Perfect Week

I’m currently laying in bed feeling tired, a little crisp (sunburn, didn’t realise how… sunny it was) but most of all content.

For the first time since I’ve had my Apple Watch I’ve had a perfect week – meaning I achieved all of my activity goals every single day. Finally!

What’s more, I’ve had a week of being perfectly on plan for what I believe is only the second time this year. It hasn’t even been that difficult, which is something I struggle to get my head around. Why, oh why does it have to be so damn hard sometimes and plain sailing the rest of the time? Why am I unable to channel whatever it is I’m doing now during those other times? If I had the answer to that I’d be sorted for life.

For the first time in a long time today I went on a little adventure with my siblings. I was looking at Google Maps for potential walks near a friend’s house as I hope to one day badger him into getting a little fitter, when I swiped a little bit too far and ended up in Kent.

Quite accidentally I came across ‘Deer Park’. On further investigation I found out it’s part of a National Trust site called Knole House, so that’s where we ended up going.

The whole place is rather beautiful, but I fancied being outside on such a lovely day so rather than pay full admission I asked if it was ok to just explore the grounds. Their website said the car park gets really full on Sunday’s so we arrived slightly before opening, and as the gatehouse was unattended at the time the lady at the information desk told us we didn’t have to pay a thing. Result!

As soon as we entered the grounds we discovered that the deer are really not difficult to find. Some hang out near the house and are clearly accustomed to scavenging from visitors (even though you are told not to feed them) where as some who seem to live nearer the middle of the park are a lot more skittish.

It was great for all kinds of nature. We saw woodpeckers, squirrels a rabbit and plenty of bugs.

And a huge mushroom. I didn’t pick it though.

When it comes to food these kind of places can be really difficult for me, especially if they’re National Trust. They sell a dark chocolate-covered bar of marzipan which I find really hard to resist, but resist it I did. We bought packed lunches so everything I had was Slimming World-friendly.

After all this hard work if I don’t get a good result on the scales tomorrow I may well throw a hissy fit. This week has also been the first week in maybe a whole year where I haven’t weighed myself at home at all. Not even once. Weigh in will be complete surprise, and I’m already a bit nervous about it.

Not long till I find out though! Here’s to another good week ahead,

Hayley x

Finding My Voice

I remember when I first started blogging and how uncomfortable I felt with the way it sounded when I read it back in my head. In time I found my ‘blogging voice’, and I’m finding that I need to go through the same kind of process to find my ‘talking to a group of people’ voice.

The initial talk I have planned for my new Slimming World members took much longer than expected, because the first time I tried to say it out loud I burst into tears and it took me a long time to stop. It didn’t happen that day. I was feeling panicked that I should have been further along with it by then, where I’m feeling down my confidence was a bit battered, I’m also not happy with myself and I felt like a fraud…

First of all, I messaged a few trusted people just to get my fears off of my chest, however silly they might have sounded. Reassurances came flooding back, and I arranged to meet my sister on Saturday so that she could listen to me say my talk out loud. I knew I needed to get it OUT of me, just one time, then I’d feel a lot better.

So Saturday came around, and although I was nearly in tears again I got it out. At first I was internally cringing like mad, and that came through in my voice. Plus I kept getting confused and losing my place. But by the time I was half-way through (it takes 25 minutes), my proper voice started to come through. Finally.

As a reward, because it sure did take a lot out of me, me and little sister went for a coffee and a walk. At long last it’s warm enough for me to wear my summer clothes! I started with a lovely floaty shirt dress, but found that unless all of it is included in the photo then I look a little bit like some sort of religious person.

Who cares though? Not me! You may notice the water behind me there. My sister has lived near this park with a lake for nearly two years, and finally we got around to having a go on a pedalo (a little boat with pedals that move the… propeller? Sounds about right).

Neither of us had been on one before and it was surprisingly hard work, but since my exercise has been a bit lacking lately that was an added bonus for me.

