Icy Adventures

Part of my recovery from (ew, I have to say it again) love addiction, involves not using anything to numb the pain and discomfort I’m feeling. No alcohol. No drugs. No distracting relationships, and – the author is very clear on this point – no using food to the same end. Easy for her to say!

This is similar to my decision to stop my course of anti-depressants. Since I’m in a place where I can cope without them, I decided that I needed to let myself feel the things I was avoiding. I can’t address my problems if I don’t know what they are. Although I’ve been an emotional eater for as long as I’ve had emotions, for some reason I didn’t consider until I read the words on the page how much my eating habits should absolutely be categorised alongside those other more insidious things. I’ve been doing ok with that so far, with only one rogue sandwich that wasn’t entirely on plan. Even that wasn’t because I was miserable as such, just annoyed that the scales haven’t been budging. More on that in a bit…

This week I started my ‘inner child’ work. I’m still very new to this side of things so don’t really know how to adequately explain the concept of the inner child, but this first stage involves me writing out every significant event in my life to date – good things, bad things, turning points etc.

I got to age ten and I was done, I needed a break. My time of the month is on its way which in itself brings sadness and a massive dip in energy, so I decided to wait until those feelings abate before I continue. This is self-care, y’all!

Weirdly, the only two events I’ve come up with so far that weren’t negative were the birth of my brother and sister. Weird because I honestly can’t remember feeling worried that they’d replace me as number one child, and weird because once they learned to walk we did not get along. It got even worse when they started talking. Ugh!

The idea of the exercise is to look for patterns and identify what triggers a tantrum in your inner child despite you now being a bona fide grown up.

Already it’s not hard for me to work out. Abandonment, abandonment, abandonment. When someone in my life nowadays disappears, my inner child is scared out of her wits. All she can think is they’re not coming back. They’re never coming back. This always happens. People always leave me.

After growing up with a father who would go out drinking ‘for a couple of hours’ in the afternoon, and next thing you know you’re pacing the living room at 3am with your mum, wondering if it’s time to start ringing around the local hospitals, you would think I’d be more discerning with my own partners. Nope, my relationship past is littered with no-shows and disappearing acts.

Past Hayley has let her inner child take over, and I’ve ended up throwing mobile phones up the wall on more than one occasion, crying, pleading, just quietly being frantic with worry so as not to cause a fuss but being totally unable to function till he shows. Definitely more quietly worrying in recent times – there’s no point telling someone how much their disappearing upsets me only for them to promise they won’t do in future, then… just keep on doing it.

Future Hayley might well end up in this situation again, but future Hayley will be whole and healed. She’ll go about her business when he doesn’t show, because her life is full of things she loves to do. She knows that his behaviour is nothing to do with her not being ‘good enough’. She already knows her worth. When he does surface, she’ll decide that this kind of behaviour is not what she wants from a partner, and she’ll move on, making space for someone more deserving.

Whilst going over all this I cried several times, occasionally over things I thought I’d forgotten about. That’s good, that’s progress. Then I felt crappy for a while, now I feel a bit better. That’s how it works I suppose. I’m pleased I’ve made a start, because I approached this exercise with the enthusiasm of someone who’s about to have their teeth drilled into with no anaesthetic. I’m guessing the teeth drilling would be worse. Marginally.

A chap at work mentioned that I looked serene and asked if it was because I had a new man in my life. I was surprised on two counts – one, because no man I’ve ever been interested in has been the type to bring the slightest bit of serenity, and two, because I have so much inner turmoil right now. I guess my poker face must be improving.

I’ve decided to schedule two afternoons a week for ‘thinking time’, like I’d be possibly be doing if I were seeing an actual therapist. That way (I hope) it won’t overwhelm me.

I’m trying not to panic about weighing in, which is happening later on. This week I’ve been doing a low-carb version of Slimming World known as SP, where you eat lots of protein and lots of low energy-density foods. People in group who have done it have had fantastic losses, but I’ve been absolutely smashing it and yet the scales have refused to budge.

