Holiday Mode: Engaged!

Yesterday I made a couple of mistakes. First of all, I agreed to do something I didn’t really want to do. I’m aware I’m being annoyingly cryptic, but I’m trying to find the sweet spot between telling you what’s been going on and airing my dirty laundry in public.

Sometimes the relationships we have with people (I’m primarily talking about friendships here) naturally run their course and you just end up drifting away from each other. Sometimes a person is toxic and although the friendship clearly isn’t a good one, it takes some sort of action to get things to their inevitable conclusion.

In my life I have one person who really isn’t good for me in any way, and although I’ve been seeing less and less of said person, for my own peace of mind I know it categorically has to be zero contact from now on. My options are a) block and ignore, or b) face up to it and explain to the person, then block. I feel like the bad guy in both of these scenarios.

After sticking to my guns and staying on plan whilst eating out at Wagamama Sunday afternoon (om nom nom, kare baruso ramen, 14 syns) when I got home I went for option c) eat a load of crap to bury my feelings. Ugh, so dumb. I wasn’t even hungry. I have a nice relaxing day planned tomorrow, so I shall choose which option (a or b, no more c!) to take then actually follow through with it.

In the meantime I’m not exactly looking forward to weigh in because not only did yesterday happen, I’ve also puffed up like a balloon again. I have sausage fingers! So it’s gonna be a gain, however it’s not so bad. I already have my next plan of action. Screw SP, I’m going back to my happy, carb-filled life. Rather than boost my weight loss, SP just gives me a tummy ache, so there’s no point in trying to do a whole week of it. I also know without a doubt that yesterday evening’s slip up is definitely confined to yesterday, and won’t be creeping into this lovely, fresh new week. Onwards and upwards, and no letting a bad few hours turn into a bad month.

So yes, it’s now holiday time! I’m not going away anywhere, but I am really going to enjoy this week. Last night I kicked things off by starting series three of Stranger Things. I intended to watch just one episode then go to sleep, however one episode escalated into the whole series. I liked the second series, but it didn’t blow me away, however the latest offering was right back to original form. Totally loved it. As such I ended up going to sleep at 3am. Oops!

Today I’d planned to do some sorting in my room, but instead I slept in very late and ran out of time. But hey, that’s what holidays are for right?

Now I have to get ready to go to group and find out what the damage is. I’ll update you tomorrow, hopefully from banks of a rather lovely lake.

Until then!

Hayley x

Right Buttock

In my last post I described myself as clumsy. I’d like to add ‘accident-prone’ to that as well, because clumsy just isn’t adequate.

I’ve been away this weekend, but before I went I hurt my fingers by accidentally punching a cupboard. I reached to get something out of it, missed, and somehow punched it instead. That’s just me.

On the long, long drive up to visit my friend my accident-proneness thankfully didn’t extend to the car, because I had quite enough trouble to be getting on with thank you very much. I haven’t had much luck with the M25 lately – last time I did a long journey I got stuck for hours as both sides of the motorway were closed while an injured child was helicoptered out and the police investigated.

This time an hour was added to my journey to avoid multiple crashes on the M25, and although in general I’m happy enough as long as traffic is moving, my new route sent me around the outskirts of London, which is nightmarish. Sirens everywhere, people cutting each other up left, right and centre, shouting, horns blaring, a set of traffic lights every five minutes… not fun.

Eventually I made it onto the M1 where a lorry had broken down in the middle lane of three particularly narrow lanes, in the middle of a huge stretch of roadworks, and was causing absolute havoc. Add another half-an-hour to my journey. Yay!

As these things go it wasn’t too stressful, because there was no particular time I had to be at my friends and for once in my life I wasn’t too desperate to pee. I arrived with dry underwear and plenty of time for us to do something fun.

The fun thing came in the form of disc golf, which is like golf but played with frisbees which you have to get into a metal basket. Golf is something I’ve never been the slightest bit interested in, so I wasn’t expecting to like disc golf either, but it was actually awesome!

The park it was in is absolutely beautiful, and I was doing loads of exercise without even realising it. It was also a gorgeous evening, so even a few mishaps couldn’t bring me down. In fact they added to the experience.

