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

Rituals

I’ve developed a certain set of rituals that I now perform every Monday before weighing in, and now that they have been established it’s almost inconceivable to think of changing them.

Every week I eat exactly the same food- wheat biscuits and plant milk for breakfast followed by a punnet of mushrooms and smoked tofu for lunch. I wear the same clothes each week, even down to a specific pair of knickers and a specific pair of socks. I also try to do the same level of activity but this is a bit hit and miss.

This way, I figure, my weigh in result each week will be as accurate as possible. However there is a problem.

It’s getting cold and I need to wear thicker clothes!

I suppose it’s just one more motivator for getting to target as soon as possible – once I’m there I can afford to wear heavier clothes. Until then, I will try not to change anything, with the exception of next Monday.

Since I’ve decided that’s the day I’m going to do my long walk and smash my step record, despite the possibility of it messing up my weigh in I’m being stubborn and sticking to my guns.

My walk is sure to help with a loss, it’s just a question of when it’ll show on the scales. It could throw a temporary spanner into the works in the form of an undeserved gain, but as long as I stick to plan I’ll get what I’m owed.

This week I had my fifth loss in a row, which I’m chuffed with even if I would have liked more than 1 pound off. But a loss is a loss, so I shan’t complain.

Now is a great time to look at non-scale victories, especially as I had a doozy of one yesterday.

Almost a year ago now I bought a pair of vintage Levi 501s in the biggest size they do for my leg length, which is a 34 waist and 34 leg (the equivalent of a UK size 14).

When I tried them on I was really disheartened. I couldn’t even get near to doing them up, and eventually I stuck them in the loft because they were making me feel bad. I couldn’t bear to get rid of them though. These are some pictures I took back in June before I squirrelled them away. I was also wearing control knickers at the time.

Since they have absolutely no give in them whatsoever, I figured I might have to be realistic and abandon the dream of ever fitting into them.

Then I was up in the loft going through some old clothes when I came across them again. I hesitated, because if they still fit like the last time I tried them, I knew it would put me in a terrible mood.

I couldn’t help it though. I had to know!

I can actually do them up. Compared to when I was bursting out of size 24 jeans and still wearing them every day, these are practically comfortable. There’s certainly less muffin top than I used to have on a daily basis, and I can even sit down in them. I reckon by the time I’m at target (10.5 pounds to go) they will fit PERFECTLY! Can you tell I’m excited? Oh I am so excited!

But it doesn’t even end there. On Sunday I went out for a walk with my friend to a lovely little village just around the corner that I never knew was there. You walk along a fairly uninteresting path, up a hill, then BOOM, you get a great view.

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As we stopped to drink in the scenery my friend took a photo of me which, after he forwarded it to me, I realised was just begging to be used in a comparison photo.

Enlight8I still have trouble believing that the woman on the right is me.

Although it was only a short walk (we had to make it to Tesco before closing time as so far that day all I’d eaten was 6 grapes) it’s possible to walk for hours along the… estuary? I don’t know, whatever body of water that is! So that’s one to keep in mind for a future trek.

On the way back I had a Slimming World-related accident. I saw a nice juicy blackberry sitting atop a bush, but it seems that the blackberry bushes have become sentient. To stop Slimming World members stealing its fruits one sneakily grew it’s brambles over a really deep ditch, so when I stepped over to get my blackberry I fell right in.

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My buttocks (where I fell backwards) and my knees (from getting out again) bear similar injuries. And I never got my damn blackberry! I am however still picking thorns out of various body parts.

My plan for this week is to try and get more sleep, give myself time to be more mindful about what I’m eating, to keep up with the exercise, and try not to fall over.

It’s also my birthday this week but I have no plans whatsoever to ‘celebrate’ by being off plan. All I have scheduled so far (apart from my walk) is a boot sale with my friend (more walking, yay!) and coffee with my sister.

Perfect!

Have a fabulous week everyone,

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

Starting Out

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This is a bit of a long one, so I recommend grabbing a cuppa first!

My Slimming World consultant has been asking me a lot lately – what advice would you give to someone just starting out on their weight loss journey? Whenever I’m posed with such a question my mind instantly goes completely blank. The same goes for if I’m asked something like ‘how is life different now?’

