Doctor’s Orders

Last night wasn’t the best in terms of my anxiety levels. I had an unpleasant fluttering in my chest throughout my shift and generally felt quite panicky, even though I’d had a nice evening. An old friend called me for a very long chat and, as usual, saying things out loud made me think ‘what the hell have I been doing these last six months? I know what I need to do, and I can do it.’ But then literally an hour later, the incessant (and very loud) negative thoughts had returned and everything felt terrible again.

I think that’s why I need help – I know that logically everything is going to be fine, but my brain keeps trying to convince me the world is ending.

The doctor has given me some anti-depressants and I’ll see him again in a month.

As it happens it’s the same doctor I saw about my knee, and after an already very thorough talk about my situation I didn’t think we’d be discussing it. In fact it’s been quite painful still but I thought that I NEEDED to run, for the sake of my mental health, so I had decided to just run on it anyway.

But this very good doctor asked me how it was, and I thought it would be silly to lie. He said that I must stop running on it until it is fully healed, so running is totally off the menu for the foreseeable future. And I know he’s right.

I could sit here and sob into my cup of coffee, but I’m not going to.

What I am going to do is trust in the Slimming World plan. The last time I lost this amount of weight, in 2012, I did virtually no exercise and still had good losses. It is entirely possible to be a successful slimmer without the ‘Body Magic’.

Even when I’m bang on plan I spend a lot of time feeling guilty over portion sizes and, lately, even having my full allowance of Syns. This isn’t healthy and it has to stop.

The Slimming World plan works, so I need to just crack on and follow it without worrying about all that crap. It just makes me want to eat more! If I find I’m not losing weight for no apparent reason, then I’ll start thinking about portion sizes or whatever. But until then, I just want to enjoy my food without worrying.

I will still keep up with walking (gently) but I need to be concerning myself with other healthy habits too, and getting enough sleep is a very high priority right now. I simply won’t have time to make up for the lack of proper training with increased walking, and I cannot start beating myself about that. I must be kind to me!

I’ve been thinking about it a lot this afternoon, and I think I’ll completely rest my knee and restart running when I hit my target of 12 stone 10 pounds, which is 1 stone 11 pounds away. That sounds kinda reasonable, and gives me extra motivation to get to target.

It’s hard to find them sometimes, but there are always positives. Now when I’m out walking I’ll have more time for taking photos at least, whereas when I was running I wouldn’t stop because once you’re in that zone you really don’t want to get out of it.

I did run yesterday, although I had to stop near the end because of my knee, and only got two pictures.

I do wonder why that poor horse has to wear a mask…

Anyway, you can certainly expect to see greater visual representation of my days in future.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Absolute Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He gets it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to never giving up x

Budget

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

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

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

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

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

Ho hum, it’s my own fault entirely.

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

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

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

It. Felt. So. Good!

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Fight or Flight

I’ve always been prone to fairly regular bouts of mild depression, ever since I was a teenager, and now I’m in my mid-thirties I’m getting pretty good at dealing with the bad patches when they come along. At the very least I’ve managed to stop using them as an excuse to gain huge amounts of weight.

On the other hand I’ve never really suffered from anxiety, until now. I’ve had anxious times when I’ve been in bad situations, and this is similar. I’m not feeling like this for no reason, it’s a product of my environment and I haven’t been dealing with it very well. In fact it’s been two weeks of hell.

I really feel for the people who have what I would call a proper medical condition and feel like this all the time for no reason whatsoever.

As for me I’m confident things will be back to normal now that I’ve had some resolutions to the things that have been bothering me. For the last six months I’ve been treading water, trying to fit everything in that I want to do, but now I should have more free time and more of a balance in life. That’s the plan anyway!

In the meantime I was explaining to a colleague what it’s like to feel seriously anxious. So back in the olden days when we were hunter-gatherers if we saw something scary, like a lion who wants to eat us, then we got a nice big shot of adrenaline to help us out of the situation. It would make us more alert, get the heart pumping, and give us that extra bit of juice to either leg it or take that lion on.

