Hmm, Maybe

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

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

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

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

Bingo!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until tomorrow,

Hayley x

Awards & Results

I had intended to get up early on Monday morning and be on a train by 6am, but do you think I could wake myself up? Course not. Taking into consideration the epic walk I had planned, I thought it best to snooze for another hour. It was probably wise.

By 8:30 I was at the train station, in a massive queue for the ticket office. Of course all of the machines were out of order, which is just great for a monday morning. I got my tickets at 8:35, the exact time my train was due to leave. However my train was exactly 1 minute late, and I got on the platform just as it was arriving. Woo!

I got off at Benfleet station, which is just around the corner from my favourite park, and is actually two parks – The Benfleet Downs and Hadleigh Park. As I started trudging along my planned route I decided that I wasn’t going to stop too much to take pictures and things, mostly because leaving late meant that time was now against me. I’ve walked this part of the route what feels like a thousand times now, but there is always something that catches my eye and I have to stop for. Last time it was a caterpillar, this time it was some teasels with a lovely pinky/orange background.

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The autumn leaves and a very small amount of editing make the day look a lot nicer than it was. In actual fact there was an oppressive iron grey sky for the entire day, but I’m sure not complaining. There was no rain like there was supposed to be, just a really fine mist that kept me cool while I was walking and made my fringe go curly.

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So where does one walk to on such a day? The beach of course! My route took me through the two parks and right down to the coast. After a few hours of walking I was thoroughly enjoying the views and just having a good old think to myself, but there was nothing very photogenic until I got to Southend-on-Sea.

There didn’t seem to be much open that would sell a coffee, but when I came across a really nice looking place advertising that it was family run, I decided to give it a go. The gentleman who served me was so sweet, even suggesting that I have my drink in a mug instead so I can stay and sit in the very nice covered outside seating area, but I didn’t have much time to spare so I declined. I was already thinking about how lovely it would be to leave a good review and shop independent (which usually it is of course) but unfortunately the coffee was absolutely vile and I had to throw it away. You can’t win ’em all! The man still left me with a smile on my face so that’s nice.

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A quick shot of the water fountains, which kids and dogs LOVE to play in during summer (who can blame them) and I headed for the beach.

Walking along the beach seems to be a great butt (perhaps I should say glutes) workout, because that’s the only part of me that is still aching a little today. I’ll keep that in mind for future outdoor pursuits.

I always love looking at the shells and struggle not to take more home with me every time. Oyster shells are so beautiful, I just love the blues and purples. As far as bird life goes you are always guaranteed to see oyster catchers, so I’m assuming they are responsible for all the empty shells!

As I got away from Southend and headed into the less touristy areas I took the opportunity to use the camera remote on my watch again. It’s not the composition I was after, but I didn’t want to stop for long so I just went with the first one. I am enjoying how either the boat looks small or I look like a giant!

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11 miles and four hours after setting off (NOT including the train journey), I arrived at my destination – Shoeburyness. So I turned around and started walking back in the other direction.

This next part of the journey was completely uneventful. When I got to Leigh-on-Sea train station I checked my watch and Fitbit. I was wearing both because I am totally smitten with my Apple watch, but also wanted to go out on a bang with Fitbit. Had I beaten my previous record of 35.5k steps?

You bet!

I was currently on 45k, so despite being quite weary by this point and wanting to cheat and jump on the train at Leigh, instead I decided to continue. Google told me that it was another 1 hour 45 minutes of walking back to Benfleet. I had time, I could do it.

So on I trudged.

I took a different route back through the park and to the station, which was extremely fortuitous because it was cow and mushroom heaven! This was the boost I needed to get me through the rest of the journey.

When I got in, more than 8 hours and 22 miles after leaving, I reflected on how mental the journey had been. Not because of anything that had happened, but because I’d been on my feet for that amount of time (with a few stops for food and drink but not for any length of time) and for that distance without coming home a complete wreck. My feet were a little achy (as well as the bum cheeks) but other than that I was still good to go.

My fitness and stamina has improved so much this year, I can hardly believe it. I checked my email and I had three letting me know that I’d earned new Fitbit badges for 40k, 45k and 50k steps in a single day. That was the main purpose of my walk so I got exactly what I wanted before I abandoned Fitbit forever!

