City Limits

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

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

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

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

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

Look at that. Actual olives on trees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Holiday Mode: Engaged!

Yesterday I made a couple of mistakes. First of all, I agreed to do something I didn’t really want to do. I’m aware I’m being annoyingly cryptic, but I’m trying to find the sweet spot between telling you what’s been going on and airing my dirty laundry in public.

Sometimes the relationships we have with people (I’m primarily talking about friendships here) naturally run their course and you just end up drifting away from each other. Sometimes a person is toxic and although the friendship clearly isn’t a good one, it takes some sort of action to get things to their inevitable conclusion.

In my life I have one person who really isn’t good for me in any way, and although I’ve been seeing less and less of said person, for my own peace of mind I know it categorically has to be zero contact from now on. My options are a) block and ignore, or b) face up to it and explain to the person, then block. I feel like the bad guy in both of these scenarios.

After sticking to my guns and staying on plan whilst eating out at Wagamama Sunday afternoon (om nom nom, kare baruso ramen, 14 syns) when I got home I went for option c) eat a load of crap to bury my feelings. Ugh, so dumb. I wasn’t even hungry. I have a nice relaxing day planned tomorrow, so I shall choose which option (a or b, no more c!) to take then actually follow through with it.

In the meantime I’m not exactly looking forward to weigh in because not only did yesterday happen, I’ve also puffed up like a balloon again. I have sausage fingers! So it’s gonna be a gain, however it’s not so bad. I already have my next plan of action. Screw SP, I’m going back to my happy, carb-filled life. Rather than boost my weight loss, SP just gives me a tummy ache, so there’s no point in trying to do a whole week of it. I also know without a doubt that yesterday evening’s slip up is definitely confined to yesterday, and won’t be creeping into this lovely, fresh new week. Onwards and upwards, and no letting a bad few hours turn into a bad month.

So yes, it’s now holiday time! I’m not going away anywhere, but I am really going to enjoy this week. Last night I kicked things off by starting series three of Stranger Things. I intended to watch just one episode then go to sleep, however one episode escalated into the whole series. I liked the second series, but it didn’t blow me away, however the latest offering was right back to original form. Totally loved it. As such I ended up going to sleep at 3am. Oops!

Today I’d planned to do some sorting in my room, but instead I slept in very late and ran out of time. But hey, that’s what holidays are for right?

Now I have to get ready to go to group and find out what the damage is. I’ll update you tomorrow, hopefully from banks of a rather lovely lake.

Until then!

Hayley x

Bloat

I feel fat today. Except I don’t, not really. My sister pointed out to me a while ago (after reading about it on the internets) that fat isn’t an emotion. Once you realise that, you allow yourself to think about what’s really going on and then you can deal with it. Lightbulb moment.

Physically, I’m bloated. I currently have trapped wind and hiccups, and my tummy is noticeably bigger than it was yesterday. This doesn’t stop me looking in the mirror and automatically thinking ‘oh god I’ve failed!’ even though I’ve been absolutely spot on with my diet for the last 19 days. Not that I’m counting…

In fact I was going to blog yesterday about how slim I’m feeling and how it only took 18 days of eating healthily for things to start to turn around. The fat feeling isn’t real.

I’m also into week three of no at-home weighing, and the only reason I’ve resisted this week is that I’m scared they won’t show a loss. If they haven’t budged much for a second week (or at all) then it’s going to hit me hard. I’m trying to tow the line between staying positive and not getting my hopes up too much. That’s a difficult balance to get right!

Mentally I’m worried. Worried that it’s not working for me right now, worried I’m not making progress, worried my (considerable) efforts are for nothing.

This is all really silly though, because I KNOW it works. I know it works for me. I lost 5.5lbs the week before last, and it’s unlikely my biology has changed that much in the last fortnight that I’m no longer capable of losing weight. Very unlikely. Now it’s written down I realise how utterly ridiculous my own brain is. Get a grip brain.

So, now I’ve established that, actually, everything is fine, I can crack on. It’s out of character for me, but next week I may well do some proper food planning. Usually I’m a total carboholic, and not eating copious amounts of potatoes would leave me grumpy, ravenous and from time to time give me a banging headache. Recently though, where I’ve been trying to increase my Speed food intake, the carbs have naturally dwindled. As it’s happened gradually I haven’t had any adverse effects.

This week has been SP-ish (SP is a part of the Slimming World plan designed to speed up your weight loss, focusing on especially low energy-density and high-protein foods) so next week I may well try a whole week of full on SP. Since it’s supposed to give me an extra decent loss, if it doesn’t work I intend to bury my face in a giant plate of delicious wedges!

