Keeping Focus

Over the last week, I have not done everything in my power to make sure I got rid of last week’s gain. What I did do was to test my willpower, which was a really bad idea.

I bought a bag of dark chocolate lebkuchen hearts (vegan friendly) from Aldi, which always pop up in stores around this time of year and are also delicious. The little hearts are 2.5 syns each, so I intended to have one a day, to see if I could handle it.

I couldn’t handle it. 

I’ve been avoiding sugary stuff because it tends to set me off and I end up wanting more, but I wanted to see if I was ready to have ‘just a little bit’ every day. Truth is, I now know I’ll never be ready. I’m not saying I’ll never have sweet treats again, I’m just saying that I’m never going to be the kind of person who can have just a taster. I’m ok with that, because I don’t feel like I’m missing out once I lose the taste for these things again (which I invariably do) and it’s excellent that I’ve recognised that particular trigger so that I can stop lying to myself in future.

I experimented, and have proved conclusively what the outcome will be. If I choose to eat sugary stuff in future, there’s no getting around the fact that I need to make sure I only buy one small item instead of a whole bloody bag of yummy, chocolatey cakey things.

It didn’t stop at lebkuchen hearts though. Last night I also had other naughties, which again was a conscious decision. I do slightly regret it now, because group tonight should be an exciting one, but the thing is… I’m in love. 

I spent last night with a person who is very special to me, and since we won’t get a relaxed evening together like that for a good while I decided to let my hair down for a bit.

I’m sure I’ll give you more details on my love life in due course, but for now I feel like I’m holding a fragile bubble in my hand and I’m scared if I even look at it too hard it’ll burst. This year I’ve had some amazing highs and felt so incredibly low at times, and I’m just trying to enjoy the moment. So I’m tantalisingly keeping quiet about it for now!

Earlier on in the day we went for a nice long walk, and although it had been absolutely chucking it down the night before the weather was actually rather nice. I even had to take my hoody off as we got moving.

There was one great big rain cloud on the horizon, moving swiftly towards us, but we just skirted around the edge of it at the very end of our walk. Perfect.

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This morning I was out walking again, this time to town, and on my own. I’ve been walking into town at least once a week lately (through the park, of course) even if I don’t intend to buy anything. Sometimes a bauble selfie in Wilkinsons is enough and you don’t have to spend any money at all.

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Even so, I usually have a spare bit of change, so I’ve got into a routine of doing a charity shop crawl every time I’m there.

Today, yet again, I was not disappointed. You may remember I got a nice autumnal coat not so long ago, but that was more of a ‘going out’ coat. I needed a bog standard waterproof ‘out and about’ coat, but one that was warmer than my Trespass waterproof coat.

When I was at my heaviest I was always warm, so I didn’t have to worry much about dressing appropriately for the weather. I didn’t really go anywhere anyway, so there’s also that.

Nowadays I never know what clothing combination I’m going to need, so I’m always needing something more. But it’s fun getting new things, even if they are only new to me. Here’s my latest purchase.

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It’s hard to keep track but I think it was from Haven’s, it was TWO FLIPPING POUNDS and is a size S/M! Now I’m looking for a nice full length coat to wear over long dresses and skirts, and a short, smart jacket. I’d best keep up my weekly charity shop visits.

After a busy day of shopping I got myself to group to face the music. One positive I found from the weekend is that I’m definitely learning to stop eating once I’m full up, and I think that’s the reason I still managed a loss.

2lbs off!

This is where group is essential because although I’ve been super focused lately, I only have a finite supply. Group is where I go to get my focus tank refilled.

The week’s IMAGE therapy was a special one as we had a guest consultant while our Amanda was on a course at Head Office. We couldn’t have asked for a better replacement.

Our group was hosted by the incredible Ryan Lightfoot who has lost over 14.5 stone. You can read about him in the Daily Mail here (link) or check out his Instagram (link) if you fancy. Before IMAGE therapy began he gave a short talk about how much his life has changed since losing weight with Slimming World and boy was that emotional.

Before joining he barely left his house, but there he is hardly two years later standing in front of a group of strangers talking to us like we’re his best friends. Not only that, he’s now been promoted to Team Developer. Two years ago he was in the same position we’ve all been in, dreading the first step through those doors. Sometimes you truly can’t imagine where the path will lead.