It’s not that I don’t have an answer, it’s just that my own answer to those questions is made up of a thousand tiny little answers that I’ve come up with over the course of a lifetime. No wonder I can’t give a decent response on the spot! So I decided to write a post to see if I can come up with something helpful. And perhaps something that I can refer back to when the question inevitably comes up in the future.

First of all a little disclaimer – these are just things that have worked for me. It might not be the right way for others, and that’s absolutely fine. Try things out and see what works for you.

Which brings me nicely to my first bit of advice.

1. Trial and error

I’ve been in my current job for 10 years this month, and I’ve been trying to lose weight that whole time. One of my major issues was getting in from work at 6am and being starving. In the beginning I’d be so hungry after my shift that I’d stop off at the 24hr Asda at the end of the road and buy the biggest pizza they sold. And I’d eat the whole lot for breakfast. That only stopped when they went back to normal trading hours (and I found plenty of other food to replace it with).

The pattern of going over the top after work only stopped when I started actively seeking a solution, and it took a good year before I came up with something that worked. I had to work out when is best to eat dinner, what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat my work lunch and what to have when I come in.

For me what works is an enormous Slimming World dinner as late as possible before my shift starts at 10pm, which will see me through to my lunch break at 4am. Then I have a substantial lunch (normally pasta and low-Syn vegan meatballs with passata, packed out with fresh tomatoes and roasted veg) which ensures I’m not famished when the shift finishes shortly after. Often I don’t even need anything when I get in and go straight to sleep, but if I do need something I have my healthy extras (wheat biscuits and chocolate oat milk, yum!)

So my advice is to keep trying different things until you find the thing that works. Try big meals and little meals, healthy snacks, eating at different times… and listen to your body. If it’s hungry you should feed it, just work out when you really are hungry and work around that. If I need two lunches in any given day, then I have two lunches! As long as you follow the plan, you’ll lose weight.

2. Be REALLY kind to yourself 

No one can thrive when they’re being spoken down to all of the time, and that counts for our internal voices too. I’ve been there and I get it – you think you look like crap, you tell yourself you’re disgusting, greedy, lazy and a whole load of other awful LIES.

Being genuinely kind to yourself takes a lot of practice, and even then I’ll admit I’m not perfect. I have days where I look at myself and despair, but it’s usually not long before I’m back thinking rationally.

We are conditioned to think that only slim bodies have worth (just look at the mainstream media, at the images we are bombarded with every. single. day.) But honestly it’s just… bullsh*t (‘scuse my language). Most of the people we see are Photoshopped to high heaven – even models don’t look like like models in real life.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t lose weight. If you want to, then go for it. Quite possibly you’ll have more energy, a longer life, have less aches and pains and a whole host of other benefits. But while you’re doing that, know that fat bodies are beautiful. Flawed bodies are beautiful. Thin bodies are beautiful. And all of them have the right to exist because it’s your body and you can do WHATEVER THE HELL YOU LIKE WITH IT. It’s really hard, but I’d recommend embracing your body every step of the way. I go to group and I look around me and see so many beautiful people, in all shapes and sizes, and when I think of how different people are when they start to lose weight I’m not thinking about how their tummies have shrunk or if their butts are smaller.

More often than not the real big changes are in confidence, how people carry themselves, how big their smiles are. But you don’t actually have to lose weight to do those things.

I’d recommend following real people on social media. There’s a huge Body Positivity movement going on and it’s awesome. If what we see is saturated with bodies only a tiny percentage of us are even physically capable of having, then change what you see. It could change your life.

As far as weight loss goes, you might find (as I have) that how you actually look is a secondary benefit of losing weight. And when you discover the other benefits, it’s a HUGE motivator to carry on.

3. Take the focus away from food

This was a real turning point for me. I’m not talking about distracting yourself if you feel hungry, I’m talking about finding things you love that aren’t eating.

In 2012 I lost 7 stone, but I put it all back on again because even after I’d lost it I was still miserable. Looking back I think it’s because food was the only thing in my life that I truly enjoyed. I was seeing someone at the time and not happy at all. I was bored with sitting in front of the TV every weekend, so much so that my only consolation was a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. I never really did anything for myself, and thinking back I have no idea how I used to fill my days. I didn’t do anything.

So my advice here is to find the things you love more than food. For me they are my parrot, walking, exploring new places, photography and spending meaningful time with family and friends. Luckily for me these pursuits all go hand-in-hand.

