, the stronger I’ll become.

Deep down, although I really want to do all of these things, part of me is already convinced of my failure. That makes me want to avoid the fun stuff altogether. I don’t want to live my life that way.

So I’m daring to imagine that things could actually go well, that I can have my cake and eat it. How wonderful would that be?

I will try again, because I don’t want to live my life avoiding all of the foods I enjoy. Doing that is the absolute last resort.

So how has life been in general? Now I think of it, I’ve already managed to prove my own point. On Thursday I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend for a quiet couple of drinks, but he had an insane hangover from the night before and couldn’t make it.

Before I even knew this, I ate a load of rubbish when I got home from work in the morning. Same old, same old. I’m bound to blow it later, I thought. I’d been looking forward to that afternoon, so when I found out I wasn’t going socialising after all, I ate more crap. So silly.

Friday my mum had a little operation and despite us only being at the hospital for a few hours, when we might have been there all day, I used it as an excuse to… eat more crap.

Saturday I kind of came to my senses and ate a bit better, then Sunday it was a mixed bag.

After sleeping for just an hour and a half, I went to a boot sale with my friend. It was so cold, we left after covering about half of it, but only after we’d picked up some sweet treats for ourselves from the cake stall.

Then I cooked a nice roast dinner for mother’s day, which wasn’t too bad (in fact I had a sensible portion), and I didn’t eat again till the next day. By this point I really wasn’t feeling great about going out with the work chaps in the afternoon/evening.

For the first time in ages I did that thing where you try on a load of outfits and feel rubbish in all of them – I very nearly blew it off. Instead I forced myself to go and actually had a fantastic time! I had a few G&T’s with slimline tonic, but when we arrived at a place doing 2-for-1 cocktails I confess to making the most of the Pornstar Martini. In my defence passion fruit is surely good for you…

I’m a bit of nightmare when I go on these nights out as I don’t really have an off-switch, but one of our group overdid it before I got the chance to so all of us from our part of Essex escorted him home in a cab. We never leave a man behind.

I woke up the next day without a real hangover, just feeling a little tired, and I stayed on plan the whole day. I didn’t even feel guilty about the night before, probably because I had so much fun. I was feeling the love from my work buddies.

That brings us right up to weigh in, and miracle of miracles… I lost 1.5 lbs! It just goes to show, the things I did right (at least in this case) made up for the things I did wrong and I came out the other side with a good result. It would have been even better if I’d stuck to plan all the times I could have.

Lesson learned? Not quite, but it’s a step in the right direction. Point proven? Certainly.

This week I’m off to a good start, and I’ve just almost finished a bowl of ramen after being inspired by a fellow slimmer on Instagram.

It’s the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time, and even when I halve the recipe (this is easily enough for four people) it’ll still be filling. I honestly can’t believe how tasty it was despite being completely free on the Slimming World plan. This’ll definitely be a weekly lunch from this point onwards.

I just remembered how awful I felt the last time I posted, so I’m happy to say that things are much, much better now.

If you’re struggling, hang on in there. Things will improve, I promise.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Just Try Again

This week has not been the turnaround I’d hoped it would be. I’ve been so tired, so I’ve been letting myself sleep, which is good. I’ve also had mad cravings again… and I listened to them. Again. Hmm, not so good. I’m getting really annoyed with myself because although up until this point I’ve been sort of ‘getting away with it’ and exercising a certain amount of damage limitation, I think this week it’s all catching up with me. It simply has to stop. It’s one thing knowing what I have to do and another thing altogether putting it into practice though isn’t it?

So I try again. I think that’s my super power.

There’s a thing hanging over my head that I can’t talk about here, and once that’s resolved I’m sure I’ll find things easier. My mood has dropped quite drastically and I feel awful. I felt that I was doing quite well up until now. In the meantime I still need to practice coping with having things over my head because this will often be the case in life and I can’t go stuffing my face every single time it happens.