I put off weighing myself till Thursday, then I couldn’t help myself any longer. I was tired and hungry, I was sure I was going to see a great loss, and I wanted to get a buzz from seeing that it was working. Except… one pound ON. I’ve been so good, that shouldn’t be physically possible! So I cracked and ate a sandwich, immediately regretting it.

Saturday and Sunday, I ditched SP before any more sandwich incidents could occur, but to be honest I’m quite proud of myself for stopping at that one sandwich. That’s pretty impressive for me.

I really do have a distinct feeling of not having done ‘enough’ this week. I’ve been too tired to walk every day, but the two trips I did take around the park yielded good fungal results.

Yesterday morning was spent having the best time with my brother. I suggested we check out a country park that’s new to us, but by the time I finished work I was regretting having suggested it. This is normal for me – I get too tired and tell myself ‘next Sunday I’ll just sleep all day!’ Then I go out, have fun, and decide it was worth it after all.

In fact yesterday was the most pure, unadulterated fun I’ve had in ages.

We got to the park a couple of hours before the visitor centre opens, and there were only a couple of dog walkers about. It was freezing, literally. There was a blanket of ice over everything but the sun was out and everything was mightily pretty.

There were loads of puddles that were frozen over, and I think we stepped in every single one. Any toddlers arriving later on would no doubt be disappointed, but that’s not my problem. They should have got their parents up earlier, right?

Just look how thick the ice was!

Stomping over icy, crunchy grass and stepping in creaky, glassy ice puddles are two of the most satisfying things in the whole world. Fact.

I also did something scary, something I haven’t done in years. Have you been down a slide as an adult? Looking from the top it seemed so steep. Surely I’d go flying off the end and possibly really hurt myself? My brother decided to film it, because if I did hurt myself, filming it would of course be even more hilarious. Thanks bro.

Ok, perhaps I wasn’t in danger after all! Injury averted, a walk through the more wooded parts got me a few more lovely shots.

As we headed back towards the visitor centre, we realised our early start paid off because it was packed. But we absolutely had to go in to get deer food. The park has fallow deer that live there all year round and they are cuuuuuuute!

Back to reality though, and the weigh in results are in. I’m in shock, because I was so sure I’d messed it all up. In fact, I lost 3lbs!

This week I’m really not going to weigh myself at home, honestly. It’s more trouble than it’s worth.

With that I must sign off as group is about to begin. Have a fab week everyone!

Hayley x

Addictions

Now that I have significantly less troubles on my plate, I’ve found that some brain fog has dissipated and I can think clearly again. Since I currently have the mental capacity to do so, I’ve started reading Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood.

It took me a long time to discover this book. Every relationship I’ve had so far has found me getting myself in worse and worse situations, so much so that with the last one (not counting Gentleman Friend, he was just a slight regression) I thought another one like that might very well be the end of me. I knew something had to change, but didn’t know what. I had no explanation as to why I got involved in the first place (knowing full well he wasn’t right for me), why my feelings were so intense, why I found it so hard to walk away… I felt lost and hopeless, doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

I eventually found my way to this book via several Instagram accounts and a Facebook support group for women like me, but I had it on my Kindle for a long time before I found the courage to start reading it.

Basically, and it’s absolutely mortifying for me to admit this, I am addicted to what I have (up to this point) perceived as love. It’s even more cringy that when I think of that, I think of that godawful Robert Palmer song too. Aren’t things embarrassing enough already?

Thus far, I’ve been attracted to men who I think need me. If they need me, then it won’t matter if I’m essentially unlovable. I’ve made myself so useful, that they won’t want to leave me. It never occurred to me in any of my relationships whether they were actually worth it or not. Some of them, I’ve realised afterwards, I never even particularly liked. Yet the feelings were so all-consuming at the time, I felt compelled to act the way I did. I don’t think it would be exaggerating to call it obsession.