This is an example of one of my SP-ish meals. Loads of veg with Aldi sweet potato burgers, which are THE BOMB.

I’ve also been on some excellent walks over the last few days. The first one was to town, where I got some fantastic bargains. I don’t think I’ve ever even been in a Laura Ashley before, but I spotted some nice things in the window alongside a sign for up to 60% off. That’s my kinda sign.

I bought two lovely dresses to wear straight away, and then I did something I haven’t done for a long time – I bought two dresses to slim into… in a size TWELVE no less. I tried on a very warm, wintery dress which I suspect I’ll virtually live in when the weather turns again, but the 14 was on the verge of being too big already. Come November I’m going to be wearing that dress.

When my sister visits next I’ll get her to take some pictures (it’s already decided that I’ll give her a little fashion show to show off my purchases).

The other walks were in my favourite park, and I’m really enjoying being truly functional when it comes to my appearance. I may well get a funky hair cut in the winter, but I’ll see how I feel closer to the time. For now I’ve been pinning my hair back and going make-up free most of the time, so I’m ready to leave the house and get walking in record time. Plus the less make up I wear the more my skin condition improves.

I even have a tanned face for the first time in my life!

It’s a far cry from this time three years ago.

After reading the latest Slimming World magazine I’ve been inspired to update my motivation wall, and I’m awarding myself new weight loss certificates as I re-earn them. That’s the perks of almost being a consultant I suppose.

The pegs represent half a pound each, and there are 32 of them. When they have all been moved to the bottom string, I’LL BE AT TARGET!

Next week will be completely full of good things. I only have tonight’s shift then I’m off work till a week on Tuesday. Most importantly though, it’s going to be full to the brim of positive, healthy pursuits.

Bring it on.

Hayley x

Clammy

Sometimes we don’t always get exactly what we want. For instance I always long for warm weather, but when I put my order in I meant I wanted sunshine as well. I did NOT request all of this oppressive cloud along with it. Does anyone know who I complain to?

Not that it’s stopping me, because yesterday I think I managed to turn a corner. It was the night my group would have launched, and I was certainly not looking forward to it. I felt I owed it to everyone to be there even though I very much wanted to shirk my final responsibility and do a runner.

The district manager came to run the the group and to explain to everyone what would happen going forward, and I kept looking at her out of the corner of my eye – looking for signs that she was angry with me, that she was annoyed because it’s my fault she had to do that on top of her normal job.

I didn’t get any angry looks, but I did get a bunch of flowers. Seriously, how flipping lovely is that?

Now its time to let go of all the blame I’m putting on to myself, before I crumble under the weight of it.

This week is all about doing stuff I want to do. I have a new car that’s all ready to go, apart from the fact it needs a tyre repairing. I could take it to the tyre place down the road tomorrow afternoon, or I could go walking instead.

I’m going to go walking. I have another functioning car, the new one can wait.

Last week I was off the wagon more often than I was on it, but I think the fact that I forced myself to get off of my butt and move meant that for the second week in a row I scraped a maintain.

My goal for this week is to have a perfect week filling the rings of the activity app in my Apple Watch (which is touch and go as one of the rings doesn’t always register properly) and to have a week of food optimising 100%. It’s been a few months since I last did that.

Saturday I was out in the gorgeous sunshine (little did I know it wouldn’t last), and Monday I walked to town via the park.

These geeselets are sooooooo in the teenager phase. Look how scruffy they are!

The retail therapy did in fact make me feel a whole lot better. Although I’ve put on a few pounds, my perception of how I look is seriously skewed. I thought I was massive, so when browsing the shops I kept grabbing size 16’s. When I tried them on though they were way too big, so that was reassuring.

My recent meltdowns haven’t done too much damage as far as my size goes.

Today I went and got all clammy and sticky on a five mile walk, but then I did see the cutest cow. There was life and colour everywhere and although the sky was quite frankly a bit crap, being outside made me feel a whole lot better.

This weekend I’ve made sleep, healthy food and exercise my priority and I actually feel human again.

That’s more like it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Can I Can’t I

The last two weeks have been a mixture of feeling like I can take on the world and feeling like nope, I’ve definitely bitten off more than I can chew and moving to Siberia would be a fantastic idea. In order to avoid total meltdown I’ve been doing a fair old bit of reflecting, soul-searching and generally figuring-stuff-out-edness.

It’s all going to be fine.