After getting in you’d think I’d be spent, right? Nah! I had to get ready to go to group and get weighed in! It was a taster night so I prepared some food. I couldn’t decide what to take out of the available options in my freezer, so I cooked up all three. I took Tesco sweet potato falafels (half a syn each), Sainsbury’s veggie meatballs (half a syn for 5) and Tesco meat free nuggets (1 syn each).

I had no idea what the taster was in aid of, because I hadn’t heard anyone on my vegan Facebook groups talking about it as I would have expected. It soon became clear though.

It turns out my consultant, who has been the one constant in my Slimming World journey since 2012, is leaving our group! It’s terribly sad, but I’m not completely despairing because there are some positives.

She isn’t leaving Slimming World, so I can still get weighed in at her Tuesday group from time to time. The only reason I haven’t popped in to say hello to the group members I know there already is that I don’t want to weigh in at a different day or time until I’m at target!

Also, I have a really good feeling about the new lady, Amanda. She’s very friendly and upbeat, I found it easy to talk to her from the off, and she was wearing sparkly shoes. I’m sold.

My consultant pointed out that it’s the members that make the group, not the consultant, but I don’t think that’s true. I’ve found that it’s a lot of different factors that make my group the best. It’s the day, the time, the WONDERFUL people, a good consultant, that all come together in exactly the right combination. I think Amanda will be a perfect fit for this group so I’m not at all worried. I think we still have our winning formula.

So how did I do? I must admit to having a sneak peek before I went on my walk. The reasoning behind this is that if the walk caused a drastic gain, then I would know what was going on and wouldn’t feel bad. Or, if on the flipside I had a massive loss then I wouldn’t get too cocky.

What actually happened was that Slimming World’s scales corresponded with my own pre-walk weigh in and I lost a magnificent four flipping pounds! 

Do you know what that means? I GOT MY 8 STONE AWARD!!!

I got a HUGE round of applause that made me feel really emotional. God knows what kind of a state I’ll be in when I’m at target.

I left group feeling like Christmas had come early – tired and flushed but also happy and excited. It was a really fab day.

This morning I weighed myself again just to check it wasn’t a complete fluke (and it wasn’t) so that’s it for sneak peeks this week.

6.5 pounds to go!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Birthday Weekend

I’m currently a little bit behind with my blogging. Last week was such a busy one! It’s not just the blog that’s fallen by the wayside – I’m behind on absolutely everything. I did want to get started with some crafty pursuits but I decided to make activity a priority instead. I’ve probably done too much if I’m honest (and work was exceptionally hard as a result of that) so I’m looking forward to a calmer week this week.

Friday was a walk in the park before work, which took 1 hour 23 minutes. It wouldn’t have been quite that long, but at one point I was down on my hands and knees getting photos of a furry little critter. I also had to hang around to make sure it made it safely across the path. As you do.

I wonder what it’ll grow up to be? It was an absolutely beautiful day – it was the perfect temperature and everything looked really picturesque. I know that’s not going to last so I’ve been making the most of it.

Saturday was a walk into town (via the park) with two of my absolute favourite human beings, namely my brother and sister. It was my birthday weekend so my sister had visited to drop off my presents and spend some time with me. If Friday was a nice day it was nothing, nothing, to how gorgeous Saturday was.

We took some oats and fed the birdies, and I found some mushrooms. They’re everywhere right now. It also occurred to me how utterly absurdly long a swan’s neck looks when it’s fully extended. Weird.

I’ve got to say, I felt especially wonderful on Saturday. I put on my dungarees and a mustardy stripy top, and came down to check with my sister that it wasn’t a little too much.

I bumped into my brother first who exclaimed that my outfit was just ‘so me’. Which made me very happy because I thought the same thing! My mum and sister agreed wholeheartedly, so I went into town in (what I think is) a bold outfit without worrying what people would think.

Non-scale victory? You bet! As it happens my outfit went perfectly with a sunny autumn day in the park.

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It was also the perfect opportunity to play with my new gadget – a series 1 Apple Watch. As anyone who has read more than one of my posts will know, I’m absolutely terrible with money. Having said that, even I have been sensible enough not to blow several hundred pounds that I don’t have on something that isn’t really necessary.