One little shining light is Pea, who seems really happy lately. She’s been such a sweet birdy and she’s been helping me out modelling while I practice mixing ambient light with flash.

This is the kind of shot I’d get if I didn’t use flash:

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It’s nice in its own way, but not ideal if you actually want to see, well, anything. For one there’s no way the following pose would have made me laugh quite so much if I couldn’t see all of the details. Seriously, this mid-preen shot cracks me up every time I look at it – she just looks so utterly ridiculous!

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My next little mood-booster is a mixed bag. On the one hand I got my first ever pair of Irregular Choice shoes and I FLIPPING LOVE THEM. I was inspired by Davey’s post (link) and whilst I couldn’t afford anything from their current range I got an end-of-line deal via eBay for less than half the full price.

On the other hand, I bought them for Swingamajig and I’m feeling increasingly panicked that I will be the size of a house before it comes around. I will be if I don’t get my eating under control! In honour of the shoes and the outfit I must sort it out, because I tried on my dresses yesterday and did not feel good in them.

I’ll take a picture of me wearing them tomorrow and put them in a post on here which will hopefully spur me into action.

Either way the shoes are awesome, and once Swingamajig is over I’ll be wearing them on a regular basis, even to the shops. Yes really. It would be a crime to not wear these until they die, which in any case means… I can get another pair!

Finally, whilst I’m on the subject of material things, I am now the proud owner of my first ever Canon ‘L’ series lens (the L standing for luxury. Oh yeah.)

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I got it second-hand and I traded it in for several other lenses, otherwise this baby would have set me back around £560. I can’t tell you how much it would have been to buy new, but to give you an idea the latest version of the same lens is £1679. In photography you generally get what you pay for.

At the beginning of the year I wrote about being in a bit of a pickle financially, but I’m happy to report that things are looking up in that respect. I’m all straight again! The previous version of me would have stuck this new lens on a credit card and worried about it later, so I’m quite proud that I not only decluttered by paring down my lens collection, but also managed to keep on track with only spending money I actually have.

At least that’s one huge thing off my mind.

Hopefully tomorrow there will be a bit of sunshine and I can take my lens out for a proper test drive. I expect to be ripped by the time I get home because boy is it heavy!

Anyhoo, I’m going to try my best to turn around my mood and my eating, so hopefully I’ll have something more positive to tell you next time. I’ll sure give it a good try.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Binge Behaviours

Something is definitely rearing its ugly head and I’m not happy about it. After months of not giving it a second thought, binge-eating tendencies have started resurfacing and I want to get them nipped in the bud right now.

I’ve had a Saturday/Sunday slip-up after stupidly having a sneak peek on the scales and seeing a massive and quite undeserved gain, which saw me managing to go about things all the wrong way and do the exact opposite of what I’d recommend anyone in my position to do. What did I do? I ate. A lot.

It’s Monday morning and I have group tonight. Our ‘Greatest Loser’ will be announced. I’m fairly sure that even with the huge gain I’m due it’ll be me (out of everyone who stays at my group I’ve lost the most weight) and I’ve never felt less deserving of the title. I knew it was coming, and I really wanted to have a loss so as not to ‘let my group down’ (not that any of them think that way) but I screwed up anyway.

Rather than making the decision to have something off-plan, this felt more like a compulsion, and it really scares me. I must regain control.

Something that should help me regulate my currently insatiable appetite is getting off my arse again. I’m currently sitting on a train en route to meet my friend (when said friend suggests an impromptu meetup one does not say no lightly), and luckily my knee is back to a fairly ordinary ache rather than the pain I was experiencing. Come rain or shine, this week is going to be about getting out of the house and making progress again.

I’ve just passed through London to get on my connecting train, and it’s looking rather nice, at least from a distance. I’m not really a fan of the city so it’s nice to be heading out in a different direction.

