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

Swingamajigging

I’m so sorry, I just can’t believe how long it’s been since I last blogged! The last time I wrote I was talking about hoping to scrape a loss the following Monday, but what actually happened was I didn’t just scrape a loss, I had an AWESOME loss! Of 6.5 pounds!

Do you know what? I really needed that. Just to prove I can still do it I suppose.

After that I took the brakes off in spectacular style, and Tuesday evening I weighed in (a day late, but I’ll come to that later) with a 9.5 pounds GAIN. When I go, I go large.

Let’s be realistic here. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve a gain, but the likelihood I ate enough calories in order to gain 9.5 pounds of pure fat is not very great. I’m bloated like hell (partly because of what I ate/drank and partly because of the dreaded HORMONES) so as long as I get right back on plan NOW, I should be fine. Plus I’ll get extra steps going to the loo and back because the theme of the next few days is going to be peeing, peeing and more peeing.

I’m so convinced that this is the case, mostly down to past experience, that I’ve pledged to lose 12 pounds by next Monday. It’s totally possible! To help me achieve this I’m committing to filling in a food diary, I’m going to do a couple of SP days, and I’m not going to give into cravings.

I’m feeling genuinely excited again. I don’t have any events coming up that I can use as an excuse to be off plan and I’m starting to feel better about my relationship status, so much so that I’m mostly just looking forward to the forthcoming relationship with my new employer – Slimming World! I signed the contracts last week so it’s all official now – there’s no going back! I have six weeks till I do my first group, and I’d love to great some great losses in between now and then.

What I do need to do is be organised, because I’m going to be busy and if I don’t plan my meals I will almost certainly slip up. It’s true what they say – fail to plan and plan to fail.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to feeling healthy again, in my body and my mind. It’s been long overdue. It’s time to pull myself together, in more ways than one!

Anyhoo, this bank holiday weekend was awesome, but it sure was a financial drain (totally my fault by the way).

On Saturday I met up with the lovely Mar in Nottingham, a city I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time. Unfortunately Nottingham wasn’t quite the place we were both expecting it to be, but we did still have a great time catching up and visiting Wollaton Hall and Deer Park.

We only saw one single deer, but I’m glad we saw at least one otherwise I would have been disappointed. I was particularly taken with the paper sculptures – so cool.

After spending the day in Notts I headed to my friend’s in Leamington Spa as he’s the chap I’d be attending Swingamajig with. It was really great to catch up with him, but I’ve got to say, Tara stole the show. Tara is my friend’s Bengal cat, and she is beeeeyoooootiful!

After a catch up my friend and I both fell asleep – he was jet lagged because he’d been on holiday to New Zealand (poor thing) and I’d simply got used to having early nights while I’ve been off work.

In the morning I got glammed up while he made me shots for breakfast (yes, the boozy variety) then after some actual breakfast we headed off to Brum for the festival.

Now I had a choice to make – sensible shoes or pretty shoes? Yeah, pretty shoes won…

I think that day was the most fabulously dressed I’ve been in my entire life.

But it gets better. I’d been hanging out at the cocktail van, so by the time we got round to checking out the quirky little stalls I was already quite tipsy. Hence… the hat of magnificence!

It was expensive, though not unreasonably so as a lot of work must have gone into making it. Still, sober me probably wouldn’t have splashed out, though I’m glad I got it. I got talking to so many people because of it and already have plans to meet up with other madly-hatted people next year. Yep, I’ll no doubt be attending Swingamajig every year for as long as it keeps going, which will hopefully be forever.

Entertainment-wise the highlight for me was the Electric Swing Circus (an awesome band) who my friend knows personally so I got to meet loads of the band members too (and even got a hug in one instance).

I now have their albums which I’ve been listening to on repeat ever since.

After the main festival ended we headed down the road to the after party, where I was enjoying myself as the music was BANGING, and nothing at all like the chart rubbish they play where I live. However by 3am I was flagging so we went back to the hotel, though not before stopping for hangover-preventing curly fries. Perfect!