It was also surprisingly exciting, because at one point we were almost run aground. We were warned not to get too close to the island or the sides, and we didn’t, but the guy said nothing about going past the island. We pedalled like mad to get out of it, and were saved the embarrassment of either calling for help or just getting out and wading to the shore.

I slept well before work that evening I tell you!

Yesterday I did my new member talk for Pea, and it came out better still. She seemed to like it, too.

I then had a meeting which was all about planning my promotion, which starts next week. There are a lot of things I’ll be doing that will be taking me even further out of my comfort zone, plus I need to keep practicing the talk until I feel confident I can do it with my eyes shut. I have an enormous amount of work to do, plus my normal job, lots of things to worry about (some of which are valid worries, some aren’t) but it does mean that nerves about my first proper night in group are subsiding. Mostly because once that night is done I can relax for five minutes!

Yes I’m finding all of this really hard, but I’m imagining how fantastic I’ll feel when I’ve done all of these things I’m finding it hard to believe I can do in the first place. And there’s the fact I will have done them all on top of each other. I’m pretty sure that anything that comes after this will be a breeze.

I’m going to my group tonight but I’m not weighing in, because I’ve decided to got back to my original group. I was going to wait until after my first night running a group, but I’ve realised I need help, as a member and nothing else, as of right now. As I’ll be telling my members, this is your time, where you can figure out how to have a fantastic week and get loads of ideas from your lovely friends. I need that just as much as anyone else.

Right, to be honest I didn’t really have time to write this blog, so I must get going now.

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

Time to Lose

So, after my grand plan of learning how to do things in moderation, have I made a good start? Have I heck. This week I’ve felt especially low, and eating well started to go down the toilet from Thursday afternoon. I’m really quite cross with myself (understatement of the year!)

Thursday should have been perfect. My friend put his car in for its MOT so I kept him company while he was waiting for a call back from the garage. I dragged him along for a walk at Langdon Hills, and although it was still much too cold for my liking, it was a beautiful day.

Comparisons have been made between that second picture and one you may remember from Windows XP. I’m pretty sure the Windows picture earned the photographer an obscene amount of money, so I’m now patiently waiting for several thousand pounds to hit my back account.

So, after a healthy and hilly stroll, what did I do? I went out for lunch. At a pizza restaurant. Did I search out a tomato-based pasta dish with salad? Nope. I had a three-course meal including sugary drink and I didn’t even enjoy it that much.

Things went downhill from there, though I did still get out of the house, this time with my little brother. Now we’re members of the Essex Wildlife Trust I’m on a mission to visit all of the sites in Essex, so we started at Fingringhoe Wick.

I didn’t have any expectations as to what it would be like or do any research, but it turned out to be lovely. It’s a bird-orientated place with loads of hides and loads of wildlife. We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but we did see a cormorant eating fish which was really cool. It disappeared under the water for ages it a time and came back successful about five times as we watched.

We also made friends with a pheasant, who we have named Bertram.

It was a really rubbish day in terms of weather, and the light was flat (bad for photography) so I was happy looking for the little details.

Another trick is to look for things that suit black & white.

That evening though, once I was home, I felt more out of control with my eating than ever. I honestly haven’t made myself feel that ill in years.

Yesterday I didn’t eat much, but for everything I didn’t eat I made up with several gin & tonics. Perhaps I’m understating things. I mean a lot of gin and tonics.

In this instance I have no regrets (not even the fact that I’ve been in bed all day nursing an awful hangover) because I had a lovely time. I bought me and Steve tickets to see ABC months and months ago and it finally came around.

They were accompanied by an orchestra who played an instrumental medley of their most famous hits. It was spine-tingly awesome. The band then played in two halves – the first half didn’t grab us so we went out to find more gin (strangely the venue closes the bar when the band is on, never seen that before) and we came back just in time for the second half. Then the band played their most famous album, The Lexicon of Love, in its entirety. It was seated but we got up and had a dance and I had just the most fabulous time.

I weighed in this evening, and was actually quite surprised that I only put on 2.5lbs. Now I really do have to make some changes to my current lifestyle, especially because I have something really exciting happening next week.