But then my good friend offered me first refusal on his old watch and I managed to get myself a bargain! You would never know that it wasn’t brand, spanking new, it’s been that well looked after.

The first picture I took using the camera remote is one of my favourites of all time. I love these guys!

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Sunday was more birthday shenanigans, but I was so tired I can barely remember what happened. The day passed in a blur really. I opened my presents in the morning, then a friend visited and we went shopping in Tesco and Lidl. It was crazy busy, so somehow that managed to take up a huge chunk of the day. After that I did a little food prep for my walk on Monday.

I really wanted to get ahead on some chores but I was so tired I just had to have a little sleep.

When I got up I realised that I hadn’t done my official exercise for the day, so I managed to squeeze in 30 mins of hula hooping before I went to visit a friend for some dinner and more presents, and some flowers too. Yay!

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Actually, when I got there I hadn’t quite filled my green activity ring (I’m really getting into the Apple Watch fitness app now, but more about that another time) so while my friend was having a quick shower I jogged around the house to make sure my goals were entirely complete.

By the time I got home I was cream-crackered, so I got myself straight to bed. Not before reflecting on how proud of myself I was. My friend really wanted me to have a bottle of prosecco but I outright refused, my mother listened to me when I said I didn’t want cake, so I spent my whole birthday weekend entirely on plan.

I did do the same thing last year, but it was different then. I didn’t really want to be on plan, so I spent the whole time feeling like I was missing out on something. What happened next was that I eventually cracked and had a massive binge.

I’m so glad I didn’t feel like that this time around.

So, did all of this hard work pay off at weigh in yesterday? Well, you’ll have to wait till the next post to find out otherwise this post will turn into a novel!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

Scheming

I must admit that writing that long post yesterday took it out of me a bit. It took forever as my brain cogs aren’t used to thinking so comprehensively about something. Later on in the day I felt a little bit deflated, which makes no sense whatsoever, and I had one of my fairly regular ‘this isn’t going to work, I’ll never make it to target’ thoughts.

Of course this is nonsense. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t make it to target. I was invited out for dinner this weekend which I declined, even though I really wanted to go. The truth is I don’t have the money for it anyway, even if I did want to risk delaying my weight loss for the week. Which I don’t.

The place I would have been going was a Turkish grill-type restaurant, and the only vegan option (which admittedly looks lovely) is also likely high in Syns. In general I’m a fan of saying yes to such occasions – you can easily fit this in with Slimming World and normally I’d be happy with a small loss or maintain if it meant I could also go out with friends. But right now I’m so happy with my progress I don’t want to do anything, anything to jeopardise it over the next few weeks. The friend who asked me is also super fit right now and eating really well so thankfully he totally gets it! There will be other opportunities in the future anyhoo.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a nice long, quiet, contemplative walk during which I completely changed my outlook on things back to how they should be.

I’m totally going to get to target, and I’m going to try my darndest to do it this year. Every step I was taking was helping me on the way to achieving that goal.

As I was walking I was also scheming. It’s one of my goals for this year is to beat my steps in a day record, which currently stands at 35,660. I’m going to attempt this on the 15th of October by starting out at my favourite park, namely this one:

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I’ll be continuing all the way along the coast to Shoeburyness, and back again if I can make it, which is a round trip of about 22 miles. I intend to start early and just spend the whole day plodding along and taking in the sights. I’m actually really excited about it!

I’m definitely going to do 40,000 steps – I won’t be going home until I have. But I’d like to completely smash that record too, if I can.

Once everything was back clear in my mind, I really enjoyed the rest of my hour-and-a-half walk.

Today has just been taken up with boring things that needed to be done, so there’s not much else to say. I only have two nights in work this week (including tonight) but it’s the busiest week I’ve had in a long time.

I have so much to do, I’d best get on and do it!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Bye Bye September

What a month, and what a turnaround! August was a such a low point for me, one that I’m sure I’ll be remembering with a shudder for years to come, but I genuinely feel that all of the work I’m putting in now will bring results that will completely eclipse all of that.