The next day I made sure I set off with plenty of time to make it to group for weigh in, but some drink-driving idiot had other ideas and I spent 3 hours sitting on the M25 instead.

So that was that. If this blog seems somewhat rushed, that’s because it is. I have so many things to get done and very little time to do it in, but I wanted to get my thoughts down anyway.

Since Tuesday I’ve been perfectly on plan and for the first time in a while I have no doubt that there won’t be any slip ups. It’s time to make real progress again.

As of this moment my dinner is now cool enough to eat, so I’ll say by for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Book Depression

Since yesterday I’ve felt a deep sense of loss. The reason? I’ve just finished a book that I really got into (The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss) but the author is doing a George RR Martin and taking an age to finish the next instalment. I got into the series (well, can you call it a series if there are only two books so far?) quite by accident – the first book was a birthday present which took me forever to get into, after I found time to sit and read the damn thing that is. But then once I was hooked there was no escaping. I’ve just steamed through the second one, but I only realised when I was three quarters through that I was running out of pages with the story nowhere near finished. It’s been 9, yes NINE years since that one was published so who even knows how long I’ll have to wait. It’s not fair.

I really hate that feeling when you’ve finished a story you were so emotionally invested in and you don’t quite know what to do with yourself afterwards. Luckily I have plenty going on to keep me busy, I’m lucky I have my sister to pass on the books she’s read (Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman) plus friends to recommend new things (The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman).

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So far this week I’ve slept a lot, walked a lot (briskly) and eaten a lot. In defence of the latter I’ve been well and truly in holiday mode and there have been numerous restaurant meals. Despite a lot of eating out, my off-plan eating has been much more in the realms of ‘normal’ eating rather than ‘eating all the things because I’m trying to fill the gaping abyss inside me’ eating. In fact the gaping abyss is now down to roughly the size of a pothole, and that I can deal with.

Yesterday I went to an all-vegan restaurant not too far from where I live called The Oak Tree.

It. Was. Amazing.

I had nachos to start, and they were the tastiest nachos I’ve had. Ever.

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To be honest everything on the menu was in the realms of wonderful vegan junk food, so I went all in and had a fully loaded burger with a side of garlic bread. Believe me, it was incredible grub. Well worth spending an evening off plan for.

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Because it was a meal I’d planned, was looking forward to, was spent in good company and was out-of-this-world tasty, I didn’t have any regrets about eating it.

Today I had intended to be perfect, but I ended up having an impromptu lunch with another friend. I almost, almost said screw it and went to order the first thing that came to mind, but instead I exercised some control and ordered sensibly.

I had a Turkish tea to drink, because I’ve never had one before, and you can rest assured I didn’t have the sugar. For lunch I chose the vegetable casserole even though it didn’t sound particular appealing, but I have no doubt it was the most Slimming World-friendly item on the menu (if you don’t eat meat that is). On top of that instead of chips I asked for cous cous.

I couldn’t possibly have anticipated this, but it was so damn good! There was a lot of oil in it so I’m counting it as the rest of the day’s Syns (I was on two up until that point) but other than whatever it had been cooked in it was all Free Food. I’m going to try to recreate a Slimming World-friendly version of my own as soon as possible.

I also managed to stay completely on plan whilst out and about earlier in the week, which I’m a bit proud of.

It was especially difficult because I was in a little seaside town full of little quirky places to eat and fun things to try, but I was there on business so I didn’t let myself get sidetracked. I parked a way away from my destination to get more exercise despite already doing a lot of walking that day, then made my way to a record shop to sell my vinyl. It makes sense – I’ve never even owned a turntable and I’ve had most of my records since I was still at school.

That done, I headed back to the main broadway to look in the little boutique shops.

I used to live in the area (briefly) but never in that time could I fit into anything from those shops. This time however, things were different.

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With the money from my records I bought the perfect summer shirt in a size 14. My summer wardrobe is now completely sorted, although I have been saying that a lot and I do keep adding to it regardless. I’ve just seen so many things that I like and fit. Such a combo is hard to resist.