I got a huge lump in my throat glancing over at his partner wiping what seemed to be tears of pride from her eyes. As the youngsters say, that gave me all the feels.

I found out last week that our current consultant isn’t staying with us, just looking after our group to see us through Christmas and New Year before we get a shiny new consultant. It’s a shame because I think Amanda is brilliant. She really does put in so much extra effort and, like Ryan, she is genuinely lovely and honestly cares about us. It’s the members that make the group (they are all so wonderful), but the consultant is the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle that makes it all work. I hope we get someone good (preferably with sparkly shoes).

After today I’m absolutely raring to go, especially since I’m not also contending with a hangover.

Have a simply brilliant week everyone.

Hayley x

Not Wonderful

I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, because I think I’m coming down with a bug. So far though, it seems to be a small and manageable bug so I’m not letting it stop me (even though I’d quite like to be in bed instead of going to work).

This morning I woke up before 5am so I forced myself to get out into the world. It took a while for me to convince myself, so I didn’t make it to the park till gone 6am. That meant it was light enough to not be dangerous but the sun had not yet risen. Happily I got to witness it!

It was a misty morning but my phone camera couldn’t quite capture the beauty of that. There were other things of interest though once the sun was on its way up.

By the end of my 1.5 hour walk my throat was sore and I was feeling distinctly sleepy, so once home I headed back to bed before getting up again three hours later for… meal prep!

I’m still tweaking this meal prep thing I’ve got going on. So far I think it’s best to do three lunches and three dinners in one go, twice a week, then every Sunday just cook fresh. It seems to be the most manageable way.

I’m also getting better at spending less money on food so spread over the next three nights I’ll be munching on 1kg of sprouts, amongst other things. What could possibly go wrong?

For the rest of the week I want to get outside for my Body Magic every single day, but that will depend on how I feel. Fingers crossed I’m up to it!

Right now I can hear the sprouts calling so I must leave you and eat my dinner.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Prep

The only reason I made it through last week with #onplanoctober intact was planning and preparation. I’ve thought about meal prep quite a lot but I’m desperately unimaginative. All I could think of was freezing piles of curry, chilli and bolognese, none of which I’m overly keen on anyway.

My attitude towards food has certainly changed over the last couple of months though, and rather than eating being a significant part of the day (although I still really enjoy my food) it’s become more of a something-to-get-out-the-way-so-I-can-do-more-interesting-things situation.

My work lunches are always standard – pasta, veggie meatballs and passata bulked out with veg – because even though it’s repetitive I always enjoy it. Besides, my coffee is always the highlight of my lunch break anyway.

As for dinners my favourite veggies are the kind you can roast, so I’ve been cooking up huge piles of aubergine, courgette, peppers and butternut squash which all keeps well in the fridge. I’m still totally addicted to aubergines and have been getting through at least seven a week, so weirdly I’ve been enjoying my veg more than any other part of my meals.

Now I have everything down pat there’s no reason why I should have to cook more than twice a week, plus I’ve got a good supply for emergencies consisting of rice pouches, the Slimming World frozen curry sauces from Iceland, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas. These are things that are easily stored, easily transportable if I’m visiting friends and family, and can be whipped up in the microwave in ten minutes. Oh, and totally on plan!

This week planning is more important than ever because I’m out for a meal on Friday. I’m doing my food preparation today, so that leaves me loads of time during the week for plenty of exercise which is more important than ever.

I’m staying over a friends house Friday night, so I’ll make sure I take my wheat biscuits and oat milk with me for breakfast the next day, then I’ll go on a nice long making-up-for-the-night-before walk first thing in the morning. I really mustn’t let that one night out seep into the next day, or the day before for that matter. I think I’ll be OK because the main draw of the meal for me is the amazing dress I’ll be wearing, and if I want to keep on wearing the collection of amazing dresses I’ve been building up, then I simply can’t afford to backtrack.

After the meal there are four weigh days left for November, and I really, really want to be at target before December. I don’t really see why I shouldn’t be, as long as I stay focused. I can do it!