Next Tuesday I’m going for an interview for something really cool, and this is a massive deal. Traditionally I’ve been terrified of interviews and it’s probably definitely the main reason my career never progressed.

So me going for an interview now is especially great because it means for one I feel confident enough to actually do it, and two the thing I’m interviewing for is important enough to me for me to risk failure and rejection. No small deal at all.

This week I’m aiming for a decent loss (I’ve pledged five pounds in group) because I’d love to be feeling properly back in control for the first time in months when I have my interview. From then on I want to start making proper progress again. I’m not happy right now, and I know that making progress will undoubtedly bring me happiness.

I just have to stop stalling and get the hell on with it.

Hayley x

It’ll Pass

Whilst I’ve welcomed the return of the sun this week, at the same time I’ve been unable to really appreciate it. This is because I feel sad. Really. Frickin. Sad. And a little bit lost. OK, a lot lost.

I think I know what the problem is. Although my new status of being single is right, it doesn’t make it easy. Aside from anything else, my life (which was way too filled up with things to do) is now a little bit empty. feel empty. There are tons of things I have been itching to get cracking with, until now that is.

I’ve been desperate for the time to concentrate on my photography, my health, or my embroidery, or painting (or take my pick of a thousand other things) but now I have the time, I don’t have the slightest inclination to actually do it. Any of it.

Damn.

On top of it all my eating has been atrocious. I’ve been eating when I’m not hungry, and the thought of savoury food makes my stomach turn over. I just want sugar, sugar and more sugar. I also don’t want to move from my bed, not just because I don’t want to face the world (I really don’t) but also because I’m just so gosh darn tired again.

Despite all this I have managed a couple of days on plan this week, and I have forced myself to get outside. I walked through the park into town, where I finally picked up a swimming costume I’m completely satisfied with.

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Although it’s super unflattering, I’m still really pleased with this purchase because it holds everything in where it should and nothing falls out of any gaps. That was all I ever really wanted from my costume.

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I think it says I mean business. Since we’re approaching the beginning of April I wanted to set down some goals for the month. I’m going to lose some weight, search out my mojo, and definitely, definitely, go swimming.

Speaking of costumes, I’ve also agreed to dress up as Mary Poppins for an Easter Egg hunt at the end of April. It’s to raise money for a school in the village where Steve’s mum and brother live, and there are several reasons why I said I’d do it.

Number one, I really love the film. Two, I’ve never been to a fancy dress party despite the fact I’ve always wanted to dress up. Three, it’s for a good cause. My sister is a teacher and I know how hard it is for schools to manage on government funding alone. Well, it’s not really possible. Four, it’s completely out of my comfort zone and I think it’ll be good for me.

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I’m not quite satisfied with the basic costume though, so I’m going to add a few bits and bobs to it. I’ll keep you updated! Perhaps when I’m happy with the costume I can get rid of my stern face.

This morning my sister came over and we went for a walk in the woods. Again I wasn’t really feeling it, but it did us both good I think. Plus she’s an excellent listener and also offers good advice.

She also sneakily took a picture of me and added it to her Instagram story. When I saw it I was pleasantly surprised that I don’t look like I’ve gained 8 stone overnight, which is how I was feeling.

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We fed the ducks and geese, saw the first bluebells of the season, and had some fancy apple juice. Maybe things aren’t so bad.

Another positive is that because of daylight savings I only have a 7 hour shift tonight. Oh, and I have a nice busy day planned tomorrow which will hopefully perk me up a bit. After tomorrow I’m going to work hard and…

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Check out my 8 week food diary from the White Triangle Co. It was a bit pricey, but I wanted it, I had the money, so I got it. Watcha gonna do?

Right, I have to get ready for work now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Highlights

The last few days I’ve been feeling exceptionally hungry and exceptionally large. It’s all in my head though (HORMONES) so I just have to ride it out, although I’m a little worried that the increased portions I’ve been eating will cause a gain, especially as I’ve sat on my bum for most of my long weekend. What else can I do though? I’ll just keep eating the good stuff and it’ll all come out in the wash.