Before I went away I shared my location with my mother via an app on our phones, because I usually forget to tell her I’ve arrived safely or give any information as to what I’m actually up to. Shortly into the course I get a text from her:

‘It’s saying you’re in the river Avon. You’re not in the river Avon are you?’

Or something along those lines. My reply?

‘Well… I’m not in the Avon now.’

The thing about frisbees is, it’s really hard to get them to go where you want them to go. I’m also not very good at throwing things (weak arms) so one of my discs was almost guaranteed to go in the river. It didn’t go too far in, so I was getting that baby out!

It is nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t fall in.

Later on I lost a disc in a huge patch of nettles, and although I had to admit defeat, that didn’t stop me from trying.

I got stung. A lot.

There was plenty of laughing and plenty of swearing as I tried, and failed, to beat the nettles down with a stick whilst getting stung around the ankles. All good fun. Then later on, as it started to get dusky and the grass started to collect dew drops, I slipped whilst walking down a hill.

I always, ALWAYS land on my right buttock, and it ALWAYS hurts like hell. Once a boyfriend of mine picked me up. I was feeling pretty good because I’d lost quite a bit of weight at Slimming World at the time (the time I stopped going and ended up putting it all back on) but then he dropped me and, you guessed it. I landed on the right butt cheek. The annoying thing though is that it never bruises, so although it hurts for days afterwards I never have anything to show for it. Life is sometimes so unfair!

For the next day we had planned an epic canal walk, but sections of it were closed off for repair so we gave that a miss (for now, anyway) and just ended up doing a local route before heading back home to chill out while the rain eased off. My friend is just getting into walking and isn’t quite at the ‘all weathers no matter what’ stage.

Later on we just chose ‘a nice bridge’ as a place to aim for and ended up here.

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It’s not my usual way of doing things, but we did end up doing more than 20 miles over the course of the weekend, so I can’t really complain. As for me, I prefer to drive somewhere especially nice then explore from there rather than having to do a long trek through town first.

Sunday morning we went to a boot sale, which I was quietly optimistic about because people from that area seem to give away/sell much nicer stuff than I am used to at home. I have been on the lookout for a cheap Ikea POÄNG chair since I first sat in one over a year ago, at another friend’s house. He lives in the same area, and got his chair super cheap. The friend I was visiting also got his POÄNG chair locally and it was also super cheap. Surely it was my turn?

The boot sale turned out to be really small, but… there was someone selling one! They’re about £60 to buy new, but this one was going for £15. When I asked how much it was going for the seller informed me that a lady had just enquired about it and gone off to get her husband to carry it. However, since no cash had yet changed hands he was happy to give it to me. I felt a bit bad but, y’know, I’ve been waiting for sooooooo long and I wanted it sooooooo badly. So eff it. I now have my comfy chair! Plus I saved that poor chap from having to lug it around, because it really is heavy.

Now I’m back home again and feeling rather pleased with myself. My friend is getting healthy but he is still in the phase where he doesn’t want to give up the ‘nice’ things. Therefore he’s been trying to convince me (and himself) that we deserve the nice things, because we walked far.

My mindset is currently a million miles away from his, so I was able to say no over and over, to the suggestions of pizza, rhubarb crumble, chocolate, and (a favourite of mine) Wagamama. I could have fit a huge bowl of ramen (14 syns for my favourite one) into my day, however he had convinced me to go to a cafe for breakfast and I’d already used my syns for the day on wholemeal bread as the best option available to me was beans on toast.

On the return journey various crashes and holdups mercifully only added half-an-hour onto my trip, and I’d already prepared by packing Quorn vegan ham and cherry tomatoes as my car snacks.

I passed about 20 McDonald’s as I drove home, and I must admit it did take a lot to not stop off and order five portions of salty fries. No one would know, after all. But if I want to get to target this year I have to stay strong. So that’s what I did. When I got in I didn’t feel much like cooking, so I just whipped up a plate of Free pretend chicken and, exhausted, got myself to bed. After assembling my chair of course!

Although this weekend has been slightly lacking in the Speed Food department, I have stayed on plan overall and I’m dead chuffed with that.

