Duxford

I’ve got a lot to do today but since most of it needs to be done in my room, and I don’t want to disturb Pea (who is eating her breakfast) I thought I’d settle down with a cup of coffee and get a blog post on the go.

Yesterday I had the most wonderful time with my little brother. I took him to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, as that dude basically loves everything that either has an engine, makes loud noises, goes fast, or has some combination of all of those things.

I’m not exactly fussed about those things, except for maybe one time when I had an Alfa Romeo and had a sports exhaust put on it. The only reason I did that was because it worked out cheaper, but it did sound amazing and I did rather enjoy my boy racer phase.

But as far as planes go, it’s not really my bag. However I’m always up for an opportunity for learning about new things and a chance to get a good photo.

What I did find is that I’m absolutely in awe that anything ever got into the air. Especially as things became more advanced. How did anyone figure out how to make a jet engine? Especially the ones made before computers came along. I figure it must be witchcraft. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

I’m also shocked that my brother knows as much about these things as he does. Sometimes he makes up pretend facts to see how much he can get away with making me believe, so I’ve developed a healthy level of suspicion for anything he says.

But yesterday he was telling me all kinds of facts about aircraft and engines, only for us to turn the corner and see exactly what he’d said written on the information boards. Clever little git he is.

My personal highlight though was the ‘trying on’ section, which just reinforced how important it is to me to keep my weight under control. I love dressing up, which becomes much harder in larger sizes. The first jacket below only just went on, but the other jacket actually looked really good on me. Part of me (a big part) wanted to walk out wearing it and hope no one would notice.

I don’t want to ever have to miss the opportunity to look ridiculous in public, although the following hat would look the same at any size I think.

Yup. Rocking it. Although they had my number by this point so it was safely chained up so I couldn’t steal it. Damn.

Another thing I found out is that some of the visitors are brutal. There’s a board where you can write on a piece of card about ‘what aviation has done for you’. A lot of it is what you’d expect – people being saved by air ambulances and getting to visit beloved family members abroad. Others went the other way…

Jesus Helen-aged-14, that’s a bit dark, and the ‘kerboom!’ may have been in poor taste. I suppose I shouldn’t really judge after my fashion sesh though…

In all we spent over five hours there, and I didn’t get bored once. My brother on the other hand said he’d quite happily live there. I think that means he liked it.

Today is just a sorting and cleaning day for me. Pea should have finished her meal by now, so it’s time to go and clean up her poops. At least life is never dull.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Love Conkers All

Aha, I’m BACK! Where have I been you might ask?

I don’t rightly know.

In fact I didn’t realise just how far I’d wandered until I returned. I started feeling a bit more like myself last week, but as I said in my last post, part of me was waiting for it all to go wrong again. I certainly wasn’t going to be counting any chickens before they’d hatched, not this time.

But the weird old month of August did its thing – I set some boundaries, I accepted some things that couldn’t be changed, I stopped waiting for apologies and explanations that I knew wouldn’t come, and I started living for myself. It was like my inner self knew that it was safe to come back home.

Now we’re back together again we’re stronger than ever, and we are finally on the same page as far as weight loss goes. I might not be miserable where I am now, but I’m not prepared to settle for simply ‘not being miserable’. I can do be better than that. I can make a really good life for myself. Can and WILL.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much conflicted. I so, so want a world without diet culture, because there’s so much wrong with it. Most of us know that the vast majority of people who go down that road end up right back where they started or, worst case scenario, with a serious eating disorder. I know that my relationship with food is not a good one, and I know that as a dieter (especially one who does it in the public domain) I’m part of the problem.

Whenever I post a before and after picture, I’m sending out a subconscious message to everyone who still looks like my ‘before’ picture that they need to change. I’m making an assumption that because my life was horrible at that size, then theirs must be too. I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want the way society views fat people to carry on as it is now.