If I am delayed for any reason (such as undeserved gains) then I do have a little buffer which I’m SUPER PLEASED about. My last weigh in was due to be on the 17th of December and I was really worried about it being so long between then and Christmas day. However our new consultant has decided to do a session on Christmas Eve morning, which is bloody brilliant! She is doing the same thing for New Year’s Eve, so I have a fantastic incentive for getting straight back on plan Boxing Day. I wonder, I just wonder, if I could scrape through the holiday season without a gain? It could happen! What does it all come down to? PLANNING!

In other news yesterday was extremely productive. First of all, I officially qualified for my Gold Body Magic award with a walk into town and back. That’s 8 whole weeks of 30 minutes exercise a day over five days of each week (or more). Next up is the Platinum award, which I kind of qualify for already anyway. It’s when exercise has become a permanent part of your lifestyle, which it absolutely has for me. I can’t imagine going back to sitting on my bum all day watching TV!

Nature trumps TV all day long.

Once in town I had a simply BRILLIANT shopping session. I have almost, almost, completed my winter wardrobe with a couple of Primark finds. I now have enough pinafore dresses and tops to go underneath to see me through the entire autumn, winter and spring. This one completed the set.

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But the real game changer is the Primark leggings which have a furry lining and are super warm. I got a couple of pairs so now I know they’re a good fit I’ll go back for a few more. Then that’s it, I don’t need any more clothes until spring!

I did need a nice coat for winter, but no longer after a most successful charity shop crawl. I spotted a few coats that would have been suitable but they were all in the £20 price range and I wasn’t really wanting to spend that much. Then I spotted one in my size that I didn’t really like so much, but I decided to try it on anyway.

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The moral of the story? ALWAYS TRY THINGS ON! Not shown in the picture is my behind, which looks really good as the coat is fitted and kind of flares out at the back. I absolutely love it! Do you know what I also love? The price tag – £4.99 from the PDSA shop. Get in! And doesn’t it go well with my scarf from Sue Ryder?

Now I must be off as I’ve got a very busy Monday ahead of me.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Funny Old Week

The theme of this week has mostly been tired and hungry. I haven’t had a huge appetite lately – I’ve even become someone who has dinner left overs. This has never happened before. But over the last couple of days I have felt myself getting hungrier. I’m sticking to Free and Speed food if I need it, but I think it’s my body trying to get more energy in me from the tiredness.

I was about to write that I have no idea where all this sleepiness has come from, but it’s probably down to only getting two hours sleep on Sunday and not really having a chance to catch up since then. I just paused for a little think and I still don’t know when I’ll have an opportunity for a nice big chunk of unbroken sleep, so for the time being I’ll just have to do what I can.

I’ve also been a bit stressed at work, for the most silly reason. My manager is leaving for another job next week and I’ve been put in charge of her collection. Because she has been so good to me over the years I’ve been worrying constantly that I’m not getting enough money out of my colleagues.

I meant to get the card this morning so I could start to collect signatures tonight but I couldn’t find a nice card at the local shops. Instead of driving to the big Tesco, instead I selfishly chose to go for a walk, so now I feel bad about that too. All the while I’m struggling to find the energy to tell myself how stupid I’m being because I’m just so (yawn) damn (yawn) TIRED!

I must go to the shops straight from work in the morning and get the card then, otherwise I really will be cutting it fine.

I probably would have stayed in bed all day today but I had to get up and do some bits for my mum so while I was out I went for a walk around the local nature reserve. The car park was rammed (ah, half term…) but as always seems to be the case away from the main paths I barely saw a soul.

What I did see was a huge amount of fungus – there was so much that the air itself smelt mushroomy!

Considering I am now in full-on winter mode at work, it was lovely to walk around without a coat and not freeze my butt off. Especially as it looks like from tomorrow the weather is going to be taking a turn for the worse.

The walk was quite gentle but it really took it out of me and I was ready to drop by the time I got home. So drop I did, right into a deep sleep. It’s just a shame I didn’t have time for a few hours more.

I did still make time to model my latest charity shop purchase. I bought a bright yellow scarf the other day – just because winter is cold it doesn’t mean it has to be dull. But then I decided I also needed a more festive scarf when the occasion calls for it (Winter Wonderland, I’m looking at you) so I grabbed this bargain while I had the chance.