But now, simply sitting doing nothing and having a scary thought will give me that same reaction. Which really isn’t helpful! Sitting still but (seemingly randomly) having my heart pumping out of my chest and struggling to get my breath is not fun, and that’s not taking into account that horrible shaky feeling you get when the adrenaline subsides. Unfortunately evolution is quite a way from catching up with modern life.

I haven’t really thought much about Slimming World over the last fortnight, mainly because I’ve felt so uptight I’ve only managed small portions of highly palatable food. Anything else I just couldn’t stomach, and since I wasn’t sleeping well either was just doing what I needed to do to get through.

I’m feeling more relaxed today though, now that things are falling into place. After a sneaky night off work and a very deep and dreamless sleep, I’m ready to sort my eating out again, before too much damage is done.

I had planned to get right back on it on Monday, but by that point I was feeling so anxious that I was wondering how I could spend another second in my own head. That was when a friend came to the rescue and took me out to dinner. Luckily it also had the effect of taking me out of myself for a while, and I was able to just sit back and turn my brain off for a short period.

We went to Wagamama’s, and it’s the first time I’ve been there since I became vegan. Luckily, they introduced a vegan katsu dish (the Vegatsu) a while back and I’ve been desperate to try it ever since.

The food didn’t disappoint, although I do think they need to get on and introduce more vegan options!

To accompany my meal I had jasmine tea, which always goes well with this kind of food and makes me feel super cultured.

As for my friend, I’m so proud of him. When we first met I cooked him a chilli, and asked how it compared to others he’d had. He confessed that he’d never eaten a chilli before, and hadn’t tried anything else that ‘exotic’. It was always meat and two veg in his house!

He was very suspicious of his ramen bowl at first, but he was soon a convert. He’s definitely becoming more adventurous!

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It was a gorgeous evening, and I even had another result – we passed The Whisky Shop so I decided to pop in to get a miniature for my brother. While I was there I found the perfect birthday present for him. It’s not his birthday till next month, but I nabbed it while I was there. I had no idea what I was going to get him, now I don’t have to worry. Until next year…

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Yesterday I went out for a little run, but it was mostly walking as I still need to build back up to a full run. It was lovely to blow the cobwebs away though. I’m going to go for another run on Thursday, assuming my ankle is OK. I twisted it yesterday as an interesting bug landed on my wrist and I stopped looking where I was going. That’ll teach me! (She says. It probably won’t to be honest…)

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My current running strategy is to do about 5k, three times a week, at a pace which is purely enjoyable. I don’t really care about any other factors such as speed or intensity, I just want to have fun whilst getting my exercise. I’ve lost sight of that recently.

Although there is a little something inside of me that wants to do a 10k some time soon, but I’m trying not to think that far ahead. I just want to have fun and see where that gets me.

I will sign off now as my sister is on her way over for a coffee and a natter.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Back Where I Belong

It’s the 1st of August, a fresh new month, and I’m feeling damn good. Finally I’m back in my favourite spot. The number one spot that is, on the Fitbit leaderboard.

I’m also back in the +100k for my steps over the last seven days (actually since I took that screen shot yesterday it’s closer to 120k), which got me thinking.

It’s two years to the day that I rejoined Slimming World and simultaneously started taking my fitness seriously.

I began with a 10k per day step goal, and I found it really difficult to reach. I’d often find myself pacing the living room trying to make my total, because going outside and really giving it some was inconceivable to me at the time.

I also found that I was highly sceptical of other people’s step totals. I had a few people I’d added as friends via Instagram who were smashing it, and I honestly thought they must be cheating somehow.

Yet here I am achieving, fairly easily, something I thought impossible. All you have to do is start, be consistent, and before you know it it’s second nature.

Of course on an anniversary like this I’ve been getting reflective anyway. The temperature is on the rise again so I went for a shady run today – 1.5 miles, without stopping, almost completely pain free!

I felt absolutely fantastic at the end – boy did I miss those running endorphins.