It’s now Tuesday and I’m picking this post up after finally getting some sleep! I was on the go all day and didn’t have the mental or physical energy to write, so now we’re changing over to past tense. I say on the go… a lot of it was based around sitting down drinking coffee but once all that caffeine wore off, I assure you I was pooped.

Coffee, chatting, strolling and charity shop browsing were the themes of the day, which are some of my very favourite things. I found a nice pair of thermal tights which were perfect for wearing to Slimming World later in the evening.

Spending time with my buddy Davey is always a great experience. He’s a font of excellent advice, an interesting fellow in general, and a positive influence when it comes to food. I only munched on fresh Syn-free grub the whole day, washed down with cup after cup of black Americano. I didn’t once feel like eating everything in sight, and in fact only ate in the first place as I knew if I didn’t I’d let myself get too hungry and be more likely to reach for crap food later on.

Once every single charity shop had been exhausted, and there were a few mind you, we headed to a park across the road for a walk around and somewhere nice to munch on not just any fruit, but M&S fruit. Ain’t we posh?

What did we find in the park? Only an outdoor gym!

It’s actually really cool. It uses your own body weight for the resistance. My arms even have a nice little ache today, and I’m so impressed I’m going to write to the council and ask for something like that locally.

Dave did much better than me what with his strong swimming arms. That reminds me, I really must get around to going swimming one day…

The park turned out to be quite beautiful once we found a secluded area up some stairs. I don’t think anyone had realised what was up there.

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Plum in hand, we investigated.

After a little sit down I learned a valuable lesson – my knee will start hurting again if I sit with my legs crossed. So I really must remember not to do that. Thankfully it recovered again really quickly and it’s mostly OK today.

After more coffee and such a lovely day I got the train home, only just making it in time for Slimming World. It’s a good job I left right then as I didn’t have as much time as I thought I did (story of my life).

Group was a surprise to say the least, because somehow, by some miracle, I managed to maintain. I can only assume that the walking, coffee and fruit did me the world of good, and now I just have to be especially on it in order to avoid a catch-up gain.

I’m by no means out of the woods, but at least I got to accept my award without feeling too guilty about it.

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Funnily enough although I’ve gained it’s great to still feel ‘normal’, whatever that may be. This is no time to relax though, because I’ve ordered a new dress for Swingamajig that I absolutely ADORE. It’s in a size 12-14 though (the biggest size it comes in), and I have no idea whether it’ll fit in time. I’m currently a 14-16 but this dress will leave nothing to the imagination so it will definitely be touch and go.

This week I’m restarting my tummy exercises which I let slip over Christmas. It has therefore resulted in everything getting even more squidgy around the middle if I’m honest.

When the dress arrives I’ll take a picture of me wearing it, no matter how silly it looks, and we’ll compare it in roughly 8 weeks time when the big event rolls around.

It’ll be a fun challenge!

Right, I’m off to get dinner then. The plan is the same as yesterday – I must not let myself get too hungry.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

That’s Enough

Things have been pretty stressful lately, with this and that going on behind the scenes, but I’ve been dealing with it pretty well I think. This has coincided with massive cravings for everything and anything sugary, but most unusually I don’t think the two are connected.

I’m almost 100% sure that it’s not a case of emotional eating. I suppose I could be doing it subconsciously, but that’s not what my instinct is telling me. I think I just got a taste for the sweet stuff again and it’s been like trying to get rid of a genuine addiction.

This morning I decided that enough was enough, and I was out of the house by 6:30 in the morning in order to set off on an epic walk. I knew I’d be hungry by the time I reached an Aldi which was on the way, so I’d already planned what Free foods I’d be picking up.

By the time I was well on my way I realised I’d forgotten my gloves, and it was ridiculously cold even though the weather was set to be nice later on. I was too stubborn to turn back, which is a mistake I will try not to make again. Even after four miles I couldn’t walk fast enough to get warm and the sun wasn’t much use either. At least it had the decency to make everything look pretty.

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At Aldi I warmed up a little and picked up the bits I’d intended to, but just before I got there a message popped up from Steve asking if I fancied going to a Viking vs Saxon battle site in a nearby town.