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I’m definitely feeling a lot differently about the upcoming ‘party’ season. I did mean to go to Winter Wonderland with my sister for the last couple of years running, but it never happened for one reason or another. What I do know is that when I thought about going, the first thing that came to mind was the FOOD. This time though I’m definitely going, and it’s with a friend from work. What I’m most looking forward to is the atmosphere, the lights, photo ops and (most importantly) good company.

Also on the agenda is another trip to London with another friend, a sibling outing, a meal out, and another trip with the wonderful people I met up with in Oxford not so long ago. Out of nowhere I seem to have a social life! I’m so looking forward to just making time for people in the next couple of months, rather than just stuffing my face at every opportunity.

Finally, my wonderful group has nominated me for the Miss Slinky award, which is so kind because I haven’t been going to this group for a huge amount of time. If I remember rightly I have to get up and talk a little bit about my weight loss, and despite writing about it weekly for the last two flipping YEARS I really have no clue what I’m going to say.

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Maybe I’ll just have to wing it!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Hello October!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Less than a stone.

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

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

Until next time,

thanks for reading!

Hayley x

Bye Bye September

What a month, and what a turnaround! August was a such a low point for me, one that I’m sure I’ll be remembering with a shudder for years to come, but I genuinely feel that all of the work I’m putting in now will bring results that will completely eclipse all of that.

This month I’ve lost a total of 10lbs and have finally, finally, found myself well established in the 13 stone bracket. To put that achievement into perspective it was my Christmas goal last year to make it into the thirteens and here I am.

Yesterday I completed day five of my Gold Body Magic award with a two hour walk before work, which may seem like a terrible idea but in actual fact getting active again has given me more energy if anything.

I explored an area I’m not overly familiar with even though I worked there for a good while, but at the time I wasn’t the ‘going out’ type.

I do remember one week I made a half-hearted promise that I’d walk up and down the hill on top of which the office I worked was situated, but that only lasted a couple of days.

I decided to revisit this hill on my walk, and was surprised to see an entrance to some woods that I’d never noticed before.

It might not have been the best idea because I don’t know how rough the area is and I was on my own, so I sent a text to my friend informing him where to look for my body if I went missing.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, but I did see an interesting tree thank kinda spooked me if I’m honest. It looked like it was… coming for me or something!

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Work later was same old same old, but I was glad when it ended because it meant the weekend could start.

As it’s the weekend it also means it’s weigh day tomorrow, so naturally I’m feeling large. So I had a sneak peek and of course it’s all in my head.

Same old same old.

This morning was a motorbike ride with my brother which quite frankly was AWESOME. And the perfect day for it too.

I’ve only been out with him once before and it was scary and exciting, but this time he wanted to practice leaning into the turns with me riding pillion.

At first I was fairly terrified. You can’t passively be a passenger on a bike – I was looking at the road ahead to anticipate when he’d brake, so I could brace myself and prevent our helmets from smashing together, plus trying to stay on the bike when he accelerated, and also looking for turns so I could lean in the right places.

I had a fantastic arm workout just from clinging on for dear life!

Despite the fear though it was brilliant, and I already feel much more relaxed and confident. We were leaned over as much as the bike is able to without the pegs hitting the road, so that was as terrifying as it’ll ever get. At least I hope that’s the case, I imagine falling off the thing would be pretty scary…

One thing I especially enjoyed was being able to sit on the bike and breathe at the same time. When I first started going out on the back of people’s bikes (I know a few bikers!) my tummy got in the way and all of my organs were constricted. It took the joy out of it.

Now I’m facing the prospect of having to fork out a few hundred quid for gear that doesn’t drown me, but would I have it any other way?

Course not!

After a nap I went to visit a friend for dinner, and although it was a bog standard popping over for the usual boring stuff I’d eat anyway, I wanted to wear a new dress I bought that I absolutely love. Plus he has a mirror in the loo that’s good for selfies.

I have two dresses at the moment that get me loads of compliments. There’s this one, and the other is one I got in a sale yonks ago. I tried it on to show my mum the other day, not expecting her to say much.

The last thing I wore, I pointed out that it was fitting a lot better these days. Her response? ‘Well your boobs are shrinking that’s for sure’. Er, thanks mum!

But with this other dress she blurted out ‘HAYLEY, YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!’ Which is definitely a good sign!

I’d say this means things are looking hopeful for weigh in, so I’ll update tomorrow evening.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Doing Too Much?