It’s so exhausting, trying to keep him happy all the time and feeling absolutely, 100% responsible if he isn’t, that it starts to take a physical toll on the body. You know how I’ve been struggling with my energy levels for so long? Totally normal. I spent over a year just giving and giving but riding off the adrenaline of conflict and uncertainty. When that was gone, well, I was spent.

The book says that people of my background often have an underlying depression (yep) but when we are so full of adrenaline it’s physically impossible to be depressed. Bad news is, this is of course unsustainable and you’re left with a deeper depression that the one you started with (yep).

Such women may unconsciously seek the powerful stimulation of a difficult and dramatic relationship in order to stir their glands to release adrenaline-an exercise similar to whipping a tired, over-worked horse in order to get a few more miles out of the poor, exhausted beast. This is why, when the strong stimulant of involvement in an unhealthy relationship is removed, either because the relationship ends or because the man begins to recover from his problems and relate to her in a healthier way, a woman of this type will usually sink into depression.

Robin Norwood

Damn. I did wonder why, after the initial relief of ending things for good, I felt so awful all the time.

Then there’s the emptiness that you feel. I’m still struggling with how to just sit and be me and I still feel pretty much detached from everything and everyone. One woman described how she felt after the relationship ended: ‘At first I was so empty I felt like the wind was blowing through me’. I really felt that. I spent so much time and energy pouring everything I had into another person, I didn’t know what to do when he was gone. It felt like I was gone.

Of course there are many more facets to why I am the way I am that need to be examined and dealt with, but already this book has been so helpful that I found I had to get a physical copy so that I can more easily highlight and bookmark the bits that are helping me the most.

As for how to actually heal, well I’m just starting on those chapters, but it’s going to be intense. Simple, but definitely not easy. With Gentleman Friend, I’m pretty sure he was just a very unhealthy distraction, because even with what I’ve learned so far I can’t go back to how I was. Now I know better, I have the responsibility to be and do better. I definitely found myself trying to recreate those ‘highs’ I’d known from before, but thankfully it never got that far.

Okay, enough of the deep stuff. I’ll only be doing that in small, manageable chunks. It takes it out of me I tell you!

This week has seen things just getting better and better. I’ve managed to go out on a few walks, and although I’d planned to do more than actually got done, I also managed to sleep when I needed to instead of trying to pour from an empty cup. I got an average of 9 hours a day, which is unheard of, whilst also having plenty of Pea time, time for journaling, and making sure I stayed on plan with food.

I also found even more cool stuff at the park.

We’re now entering the quiet time of work – February and March are typically the months where we have the least amount to do, and as such we’ve been offered the opportunity to book unpaid leave.

Make no mistake, I really cannot afford to do this, but I’ve decided to make my wellbeing a top priority. I have a week off at the beginning of February, and a week off at the end of March. Apart from doing a few odd things I’ve been meaning to get around to, I’m going to go on some fabulous walks, do plenty of work on myself and generally take time to look after myself properly. Because to be quite honest, I really need this. I see it as the perfect opportunity to completely recharge before I get on with evolving into the next version of myself. The one that doesn’t get into bad relationships!

Today was weigh day, but before I went I made the time to make myself an espresso using some very thoughtful Christmas presents from my brother. Ironically, I’ve been too tired to use them until now.

I was given roasted coffee beans, a hand bean-grinder and a stovetop espresso maker, along with a cute-as-hell double-walled glass to drink it from. It was smooth as hell, but also nearly blew my head off! In a good way.

There are certainly quicker and easier ways to make coffee at home, but I really enjoyed the process of the grinding and smelling the intense aroma of the beans. It was quite relaxing… until I drank all the caffeine and got the jitters!

This week I really wasn’t sure whether I’d lose any weight come weigh-in time. Not because I haven’t been on plan (I’ve been a veritable angel) but because my home scales just weren’t budging. I know, I know, I shouldn’t weigh at home! In my defence I did manage to prevent myself from self-sabotaging, and as a result I got a 2lb loss and Slimmer of the Week, again! This time I did share it with four other very deserving people-it’s nice that so many of us got a piece of the action.