The weekend has been great though. I’ve started a diploma in Photoshop and although it’s going over a lot that I already know at the moment, I have learned a couple of useful things and it’s good to have a refresher.

I’m all up-to-date with my photo printing and everything’s nicely stuck in my album, but most importantly I’m all caught up with sleep before I go back to work tonight. Let’s see how my knee handles that, because it’s still been sore.

Yesterday I had a little reminder pop up from Google photos, which always pleases me. It’s been roughly four years since I first got a DSLR and I started going out with my brother to the local nature reserve. He took some photos of me while we were out, and I’m so glad I didn’t insist he delete them at the time.

I remember that I’d lost weight at this time because I could finally do that coat up again, which was a size 22. As it happens I did put weight back on afterwards and the coat didn’t fit once more, but you know it worked out in the end so it’s all good!

I also remember feeling frustrated that my shots didn’t come out as I expected them to. I have learned so much since then that I can hardly believe it.

Here’s a comparison so you can see how times have changed…

The thing that really gets me with the photography is that although I was frustrated, I was still having fun along the way. Although I’ve had ups and downs (many of them) I suppose the same can be said with my weight-loss journey. Ugh, sorry about that word.

When I think back over the last couple of years (I began this particular chapter of my life on the 1st of August 2016) the very last thing that sticks out in my mind is feeling deprived of anything.

My memories now are all highlights – climbing mountains, traipsing around London with my sister without being a tired, blistered wreck afterwards, wearing nice clothes, making SPECTACULAR friends…

While we’re on the subject of friends I wanted to show you something I made for the incredible Dave who has just received his Diamond Member award at Slimming World. That means he’s been within target range for a whole year (read about it here).

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Those words? Absolutely true! I honestly don’t know if I’d have done half as well without having his blog to read, let alone his unending support and encouragement. Diamond geezer for sure.

I’ve been feeling frustrated with myself for my lack of progress lately, but I know when I look back I’ll hardly remember that at all.

I just need to keep going, and keep enjoying myself along the way.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Plot

Last Wednesday marked a whole year since me and Steve first went walking together at what is now my favourite park, so I painted him a little card to mark the occasion.

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It depicts the hill of doomwhich neither of us has been able to run up without stopping so far, but is also one of my favourite places to pause and take a picture. In fact we were there today.

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You may notice that I used artistic licence to get the castle in the picture, which is just out of shot to the right. So sue me!

I was taking a walk into town this morning and had just closed my exercise ring on my Apple watch when a message popped up from Steve. He was asking if I wanted to meet him at the park. I stopped in my tracks and turned around whilst ringing him to say ‘hell yes!’

As such I’ve had double the amount of exercise I intended for today, which is good because from a health point-of-view the weekend didn’t go so well and I have some catching up to do.

I totally lost the plot, and some bad habits returned. I’m determined to make it a temporary return though. On Saturday, before work, Steve needed to pop and see his friend José. He said I probably wouldn’t want to come, what with having work and all. I shouldn’t have gone – sensible Hayley would have stayed behind and rested before doing an 8-hour night shift. Sensible Hayley wasn’t home though.

I really like this particular friend, although I’d only met him once before, plus I knew Steve’s son and his girlfriend would be there who are also just the best people. That’s my defence and I’m sticking to it! While I think of it, this is in contrast to a little under a year ago when I was absolutely terrified at the thought of meeting Steve’s son because I was so shy. Now I’m thinking of launching a photography business where I’ll voluntarily be dealing with lots of strangers. Mental. Anyway, I digress…

By the time we got back to mine Steve was coming down with something and I was absolutely cream crackered. Steve went home and I ordered… takeaway pizza.

On Sunday, the first day of my weekend, Steve texted to say he was really feeling poorly and that he wouldn’t be able to come over. I decided to make the most of it and sat down to binge watch the second half of the series The Haunting of Hill House. I watched this alone because Steve wasn’t into it and it didn’t make it on to our shared watch list, so it was the perfect opportunity. The only problem is that after the pizza incident I didn’t really stop eating and drinking for the whole damn weekend.