I’ve had a really good week, where I’ve tried to cram in as much as possible. But by the time Saturday night came around it occurred to me that I may be pushing myself too hard.

I suppose the way I’ve felt over the last week can only be described as driven. And I’m just so excited about everything right now, about the possibilities for the future rather than not being able to see past the next day.

On Saturday I got up after only a couple of hours sleep in order to be an awesome friend. One of my bestest chums was working overtime and had no possibility to pick up his prescription before he ran out so I offered to get it for him. So pick it up I did, then I posted it through his letter box.

This friend happens to live right near my favourite park, so I took my brother with me and we went for a wander. A two hour wander actually. Week three of my Gold Body Magic is now complete!

The weather was boring, all grey clouds and flat and ‘orrible. But that’s why I like photography, because even if on the surface everything looks rubbish, if you look closer you can always find something beautiful. Ok, you can’t beat beautiful golden light, but there’s still good stuff to be found.

And even more good stuff.

My brother opened a few of these little things up and it seems that an earwig lives inside every single one. That a lot of earwigs.

Later on we came across a herd of cows I’d tried to approach before but they were way too nervous. But I had little bro with me, and he has a curious affinity with cows. They weren’t interested in him (one gave him a sniff and went back to munching on its grass) but they didn’t run away either, as they did with me.

I zoomed in on one cow when I got home and had to laugh. Even though she’s just chewing the cud she looked super grumpy!

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By the time we got home I crawled straight into bed, but I didn’t sleep very well. As soon as I get disturbed, to wake up for a tinkle for instance, I’ve been finding it really hard to get back to sleep again because I just want to carry on with my day.

This is great in one way, but I need to make sure I don’t burn myself out or I’ll be right back where I started before I know it.

As such when I got into work and found we were seriously overmanned, I jumped at the chance of an impromptu night off. To be honest since I’m out of annual leave I had to take it unpaid, which isn’t exactly sensible given my current financial situation, but this will now come out of my pay at the end of October. So I have plenty of time to adjust my outgoings accordingly. That’s how I’m convincing myself it’s OK anyway!

I actually ended up having a fantastic weekend, doing some walking and hanging out with friends. I really enjoyed a rainy wander through the glen Sunday morning.

Since I’m feeling in a cooking mood lately, yesterday when I got back I made dinner and dessert. I want to cook for people but don’t really want to eat it, so after dinner I made a decadent apple crumble. It went down so well that one friend kept eating it till he felt sick. I’ll take that as a win.

As for me I’ve been avoiding sweet stuff entirely, apart from unsweetened soya yoghurt with fruit and wheat biscuits for breakfast. Because anything like chocolate or ice cream will set off my sweet tooth. With Slimming World (if you aren’t familiar with the plan) nothing is off limits. If you want to eat a chocolate bar every single day and still lose weight, you can totally do that (though it might not be the healthiest way to go!) But when it comes to the sweet stuff I always crave more and more once I get going, and since I’m really enjoying my food lately I’m going to carry on with cutting these things out entirely. It seems to be working well for me anyway, as I haven’t felt deprived at all.

On Thursday I have another friend coming over for tea but I’m planning on making him something healthy. He’s been working so hard and such long hours, he hasn’t had time to feed himself properly and I want to get some goodness into him.

Other than that I want to make sure I get a good balance for the week ahead with plenty of sleep as well as exercise and creativity, because I need food for the soul, too.

Tonight is weigh in and I’m not sure how it’s going to go, because my hormones have gone a little up the wall and I’m feeling huge. But then I felt like that last week and it all turned out OK anyway. Time will tell!

I’ll update tomorrow with how it went.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Once Around the Lake

I had to get up early today after only a couple of hours sleep in order to get to my doctor’s appointment. The doctor wanted to see how I was getting on with the antidepressants before giving me any more.

I thought back on how I was feeling just a few short weeks ago, and it honestly feels like a fog has lifted from my brain. My main problem when I was feeling my most anxious was ruminating, which Psychology Today describes as repetitively going over a thought or a problem without completion. These thoughts completely consumed me to the point where I felt I couldn’t take it anymore. And that’s when I went to the doctor’s for help.

