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

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

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Someone asked me a question the other day, which I don’t believe was meant in a concerned, sincere way. It was this: why do you have to eat a whole pizza? Why can’t you just have one slice? Why can’t you just have a little bit of what you fancy?

If there wasn’t anger and accusation behind those words, I would have answered it. But for my own sake and anyone else who struggles with ‘a little bit of what you fancy’, I’ve given it some thought.

First of all, I don’t have to, not really. In theory, it’s completely within my power to just have a little bit. I’ve done it before, though admittedly not often, and on those occasions it has meant that I’ve been able to enjoy social events revolving around food and/or drink without feeling deprived. What’s more, I’ve invariably surprised myself and lost weight come the next weigh in.

There’s a lot to be said for simply being sensible, but if it were that easy then I would never have had a problem with my weight now would I?

It’s a many-layered problem. Since I was a kid any situation slightly out of the ordinary meant FOOD as far as I was concerned. Family party? BUFFET! Holiday? Cooked breakfasts and McDonald’s. Funeral? BUFFET! Visiting a family member? WHAT’S IN THEIR FRIDGE? So as soon as I arrange to do anything, the first thing that pops into my mind is ‘what nice thing can I eat?’

One thing I’m finding it really hard to get away from is the mentality of eating as much ‘nice’ stuff as I can before getting back on my so-called diet. This is ridiculous, because Slimming World especially really discourage this way of thinking. No food is banned, so there’s simply no reason to have to binge on it when you’re being naughty. You can have it any time (in moderation).

That’s the hard part, isn’t it. When I eat something nice I want to eat it till I feel sick, and I experience a genuine feeling of euphoria as I’m doing it. It’s like a drug. But the comedown is oh so bad. There’s a lot of guilt, and that makes it all the harder to get back on plan. When I feel that amount of shame it’s hard to get into a positive mindset which makes eating healthily that much easier. It’s difficult to feel good about what you’re doing when you see it as desperately making up for a terrible mistake.

What’s more, there’s also the troublesome fact that I’m an emotional eater. Happy? Let’s celebrate with food! Sad? Let’s commiserate with food! I’m getting better at this in recent years, but I’m far from perfect. Miles away actually.

The way I see it, I have a two options. I could not eat the ‘high risk foods’ ever again, as my old consultant used to call them. If I don’t have them for a while (cake, ice cream, pizza etc) then I do find it easier to avoid them as time goes on.

Or, I could really and truly learn, once and for all, how to be sensible with food.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tried to do this and failed, especially since I started blogging. I’d write a post about it, saying how determined I was to just have one meal off plan then get back on it the next day.

If we look at my track record then the odds are not great. I fail many more times than I succeed. That’s doesn’t mean I’m giving up though.

There are things I want to do, places I want to go, and I would dearly love to be able to make decent choices at the same time.

I’m out Sunday night, and I want to have a few spirits with low-calorie mixers. This seems perfectly doable, but my danger area is the Sunday morning beforehand. I tell myself I’m bound to screw up so I might as well eat half a loaf of bread with peanut butter and jam for breakfast. I’m not exaggerating, it really would be in the region of half a loaf.

I’m going out with my sister on the 12th for various non-food related pursuits, but she suggested checking out a vegan burger place I’ve wanted to sample for months and months. I can do the just-eating-the-burger part, but when I get home I’ll start to feel guilty about it which will lead to the ‘eff it all’ thoughts.

When I dress up as Mary Poppins I’ll take some food with me but I’m not sure how long I’ll be there and when I’ll be able to eat. If I have to eat out at any point I want to be able to make a sensible, well-informed choice.

Then we have Swingamajig, where food will be largely of the takeaway kind for an entire weekend. When faced with a load of food stalls, I want to be able to make a wise choice. When it comes to breakfast at the hotel, I want to ask for grilled veg and beans, instead of cracking and asking for slice after slice of fried bread with greasy mushrooms or who even knows what.

I can do this, it’s within the realms of possibility. I’m choosing to see it this way – the coming five weeks are a perfect opportunity for me to practice doing those things. I think it’s like exercising a muscle – the more I do it, the stronger I’ll become.

Deep down, although I really want to do all of these things, part of me is already convinced of my failure. That makes me want to avoid the fun stuff altogether. I don’t want to live my life that way.

So I’m daring to imagine that things could actually go well, that I can have my cake and eat it. How wonderful would that be?

I will try again, because I don’t want to live my life avoiding all of the foods I enjoy. Doing that is the absolute last resort.

So how has life been in general? Now I think of it, I’ve already managed to prove my own point. On Thursday I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend for a quiet couple of drinks, but he had an insane hangover from the night before and couldn’t make it.