Well you don’t get offers like that every day! I rang back straight away to say ‘YES!’, at which point he suggested we also got breakfast while we were out. What’s one more day off plan, eh?

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During breakfast I had a really hard time adhering to the signs everywhere telling me NOT TO FEED THE STARLINGS. I reckon I could have got one eating out of my hand, and what a good shot that would have made. It’s a shame I’m so scared of getting told off.

Once we started our exploring we came across a lady making knotted bracelets and other bits and bobs, and suddenly my memory was well and truly jogged. When I was a kid my parents bought me and my sister bracelets just like the ones she was selling, and then I realised – it was the exact same lady! I double-checked and she confirmed that she’s been selling the same things from the same spot for 26 years, so it was definitely her.

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Steven bought me a nice new yellow bracelet, bright and summery to complement the day.

After a frosty start look at how the day turned out! Beautiful or what? Exploring is hard work, so when Steve suggested he treat me to lunch at Mrs Salisbury’s Famous Tea Rooms, I displayed all the resistance of a wet lettuce.

He had to pop off to make a quick phone call while I did the ordering, and I accidentally got myself a passion fruit Bellini. Oops.

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In all honesty it was great to not have to worry about what I was eating. I was well and truly in holiday mode even though it was just a little day trip – I just wanted to relax and enjoy myself. For the most part I don’t feel guilty about it. But the simple fact remains that if I keep eating like I have been, I won’t be able to continue to live the life that I have come to know and love.

A couple of days ago Steve and I were traipsing up the hill of doom in our favourite park when I spotted a familiar pair at the top. It was my ex (my first proper boyfriend in fact) and his wife, and it was a great feeling to bump into them after a good few years and have them struggle to recognise me because I look so different. It’s something I never tire of, and I don’t want to go back to dreading bumping into people I haven’t seen for a while because I know only too well that look of shock that appears on their faces. It’s not the good kind.

Today I had already been walking for 8 miles/three hours before Steve picked me up, and we spent most of the afternoon on our feet on top of that. I don’t have a single ache or pain, and although I’m a bit weary from not sleeping too well last night I could easily go for many more miles. No food is nice enough to warrant giving that up.

I also have a really exciting event coming up in May, called Swingamajig. My friend Paul invited me (he is friends with the organisers and goes every year) and apart from seeing a friend I haven’t seen in aaaaages, it’s also a fantastic photographic opportunity and, by the sounds of it, a whole load of fun.

It’s described as being all about the sights and sounds of the 1920’s (I love that whole era) with a modern twist, and I am going all in. Check out my dress!

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I want to be feeling my best when I go, because I’m hoping to get some fantastic shots. This will no doubt mean engaging with other festival-goers. As such I need to keep my confidence levels as they are currently (or better) and one thing that helps that is being in control of my food and staying fit.

It’s going to be awesome.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a blind weigh-in hasn’t helped one way or another, and I’d rather face up to how I’m doing and just get the hell on with it. I skipped weigh in today (naughty!) so let’s see what next week brings.

This evening I had my first proper on-plan meal in I-don’t-know-how-long, so now I just need to stick to it.

Time to go cold turkey then! There are too many good things in the future not to.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The First

Yesterday was fantastic, and just what I needed to give me the motivation for yet another fresh start. I wasn’t on plan, but I just had the nicest and most relaxing day I’ve had in a long, long time.

I started off the day by getting creative. One of my bestest friends announced on Saturday that he’d proposed to his girlfriend (a truly lovely lady) and that she’d said YES. So I experimented with my watercolours and knocked them up a nice engagement card.

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I am so happy with how it turned out. I did a little five minute sketch of my sister’s bird, Petrie, being a borb (a round bird) and made a cover for a journal I’m working on. I’m trying not to be too precious about anything and just do it purely for enjoyment. It worked – I was having a great time.