For the rest of the weekend I’m going to keep the carbs low because I’d love to somehow scrape a loss on Monday, then I really am going to be perfect until Swingamajig. I’ll also try to fit in as much walking as possible because I’ve loved this week’s excursions.

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This weekend and the coming week I have a lot of things to get sorted, so no more holiday mode for me until next weekend. Then that’s it, time to knuckle down and make progress in several areas of my life. To be honest it’ll be such a relief to have a schedule only filled with healthy pursuits!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Murphizzle Poppizzle Foshizzle

Do you remember I was planning to dress up as Mary Poppins for charity? That event came around quicker than I thought it would – mainly because I thought Good Friday was next Friday. That means I booked the wrong week off work so when it was time to get my Mary on I had work the night before and I was knackered. Thankfully I managed to get home a couple of hours early so I wasn’t as knackered as I could have been, but it still wasn’t ideal.

Continuing the theme of being completely unprepared I didn’t think to ask how long it would be going on for, I just assumed it couldn’t be toooooo long. Surely?

There was another thing I failed to consider. I am 6 feet tall, and children are teeny, so I did lots of crouching down for photos. This wasn’t too bad for the first hour or so, but after FIVE HOURS I must admit it was beginning to take its toll on my knees.

Finally after over 1000 kids had met Ms Poppins I was able to escape the woods and head home sharpish to try to get just a little bit of sleep before going back to work again. It was an exhausting day, and when I woke up again in the evening I realised that it wasn’t my knees I should have worried about – my thighs were absolutely killing me and to be honest they aren’t much better now. Imagine doing squats for five hours! On the plus side my thighs should be like steel from this point onwards.

The exhaustion was worth it though, for several reasons. I was still feeling quite low but it was good to know I can slap a smile on my face and just get on with things, as uncomfortable as it was to begin with.

It was also waaaaaay out of my comfort zone. I haven’t interacted with kids much in my adult life so I don’t really know how to deal with them, but I did just fine. The same for having the attention on me – I found that I was able to cope with it quite well.

On the day over £6000 was raised for the local school, but apart from that what I enjoyed the most was being physically able to do it. When I was heavier I couldn’t have crouched down all those times, I couldn’t have made it to my spot in the woods (wearing hells no less), I couldn’t have been on my feet for that long and I couldn’t have fit in the biggest Mary Poppins costume available to buy.

I also had some lovely compliments saying that I was a very pretty Mary Poppins and one person who said I was like Mary Poppins but slimmer. That was rather unexpected! I have a friend who is a rapper in his spare time who years ago nicknamed me ‘Murphizzle’ (my surname is Murphy) which has now been extended to Murphizzle Poppizzle. I must admit I rather like it.

Saturday I was out again even though I haven’t been getting nearly enough sleep. I’ve definitely been overdoing it this week, but since I’m now off work for two GLORIOUS weeks I thought I could afford to be a bit silly.

So instead of catching up on some shuteye I went with my friend (who knows a thing or two about cars) and my sister to see about her buying her first set of wheels. We found something suitable for her, and while she was was sorting out her insurance I got my friend to take a picture of me because I love my stripy top so much.

Summery or what? I saw it in a shop for £20 which I thought was a bit pricey, but I couldn’t find anything even vaguely comparable anywhere else so I had a ‘screw it’ moment. Which worked out perfectly because I got it in the Easter sale for a lower price. Sweet!

Saturday night I got out of work early again so I got a good sleep before going out leafleting once more with my friend (and now esteemed colleague) Amanda. I was annoyed that I didn’t think to bring bunny ears, but don’t think for one second I’ll ever be making that mistake again.

Now I’m just chilling in the garden with little Pea, contemplating the things I have to get done and the fun stuff I have planned over the next fortnight. I also have to think about how these things fit in with Slimming World.

First of all, I have to get weigh in tomorrow out of the way. I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it but my schedule has been freed up so I will indeed be attending. To be honest I’ve been only been on plan for about half of this week, but I’m likely to get a gain much bigger than I deserve. This is because as soon as the sun came out I puffed up like a damn balloon. I shan’t be avoiding weigh in for that reason though, I will just take it on the chin.