Before I even knew this, I ate a load of rubbish when I got home from work in the morning. Same old, same old. I’m bound to blow it later, I thought. I’d been looking forward to that afternoon, so when I found out I wasn’t going socialising after all, I ate more crap. So silly.

Friday my mum had a little operation and despite us only being at the hospital for a few hours, when we might have been there all day, I used it as an excuse to… eat more crap.

Saturday I kind of came to my senses and ate a bit better, then Sunday it was a mixed bag.

After sleeping for just an hour and a half, I went to a boot sale with my friend. It was so cold, we left after covering about half of it, but only after we’d picked up some sweet treats for ourselves from the cake stall.

Then I cooked a nice roast dinner for mother’s day, which wasn’t too bad (in fact I had a sensible portion), and I didn’t eat again till the next day. By this point I really wasn’t feeling great about going out with the work chaps in the afternoon/evening.

For the first time in ages I did that thing where you try on a load of outfits and feel rubbish in all of them – I very nearly blew it off. Instead I forced myself to go and actually had a fantastic time! I had a few G&T’s with slimline tonic, but when we arrived at a place doing 2-for-1 cocktails I confess to making the most of the Pornstar Martini. In my defence passion fruit is surely good for you…

I’m a bit of nightmare when I go on these nights out as I don’t really have an off-switch, but one of our group overdid it before I got the chance to so all of us from our part of Essex escorted him home in a cab. We never leave a man behind.

I woke up the next day without a real hangover, just feeling a little tired, and I stayed on plan the whole day. I didn’t even feel guilty about the night before, probably because I had so much fun. I was feeling the love from my work buddies.

That brings us right up to weigh in, and miracle of miracles… I lost 1.5 lbs! It just goes to show, the things I did right (at least in this case) made up for the things I did wrong and I came out the other side with a good result. It would have been even better if I’d stuck to plan all the times I could have.

Lesson learned? Not quite, but it’s a step in the right direction. Point proven? Certainly.

This week I’m off to a good start, and I’ve just almost finished a bowl of ramen after being inspired by a fellow slimmer on Instagram.

It’s the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time, and even when I halve the recipe (this is easily enough for four people) it’ll still be filling. I honestly can’t believe how tasty it was despite being completely free on the Slimming World plan. This’ll definitely be a weekly lunch from this point onwards.

I just remembered how awful I felt the last time I posted, so I’m happy to say that things are much, much better now.

If you’re struggling, hang on in there. Things will improve, I promise.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Binge Behaviours

Something is definitely rearing its ugly head and I’m not happy about it. After months of not giving it a second thought, binge-eating tendencies have started resurfacing and I want to get them nipped in the bud right now.

I’ve had a Saturday/Sunday slip-up after stupidly having a sneak peek on the scales and seeing a massive and quite undeserved gain, which saw me managing to go about things all the wrong way and do the exact opposite of what I’d recommend anyone in my position to do. What did I do? I ate. A lot.

It’s Monday morning and I have group tonight. Our ‘Greatest Loser’ will be announced. I’m fairly sure that even with the huge gain I’m due it’ll be me (out of everyone who stays at my group I’ve lost the most weight) and I’ve never felt less deserving of the title. I knew it was coming, and I really wanted to have a loss so as not to ‘let my group down’ (not that any of them think that way) but I screwed up anyway.

Rather than making the decision to have something off-plan, this felt more like a compulsion, and it really scares me. I must regain control.

Something that should help me regulate my currently insatiable appetite is getting off my arse again. I’m currently sitting on a train en route to meet my friend (when said friend suggests an impromptu meetup one does not say no lightly), and luckily my knee is back to a fairly ordinary ache rather than the pain I was experiencing. Come rain or shine, this week is going to be about getting out of the house and making progress again.

I’ve just passed through London to get on my connecting train, and it’s looking rather nice, at least from a distance. I’m not really a fan of the city so it’s nice to be heading out in a different direction.

It’s now Tuesday and I’m picking this post up after finally getting some sleep! I was on the go all day and didn’t have the mental or physical energy to write, so now we’re changing over to past tense. I say on the go… a lot of it was based around sitting down drinking coffee but once all that caffeine wore off, I assure you I was pooped.

Coffee, chatting, strolling and charity shop browsing were the themes of the day, which are some of my very favourite things. I found a nice pair of thermal tights which were perfect for wearing to Slimming World later in the evening.