In the evening Steve and I went to the cinema together for the first time ever, to see Stan & Ollie, and it was one of those rare occasions where I’ve seen a film and not had a single criticism. To top it all off, when I got home I had an early night and slept for a magnificent eleven-and-a-half hours. I needed that so badly.

I’ve decided that the last two weeks don’t count and that today (the 14th) is my official start of the year. So happy new year to me!

In the spirit of openness I will tell you that over the last two weeks (I last weighed in New Year’s Eve) I have gained 5 lbs. It’s half as bad as I thought it would be actually.

What came before doesn’t matter though, what matters is what I do now.

This morning training officially restarted with a run, and again it went better than I expected. The first two miles were a similar pace to what I was doing before my knee went wrong which was a nice surprise, and I only had to stop because my upper thighs were protesting. I probably could have pushed myself harder but I wanted to avoid an injury on my very first run of the year.

The next two miles were very slow indeed, but only because I had company.

A Labrador joined me on my walk, and whereas usually an owner turns up eventually this one was apparently owner-less. I waited around for a bit and soon saw a lady with three dogs who was not the owner. She was very snippy with me for not having ‘my dog’ on a lead, because she couldn’t control her largest dog which was, ahem, not on a lead. I didn’t press the issue though and took my new friend back in the direction he came from.

I kept him with me for a while but all of sudden he just bolted and there was nothing I could do to hold on to him. I don’t think he’s fully grown yet but wow, he was strong! It turns out with his super-duper dog hearing he heard something I didn’t – his owner calling him.

I soon learned that he’s a rescue dog named Barney, whose favourite pastime is running away when his owner’s children leave the garden gate open. He was so friendly, but his owner told me he will make a run for it at every opportunity. I wished them both good luck and continued my walk, making the most of the slower pace by taking a few snaps and getting proof that there was a tiny bit of blue sky, even if it didn’t last.

This evening I had group with my lovely Slimming World buddies. Me being me I totally forgot that January is a busy time in group so it was a nice surprise to see so many people there. I left with a 12-week journal in hand and tons of motivation for the week ahead.

I’m ending this weekend feeling like I’m finally getting somewhere. It’s going to be a good week people, I can feel it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

First of Many

This weekend has been a busy one. The day before New Year’s Eve, despite me being so good in the days leading up to that point, Steve and I decided to go out for a meal. He fancied Chinese, which didn’t really appeal to me, so we compromised on Thai. We tried a place round the corner that neither of us had been to before, and it was quite a while before either of us realised it was actually a Malaysian restaurant. It is called The Malaya, so the clues were there, but in my defence I didn’t look at the name before we went in. All I knew was that the food smells coming from the building were intoxicating!

We hit gold though. We stumbled across a really lovely place with nice decor, super friendly staff, and an amazing menu. Steve wasn’t sure what to order so the waiter brought out two samples of curry sauces for him to try first. How nice is that? There were several vegan options for starters and mains, and I ended up ordering from the set menu so my two courses were just £14.90.

I had roti canai and satay tofu, and both were absolute heaven. Every mouthful was utterly delicious. I’ll DEFINITELY be going back, that’s for sure.

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So New Year’s Eve arrived and I was up nice and early to get weighed. I had a sneak peek earlier in the week and the scales showed me going from 13st 6lbs to just nudging back into the 12’s, but the night before had left its mark. I’d also had a couple of glasses of wine and some sweet treats later on in the evening.

Despite that, I still had a 3lb loss which I’m damn well chuffed with! It meant I got back to an 8 stone loss, and next week I hope I’ll be officially back in the 12 stone bracket. Group was also fantastic and I left with positivity practically coming out of my ears.

In the afternoon Steve and I went for a little walk at the place where he started training me to run back in February. It was good to take stock of how, despite us not doing much exercise-wise for the last month or two, we’re still fitter than when we first started. It got me thinking about how nice it’ll be to get cracking again.