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This morning I went out for a walk in the park whilst hoping that the fresh air would clear my head and let me remember where my GODDAMN KEYS ARE. Thankfully I have two cars (sounds fancier than it is) and most luckily the car keys don’t live on the same keyring. So I am still able to get out and about.

I only have one key to each car, so I really need to find them. They can’t have gone far, I drove the car home for eff’s sake! I’m really trying not to let it wind me up. That won’t help anything.

Several Hours Later…

The keys have been found! I sometimes put them on the water butt (as you do) whilst I’m carrying heavy things in through the back door. For some reason I decided to check in the clump of weeds wild poppies growing at the base and there they were! What a numpty.

I’m now back from weigh in. I’ve lost half a pound and I’m cheesed off, because it’s not an accurate reflection of my week. I’ve worked so damn hard, but clearly my body doesn’t know that and how I deal with this for the next seven days is pivotal to my success.

Normally I’d be thinking ‘what’s the point, may as well go and eat crap’ but deep down I know that if I just carry on, then it’ll likely show as a nice big loss on the scales next week.

Time to stop repeating past mistakes. I’ll just keep going.

Hayley x

By a Thread

Since I last posted I’ve been in a dark place. Me starting to feel a tiny bit better was then replaced by depression coming along and punching me right in the side of the head with all its strength – and I’m still reeling from the blow.

Notable achievements over the past week have been having a shower and being awake for a few hours in a row. The other day I even picked my post up from the floor. It sounds funny when I put it like that, but I’m not exaggerating. That was a big deal.

My ‘ordinary’ job has been quiet, which is lucky, so I have been going home early at every opportunity, though without pay. I know I can’t really afford it, and I feel guilty and scared about that, but also I know that being unconscious is the only thing that feels good at the moment and I’ll take any opportunity that will allow me to achieve that. What I dearly want from most from life right now is to be asleep. To be anything but feeling like this.

Oblivion please.

Eating well has gone out of the window and I skipped weigh-in on Tuesday partly because I genuinely didn’t have the energy and partly because I wasn’t in a fit state to interact with people, at least unless absolutely necessary. I wanted to go, but there’s only so much I can handle.

Somehow, on Monday night I managed to find the strength to make it to my own Slimming World group and deliver what seemed to be a perfectly acceptable new member talk. Huh. Although I suspected I had it in me, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it feeling like… this. But I did. Cool.

Let me try and explain what it’s like. I know things, logically – for instance I went out for a walk last Thursday and I knew that the cool breeze was lovely on my face, I knew that the sun was making everything look pretty, and that going for a walk is good for me. I knew it but I couldn’t feel it.

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I took a picture. See, pretty yes?

Afterwards I went for a really nice meal at a pub down the road. The food was super fancy but in a down-to-earth setting with no snooty staff. I had a chocolate bomb and the waitress came round with a teeny tiny saucepan full of sauce to pour over the top, melt the shell and reveal the delicious insides. It came with real flowers on top. I ate a flower. Normally that would have thrilled me, but not then. Damn.

Today a friend very kindly came out with me for moral support while I was putting up some posters for my Slimming World group. It went a lot better with company, and I am feeling more confident that I’ll find some hidden reserves in order to give my group the service they deserve when I launch on the 24th. They really do deserve it, they are special people.

In the meantime, after sobbing down the phone to the doctor’s receptionist my appointment has been moved from next Wednesday to this Saturday morning. I’m genuinely counting down the days. One more to to get through once tonight is over with.

I know I won’t feel better straight away, but I need to know that something is going to get better.

I was looking back at photos from last year and the end of November was the last time I can say I felt really, properly happy. I really want to get back to feeling like I was then, and looking like I was then, too. Blimey I felt skinny!

I might be hanging on by a thread right now, but the truth is I know deep down that it’s a deceptively strong thread. I will be back to how I felt in November sooner or later. It’s testament to how much I’ve changed though because although I slip (more often than not these days it seems) apparently gone are the days when I completely give up.

So if you’re not feeling tip top right now, just like me, then give yourself a pat on the back for still putting one foot in front of the other, even if it is a tiny step.

We’ll get there.