On Monday I deeply regretted the food side of things, but I decided to eat a couple of things I’ve been seriously craving for weeks, and I think I have it out of my system now. The worst part is that I ditched my Slimming World group because I wasn’t feeling up to it at all. In itself it’s not a good idea, but I know how I bloat and I just couldn’t handle seeing a 10lb gain on the scales.

I’m really cross with myself that I was so determined to get to target by the end of my 12 week countdown, yet I’ve given myself such a huge setback. It certainly isn’t over yet though, so let’s see what next weigh-in brings now I’m totally back on it and fighting again. It’s still doable!

Foodwise it was a three-day black hole, but on the other hand I’m really pleased with myself that I had such a productive weekend. When I eat badly and feel guilty, it makes me want to do absolutely nothing, but I forced myself to do the things that needed to be done and I felt so much better for it.

I put some things up for sale on Shpock, hoping to avoid lots of post office runs, but I’ve given that up as a bad job because there are just too many time-wasters. I’ve had so many no-shows, even for something that was only £3!

I have three or four big items that have to be collection only, but other than that I’ll have to take the time to eBay things properly. Ah well, it was worth a try, and at least I’ve made a start.

After a trip to the tip (the recycling centre) I went to see my dad. Getting out of the house was a good idea and I was feeling a bit better so I then edited my 200 favourite phone pictures from 2018 down into 50 6×4 prints, which didn’t take as long as I thought it would now that the keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop are second nature to me.

I did two lessons for my Wedding Photography diploma, I did my washing, I learned how to use a camera my friend has lent me (more on that at a later date) had excellent quality time with Pea and best of all I got my nan’s sewing machine out to make a new home for all of my pins.

It’s been much too long since I last had it out but weirdly I remembered how to thread it and it wasn’t too long before I knocked this up, using one of Pea’s old perches instead of a piece of dowling. I cleaned the poops off of it first, I assure you.

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It was a little bitter-sweet though, because it reminded me of how much I would have had in common with my nan if she hadn’t died just as I’d become an adult. If she’d still been alive now we would have been such good friends.

Bummer.

Anyway, there’s nowt to do but carry on, and after just half a day back on plan I’m already feeling tip top once more.

Here’s to a good week.

Hayley x

Buzzing!

Remember I said I was working ten shifts in a row? Well it’s all done now. I expected it to be hell on toast, but as I’ve been getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating well and generally looking after myself, it was a breeze. In fact it was miles easier than doing a 4-day-week not so long ago.

The best part of all though was (is) the four-day weekend which I’m still enjoying now. Friday I hardly sat down and got an absolute ton of stuff done. I did a couple of errands for Steve, I had a massive clear out in the kitchen, I went shopping, I dropped off seven bags of stuff at the charity shop, I did my laundry, I cleaned Pea’s cage and I vacuumed. Then Steve came over and I cooked him dinner. Phew!

On Saturday my little sister came to visit, and I was supposed to drop her off at home. As it happens her boyfriend fell off his bike and needed to go to the hospital, so I drove to hers, picked him up and then dropped them both off at A&E. That’s not exactly the whole story though. He fell off about two minutes from home, did a two hour bike ride, came home, showered, cleaned his bike, then realised that his arm was most probably broken. He’s one of the most educated and intelligent people I know whilst simultaneously being a complete tit. It turns out he broke the radial head in his arm (something to do with the elbow?) so no cycling for him for six weeks. It’s probably for the best.

Between then and the early hours of this morning I barely moved from my desk, but that’s not to say I haven’t been busy.

I have a ‘Project Life’ photo album where I print off and keep all of my favourite shots. I love the layout and it looks great, however it’s very time-consuming. First of all I decide what I want to print, specifically edit them for gloss paper, make sure I have the right number of portrait and landscape shots, then (the really fun part) I have to resize the portrait ones and stitch two together at a time in Photoshop so that they can be printed on 4×6 paper.