In the evening he took me to his old local for a quick, and very pink, G&T, followed by a little walk he’d been promising for the festive period. There’s a lovely little street in the village where people go absolutely mental with the Christmas lights, so that was quite magical.

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From there we showed our faces at his son’s who was having a little get together, and somehow, someone convinced me to do a shot of vodka. I am so easily led. Thankfully I managed to avoid the same fate as that very same chap, who lost a bet and had his hair shaved off… Anyway, despite the vodka shot I didn’t drink too much and managed to avoid a hangover for New Year’s Day.

We left quite early, had a very respectable night watching Madness on TV, and I’ve been totally back on plan since the clock hit midnight.

Despite not having hangovers, we were both pretty pooped the next day. But we still managed to get out for a walk to brush the cobwebs away. First stop was Benfleet where we went to look at a sculpture relating to the vikings. It’s erected in the area where the Battle of Benfleet is believed to have taken place in the year 894 (how bonkers is that?) and that battle was the subject of one episode of the Netflix series The Last Kingdom that we watched just a couple of weeks ago.

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After a walk along the sea wall a little bit down the road, we had lunch then I left so that we could both get an early night. 11 hours sleep later and I’m finally feeling like myself again!

Of course I wouldn’t really be a blogger if I wasn’t reflecting over 2018 and making plans for the year ahead. 2018 was a little bit crazy. I met Steve, ran for the first time ever, ate and drank more than I have in a good few years and still managed to end 2018 two stone lighter than when I started it… I’ve been so busy and tired, therefore I haven’t found the time to really focus like I would normally.

So although I have quite specific and monumental plans for 2019, which I’ll talk about in future posts, the main thing I want to do is slow down. I’m going to have more sleep, eat more healthy food, do more of the things I enjoy that aren’t exercise related (and not feel guilty for taking the time to do them) and try to keep in mind from time-to-time the bigger goals I’m aiming for.

For the first time in my life I’m thinking about a long-term plan, rather than living basically from month-to-month and hoping everything turns out for the best. There are things I want that I never thought I could achieve, but now I know I can.

One thing 2018 taught me is that I’m stronger than I think, and I know that’s true because my friend Dave reliably tells me that it is so. He knows what he’s talking about.

That’s the first post of 2019 down, here’s to many, many more.

Happy New Year!

Hayley x

The Most Sleepy Time of the Year

I woke up late Christmas morning (7am) because I was way behind on all the things I was meant to do, yet I still managed to squeeze in a quick photo session in the garden. In recent years it’s been too warm and sunny and hasn’t felt like Christmas, but there was a nice frost so I got out there to make the most of it.

At 9:30 I left to pick up my sister, her boyfriend and little Petrie (more about her later) which was exactly when the tiredness hit me. At that very moment I think I could have happily crawled into bed and slept for 10 hours straight. But it was Christmas Day, and Christmas Day is for fun things!

I picked them up in full-on Mrs Claus attire, and I must say I think I rocked it.

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What’s especially awesome is that even though this month has seen a fair few gains, I could still do up and sit down in my size 14 dress. That belt has absolutely no give whatsoever, so I feel pretty good about that.

Once everyone was collected and I was home safe, that was when the tiredness really hit me, and I felt pretty rough. I’ve been powering through the sleepiness all month and (typical eh?) it decided to catch up with me Christmas Day.

I wasn’t as ‘present’ as I would liked to have been (no pun intended) but I didn’t have anything left in me so I kind of slumped down in the corner. Of course I still managed to open my presents.

We had a £10 per person limit this year and I’ll tell you this – never again! You think it’ll make things easier, but it’s actually incredibly difficult. However all of the presents I got were super thoughtful and I think I did pretty well, too. The result is that I’m feeling super loved this year.

My sister painted me an absolutely INCREDIBLE fox, but at the time I didn’t realise she’d painted it herself. I looked at the tiny signature on the painting but where I was so tired I honestly couldn’t process what I was looking at so it was only yesterday I realised how special her present is.