Spending time with my buddy Davey is always a great experience. He’s a font of excellent advice, an interesting fellow in general, and a positive influence when it comes to food. I only munched on fresh Syn-free grub the whole day, washed down with cup after cup of black Americano. I didn’t once feel like eating everything in sight, and in fact only ate in the first place as I knew if I didn’t I’d let myself get too hungry and be more likely to reach for crap food later on.

Once every single charity shop had been exhausted, and there were a few mind you, we headed to a park across the road for a walk around and somewhere nice to munch on not just any fruit, but M&S fruit. Ain’t we posh?

What did we find in the park? Only an outdoor gym!

It’s actually really cool. It uses your own body weight for the resistance. My arms even have a nice little ache today, and I’m so impressed I’m going to write to the council and ask for something like that locally.

Dave did much better than me what with his strong swimming arms. That reminds me, I really must get around to going swimming one day…

The park turned out to be quite beautiful once we found a secluded area up some stairs. I don’t think anyone had realised what was up there.

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Plum in hand, we investigated.

After a little sit down I learned a valuable lesson – my knee will start hurting again if I sit with my legs crossed. So I really must remember not to do that. Thankfully it recovered again really quickly and it’s mostly OK today.

After more coffee and such a lovely day I got the train home, only just making it in time for Slimming World. It’s a good job I left right then as I didn’t have as much time as I thought I did (story of my life).

Group was a surprise to say the least, because somehow, by some miracle, I managed to maintain. I can only assume that the walking, coffee and fruit did me the world of good, and now I just have to be especially on it in order to avoid a catch-up gain.

I’m by no means out of the woods, but at least I got to accept my award without feeling too guilty about it.

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Funnily enough although I’ve gained it’s great to still feel ‘normal’, whatever that may be. This is no time to relax though, because I’ve ordered a new dress for Swingamajig that I absolutely ADORE. It’s in a size 12-14 though (the biggest size it comes in), and I have no idea whether it’ll fit in time. I’m currently a 14-16 but this dress will leave nothing to the imagination so it will definitely be touch and go.

This week I’m restarting my tummy exercises which I let slip over Christmas. It has therefore resulted in everything getting even more squidgy around the middle if I’m honest.

When the dress arrives I’ll take a picture of me wearing it, no matter how silly it looks, and we’ll compare it in roughly 8 weeks time when the big event rolls around.

It’ll be a fun challenge!

Right, I’m off to get dinner then. The plan is the same as yesterday – I must not let myself get too hungry.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Belief

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Valentine’s Day marked another little slip for me. Truth be told I used it as an excuse to have ‘one last day’ of naughtiness before really knuckling down again. That’s OK though! Reading my friend’s blog always helps, because no matter what internal struggle I’m going through the likelihood is that he’s been through it too and has some wise words to say on the subject.

One part of his latest post jumped out at me.

‘I screw up and then I sort it out.

Over and over again.’

Exactly that. It’s normal to slip, everyone does it. Neither of us has quite got the hang of not feeling bad about it afterwards, but we’ve both become experts at the sorting out part. That’s why, for the first time in both of our lives, our (lower) weights have been stable.

Dave also mentioned that our new appearances have become our new ‘normal’. I’ve gone from seeing my reflection in a window or mirror while I’m out and realising with a jolt that the person looking back at me is, well, me, to seeing old photos and not recognising that person at all. I’m not sure exactly when my perception shifted, but it’s a good feeling!

Until now any success on the scales would have been very short lived, something my colleagues would testify to.

I don’t really get many compliments about my weight loss at work these days, because any losses I have now certainly aren’t as drastic or noticable, but I do still get the odd ‘we didn’t think you’d keep it off, you know’ comment. I quite like these comments, because I didn’t think so either, and it reminds me of how flipping awesome I am for managing it.

Believe me though, you can do it too. Don’t ever doubt it. If you screw up, sort it out. Over and over again.  

One thing that has cheered me up is the reappearance of that mystical ball of light in the sky, otherwise known as the sun. A few rays and some warmer days has perked me up no end.

Yesterday I went on a walk to get some exercise in before Steve came over, and there was actual evidence of SPRING.

That bumblebee is quite possibly the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my photography and how excited I am for the future, but I did have a little moment of doubt. I was thinking about how a couple of years ago a friend and colleague asked me to do a wedding but I didn’t have the confidence, so in the end another colleague (who I don’t know personally) did it for him.

I remember seeing the photos and thinking ‘I could have done that’, and it was true as far as technical skills go.

This person quit work not so long ago to go into photography full time, so I thought I’d take a peek at his Facebook page (link) to see how he’s getting on.

Oh. My. Word.