Let us not forget that when I collect the prints the little ones have to then be separated, plus I have to be awkward – I don’t like square corners so I then use a corner punch to round them off. No really.

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Since meeting Steve I have taken a lot of photos and had very little spare time, which has resulted in me being a year-and-a-half behind on my editing and printing. It took me hours, but the editing is finally done and some of the prints ordered. I only ordered 36, because that’s how many prepaid print credits I had left. The rest will have to wait until I get my March pay.

Only my best DSLR shots and/or special events make it into the main album, so now I ‘only’ have literally thousands of phone shots to go through. I want them to be even smaller than 2×3 prints (I’ll show you what I’m doing with them at a later date) so that’s going to take even more editing, but I’m getting the hang of it and my workflow is, well, flowing.

I’m going to stay on top of it from now on. Honest.

This morning I was up at 6am to be at a local park for sunrise. My brother asked me if I had a camera he could borrow that would be suitable, but I knew if he just trusted the automatic settings it would be overexposed. The best solution was for me to meet him there (he cycled) so I could take the picture myself.

Unfortunately the light index was rubbish meaning that the photo isn’t very interesting, but it was still sort-of nice to get out in the painfully cold fresh air. I had thermal gloves on and I swear I was on the verge of getting frostbite. It felt like it anyway.

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There just weren’t enough little clouds for it to be a decent shot. Ho hum.

After returning home I loaded the car up for a trip to the local recycling centre, visited the farm shop for a giant Spanish onion, super cheap sprouts, some yummy looking kale and an argument debate at the checkout with a man who said you only see fat people at Slimming World so it can’t possibly work. Then I legged it home just in time for my photography lesson.

Yep, you read that right. Some years ago I made a really excellent decision. I did a foundation diploma in photography for £20 (online) with the Shaw Academy and once I’d finished I found I’d caught the bug. I thought about simply signing up for the advanced course, but instead I bought a package which means I get access to all of their courses for the rest of my life. I think I paid somewhere between £300 and £400, and it was worth every penny just for the two courses I’ve done so far.

Since technology changes so fast and there’s something new in the photography world every other minute, I thought it would be good to be able to revisit the course as and when I please.

When my friend asked me to photograph his wedding I logged in with the intention of redoing the advanced course, just for a refresher, but then I noticed that they do a specific course in wedding photography. BONUS!

My first lesson went brilliantly and I’m positively buzzing with excitement. Until recently I never would have considered it, but I’ve decided to try and do something with my skills, and already I’m seeing benefits from putting out the feelers.

I spoke to a friend yesterday who invited me to an event in Birmingham in May. Just on the off chance (because he knows A LOT of people) I asked if he knows the organisers and if he could find out whether I’d be allowed to take a professional-type camera in just for personal use. I need to practice shooting with a flash in low-light conditions because until now I’ve purely been in love with natural light, plus I need to start building a portfolio. He thinks that wouldn’t be a problem, but even better than that, he can probably get me in for free if I agree that they can use the photos I take.

Experience AND exposure? Erm, YES PLEASE!

In addition to the photography stuff, when I’m done with the wedding course there are a ton of other courses I can take to help with the business-side of things such as promotion and whatnot.

Until now I never thought I had anything to offer in an industry that’s already so competitive, but I think my style is developing and that I have something quite out-of-the-ordinary to offer.

Whatever direction I decide to go in, what I know right now is that I’m EXCITED at the uncertainty of it all for the first time in my life.

ANYTHING could happen!

Speaking of which it’s time for weigh in. Talk amongst yourselves…

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I lost 3 lbs! I had one of those weeks where I felt like I hadn’t lost much, and I was concerned that my change in schedule over the weekend and the fact I’ve barely moved would have an impact but it seems I’m home and dry.

I now weigh 13st 0.5lbs and I’m tantalisingly close to being back into the 12 stone bracket. Not to worry though, I’ll have that next week for sure.

Group overran this evening so I’d best get on with cooking dinner before I start trying to eat my keyboard.

Thanks for reading,

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