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What an absolute numpty I am.

One thing I’d been especially excited about this year was giving handmade gifts, and although I ran out of time and didn’t do as much as I wanted, two special friends were as happy with their embroidery hoops as I hoped they would be. I’ve been itching to share this photo.

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I enjoyed making them so much, I can’t wait to get making again in the new year. After I’ve caught up on my sleep that is.

In the afternoon we sat down to a delicious dinner cooked by mother (my mouth genuinely just watered at the thought of it) then while it was going down Petrie came out to play.

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She took a special liking to my brother’s head, and also the pocket of the dungarees I bought my sister for her birthday. How adorable is she?!

Before I knew it, it was time to meet Steve at his mum’s which was an hour’s drive away. By the time I got there I was flushed with tiredness but glad I’d managed to make the journey safely and exceptionally glad that I didn’t have to go anywhere else for the time being!

I’d bought a few little presents for Steve’s son, daughter, his mum and her partner, and I was very relieved to find that everyone was happy with what I’d bought. They were also really chuffed with my wrapping and label-writing, as I’d hoped they would be. I’m actually quite proud of how my calligraphy has improved this month.

I even made some labels for a work friend to give to his girlfriend.

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At this point I was so tired I forgot that I had presents to open too, and I was absolutely blown away by my present from Steve. I’ll share a picture of that in a future post because I want to take a better picture of it and the light at the moment is rubbish.

Speaking to people at work and whatnot, it seems that for a lot of people Christmas is a time for grudgingly spending time with family members you don’t like all that much, but I’m feeling so lucky that I got to spend my day with all of the people (and animals!) I care about most in the world.

I might have been away with the fairies for a lot of it, but it was still an awesome Christmas.

From a Slimming World perspective the month has not gone well. I made the effort to weigh in Christmas Eve and I’m glad I did, because even though I gained another 6lbs (on top of the 5.5 gained the last time I was weighed) I needed that wake up call.

I finished off the last of my ‘naughty’ food on Boxing Day so now I’m right back on it and feeling exceptionally positive. Me and Steve are planning to have a quiet new year and to, quite literally, hit the ground running on the 1st. We’re planning to train New Year’s Day and I am SO looking forward to it.

I’m also in quite a good place mentally. I don’t feel particularly guilty about going off plan, and even had a laugh with some colleagues about the ‘food babies’ we have grown. At that moment I felt just like everyone else, and completely normal for overindulging over the festive period.

I think it’s because I don’t feel guilty that I feel particularly good about being on plan now, and totally sure that 2019 is my final target year.

Bring it on!

Hayley x

I Still Didn’t

What an awful week. For the first three days I was perfectly on plan, getting more organised and feeling positive, but then something terrible happened.

Just over five years ago my sister’s boyfriend got a tiny little parrot (a pacific parrotlet, similar to Pea) called Kiwi. It’s really hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t met a friendly parrot what they are like, because no words can really quite convey how amazing they are.

I’m just going to leave this little video right here, because it speaks volumes I think.

I thought I’d include this one as well to show you her feisty side. I was bird-sitting, which she really wasn’t happy about. Bird body-language is quite easy to read, and as you can probably imagine she is saying ‘I would give anything right now to bite the absolute eff out of you’.

On Wednesday evening I got a call from my sister, which is never a good sign as we are texters through and through, to say that Kiwi was badly hurt. That’s the thing about these little birds. Pea is rather shy and reserved but in general parrotlets are ridiculously inquisitive and often get themselves into trouble. Pea has had a couple of visits to the vets already where she’s managed to hurt herself despite all of the bird-proofing I’ve done.

Kiwi was in a bad way but we couldn’t get her to a specialist vet until the next morning. After her vet appointment everything seemed very positive and she really perked up, but as these birds are so, so fragile everything can change in an instant. By Friday evening she was gone.