On the other hand (and this is where I start myself running around in circles) I am SO GOSH DARN DETERMINED to get back to 12 stone 10 pounds and nothing will stop me doing that! I want to fit into my nice clothes that have become too small. I want to continue to take advantage of vastly more clothing options than I used to have. I want to continue to be able to find things that fit in charity shops. I JUST WILL NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.

I’m aware that I’m a hypocrite, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept about myself for now. That’s probably the least harsh thing I’ve thought about myself in recent times, so there’s progress there at least.

So it’s a new season, a new start, and autumn is coming in strong! I’m off work this week and I’ll be honest, I’m currently sitting in the garden wearing warm socks, a cosy cardigan, with a lovely glass of red wine at my side. The big push to get back to my target weight starts properly next week when I don’t have so much going on. Until then I’m simply refusing to give it too much headspace.

My disentanglement from my last post continues however, because despite what I’ve eaten I’ve still managed to hold on to the enormous value of going for a lovely walk. Typically if I’ve eaten rubbish I default to a ‘what’s the point’ attitude, but there’s always a point.

My most recent walk was intended as an experiment. I devised a new route that I think will take me about 45 minutes, but the last time I did it, it took me about an hour as I kept stopping to take photos.

What I want is a decent, shortish route that I enjoy walking so that I can do it every day and still fit in all of my arty pursuits, which I am loving with an absolute passion right now.

So Saturday morning, straight after work I told myself sternly – ‘no photos, ‘kay? Let’s just get a move on and see how long it takes’. 30 seconds later, however…

Well! I can’t be blamed, can I? It was a beautiful morning and there was so much to see! The route that took me an hour last time took me an hour-and-a-half this time round. Oh well, it’s not like the park is going anywhere.

I did nearly get stuck in a ditch trying to find my way into a field isn’t officially part of the park and that was full of early-morning mist. The sun was hitting it just perfectly, but I couldn’t get the shot. After escaping from the deceptively deep ditch, I took a detour thinking I could get through but I hit a dead end – a little cul-de-sac in the woodland with one special feature. A frikkin horse-chestnut tree!

I don’t find a decent conker in years then I stumble across this untouched treasure trove! Quite simply, I am winning at life.

As I mentioned before, my arty pursuits are becoming so much fun. Trying to make something used to exhaust me, because I always found it hard to push through the ‘ugh this is going to be sh*t’ moments. From what I can tell I think everyone has those. What I’ve found is that things always look a bit pants halfway through, so now I just accept it as part of the process.

Yesterday I spent all day making a really cool present for my brother. I’ll share that in a couple of weeks once his birthday has come and gone.

What I can share now is my journal progress which I’m oh so happy with! This morning I woke up at 3am, unable to get back to sleep, so I painted this whilst watching the new Netflix series of The Dark Crystal.

I absolutely adored those weird 80’s movies, whilst simultaneously being rather terrified of them. In fact David Bowie in Labyrinth used to scare the absolute bejaysus out of me and often I couldn’t watch it without my mum in the room. I kinda miss being that kind of scared of things, it was fun!

A few birdies later and it was time for a check up at the dentist, which is testament to how much better I’m being at taking care of myself. My check up was a year overdue, but thankfully no treatment is needed so after a clean I went on my merry way.

After that I went to visit an old work friend for coffee and a catch up, but I needed some serious nap time when I got home. Which again will leave me awake at stupid hours when I have another early start tomorrow. Ah well, what can you do? I’m taking my brother somewhere fun as a surprise, so more on that after the event.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

City Limits

Before I get into things I’m so pleased I can finally share the below picture. It has now been received by Mr Daveywankenobie and partner so I can show you what is possibly the loveliest thing I’ve ever made.

Although I haven’t met said partner yet she seems absolutely wonderful, and I couldn’t have made something that adorable without their relationship as inspiration. #relationshipsgoals right there, and whilst in general it’s not helpful to compare yourself to others, I refuse to settle for anything less than what they have in future. Because I’m worth it! Check out Davey’s recent blog post on that very subject in fact -it’s a good ‘un.