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

It’s Really Happening

Despite all of the preparations I’ve been making for relaunching my Slimming World group on the 24th of June, nothing made it seem quite so real as picking up my equipment from head office.

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I’m just back from my foundation training, which was an intensive three-day course. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still loads more to learn, but this is the last bit of official training I get until my group opens. Until then it’s a case of practise, practise and practise some more.

The training was second-to-none, and I just wasn’t prepared for how bloody hilarious my trainer would be. She is absolutely superb at what she does – I couldn’t have asked for better.

It’s also been a week of exciting things for me. I never really have much occasion to dress up (with the recent Swingamajig shenanigans being a notable exception) so it was nice to have to dress smart for my training. I felt pretty fab in the three different outfits I bought.

Who am I kidding? I didn’t bring three outfits at all, it was more like eight, because I have nice things to choose from now. It’s still a novelty, and I’m still extremely chuffed at my first ever outfit from Topshop. I could never get anything that fit from there until now.

It didn’t really register at first, but this is the first time I’ve stayed at a hotel on my own, the first time I’ve travelled for ‘work’ on my own, and the first time I’ve eaten in a restaurant on my own.

If that wasn’t enough I also went swimming IN PUBLIC for the first time since 2008. When I went down to the pool there were other people in there (very scary) and they all had their mobile phones even though there was a sign saying no phones allowed.

Personally I think that rule should have been enforced, because I did feel really uncomfortable knowing that someone could take a picture of me if they wanted to. I went ahead and did it anyway though!

When I think back to how little confidence I used to have, I can hardly believe I did any of these things. There’s another layer to all of this though, which is that I’ve been seriously struggling with my mental health again. I had some great times while I was away. I met some wonderful people, I laughed, I learned, I found out new things about myself… but at the same time it has been such hard work because I’m feeling so desperately low. It’s like trying to run though custard.

I am rather proud of myself for lifting my head high and just getting on with it (private meltdowns notwithstanding), but in a way I feel cheated out of the fabulous few days I should have had. At any other time I would have been bouncing off the ceiling right now. As it is I’ve been listening to a constant tirade of ‘you’re stupid, you’re ugly, no one will want to come to your group, no one likes you, you’re an idiot, you don’t know what you’re doing, stupid, stupid, STUPID‘.

All of that from my own gosh darn brain.

It seems unfair.

So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to go to the doctors, and I’m going to speak to my Slimming World manager, just to let her know that I’m struggling. Because if there’s one thing I’ve taken away from all this, it’s that everyone in the company genuinely cares.

The same goes for the members (not that I’ve met all of them). On my first day of training I was feeling particularly nervous because I hadn’t made any friends yet, but it wasn’t long before I spotted a familiar face on the wall of my particular training room.

It was only my friend Dave! *read his blog here, you won’t regret it*

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This little coincidence really did perk me up for the rest of the day, and, as the real Dave (as opposed to photo-on-the-wall-accepting-his-Man-of-the-Year-award Dave) does on a regular basis, reminded me that I’m not alone.

I have my ups as well as my downs, so I’m sure it won’t be long until the fog clears and I can look back and truly appreciate the experiences of the last few days.

But first? I need to get a damn good sleep. Everything feels better after a good kip.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Can I Can’t I

The last two weeks have been a mixture of feeling like I can take on the world and feeling like nope, I’ve definitely bitten off more than I can chew and moving to Siberia would be a fantastic idea. In order to avoid total meltdown I’ve been doing a fair old bit of reflecting, soul-searching and generally figuring-stuff-out-edness.

It’s all going to be fine.

I must say I’m still feeling perky after the mood-boosting effects of Swingamajig. The cool thing is that I felt like I was living purely in the moment, probably for the first time in my life. So much so that I never even realised it was happening until I looked back on it. After all if I was reflecting at the time then I wouldn’t have actually been living in the moment now would I?

I hadn’t realised – the whole weekend the only time I was thinking about my appearance was when I was deciding which of my dresses I liked the best, or which mad hat to purchase. My weight didn’t come into it, and it was so freeing because I was able to simply enjoy myself.

Check out the finished article from the photo booth. Possibly my most favouritist photo EVER.