His work is absolutely stunning. Whilst appreciating the hard work that has gone into honing his skills and generally just admiring his style, I also had a sinking feeling. I felt like that should have been me. I should have done that first wedding. I should have had more confidence. I should have pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

Then I metaphorically shook myself, because I couldn’t have just forced myself to become the person that could do that, it’s taken time and effort. I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years thinking and changing and shrinking and growing in all kinds of different ways, and it’s OK that it took me a while (36 years!) to get to this point. Better late than never.

Today was something of a landmark occasion actually. When I went back to Slimming World in 2016 I met a lovely lady called Steph, who is also a photographer. I knew instantly that I liked her, and that it would be cool to take our cameras out together for a walk and have a chat.

We haven’t attended the same Slimming World group for a long time, but we stayed Facebook friends and I always liked to see how she was getting on. Then last week, after literally years of meaning to do it, I asked if she wanted to go out for a walk and a talk (or a twalk, as Dave the blogger would say).

She has a gorgeous rescue dog called Cinnamon (who for a photographer’s dog annoyingly does not seem to want to look at the camera) but I managed a few nice snaps regardless.

I like this new Hayley who isn’t frightened of talking to people, even people she knows. I’d been hoping to meet her for a long, long time.

As for my weight loss, whilst mulling it over at work last night I’ve decided to try something new. From now until April, I’m going to do completely blind weigh-ins. I’m even going to ask the social team not to write my results in my book, because I know it’ll be really hard for me to resist peeking.

The reason for this is that whenever I get close to target I get a little bit obsessed with thinking ‘if I can just lose x amount per week I’ll be at target by such-and-such a date’. It’s good to be focused and have goals, but if I get too obsessed it makes me think of all the worst kinds of food for some reason.

I’m still going to work hard and stay active, but without being consumed by the numbers. Let’s see how it goes!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Target Talks & Farewell’s

If I had kept to my original target of 12 stone 10 pounds, the one that I’ve had in mind for most of my adult life, then last night would have seen me just nudge back into target range. I have lowered my target to 11 stone 7 pounds, so I still have a little way to go. Even so it’s a good feeling to know that once upon a time getting to this weight was so important to me, and that I’ve actually done it. I’m really proud of myself y’know? Especially since I’ve managed to turn things around after a difficult (as far as staying on plan goes) start of the year.

I purchased myself a nice 12 week countdown, which comes with Slimming World’s ‘Free Food on the Go’ book (can’t wait to try some of the recipes in there) and some added incentive. In the past I’ve said ‘wouldn’t it be nice to be at target by the time I finish my countdown?’ Now I’m saying ‘I WILL DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO BE AT TARGET BY THE END OF THIS COUNTDOWN!

I have 20 lbs left to lose, which means I have to lose just under 2 lbs per week on average in order to achieve that. In terms of doing ‘everything in my power’, all I really need to do is stick to plan and everything should take care of itself.

Last night I did ‘only’ lose 1.5 lbs, but I think I’ll do better next week when my hormones have sorted themselves out again.

Group last night was an unusually sad one, because my consultant Amanda has to leave to go back to her usual group. She is so lovely that I forgot on a weekly basis that she wasn’t going to be with us on a permanent basis, yet all good things must eventually come to an end.

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Blimey I look sleepy. I really was.

I will miss her so much, but in all likelihood I’ll be moving to her area at some point this year and I’d love for her to be my consultant once more. I even got crafting for her, something I’ve never done for any other consultant.

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The only problem is, I’d want to take all of the group members with me, and I don’t think every single one of them will want to move house just for my benefit! It’d be nice if they did though.

For now we have another temporary consultant as we will probably get a shiny new person when we get our next consultant. That’ll be fun, having someone fresh out of the Sparkly Castle!

This week is definitely still about moving more, although yesterday I didn’t manage much of that at all. I went to visit a friend of mine who I used to work with and we had a lovely catch up. I also got to take a couple of pictures of her kitty, who doesn’t look very relaxed for the sole reason that the sound of my camera shutter completely freaked her out.

I did manage a long walk on Sunday, but Steve joined me and we did a lot of talking. It was lovely, but we didn’t go fast enough for me to get my heart rate up in order to fill the green ring on my Apple Watch.

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Despite not filling the one ring (hehe) as you can see I was hardly sitting on my behind all day.

Because I was out all day yesterday I didn’t have time to make much progress as far as rings are concerned, but today has been pretty good with 55 mins added to my exercise ring. Steve and I did some running, my knee isn’t hurting, and I’m looking forward to getting out again Thursday. It feels sooooo good to be outside.

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For now I’ll sign off as dinner is calling me, and I have a rather special day tomorrow that I’ll tell you about later.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x