Today I’m still feeling upbeat after a lovely day out with my little sister yesterday. Since she’s off work for an obscene amount of time (bloody teachers!) it has now become tradition for us to go to London for tasty treats every summer holiday.

We headed to Camden because we wanted to go somewhere from our extensive list of vegan places to try, and that’s where Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner happens to be situated.

It wasn’t open for a while (we like to start early) so we had a mosey around Camden. First up was the garden centre, which puts the measly little sections you get at B&Q and Homebase to shame. I’m fast transitioning to a plant lady, so I thought I’d get some inspiration.

Look at that. Actual olives on trees!

Then we went into Cyberdog which I’ve seen from the outside many times, but my sister, who has been in before, suggested I give it a go.

It’s full of flashing lights and neon rave attire, but the most interesting part is the downstairs section. Unfortunately no photography is allowed in that part, but let’s just say it’s not every day your sister takes you to a sex shop. Camden never ceases to surprise!

Changing the subject briefly, apart from being worried about letting my friend down when I photograph his wedding, I was also feeling worried about what I’d wear since I’ve put on weight. I don’t feel comfortable in anything I have already so I’ve been on the lookout for something in a larger size for the occasion. I also didn’t want to put pressure on myself to attempt losing a large amount of weight before the 7th of September. That kind of thing never works out for me.

It felt like admitting defeat though, and I wasn’t feeling great about it.

Since I like vintage-style things, my sister pointed out a clothes shop called Collectif. We went inside and they had so much stuff I liked. I picked up a few things to try on, but when I came across a beautiful blue lace dress everything else went by the wayside. This was the one.

I tried it on and I felt fabulous. I didn’t even care that it says it’s a size 18, which I haven’t bought for a long time. It doesn’t matter, it’s just a number! What matters is it fit me properly and has a beautiful swishy skirt that is so much fun to twirl in.

On the label it said reduced from £125 to £43.75, but when I got to the checkout they applied a further reduction. I paid just £31.20 for this gorgeous piece of clothing. Sweet!

After a coffee the diner was finally open so we filled our tummies full of vegan junk. I had a burger and a peanut butter ‘milkshake’ while my sister went for the hotdog. It was all sooooo good, but the milkshake was heaven.

We absolutely had to go to Doughnut Time, because they ramped up their Biscoff doughnut (now called the David Hassel-Biscoff) and I’ve been hankering to try it ever since.

It was just the absolute best. I’ve never had anything like it before, but there’s so much sugar in there it’s probably best I only have one a year. Much more delicious and hefty than the last Biscoff doughnut I had.

After picking up some art supplies for an art day me and the sister have planned in the coming weeks, I was all Londoned out. After a while all the people start to get to me and I hit my limit, so we got ourselves back home just in time. It all worked out perfectly.

Although I ate a lot of junk yesterday, it’s a whole different ball game to a binge. It’s a case of eating junk because it’s delicious and I’m enjoying time with my sister, rather than shoving down crap because I feel sad and I’m trying, desperately trying, to smother my real feelings with food. It doesn’t exactly feel like that when I’m doing it, but when I consider what happened afterwards it feels like that’s what was going on.

Today I feel in control, and whilst I have a planned meal out this evening I’m not tempted to eat a pile of rubbish beforehand. This is a very good thing, because ordinarily it would be the perfect excuse. ‘Well I’m being naughty later so what’s the point in being good now?’

None of that today though. I’m too busy getting my s**t together and generally feeling good. No time for any nonsense!

The coming days are going to be good ones. Even though I’m back at work.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A Rock and a Hard Place

For some months I’ve been spending too much time with people who set great store by someone’s physical appearance. I’ve met people who I thought were quite nice only for a Facebook status to pop up saying something like obese people are a waste of space and should euthanised. They are of course now blocked, and although I am totally, passionately opposed to these kinds of views, because of the way I tend to put myself down, hearing/reading such things chipped away at my self-worth alarmingly quickly.