At the other end of the spectrum my first night as a Slimming World consultant is coming up fast. I’ve been experiencing a little bit of anxiety about it, and I think I’ve figured out why. You see, I’ve spent my entire life avoiding the very possibility of actually trying for anything, mostly because things (all the things) are scary and until now I would do anything possible to not put myself in a scary situation in the first place.

So here I am, volunteering (VOLUNTEERING!) to stand up in front of a group of 50+ people to help them in their attempts to lose weight.

Me. I did that.

The thing about never trying anything, is that you can never fail at anything either. Of course deep down I don’t think I will fail, but still there’s that nagging little voice in the back of my head regardless. I’ve been working hard and currently it’s a whisper, although it is a little relentless.

Do you know what has helped though? Right now, I feel fabulous! My fun weekends were great and all but I’ve really noticed the difference in my state of mind after not having any alcohol or crappy food for two weeks. A BIG difference. That’s down to just under two weeks being fully back on plan. Last week I lost 6.5lbs, and although I have the usual pre-weigh in nerves I should get another good result tomorrow I reckon.

Rather than this being yet another desperate attempt for my to try and claw my way back on to the wagon, this time I’m really feeling it. I’ve been making a special effort to have more Speed food, which I think has actually given me more energy, and I’ve made an even more special effort to actually try some new recipes. One was coronation chickpeas which is a definite winner and also much cheaper than my usual grub.

Since I’ve been so busy, one thing that has suffered is my Body Magic. I haven’t been nearly as active as I would have liked, but I was studying for a few diplomas and allowing myself to get stressed about it (unnecessarily so) so I put everything else apart from eating properly on the back-burner.

Unsurprisingly I shouldn’t have worried quite so much, although there is a lot of important stuff to remember so it’s not to be taken lightly. I definitely slowed my own progress by spending too much time fighting negative thoughts, which made it all the harder for me to absorb new information. Thanks for that, Brain.

I finished my diplomas on Thursday so this morning straight after my night shift I allowed myself a nice treat and got to the park and get some walking in. ‘Twas long overdue, and I can’t put off my own wellbeing while I try to get myself organised.

I’ve been very much enjoying my new specs and the macro capabilities of my new iPhone. To be honest I had no other reason for getting new phone than serious photo jealously. I have a problem!

Although I’ve been periodically questioning my abilities, one thing I haven’t had any doubt about is whether Slimming World is the employer for me. I cannot begin to describe the support and generosity of my fellow consultants, even though there’s nothing in it for them.

Today I had a lovely gift from my old consultant, Amanda (which I will show you when I post photos of my first night) and a whole load of stuff from her friend Viv who is a former consultant. When she stepped down (not through a lack of love for the job, just a lack of time due to other commitments) she donated a whole load of her stuff to me which will save me a ton of time, money and energy. Plus it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to how my original consultant, Lynn, helped me so much in the beginning (and middle) and how she was the first person to see the glimpse of a future consultant in me. She believed I could do it waaaaay before anyone else did. I want to find a nice way to thank all of these lovely people.

I have so many odd bits and bobs to do, I’m finding it next to impossible to get properly organised, but when I put that aside I feel the excitement coming back. It’s important I don’t forget the reason for it all.

Now I have just a three days left before my proper training starts at Slimming World head office. Now that I’m really looking forward to, because everyone says it’s awesome. I’ll get as much of the bits and bobs done as I can before heading off, then I’ll put everything else out of my mind until I’m back. I need to re-harness that power of living in the moment and just enjoy the experience!

I’m heading up to Derby the day before to, hopefully, have a good old soak in the tub (I’ve requested a room with a bath, let’s keep everything crossed I get one) and I’ll DEFINITELY be going for a swim in the free, on-site pool. Well I’ve been talking about it for long enough haven’t I?

I’ll be blogging again soon, because that along with Body Magic is something that’s really important to me and very high on my list of priorities. I need to make time for it, for my own wellbeing.

On that note, although it’s not even 9pm I’m off to bed. It’s a busy day tomorrow, and I’m actually MAKING something from scratch to take to group in the evening. Watch this space!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Swingamajigging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Book Depression

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

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

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

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

It. Was. Amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Murphizzle Poppizzle Foshizzle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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