I’m not saying medication is right for everyone or will even work for everyone (scientists still aren’t sure exactly how antidepressants even work), but during week three the side-effects subsided and I’m not saying I felt immediately OK, but I did get a sense of clarity back.

I can think clearly again!

One thing I was thinking over and over, is that I was a ‘completely useless piece of sh*t’. They were the exact words in my head. Now I can remember the things I do like about myself, and although I’m not perfect I can see that I’m made up of a mixture of good, bad and everything in between. Just like everyone else. It seems glaringly obvious. It IS glaringly obvious. But when you feel like that you just can’t tell yourself these things and actually believe them.

The doctor has said he’ll keep me on this dose for six months with a view to weaning me off of them at the end of the course. I’m happy with that. What I do want, after a rollercoaster of a year so far, is simply stability. I have my routine back, I’m happy, and I just don’t want anything to change (too much) for a while.

Of course change is essential, we can’t grow without it, but some things I’m happy to keep as they are just until I’m positive I’m back on my feet.

But the future’s looking bright anyway!

I only had one pill left so I put my prescription in straight after getting out of the the doctor’s. It was a 45 minute wait, so even though I was pretty tired I decided to get the day’s exercise done right away and headed for the park.

The park was very quiet – I felt the odd spits of rain so I guess most people didn’t want to risk it. I have recently started hoarding an umbrella in my bag because it’s still too warm (most of the time) for a coat, however it would have been completely useless with these winds we’re having. They aren’t too bad here but if you are badly affected, then please stay safe people.

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Luckily it didn’t chuck it down, not that I would have really minded anyway.

Most of my walking was done getting to and from the park, so once I was there I just did one lap around the lake. But that lap took quite a while, because I was very busy getting tons of Boomerangs of fallen leaves (every time I pressed the shutter button the winds mysteriously dropped) and I look even longer getting distracted by pretty leaves.

A passing lady smiled at me as I was jumping up and down in order to grab a branch that was out of my reach. I never succeeded. Bad times.

I also scoped out a few horse chestnuts because after a friend mentioning conkers on his blog the other day I now really, really want some. I am so easily influenced.

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Damn, They’re not quite ready yet though. I’ll just have to keep checking back.

As it happens in terms of active minutes I’ve already smashed this week’s Gold Body Magic goals (twice over actually), but I still need another two active days in order for it to count. I’m feeling very outdoorsy lately so believe me, that will not be a problem.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Going for it!

Oh my, so it’s all kicking off again in the Slimming World community it seems! Yesterday the news broke that all flavoured yoghurts will now carry a Syn value, and of course, people aren’t happy that the Mullerlights are no longer free.

For me though, vegan agenda aside, I think this is a good thing. Even before I went vegetarian I stopped eating Mullers because basically I thought they were crap. Overpriced, chemically tasting, watery nastiness. But it is really easy to overeat them, and although they’re ‘only’ 99 calories per pot, if you eat six a day (as some people I know have done) then there’s a chance it’ll negatively affect your losses. Slimming World are just trying to protect our losses, and I’m glad they’re on the ball.

It’s an unpopular opinion among the plant-based members out there, but I agree with Slimming World that avocados shouldn’t be free. I would like to see them given a Healthy Extra allowance or maybe even see the Syns reduced, but if they were free… oh boy, I doubt I’d lose a single ounce!

But there is some EXCELLENT news for us vegans. In fact I was the only one in group last night with a massive grin plastered across my face. Canned jackfruit is now FREE. Plain/smoked seitan is now FREE. And… AND…. we even have FREE plain yoghurt we can eat! I’m chuffed to bits, because it’s nice to be able to plonk a dollop of (soya) yoghurt on a curry or something without having to worry, or to make a salad dressing or whatever.

I’ve just checked the app and Alpro, Asda, M&S and Tesco unsweetened plain soya yoghurts are all free now. Wonderful!

Some Syns for the Alpro yoghurts have increased by a small amount, but again I’m not bothered. I’d rather have to use an extra half a Syn than be frustrated that I’m not making as much progress as I should be.

To top it off we even have TWO vegan cheeses we can use as a Healthy Extra now, but I wasn’t able to get either in town yesterday. But on Thursday I’m going out hunting so we’ll see what I can find.