When I removed myself from that environment I found that a lot of my motivation to lose weight lately has been to keep others happy. Or perhaps it’s more a case of subconsciously trying to gain their approval, now I look back on it. When I came back to my senses, I took the brakes off and ate EVERYTHING, and I haven’t stopped since. This alone would be problematic, but since eating rubbish does nothing to help depression, my mood has plummeted. On top of that I’ve slipped back into binge eating behaviours with absolute ease, I feel like a failure, I need to retain some confidence to photograph my friend’s wedding and I’m terrified of letting him down. Every time that particular thought comes to mind I find myself back at the fridge door.

The rock is me knowing that my self-worth doesn’t stem from my weight or size, so I’ll eat what I want, right? The hard place is knowing that I’m not at a point yet where I can stop following a plan and just be a bit more relaxed – instead I immediately develop a huge problem with disordered eating.

I know, I know deep down that I want to be 12 stone 10 pounds. I want it for me, only for me, and I will stop at nothing to get there. I’ve had so many doubts about this lately, and in the back of my head I’ve been trying to think of a way out other than admitting that the only way I’ll get to where I want to be is by facing up to the mess I’ve made of the last year-and-a-half and starting over.

Well, not entirely over, I’m still 6.5 stone down from when I started, but you know what I mean.

I’m not going to make promises, because I’ve made promises to myself every day this week and I’ve broken every single one. I’m out with my sister tomorrow for vegan eats in the city, and I’m out for a meal Tuesday for my dad’s birthday. Once they are done with all I can do is try my hardest to truly have a fresh start.

Except I also have other events dotted around up until the 10th of September, and I don’t cope well with having things in the pipeline. After then I’m not making any plans unless they involve coffee, walking or art, all of which I can do with my favourite people. I’m going to do this, I know I’ll never be satisfied till I do.

It hasn’t been all bad though. Today I started my Christmas shopping record-breakingly early, although that was not my intention when I left the house this morning.

My brother and I went to seek out antiques, and that’s just what we found, at Battlesbridge Antiques Centre. There are loads of different traders there, but they were all much of a muchness. Antiques dealers are FLIPPING WEIRD. I found them all invariably unwelcoming, there were all kinds of odd smells that cannot be attributed simply to old stuff, and it was mostly junk that was waaaaay overpriced. Most strange of all was that they didn’t seem to want you to buy anything.

I overheard some people discussing whether their business would take off, while standing in the doorway blocking access to potential customers and ignoring people in the vicinity who clearly wanted to come in. We found this a lot, especially in the spaces that were especially cramped. Either the dealers wouldn’t let you in, or we couldn’t find them. It’s like… we would like to give you some money please?

If proof of strangeness is needed, consider this:

Definitely odd. It certainly wasn’t a wasted trip because as I say I managed to stumble across a present that a friend of mine will love, I took my brother to the motorbike museum (he’s a total bike nut) and I found a great place that my nerd friends will love. I shall take them all there one day, though perhaps not at the same time.

Behold, the Nerd Base!

Inside the Thundercats theme song was playing on a loop, there’s a life size model of Deadpool and I found loads of 80’s toys I’d forgotten I even had back in the day. Wicked!

As for buying old stuff I shall stick to the charity shops because to be quite honest I tend to find more interesting things in them than anywhere else. You just have to keep looking. Plus the staff are way nicer (and also actually in the shop).

In between the search for bargains, I really will keep trying to get it together. I’ll never give up!

Hayley x

The Beacon is Smaller

It took me a while to get around to this post, mainly because holiday mode morphed into EXTREME holiday mode, mixed with some EXTREME instances of attempting to eat my feelings.

That wasn’t my intention. I was going to face my gain (5.5lbs on. Damn) then get on with things. I would be in for another gain on Monday, but I can’t make group because my sister is visiting and I don’t want to have to rush off. It’s been too long since we had a proper catch up.