I do still enjoy things like reading and films, but I used to find it really hard to sit down and read without a glass of wine in hand, or to watch a film without popcorn. But you can train yourself to enjoy relaxing without mindlessly consuming a thousand calories in one sitting as I was doing. Now I just get fully immersed in a film, and if it’s not grabbing my attention enough that I’m bored and want to eat, then I turn if off and do something else. Life’s too short to watch bad films, and much too short to waste it on ice cream.

4. Ask for help, and give it freely

Really that should be the other way round, because I found that when I started trying to help and encourage people, it was much easier to accept help in return. I’m shy and a bit of an introvert, so this is something that was (is) hard for me so I started small.

I started online. If you think someone is doing well then definitely, definitely tell them, as it could make their day. You can change a bad day into a good day for someone. And you never know what friendships will bloom from that. I get so much support and encouragement from people I’ve never even met (at least not yet, in some cases!) and I know that help is only a message away.

Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Ok, some people will inevitably not be quite up to the task. Perhaps they aren’t the friend you thought they were, or maybe they just have something else going on in their own lives that needs their full attention. But there’s always someone out there who cares. Need a bit of extra support? Then hit me up. Seriously, pop a comment in at the end of the post and I’m all ears. In fact, once I’m done here I’ll see if I can add a contact page to the blog. My inbox is always open.

As far as ‘real life’ goes, I found that after doing these things being encouraging to people face-to-face became much easier too, although I fear I’m still terribly awkward when I talk to people! But trying to lift people up (as best as I can) is more important than worrying about transitory awkwardness.

It’s not always easy to know what to say to people, but I’ve found that a simple ‘what can I do to help you?’ or ‘I’m here if you need me’ is often enough in those cases.

5. Keep going to group, and do what you can

Even, no, especially when you’re struggling. When I lost weight before as soon as I hit a stumbling block I stopped going to group. After all what’s the point in still going if you aren’t even losing weight? What’s the point of going if you’re gaining weight.

I’ll tell you now – there is every point in going. When I went back to group in October 2016, tail between my legs and almost every pound of my 7 stone loss regained, I noticed a little group of ladies who had been attending the same group even before I originally started going in 2012.

They didn’t have anything like as much as I had to lose, even at their start points, yet they still weren’t at target after all this time. Did I think any less of them for that? Did I think they had failed in some way?

Nope. I was envious. Insanely jealous.

They had done exactly the right thing. They might not have been making as much progress as they’d like. They all have active social lives so I’m guessing a lot of the delay was due to having a fantastic time with friends, but they still kept going and chipping away, half a pound at a time if necessary. When there were gains they were taken on the chin. When there was an off plan day, there were another six of being on plan. They didn’t talk down to themselves or beat themselves up over it.

I’ve tried to emulate that attitude and it has worked. In the not-so-distant past an off plan day for me would always turn into an off plan week (or two) and it was not unusual to see me gain half a stone in a week.

My weight has yo-yo’d dramatically in the past, but somehow during my most recent period of real struggling (which was between November last year up until the end of August) I managed to more or less maintain my weight for the first time in my life. And it was all down to sticking with the plan every moment I felt I was able to, and not letting a bad weekend spiral into a bad week. Sometimes I had to take one meal at a time, but it meant that when I found my current group after being an online member for a while, I’d only gained 2 pounds rather than, well, everything I’d previously lost.

6. Don’t take things at face value

This is something I’ve been thinking about after starting my new group, because the people there haven’t seen me at my biggest. On the face of things it’s easy to look at me and think ‘blimey, she’s lost over 7 stone in a fairly short space of time, why can’t I do that?’ I’ve had those thoughts, I still do have those thoughts. It’s natural I suppose. But then you have to dig a little deeper.

It hasn’t really taken two years for me to get to this point. In reality it’s taken decades of learning about myself, of falling down and picking myself up time and time again. So don’t feel bad if you feel you’re not making progress as quickly as someone else is, you will get there in your own sweet time.

This is my weight graph from September 2015 to now, and as you can see it’s been anything but plain sailing.

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The important thing is to focus on an overall downwards trend, and not worry about how long it will take. It will feel impossible, until all of a sudden it isn’t and target is within reaching distance. If it’s anything like my experience, it’ll sneak up on you when you least expect it!