I must say I’m still feeling perky after the mood-boosting effects of Swingamajig. The cool thing is that I felt like I was living purely in the moment, probably for the first time in my life. So much so that I never even realised it was happening until I looked back on it. After all if I was reflecting at the time then I wouldn’t have actually been living in the moment now would I?

I hadn’t realised – the whole weekend the only time I was thinking about my appearance was when I was deciding which of my dresses I liked the best, or which mad hat to purchase. My weight didn’t come into it, and it was so freeing because I was able to simply enjoy myself.

Check out the finished article from the photo booth. Possibly my most favouritist photo EVER.

At the other end of the spectrum my first night as a Slimming World consultant is coming up fast. I’ve been experiencing a little bit of anxiety about it, and I think I’ve figured out why. You see, I’ve spent my entire life avoiding the very possibility of actually trying for anything, mostly because things (all the things) are scary and until now I would do anything possible to not put myself in a scary situation in the first place.

So here I am, volunteering (VOLUNTEERING!) to stand up in front of a group of 50+ people to help them in their attempts to lose weight.

Me. I did that.

The thing about never trying anything, is that you can never fail at anything either. Of course deep down I don’t think I will fail, but still there’s that nagging little voice in the back of my head regardless. I’ve been working hard and currently it’s a whisper, although it is a little relentless.

Do you know what has helped though? Right now, I feel fabulous! My fun weekends were great and all but I’ve really noticed the difference in my state of mind after not having any alcohol or crappy food for two weeks. A BIG difference. That’s down to just under two weeks being fully back on plan. Last week I lost 6.5lbs, and although I have the usual pre-weigh in nerves I should get another good result tomorrow I reckon.

Rather than this being yet another desperate attempt for my to try and claw my way back on to the wagon, this time I’m really feeling it. I’ve been making a special effort to have more Speed food, which I think has actually given me more energy, and I’ve made an even more special effort to actually try some new recipes. One was coronation chickpeas which is a definite winner and also much cheaper than my usual grub.

Since I’ve been so busy, one thing that has suffered is my Body Magic. I haven’t been nearly as active as I would have liked, but I was studying for a few diplomas and allowing myself to get stressed about it (unnecessarily so) so I put everything else apart from eating properly on the back-burner.

Unsurprisingly I shouldn’t have worried quite so much, although there is a lot of important stuff to remember so it’s not to be taken lightly. I definitely slowed my own progress by spending too much time fighting negative thoughts, which made it all the harder for me to absorb new information. Thanks for that, Brain.

I finished my diplomas on Thursday so this morning straight after my night shift I allowed myself a nice treat and got to the park and get some walking in. ‘Twas long overdue, and I can’t put off my own wellbeing while I try to get myself organised.

I’ve been very much enjoying my new specs and the macro capabilities of my new iPhone. To be honest I had no other reason for getting new phone than serious photo jealously. I have a problem!

Although I’ve been periodically questioning my abilities, one thing I haven’t had any doubt about is whether Slimming World is the employer for me. I cannot begin to describe the support and generosity of my fellow consultants, even though there’s nothing in it for them.

Today I had a lovely gift from my old consultant, Amanda (which I will show you when I post photos of my first night) and a whole load of stuff from her friend Viv who is a former consultant. When she stepped down (not through a lack of love for the job, just a lack of time due to other commitments) she donated a whole load of her stuff to me which will save me a ton of time, money and energy. Plus it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to how my original consultant, Lynn, helped me so much in the beginning (and middle) and how she was the first person to see the glimpse of a future consultant in me. She believed I could do it waaaaay before anyone else did. I want to find a nice way to thank all of these lovely people.

I have so many odd bits and bobs to do, I’m finding it next to impossible to get properly organised, but when I put that aside I feel the excitement coming back. It’s important I don’t forget the reason for it all.

Now I have just a three days left before my proper training starts at Slimming World head office. Now that I’m really looking forward to, because everyone says it’s awesome. I’ll get as much of the bits and bobs done as I can before heading off, then I’ll put everything else out of my mind until I’m back. I need to re-harness that power of living in the moment and just enjoy the experience!

I’m heading up to Derby the day before to, hopefully, have a good old soak in the tub (I’ve requested a room with a bath, let’s keep everything crossed I get one) and I’ll DEFINITELY be going for a swim in the free, on-site pool. Well I’ve been talking about it for long enough haven’t I?

I’ll be blogging again soon, because that along with Body Magic is something that’s really important to me and very high on my list of priorities. I need to make time for it, for my own wellbeing.

On that note, although it’s not even 9pm I’m off to bed. It’s a busy day tomorrow, and I’m actually MAKING something from scratch to take to group in the evening. Watch this space!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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