Tuesday I went with my brother to his fishing lake, which reinforced what I already knew – that fishing would never be for me even if I did think it would be a good idea to put a hook through something’s face, which I don’t. His biggest catch was a bream, which was absolutely smothered in horrifying goo. That’s normal apparently.

This was my view for the day. I was content to mainly sit and contemplate how I was going to tell my friend I no longer wanted him in my life (something I wanted to think carefully about as I don’t do well with confrontation) and attempt to get some colour on my milk bottle legs. Despite rotating regularly, the sun decided to give me two thin strips of sunburn on the front of my legs and nothing anywhere else. Strange.

This summer I’ve been brave and started baring my arms, and I want to do the same in the leg department at some point. However before I’m comfortable enough to do that I would like them to be slightly less pale. I’ll keep trying!

It was such a gorgeous day. The lake was teeming with butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and we were sat right opposite a little family of moorhens with two adorable little babies. Sadly I couldn’t get a good picture of those, but a damselfly did land right on me which was handy.

Later on, I did manage to speak to my friend and now that chapter of my life can be closed. I went for option B in the end – I explained why I had to do what I had to do, as hard as that was. Wednesday I had a cathartic day of sorting through pretty much everything I own, deciding what to throw, what to give away and what to sell at a boot sale.

It helped me sort through some feelings too, but to be honest I still feel awful about the whole situation. This person has caused a lot of pain in my life, and whenever I’ve taken gradual steps to protect myself in the recent past, it’s taken a while for me to adjust to the new state of affairs. This time I have to do the same thing, but I take comfort in the fact that this is the last time I ever have to do that. Then it’s over, finally. Only healthy friendships from here on in!

A walk with my little brother yesterday also helped. We started at Ivinghoe Beacon, which we first visited in April 2016. This was a few months before I started my current membership with Slimming World, and the first time I really started trying to get out into the world.

This is the beacon, and it seemed like such a huge undertaking for us at the time. We were so unfit, it really was a feat getting to the top. We went back again in April 2017 as part of preparing ourselves for climbing Snowdon, but even then it was still quite difficult.

Yesterday, it felt as if the beacon had shrunk. It was an absolute doddle! As much as I’ve struggled with my diet for over a year, at least I can say my fitness hasn’t suffered.

After scaling the beacon in no time at all, we then went on a 15 mile walk along The Ridgeway, which is a National Trust trail that starts at the beacon in Leighton Buzzard and ends 87 miles away in Wiltshire. People have been walking The Ridgeway for 5000 years, so although it’s pretty cool to walk the route and imagine what kind of people had been there before us (kings, knights, bandits, wenches, vikings…) the novelty of that wore off pretty quickly.

Although I’m ordinarily happy to keep walking until I drop, it was all a bit samey and we quickly became bored of traipsing through forest that all looked exactly like the last stretch we walked through. At least we know now though – The Ridgeway isn’t quite our bag and rather than try the next stretch of the trail it’s probably better if we look for something new for next time.

One thing that is pretty awesome is that we didn’t even sit down until we were about 8 miles in, and the only reason we stopped in the first place was so my brother could get the stones out of his boots. After that we didn’t stop again until the end of our 15 mile route. Even then we didn’t need to stop, it was just that we had arrived at a convenient place. That’s pretty impressive in my book.

Something that’s apparent is that we don’t have much luck with this part of the world – every time we’ve been here the weather has been awful and we got rained on, a lot. Although having said that it was quite refreshing!

Plus I did see a slug eating a mushroom, some cool fungus, and I had a fight with a tree. Now I have a lumpy head. The tree won.

On today’s agenda is making plans for staying on plan over the coming weeks and months, eating well, then this evening I’m off to the cinema for a nice, mindless zombie movie.

Perfect.

Hayley x

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:

IMG_6180

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