7. Think about what scares you, and face that fear

This is something that came up in group last night, and something I’ve given a lot of thought to. Whenever I’d just had a weight loss award, I would tend to self-sabotage, and it takes a lot of introspection to find out why you’re doing it.

At first I thought my own theories were nonsense, but as I get to know myself better I realise they aren’t. The truth is, getting what you want, what you’ve fought for so hard for, for so many years, is actually quite scary.

My number one fear is what I’ll be left with when I’m done, particularly loose skin. I think it’s something we all worry about, and I know for sure that I’ve failed at weight loss attempts in the past due to negative ‘what’s the point I’ll still look crap’ thoughts sneaking in.

Going back to body positivity, those thoughts should be ignored for that reason alone, though there are others. Your body is a miraculous thing that made space for you when you were bigger. It might have been under a lot of pressure (I have had knee problems myself) but it still kept you going, and those things sometimes leave their mark. That’s OK!

I worry that people wouldn’t be attracted to me because of my body, and yeah in some cases that’s true. It’s true if even if you have a ‘perfect’ body. Not everyone is going to find us attractive! It’s easier to say this than actually believe it (it’s a tough one for me) but if someone likes you for you but can’t accept your body, then they are NOT THE ONE.

It’s a concept I’ve struggled with recently – I met someone I really clicked with, but I knew my body was not for him. It took me a long time to accept that, and it really affected my confidence (it was even a factor in stalling my weight loss) because you just can’t help it when you have intense feelings for someone.

I even started considering a tummy tuck, an idea I’d dismissed some time ago, because deep down I just wanted him to like me. But if you have to cut bits off of yourself for someone to like you, again, they are NOT THE ONE.

The other thing I’m frightened of is getting to target and it never being enough. I’m scared of what I’ll replace the buzz of getting a good loss with once I’m not losing any more. It’s a huge part of my identity right now, what happens when I’m ready to stop losing for the first time in my whole life?

The truth is I’ll be stumbling around in the dark for a while, but it has to be done anyway. When I do think about how life has changed for me (that’ll be covered in another post as soon as I can find the words) it’s even scarier to imagine going back to how I was before.

Well, I suppose I’d say those are my top tips so I’ll leave it there for now. In any case I hope it has been useful, and it’s definitely been helpful for me to get these thoughts that have been swimming around my head into some sort of order.

If you made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with it!

Hayley x

Hello October!

If you were reading my blog last year (can someone please tell me where the time has gone?) then you may vaguely recall my disastrous attempts at #onplanoctober. I had the best intentions at the beginning, but overall I didn’t do very well. This time around I’m going to do it – have every single day on plan throughout the whole month, NO EXCEPTIONS.

Why am I going to succeed this time around I hear you ask? Well the difference is my attitude I think. This year I really want to do it, whereas last year I was using it as a tool to try and force myself to stay on track. It had its uses, as I did do better than if I hadn’t tried at all, but now I have no doubt at all that I’m going to do it.

By the time the month is through I will be lighter than when it started, and I will have my Gold Body Magic award under my belt. I’ve just made a strong start to week 5 (of 8) with a 2 hour walk into town and back, with plenty of plans to do more throughout the week. In fact it’s going to be quite a busy week, but I’ll talk more about upcoming events as they occur.

I’m enjoying making the most of these blue skies while they last, as there’s a definite nip in the air now.

Although technically it’s now Tuesday, since I haven’t slept yet I’ll let you know how ‘today’s’ weigh in went. I would have been in bed earlier, but I stayed up to watch a film with the family. I still would have had time to update the blog while it was still Monday, but we paused halfway through when my brother noticed a mouse had somehow found its way into the kitchen.

It was soooooo fast, it was impossible to get a good picture. I took some video but this was as good as I could get:

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Please excuse the bare floor – we should be getting a new kitchen next year so there’s no point decorating until then.

Anyway, I got sidetracked! Group was awesome – I lost 2.5 lbs meaning I’m still on track to reach target in 6 weeks or so. Amazing! Group also gave me a lot to think about, but since I’m so tired I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to explore those thoughts further. Hopefully I can pick up on all the threads in my brain.

I really didn’t think I’d lose that much again this week, and I probably didn’t look as chuffed as I should have when my consultant told me I got Slimmer of the Week again.

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I really wasn’t expecting it, and it’s been such a long day I was a little bit dazed to be honest. I only have 11.5 lbs to go before I reach target.