There will be a new book coming out late December reflecting all the changes, and I’m pretty sure current members will get a new one for free. At least that’s what’s happened in the past when I’ve been a member.

You can read all the info in full on the Slimming World website, which I’d recommend because there are other changes I haven’t talked about here.

Anyway, enough of that. Let’s talk about yesterday. I’ve got into a really good routine where I pop in to visit my dad before going to group (he lives just around the corner) then I leave the car at his then walk the rest of the way.

But yesterday I’d just got up to leave when I realised I’d left my book and card at home. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but since I joined at another group (and wasn’t sure if my details had been transferred over) I’d probably need my card in order to weigh in.

So I rushed back home, grabbed my book, and rushed back to group. I did make it (with plenty of time to spare actually) which was such a relief because I was very anxious indeed to find out how I’d done. It turns out because it’s the same consultant at both groups I needn’t have worried, so that’s good to know for the future!

I held my breath and stepped on the scales…

3lbs off! 

I now weigh 13st 12.5lbs (mini goal achieved, yay!) and have a mere 1st 2.5lbs to go till I reach my target weight.

Now, I’ve been giving target quite a lot of thought and it occurred to me that it’s now truly within reaching distance. At first I was worried to even think about it, but I’m feeling so confident about Slimming World at the moment that I’ve decided.

I’m going for it. I’m going to try to reach target BEFORE Christmas. 

For me there are 13 weigh-ins lefts before the big day, and if I lose 2lbs a week I will be at target in nine weeks. At the start of the year I was convinced that I would hit target in 2018, but assumed as time went on that I’d blown it. But it IS still possible. There is a chance I’ll fall short, but eff it. I’m going to try anyway.

How amazing would it be? I’m daring to dream, and why the hell shouldn’t I?

Group itself was fab as always, and by the end I was absolutely made up to have got Slimmer of the Week. When you have been at it for as long as I have (I’ve been on this current ‘journey’ for over two years now) you just don’t expect to get it any more.

But get it I did, and it was a very generous haul. Among other things there was a bottle of Fry Light, some delicious looking apricots, a tin of water chestnuts and a bunch of flowers. What a nice thought! I especially thanked the lady who put them in because it was such a lovely idea and really brightened my day.

Earlier on in the day I made a fantastic start to week 3 of my Gold Body Magic Award with a 2.5 hour walk around the park and into town. I was thinking about putting it off till today but I’m so glad I didn’t, because the light was so much nicer yesterday.

Along with other kinds of mojo I’m definitely getting my photography mojo back. My favourite thing from the walk though was a silvery bush where the odd few leaves had gone yellow and green.

One of my favourite things ever is light shining through the leaves, so it was good to be able to combine these two things.

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Just… gorgeous.

In town I didn’t get much except a couple of bottles of Fry Light, and a little retro robot for my brother for 99p, but it was such a lovely day I’m really glad I got out. Of course it goes without saying really, but I did feed the geese as well.

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It’s back to work tonight so my only real plan for today is to get some exercise in and have a nap. Normally I’d feel that this wasn’t ‘enough’ but I had a really active weekend so what the hell!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Earls Colne, and Other Things

Last week was really good. Friday was my brother’s birthday, and although I had work that night I stayed up for the afternoon/evening in order to hang out with the family. And it was great! It’s testament to how much better I’m feeling as hanging out with brother, sister and mother (and all the noise and chaos that brings) was so much fun.

I also had my Body Magic for the day to complete, so I took my hula hoop and kettlebells downstairs and socialised at the same time. When my brother got home from work we had a laugh by comparing what weights we could lift and how many push ups we can do. It wasn’t really competitive – my brother is really tall and naturally strong, I’m tall and fairly weak in comparison, and my sister is a tiny little thing – so we all knew how it was going to go anyway. I still had to laugh at my sister trying to lift a 10kg weight, while everyone laughed at me trying to do one of those push ups where you clap on the up part (and nearly smashing my face into the carpet while I was at it!)

Things are so different to how they used to be. When we were kids my sister would be out with her friends, my brother would be playing Runescape on the PC, and I’d be trying to get him off the PC, because it was my turn dammit! Then my sister would come home and also want the PC, and the place would turn into a war zone.