Yet it’s not so long ago, at a family party, that I simply crouched down and couldn’t get back up. It took two of my burly male cousins to hoist me back up again.

I have a kind of life now that I never even imagined. I mean, I didn’t even dream of it because it wasn’t on the radar at all.

Sometimes I’d worry that I’d give myself a terrible disease from the lifestyle I was living, but in a split second the next thought was ‘ah well, at least it’d be over soon’.

This time two years ago I was recovering from a food hangover and the ordinary kind. We’d had our annual family BBQ and as usual I’d totally overdone it. I bought so much food, and since I knew I wanted to do something about my weight (again) starting from the next day, I saw it as my mission to eat the whole lot.

I was fit to burst, probably literally. I’m talking dangerously full up, and that’s not even including the alcohol.

That smile? Not even close to being a real one.

I weighed myself on the day of the BBQ and was horrified at what I saw.

Yet something obviously clicked, because although I came close (I didn’t knuckle down properly until October) I never saw that number on the scales again. And I never will (unless someone gets on there with me!)

When I think back to those times I rarely think about how I look, probably because I’ve adjusted quite well to my mental image of myself. I’m so grateful for that, because in the past I’ve still looked in the mirror and seen 21+ stone Hayley looking back at me and I tell you – that messes with your head.

What I think about now is how different I feel. Back then I felt like my body was something alien to me, and I would have given anything to have all of the bits that ‘weren’t me’ taken away. Now I’m not exactly happy with my body, but I’m coming to accept it for what it is.

It might not look perfect, but it keeps me going whereas before I had no energy. I used to drink two 500ml energy drinks a night just to get through my shift.

These days I only have tea on my lunch break, mainly just because I’m thirsty, and I don’t have coffee because I don’t want to have trouble sleeping in the morning.

My resting heart rate has gone down from 77 beats per minute to 49. I’m sure most of us have seen the meme before pointing out that we only have a finite number of heartbeats in our lifetime, so it’s best not to exercise and use them all up quickly. But if you do live a healthy lifestyle, then for the other 23 or so hours of the day you aren’t working out, you’re still saving those precious heart beats!

So I went to work that night feeling fabulous. I have a little pre-work ritual where I put my Airpods in whilst doing my hair and makeup and drinking a strong coffee, because it prepares me for the work night ahead. I suppose it’s getting my game face on.

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It’s a pretty crap blurry picture, but who cares? It’s the difference between this one and the BBQ picture that matters.

That particular night I was feeling particularly slim and in control, and I thought nothing could bring me down.

Within the first two hours of my shift that changed, and although I can’t talk about it, and it doesn’t directly affect me, my anxiety went through THE ROOF. When I got home I could only manage a couple of hours sleep because I so uptight, and my mind started racing. How can I make myself feel better? Because I can’t stand feeling like this.

Food? No. I’ve been in control, I don’t want it. Plus I feel sick anyway. Alcohol? Don’t be silly Hayley it’s ten in the morning, and even if it wasn’t? No.

So I decided to channel all of that nervous energy into a run. I did 3 miles this time, and my knee was getting sore by the end so I walked the last little bit.

 

One thing I did learn is that if you don’t prepare yourself properly for a run then it’s so much harder. I went out at 9:30am and hadn’t eaten since early evening the previous day, so what with not sleeping properly either, it was a slog. But it did make me feel a bit better, so that the feelings inside me were manageable.

I managed to stay on plan the whole day, even though I didn’t really eat enough. And I didn’t photograph anything either – I was running on essential services only.

Today though, after a much less stressful night at work, I’m feeling mostly ok. But especially proud of myself for not going off the rails, because I’m doing so well!

I had a sneak peek on the scales and I’m back to the weight I was when I first started getting into running. I even saw that elusive 13 stone bracket again.

However over the weekend I’ll make sure I don’t have any more sneak peeks. If I see a good loss, I’ll think I have space to eat more food. If I see a gain I’ll be disheartened. So no looking until official weigh in Monday evening!

I have a busy weekend planned, but rest assured there will be regular updates. I MUST keep this good thing going.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x