Less than a stone.

I’m reading the words as I write but it doesn’t seem real.

As I’ve just been wracked with yawns I think it’s time for bed and a good sleep to help me process everything.

Until next time,

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

On Schedule

The other day I was looking back on my losses and gains throughout the year so far. It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t lost weight more than two weeks in a row since November last year, which is also the last time I got an award with Slimming World.

Before weigh in I was thinking how crappy it would be if, because of things totally out of my control (ie the inner workings of my body), that I failed to break that trend this week. I wasn’t exactly feeling negative about it though, I was just preparing myself for that particular outcome and making decisions about what I’d do next.

I had it firmly in my mind that if that was the case I’d just carry on doing exactly what I have been doing and wait to get the loss I was owed. If I don’t have a plan in place I might be tempted to go off the rails which is the very worst thing you can do in such situations.

But, and this will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one, I needn’t have worried. I tell myself about ten times a week to trust in the plan, but come weigh day there are always the same doubts.

I lost 2.5 lbs, and got my flipping 7.5 stone award! I got my 7 stone award on the 28th of November last year, so this one has been a bloody long time coming. I could beat myself up for taking ten months to get it, but actually I’d say this is the one I’m most proud of. This is certainly the one that I tried the hardest for, when there are so many, many times when it would have been easier to give up.

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Can you even imagine how glad I am that I didn’t? Where would I be now? Nowhere good, that’s for sure.

And do you see that shiny, sparkly little number there? Yep, most surprisingly I also got Slimmer of the Month! I’m absolutely buzzing right now.

So that means I’m still on schedule to hit target by the end of the year, something that I’m keeping in the forefront of my mind. I’m actually ahead of schedule, but still aiming for a 2lb loss every week. For every week I do better, like this one, then I see it as a bonus and that I’m giving myself even more time to get to where I want to be if things slow down.

Even though I’m feeling positive and VERY excited, I’ll be honest – there’s a certain amount of fear that’s going with it, something I didn’t think I’d be feeling at this stage.

I’m really scared that it won’t be enough, which is silly because I already know it won’t be enough. What I mean is that losing the last stone is not going to magically make all of my problems disappear. I know I still have to work on accepting the imperfections in my body (of which there are many) and learning to do that could take a whole lifetime really.

What do they say? Feel the fear and do it anyway. Because there’s no alternative really. At least if I’m a healthy weight then I’m giving myself a body that’s capable of fighting for all the other stuff rather than slowly killing it with sugar.

I do still think I may have to adjust my target weight at a later date, but for now 12 stone 10 pounds is where I want to be. I won’t know for sure how I’ll feel till I get there, but this is the weight I’ve had in mind for literally decades so it’ll be mind blowing when I get there. I have no idea how I’ll react!

Once there I’ll spend a little time maintaining and getting used to my new weight before I decide what to do next. Either way it’s always good to have a plan, even if I don’t always stick to it.

Yesterday I took some photos I was really happy with. My friend bought me a bunch of flowers to say thank you for getting his prescription, but he also accidentally broke the heads off of a load of them. Of course I didn’t mind, there were plenty left in tact and I decided that the others were begging to be photographed. So I took them out into the garden for a little shoot.

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When someone buys me flowers I always take photos anyway, because then they will last forever, but I’m especially happy with these.

The light was briefly rather beautiful yesterday, then it turned damn cold. So it was lovely to wake up this morning to a message from my union rep asking if I want to trial some new thermals. HELL YES I DO! Every year that goes along I can stand the cold less and less, so who even knows how I’m going to cope this year. Hopefully these new thermals are something special, then maybe I’ll wear them at home, too!

Soon I’m walking into town and I’m on a mission to visit every charity shop there. Which is probably for the best because most every other kind of shop has shut down anyway. Hopefully I can find a nice bargain, and get my exercise done in the process.

So I’d best get cracking!

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

Already?

Guess what popped up on my (dedicated Slimming World, no less) Instagram feed this afternoon?

You’ll never get it, so I’ll tell you.

MINCE PIES. 

This is too early, even for me! I’ve found combining slimming with veganism really hard, not because finding vegan options is a problem, but because there are so many options now.