But the real difference isn’t that we are all such good friends now (although that’s awesome and one of the best things about my whole life) it’s that we are so much more healthy and active. I’m not sure we’d be as close if we didn’t get out and do things together.

Speaking of getting out, the weekend has been very outdoorsy. I went to visit a friend on Saturday on one condition – that we go out for a walk. I had a load of stuff I should have been doing that day, mostly to prepare for my Sunday, and if I was going to put it off it had to be for a good reason. For one thing I wanted more Body Magic, and this particular walk meant I completed week two of my Gold award. Whoop whoop!

Signs of autumn are beginning to show everywhere, and I have a very strong impulse to make the most of every single day before everything is grey and barren again. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year, and I don’t want to waste a second.

When I got home I got myself straight to bed for an hour’s sleep, then made sure I got up in time to at least do some prep.

Me and my brother agreed that we were going to do a walk from my ’50 walks in Essex’ book, that I bought months ago and hadn’t looked at since. Weirdly, since I’m useless at planning such things, he left the choice of walk and all the details up to me.

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So I chose a walk, worked out how long it would take us to drive there, how much sleep I’d need in the morning in order to do the drive safely, and told him what time we were leaving. Then (even more importantly) I pre-made my lunch for the next day, because if I don’t have food with me it could mean disaster. That done, I toddled off to work for my final shift of the week.

In the morning we were out of the door by 10:15 am (I almost managed 3 hours sleep) with plenty of coffee in tow. We were headed to Earls Colne to do a 6.5 mile circular walk which would take us through Chalkney Mill.

I had a little moment where I wasn’t sure what to wear – I didn’t think I had anything warm enough to hand (the weather looked a bit grim) but eventually I decided on a t-shirt dress and leggings because I’d no doubt warm up during the walk anyway.

I made the right choice – when we got there the skies turned blue and we were treated to a beautiful day. So beautiful I was starting to worry that I should have bought sun cream with me.

Do you know what my favourite part was though? THE FOOD! First of all we found plenty of blackberries, and since I’d left my lunch in the car to have once we were finished these were most welcome.

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Further along the route we came across an apple tree, but all of the fruits within reaching distance had been started on by birds and bugs. But I had my brother with me, and he’s always up for a challenge. He found us a couple of really tasty looking apples.

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I do like apples, but I’m seriously fussy about them. I’ll NEVER buy them from a supermarket (unless it’s for a pie or crumble) because they are invariably disappointing. The apple I had from the tree though – it was hands down not only the best apple I’ve ever had, but the tastiest fruit I’ve eaten in my whole life hands down. It was utterly delicious!

Later on we came across a friendly little family, whose young son was very interested in what I was doing with my camera. I was photographing fungus at the time (as you do) and I marvelled at the fact the kid has clearly been raised to appreciate the outdoors rather than simply plonked in front of a TV or tablet. Most other kids his age would probably be more familiar with technology than nature.

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I don’t normally know what to say to tiny humans (I find them quite frightening) but it was easy to explain what I was doing and show him the camera screen. Then we got talking to the dad who told us what other kind of fungi we could expect to see around this time of year.

As it happens we didn’t see any stinkhorns (although I’d really like to) but it’s good to know they can be found in that area for when we return at a later date. As I’m sure we will.

In contrast to all the nature, one part of the route also took us directly underneath a pylon. I’m quite happy with that, as I’ve never been so close to a pylon, so I took the opportunity to get an ‘arty’ shot.

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When I got home I had leftover curry that I made the other day which was completely Syn free, packed with Speed foods and even tastier than when I originally made it. Thinking ahead has definitely helped me this week.

As it happens I have group this evening and despite feeling really confident earlier on in the week today I’m feeling a bit bloated so I don’t know how it’s going to go. What I do know, is that I have been completely on plan without a single slip-up for two whole weeks now. And that feels soooooo good.

Another thing I know is that if I don’t get the result I want today, I’m just going to carry on what I’ve been doing. I’m not going to use it as an excuse to have a blow-out.

The only other plan I have for today is to walk into town (Body Magic, yay!) and hunt for Koko vegan cheddar which has been spotted by my fellow vegans in Home Bargains. When I first went vegan there were no cheeses you could have as a Healthy Extra, but this one does count so hopefully I can get my mitts on it.

On that note I’d best get cracking, so I’ll say goodbye for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x