This month I’ve lost a total of 10lbs and have finally, finally, found myself well established in the 13 stone bracket. To put that achievement into perspective it was my Christmas goal last year to make it into the thirteens and here I am.

Yesterday I completed day five of my Gold Body Magic award with a two hour walk before work, which may seem like a terrible idea but in actual fact getting active again has given me more energy if anything.

I explored an area I’m not overly familiar with even though I worked there for a good while, but at the time I wasn’t the ‘going out’ type.

I do remember one week I made a half-hearted promise that I’d walk up and down the hill on top of which the office I worked was situated, but that only lasted a couple of days.

I decided to revisit this hill on my walk, and was surprised to see an entrance to some woods that I’d never noticed before.

It might not have been the best idea because I don’t know how rough the area is and I was on my own, so I sent a text to my friend informing him where to look for my body if I went missing.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, but I did see an interesting tree thank kinda spooked me if I’m honest. It looked like it was… coming for me or something!

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Work later was same old same old, but I was glad when it ended because it meant the weekend could start.

As it’s the weekend it also means it’s weigh day tomorrow, so naturally I’m feeling large. So I had a sneak peek and of course it’s all in my head.

Same old same old.

This morning was a motorbike ride with my brother which quite frankly was AWESOME. And the perfect day for it too.

I’ve only been out with him once before and it was scary and exciting, but this time he wanted to practice leaning into the turns with me riding pillion.

At first I was fairly terrified. You can’t passively be a passenger on a bike – I was looking at the road ahead to anticipate when he’d brake, so I could brace myself and prevent our helmets from smashing together, plus trying to stay on the bike when he accelerated, and also looking for turns so I could lean in the right places.

I had a fantastic arm workout just from clinging on for dear life!

Despite the fear though it was brilliant, and I already feel much more relaxed and confident. We were leaned over as much as the bike is able to without the pegs hitting the road, so that was as terrifying as it’ll ever get. At least I hope that’s the case, I imagine falling off the thing would be pretty scary…

One thing I especially enjoyed was being able to sit on the bike and breathe at the same time. When I first started going out on the back of people’s bikes (I know a few bikers!) my tummy got in the way and all of my organs were constricted. It took the joy out of it.

Now I’m facing the prospect of having to fork out a few hundred quid for gear that doesn’t drown me, but would I have it any other way?

Course not!

After a nap I went to visit a friend for dinner, and although it was a bog standard popping over for the usual boring stuff I’d eat anyway, I wanted to wear a new dress I bought that I absolutely love. Plus he has a mirror in the loo that’s good for selfies.

I have two dresses at the moment that get me loads of compliments. There’s this one, and the other is one I got in a sale yonks ago. I tried it on to show my mum the other day, not expecting her to say much.

The last thing I wore, I pointed out that it was fitting a lot better these days. Her response? ‘Well your boobs are shrinking that’s for sure’. Er, thanks mum!

But with this other dress she blurted out ‘HAYLEY, YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!’ Which is definitely a good sign!

I’d say this means things are looking hopeful for weigh in, so I’ll update tomorrow evening.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Drinks with Peter

I’m not saying I put things off, but this year I intend to sew two little birds for my sister and her boyfriend after taking just a little while to get round to it. I bought the pattern from an artist I really admire – Ann Wood – via Etsy some time ago, and thankfully the file is still there to download.

So yes, there has been a slight delay between me purchasing the pattern and even thinking about making it. A TWO YEAR delay in fact. Yes, it’s definitely time to get on and do that.

One of my biggest problems right now is that I spend way too much time thinking about doing things and writing lists and making plans, and never actually doing the things. Today for instance I have wasted so much time thinking about what to do with the day that the day is nearly done.

I need to get straight out of bed and GET GOING if I’m ever going to get on. She says, writing a blog post instead of doing exactly that.

I am letting myself off for today and tomorrow though because I’m meeting a friend later, then I’m spending tomorrow afternoon with another friend. Friday though? On Friday I’m going to DO SOMETHING.

Today I’m starting off by printing off the pattern because I think it’ll be easier if I have it on paper, then I’ll need to check what supplies I’m going to need because you can guarantee I’ll have to buy at least a couple of bits. I’ll try to get as much as I can, fabrics and whatnot, from charity shops. The artist in question makes her work from vintage pieces which is a fabulous idea. And economical too.