As you can imagine we are all heartbroken, but my sister and her boyfriend especially so. I’d say Kiwi was like one of the family, but truth is she was family. My little bird-niece.

Since Wednesday almost everything I’ve eaten has been crap that I’ve picked up purely out of convenience. I should have caught up on sleep this week but I haven’t been able to stay asleep (case in point, I was exhausted last night but inexplicably woke up at 4am and have been up since then) so I’ve been exceptionally lazy where it comes to food.

I haven’t even really wanted the rubbish I’ve been eating, the one exception being lunch yesterday.

Steve and I had a meal booked in with his family that was arranged weeks ago, but as is so often the case (especially when there is a big group of people involved) things didn’t quite go to plan. When we got there we did a headcount and there were 12 of us, but the table booked was for 10. Oops.

They couldn’t squeeze us in so Steve and I offered to go and find somewhere else to eat, which was fine by me because I’d looked into another pub just round the corner while I was investigating vegan options and I thought it would be right up my street. Also we’d be meeting the family back at his mum’s house later on so we wouldn’t have to miss out on catching up with everyone.

I was right – the pub was absolutely lovely. Being so close to Christmas everywhere seems to be fully booked but we were able to sneak on to a reserved table as long as we were out by 3:30. We had an hour-and-a-half which was perfect for us.

As it happens we ended up sitting at the best and most sought-after table in the room, we had fast service as they needed us to eat our dinner before the next people got there, and the food was absolutely spectacular.

My nut roast was so succulent – I’d love to know their secret, and Steve absolutely loved his sticky toffee pudding. After eating although there was still time to hang around we left the table and relaxed in comfy chairs in front of a wood burner.

The day started with potential disaster but ended up as absolute perfection.

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I was just sitting here thinking about having a week on plan without any social events to trip me up when I got a message asking me out for dinner one day. In this instance it’s a chain restaurant (albeit a nice one) so at least I can look up exactly what I’ll be having beforehand. I’m also designated driver and I’m working that night anyway so no drinking for me.

Tonight will see me facing another gain on the scales, and although it’s our group’s Christmas party and I really want to go to that, I also really don’t want to go to group either. You could say I’m feeling a little bit conflicted! However I know that once I’ve had my weigh in I’ll start to feel better and I can enjoy the evening.

I just have to focus on the good.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Facing the Music

Yesterday I didn’t make as much progress with my crafts as I would have liked. In fact my latest project took four times as long to complete than I anticipated so I am currently quite far behind. I finished one thing this afternoon though and on the plus side it turned out insanely better than I thought it would. I think its recipient will be well and truly chuffed.

While I was working I brought Pea with me and she ventured out to explore the living room for the first time ever, then sat on my shoulder and watched what I was doing. That’s a perfect afternoon right there.

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Yesterday’s weigh in wasn’t as disastrous as I thought it would be. After two weeks between weigh-ins, I gained 5.5 lbs, which for me is practically nothing. I honestly thought it would be at least 8.

I hope I can get that all off be next week, but even if I don’t I’m already excited about group next week. It’s our Christmas party and just like with Dress Like an Elf Day, I’m dressing up and I don’t care if no one else does.

Another exciting thing is that we get our new member packs on Christmas Eve, along with all new stickers for our books. When I rejoined although my consultant offered to give me all of them, I only put new stickers on my book. If I’m honest I did regret it afterwards. Now I can cover my whole book with all of my shiny stickers and I can’t wait. I know, I’m easily pleased!

I’m back feeling focused again which is great, and I even tried a new recipe (Slimming World chicken Waldorf salad) for the first time in an age. I just swapped the chicken for Iceland No Chick strips (Free) and Greek yoghurt for Tesco Free From unsweetened soya yoghurt (also Free).

To keep me on track I’m posting more on Instagram, plus filling in an old-school food diary that my consultant will check for me next Monday just to check no bad habits have crept in without me even realising.

Finally, the main tree is up in the living room and everything is right in the world.

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Thanks for reading,

Hayley x