My trigger foods have always been pizza and ice cream, for as long as I can remember. I thought that not having access to these things would really help my efforts – I can no longer order a 20″ pizza and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s right to my door for £15 after all. But then along comes the release of two (incredible looking) vegan pizzas and a vegan Magnum in the last couple of weeks alone. Oh and Violife have bought out a mozzarella substitute that I like the taste of and melts really well.

That’s now six or so vegan pizzas that are readily available in major supermarkets! And now the vegan mince pies are popping up already. Damn.

Of course I’m not really complaining, it’s fantastic for the vegan movement after all, but it is really hard not to get carried away and try ALL THE NEW THINGS.

I feel a sense of responsibility to try to support businesses making the effort to bring these products to the shelves, but for my own benefit and the benefit of others attempting the same thing, my time (and money) will be better spent showing that it’s totally doable to combine Slimming World with veganism.

For those wondering, you can still eat pizza and ice cream on Slimming World (and sometimes I do) but for me personally I find it best to avoid them all together or I will more often than not lose my head and eat way too much.

As it is those mince pies got me thinking about Christmas already (sorry!) and this year I’m looking for some decent middle ground.

Since I properly started my journey (sorry again, that word!) in 2016 I’ve had two Christmases – the first I stayed mostly on plan, only gained half a pound but felt really deprived. The second I was out of control from the end of November till the beginning of February, put on over a stone and felt really miserable.

This is me in December vs me last month. I don’t think I’m imagining that there’s quite a difference there, but it’s genuinely hard for me to tell what with the angles being different and whatnot. I do remember how the Hayley on the left felt though, and I don’t want a repeat of that.

Thinking back on it, what do I really remember about last Christmas? The actual day was brilliant – the best Christmas I’ve ever had. I remember making the Bosh mushroom wellington which is hands down one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten, seeing my family’s faces when they opened the gifts which so much thought had gone into, and playing silly games in the evening.

As far as other food and drink goes, the only ‘must have’ vegan things I remember was the vegan Baileys Almande (quite nice but my tastes have changed a bit, wouldn’t bother with it again) a liqueur from M&S (it was revolting) and trying Besos de Oro which is a vegan-friendly Bailey’s kind of drink (doubly revolting). So if I don’t get all of the must have things this year, it’s no big deal and I won’t even remember what they were by the end of January. Unless they stick out in my mind for being particularly awful.

I also stopped going to group at the end of November, and I tell you now, that is DEFINITELY not going to happen this time around!

My plan of action is to not buy anything at all until about a week before the day, because if it’s in the house I’ll definitely eat it, and only buy enough for one single day of eating and drinking.

If a certain item I want is sold out, so what? Does it really matter? Of course it doesn’t! In the meantime I shall write down my plan of action in my journal, so it’s even more cemented in my mind, then say no more about it at least until December.

I’m glad that’s out of my system (for now) and anyone posting festive pictures on social media is getting temporarily muted!

Anyway! On to more pressing matters. Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, and luckily I can’t eat the enormous cake my mum has bought for him. Considering she’s a diabetic and my brother is doing fantastically well with his weight loss and fitness efforts, I’m not sure it was exactly wise for her to get a 16-portion cake for the two of them, but what can you do.

I used the opportunity to ask her not to buy me any food items for my birthday (which is next month) to which she responded ‘Ok, but do you want a cake?’ Bless her, she really does mean well, but NOOOOOOOOO I don’t want a cake! While I was at it I messaged my sister to ask her not to get me any food either, and to cancel plans we had for a food-based get together. I still want to do something, but it doesn’t have to revolve around food. So I think I’m covered. I don’t think anyone else would get me anything edible anyhoo.

On Sunday me and my brother are doing some sort of healthy ‘outdoorsy’ thing in order to celebrate, though we haven’t decided exactly what yet. Whatever we choose I’m sure it’ll be fun though. He’s my number one adventure buddy.

I also want to start taking more photos again, which is best done with my brother because he’s so patient with me. Some friends wander off while I’m trying to get a good shot whereas my brother is more than happy to mill around for a bit while I get totally lost in what I’m doing.

He’s such a good brother, and I am so lucky to have him.

The Google Photos app has yet again been reminding me that last year I was taking a lot more photos than I am this year…

This needs to be rectified, and I need to get out and do more interesting things, more often.

Today though, so far, all I’ve managed to do is write this post which has taken hours because I keep procrastinating. I reckon I’m done for now though, so it’s time to get exercising. This Gold Body Magic award won’t earn itself you know!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x