Oh damn. I just visited Ann’s Etsy shop and saw a load of other things I want to make. But first things first Hayley. Stop getting distracted!

Yesterday I started off the week’s exercise by walking into town and back, which took two hours. A nice start I think.

It’s been a bit chilly (I’m wearing thermals to work tonight) but the sun has been out anyway and that’s what really matters. And the grey heron was about, so that was my day complete already really.

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I do believe I was successful in visiting every single charity shop in town. I’m still on the hunt for sequins, and it seems that you will only find that particular thing when you no longer need it. People of Essex, why aren’t you donating your sequined clothes? What people do seem to be getting shot of though is little bags, so although I didn’t really want to spend £3, I just had to get this monstrosity.

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Classy eh? But there are different kinds of beads there which will come in very handy for future projects, plus the sequins are holographic. And sitting underneath that very understated little clutch is my bargain of the day – a skirt I bought that’s perfect for autumn and also shows off how many inches I’ve lost from my tummy lately. This item of clothing is going to get a lot of outings this season!

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Even though money is tight I enjoyed these bargains guilt free. I rarely use cash these days, and I’ve had a spare change jar gathering dust for some time. I forgot all about it but stumbled across it a couple of days ago. I managed to get a tenners worth of 10p’s out of it, so that paid for my charity shop excursions and then some. Get in!

I’ve also found that charity shop workers and customers alike are more patient when you are digging around for coins in your purse, which is not so much the case in the supermarket.

My final stop was Iceland’s to pick up a few essentials since I was running out of food. Ages and ages ago I lent a friend some money, and he had some vouchers kicking around which I took as part repayment. Of course me being me I forgot all about them until yesterday, and was relieved to find out they don’t expire till next month.

Even better, you can use them to buy FOOD so off I toddled to get some fruit, veg and Slimming World bits. I was starving by the time I got there, so I bought some lovely watermelon to eat in the park on the way back.

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I’d call that a day well spent.

For now I’m off to get everything ready for work then I’ll meet my friend Peter. I’ll check back with you later!

Some hours pass…

Well I’m sitting in the pub garden waiting for Pete, and reflecting that some unusual things have happened today. For one, I’m wearing my new skirt with the top tucked into it.

I haven’t worn anything tucked in since I was forced to do so in the early years of secondary school (towards the end the teachers gave up on enforcing any rules about uniform). So that’s quite monumental.

Also, while Peter was stuck is traffic I was feeling confident enough to walk into the pub, on my own, order and Diet Coke and plonk myself down on a bench outside.

Yep, I’m a total badass.

Even more later on…

Well I’m home and knackered, which doesn’t bode well for work tonight. The problem is me and Peter find it really difficult to find times when we are both free so I thought it was important to just damn well do it.

It was lovely to meet up, but boy am I wanting my bed now! At the pub I just had two diet cokes and wasn’t tempted at all by all of the food sights and smells (despite them having many decent vegan options) because I am just so determined to get to target. Yep, ain’t nothing getting in my way.

Now after a positive yet tiring day, it’s time for me to get some grub, a bucket of caffeine, and prepare myself for work!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Doing Too Much?

I’ve had a really good week, where I’ve tried to cram in as much as possible. But by the time Saturday night came around it occurred to me that I may be pushing myself too hard.

I suppose the way I’ve felt over the last week can only be described as driven. And I’m just so excited about everything right now, about the possibilities for the future rather than not being able to see past the next day.

On Saturday I got up after only a couple of hours sleep in order to be an awesome friend. One of my bestest chums was working overtime and had no possibility to pick up his prescription before he ran out so I offered to get it for him. So pick it up I did, then I posted it through his letter box.

This friend happens to live right near my favourite park, so I took my brother with me and we went for a wander. A two hour wander actually. Week three of my Gold Body Magic is now complete!

The weather was boring, all grey clouds and flat and ‘orrible. But that’s why I like photography, because even if on the surface everything looks rubbish, if you look closer you can always find something beautiful. Ok, you can’t beat beautiful golden light, but there’s still good stuff to be found.