I’m out for a meal in a vegan restaurant Thursday evening at another place I’ve wanted to try for at least a year, then it’s drinkies on Friday with a good friend. In general the eating out and drinking lifestyle is not one I’d like to make a habit of, so once these two weeks are over I’m definitely going back to concentrating on healthier pursuits.

I’m allowing myself this for now though because I want to make time for certain friends before I knuckle down and really try to make a success of my Slimming World group. I want to give it all of my focus.

Of course I still have Swingamajig on the horizon, but once that’s over I’m definitely back to ‘walking for fun’ rather than ‘drinking in the pub for fun’. I only really enjoy these things if they’re sporadic in any case, so I certainly won’t feel like I’m missing out.

In the meantime it’s ‘on plan when I can’, which I’ve been much better at over the last week. Mainly because I’m feeling a lot happier I think – that sure makes it easier. I also want to catch up on things around the house that have been neglected, and make sure I’m properly organised and ready to go once my Slimming World training starts.

I’ve got to say, the immediate future is looking very bright indeed.

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

Far From Perfect

I have a rather large confession to make. Over the last couple of months I (consciously) slipped off of the V-wagon. That is to say, I made the decision to go back to being vegetarian for a while. Well, the original plan was to have a few veggie meals when out and about with Steve if no other options were available and eat as much vegan food as I could in the meantime.

Because I’ve been feeling so down I haven’t had the mental capacity to care much about much at all to be honest. Nothing seemed to matter any more. So I’ve been eating cheesy pizza and ice cream like it’s going out of fashion, with no thought to how it affects the animals or my own health. Deep down though I haven’t been happy with myself for backtracking. In actual fact I’ve felt rather ashamed.

I didn’t say anything about it publicly through a genuine fear of backlash from a minority of the vegan community, but now I’m ready to jump back on the wagon I feel like I should get it out in the open, come what may.

I’m reluctant to call myself vegan from now on, because there’s one thing I haven’t been able to give up – photo printing.

I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal, so for me knowingly doing something that involves animal products means that I couldn’t and shouldn’t call myself a vegan. However, I am going back to eating like one. The same goes for cleaning materials, cosmetics etc. I’m happy to say that all of that has remained vegan for me.

No more cheese from now on! Anything else aside, boy that stuff is addictive. Seriously! Completely going without was working much, much better for me. Plus now I can start to get my life back in line with my values. Perhaps I’ll sleep better with a clearer conscience too.

I think it’s important for me to be open about this particular struggle, because maybe there’s someone else doing something similar who isn’t sure where to go from here. I ate vegan for an entire year before I slipped, so that’s better than doing nothing at all, right? Plus I intend to be doing it many years from now on (well, forever if I can!)

Another thing I’ve been giving a lot of thought to is my target weight. Originally it was 12 stone 10 pounds, which I smashed in November. I felt the best I’ve ever felt in my entire life when I got there, but I felt compelled to go lower. Now I’m 1 stone 4 pounds away from that weight, and I’ve decided that to go any lower than that just isn’t right for me.

Looking over some fairly recent photos, I can’t say that I’m unhappy with them at all!

Everyone I’ve voiced my thoughts to has unanimously agreed that I looked great at that point and wondered why on earth I wanted to lose more.

This was me in November:

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That’ll do thanks.

As soon as I talked about it I felt much, much better. I know deep down that it’s the right thing for me and me alone. In this case my opinion is the only one that actually matters.

Also, I know I can do it. Because I already did!

I’m tentatively feeling rather excited at the prospect of officially becoming a target member of Slimming World, but since I know how much my moods have been up and down lately I’m trying not to get ahead of myself.

Just gotta keep going, and try to get those numbers going down instead of up for a while.

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

First of Many

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

Hayley x

The Most Sleepy Time of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What an absolute numpty I am.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring it on!

Hayley x

Facing the Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks for reading,

Hayley x