And even more good stuff.

My brother opened a few of these little things up and it seems that an earwig lives inside every single one. That a lot of earwigs.

Later on we came across a herd of cows I’d tried to approach before but they were way too nervous. But I had little bro with me, and he has a curious affinity with cows. They weren’t interested in him (one gave him a sniff and went back to munching on its grass) but they didn’t run away either, as they did with me.

I zoomed in on one cow when I got home and had to laugh. Even though she’s just chewing the cud she looked super grumpy!

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By the time we got home I crawled straight into bed, but I didn’t sleep very well. As soon as I get disturbed, to wake up for a tinkle for instance, I’ve been finding it really hard to get back to sleep again because I just want to carry on with my day.

This is great in one way, but I need to make sure I don’t burn myself out or I’ll be right back where I started before I know it.

As such when I got into work and found we were seriously overmanned, I jumped at the chance of an impromptu night off. To be honest since I’m out of annual leave I had to take it unpaid, which isn’t exactly sensible given my current financial situation, but this will now come out of my pay at the end of October. So I have plenty of time to adjust my outgoings accordingly. That’s how I’m convincing myself it’s OK anyway!

I actually ended up having a fantastic weekend, doing some walking and hanging out with friends. I really enjoyed a rainy wander through the glen Sunday morning.

Since I’m feeling in a cooking mood lately, yesterday when I got back I made dinner and dessert. I want to cook for people but don’t really want to eat it, so after dinner I made a decadent apple crumble. It went down so well that one friend kept eating it till he felt sick. I’ll take that as a win.

As for me I’ve been avoiding sweet stuff entirely, apart from unsweetened soya yoghurt with fruit and wheat biscuits for breakfast. Because anything like chocolate or ice cream will set off my sweet tooth. With Slimming World (if you aren’t familiar with the plan) nothing is off limits. If you want to eat a chocolate bar every single day and still lose weight, you can totally do that (though it might not be the healthiest way to go!) But when it comes to the sweet stuff I always crave more and more once I get going, and since I’m really enjoying my food lately I’m going to carry on with cutting these things out entirely. It seems to be working well for me anyway, as I haven’t felt deprived at all.

On Thursday I have another friend coming over for tea but I’m planning on making him something healthy. He’s been working so hard and such long hours, he hasn’t had time to feed himself properly and I want to get some goodness into him.

Other than that I want to make sure I get a good balance for the week ahead with plenty of sleep as well as exercise and creativity, because I need food for the soul, too.

Tonight is weigh in and I’m not sure how it’s going to go, because my hormones have gone a little up the wall and I’m feeling huge. But then I felt like that last week and it all turned out OK anyway. Time will tell!

I’ll update tomorrow with how it went.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

In Search of ‘Cheese’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Going for it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I held my breath and stepped on the scales…

3lbs off! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just… gorgeous.

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Earls Colne, and Other Things

Last week was really good. Friday was my brother’s birthday, and although I had work that night I stayed up for the afternoon/evening in order to hang out with the family. And it was great! It’s testament to how much better I’m feeling as hanging out with brother, sister and mother (and all the noise and chaos that brings) was so much fun.

I also had my Body Magic for the day to complete, so I took my hula hoop and kettlebells downstairs and socialised at the same time. When my brother got home from work we had a laugh by comparing what weights we could lift and how many push ups we can do. It wasn’t really competitive – my brother is really tall and naturally strong, I’m tall and fairly weak in comparison, and my sister is a tiny little thing – so we all knew how it was going to go anyway. I still had to laugh at my sister trying to lift a 10kg weight, while everyone laughed at me trying to do one of those push ups where you clap on the up part (and nearly smashing my face into the carpet while I was at it!)

Things are so different to how they used to be. When we were kids my sister would be out with her friends, my brother would be playing Runescape on the PC, and I’d be trying to get him off the PC, because it was my turn dammit! Then my sister would come home and also want the PC, and the place would turn into a war zone.

But the real difference isn’t that we are all such good friends now (although that’s awesome and one of the best things about my whole life) it’s that we are so much more healthy and active. I’m not sure we’d be as close if we didn’t get out and do things together.

Speaking of getting out, the weekend has been very outdoorsy. I went to visit a friend on Saturday on one condition – that we go out for a walk. I had a load of stuff I should have been doing that day, mostly to prepare for my Sunday, and if I was going to put it off it had to be for a good reason. For one thing I wanted more Body Magic, and this particular walk meant I completed week two of my Gold award. Whoop whoop!

Signs of autumn are beginning to show everywhere, and I have a very strong impulse to make the most of every single day before everything is grey and barren again. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year, and I don’t want to waste a second.

When I got home I got myself straight to bed for an hour’s sleep, then made sure I got up in time to at least do some prep.

Me and my brother agreed that we were going to do a walk from my ’50 walks in Essex’ book, that I bought months ago and hadn’t looked at since. Weirdly, since I’m useless at planning such things, he left the choice of walk and all the details up to me.

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So I chose a walk, worked out how long it would take us to drive there, how much sleep I’d need in the morning in order to do the drive safely, and told him what time we were leaving. Then (even more importantly) I pre-made my lunch for the next day, because if I don’t have food with me it could mean disaster. That done, I toddled off to work for my final shift of the week.

In the morning we were out of the door by 10:15 am (I almost managed 3 hours sleep) with plenty of coffee in tow. We were headed to Earls Colne to do a 6.5 mile circular walk which would take us through Chalkney Mill.

I had a little moment where I wasn’t sure what to wear – I didn’t think I had anything warm enough to hand (the weather looked a bit grim) but eventually I decided on a t-shirt dress and leggings because I’d no doubt warm up during the walk anyway.

I made the right choice – when we got there the skies turned blue and we were treated to a beautiful day. So beautiful I was starting to worry that I should have bought sun cream with me.

Do you know what my favourite part was though? THE FOOD! First of all we found plenty of blackberries, and since I’d left my lunch in the car to have once we were finished these were most welcome.

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Further along the route we came across an apple tree, but all of the fruits within reaching distance had been started on by birds and bugs. But I had my brother with me, and he’s always up for a challenge. He found us a couple of really tasty looking apples.

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I do like apples, but I’m seriously fussy about them. I’ll NEVER buy them from a supermarket (unless it’s for a pie or crumble) because they are invariably disappointing. The apple I had from the tree though – it was hands down not only the best apple I’ve ever had, but the tastiest fruit I’ve eaten in my whole life hands down. It was utterly delicious!

Later on we came across a friendly little family, whose young son was very interested in what I was doing with my camera. I was photographing fungus at the time (as you do) and I marvelled at the fact the kid has clearly been raised to appreciate the outdoors rather than simply plonked in front of a TV or tablet. Most other kids his age would probably be more familiar with technology than nature.

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I don’t normally know what to say to tiny humans (I find them quite frightening) but it was easy to explain what I was doing and show him the camera screen. Then we got talking to the dad who told us what other kind of fungi we could expect to see around this time of year.

As it happens we didn’t see any stinkhorns (although I’d really like to) but it’s good to know they can be found in that area for when we return at a later date. As I’m sure we will.

In contrast to all the nature, one part of the route also took us directly underneath a pylon. I’m quite happy with that, as I’ve never been so close to a pylon, so I took the opportunity to get an ‘arty’ shot.

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When I got home I had leftover curry that I made the other day which was completely Syn free, packed with Speed foods and even tastier than when I originally made it. Thinking ahead has definitely helped me this week.

As it happens I have group this evening and despite feeling really confident earlier on in the week today I’m feeling a bit bloated so I don’t know how it’s going to go. What I do know, is that I have been completely on plan without a single slip-up for two whole weeks now. And that feels soooooo good.

Another thing I know is that if I don’t get the result I want today, I’m just going to carry on what I’ve been doing. I’m not going to use it as an excuse to have a blow-out.

The only other plan I have for today is to walk into town (Body Magic, yay!) and hunt for Koko vegan cheddar which has been spotted by my fellow vegans in Home Bargains. When I first went vegan there were no cheeses you could have as a Healthy Extra, but this one does count so hopefully I can get my mitts on it.

On that note I’d best get cracking, so I’ll say goodbye for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x