I’m trying not to think too far ahead, but it cannot escape my notice that I still have 8 lbs to lose before I’m lower than my start weight, and that I cannot wait for. In the meantime all I can do is keep plodding on.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Busy

Weirdly, the first work week of January was quite busy, with no opportunity for going home early. This is good, because it means I won’t lose money. The first sniff of an early finish and I’m outta there.

Although outwardly I thought I seemed quite calm, what with waiting for mum’s hospital results and the added stress of man trouble, apparently I wasn’t fooling anyone.

At work, my friend J was a huge support, but we spent way too much time talking. So this week (I’m back in tonight) I’m going to have to crack on. Even when I’m being ‘lazy’, I’m normally more than capable of hitting my targets, however if you have a good work ethic and put in that extra bit of effort, at the times when you aren’t feeling so great you’re more likely to be given a bit of a reprieve. Give and take and all that.

At home, I mostly just hid, but I think I’ve finally snapped out of my hibernation phase. For the first time in months, I’ve been able to get up during the day and do stuff. Thinking about the past and trying to heal those wounds is really, really tough. Exhausting, actually, and since I’ve still got a long way to go I’m likely to have many more periods where it gets worse, then better, then much worse, then great, then average, then worse… you get the idea. It must be done though, because I think this is the culmination of 37 years of stuffing everything I didn’t know how to deal with deep down inside me, and it simply refuses to be contained for one second longer.

People have come to the rescue though. Although I was busy with chores on Sunday, when my friend M offered to meet for coffee in the evening I nearly bit his hand off at the chance of a distraction. I didn’t finish the things I needed to do, but never mind, it’ll wait.

It’s impossible to stay any kind of unhappy or stressed when you’re chauffeured to Costa in an ex Royal Mail van painted (badly) to look like the van from the A-Team.

You’d think that having coffee in the afternoon might have hindered my sleep, but I was that tired it really didn’t make a difference. I’m glad I managed to sleep, because I wanted Sunday over and done with quickly before I had the chance to freak out too much over my mum’s hospital results on Monday morning.

When I woke up Monday morning, really not wanting anything else to deal with, I found that Gentleman Friend had messaged me at 3:30am. The reason for his silence was that he needed ‘me time’. He said he was sorry, and that he knew it was selfish, and asked what I was up to.

I waited till I’d calmed down a bit to reply. You see, everyone, and I mean everyone is absolutely entitled to time alone or to have space whenever they want or need it. Therefore I made it totally clear that needing that isn’t selfish at all. But for the love of god is it too much to ask for that to be communicated rather than just being ignored for 8 days? I didn’t say it quite like that, but that was the gist of it.

I mean, if you really do want time alone then surely you don’t go out of your way to invite someone out then just not bother to follow through without a single word?

So, I said thanks for getting back to me, wished him well, deleted all of his pictures and messages, and carried on with my life.

Done.

Back to the hospital results then. I haven’t gone into details, because I didn’t want to think about it too much, but before Christmas the reason my mum was in hospital was to have a tumour removed. Yesterday’s appointment was to find out what it was and what happens next.

I’ll be forever grateful that my brother came along with us, and that the doctor was running very late, because it took me 50 minutes of driving round and round the multi-storey before I found a parking space. I believe the barriers were broken and saying there were spaces when there weren’t, because I was not the only one doing circuits of the car park.

When I met up with my mum and brother, we didn’t have to wait much longer before she was called. Here’s the good bit – the tumour she had removed was cancerous, but they got it all, it hadn’t reached the muscle of the organ (the bladder) and it’s the least aggressive type of cancer there is. She doesn’t need any further treatment, just regular check ups. In the event it does return, there’s a whole load of various treatments available. The doctor said if he had to have cancer, then he’d choose this kind.

Obviously it’s still terrifying, but as these things go we really couldn’t have hoped for better. I didn’t realise exactly how stressed we’d all been until we got home and started to process that she’s ok. To be honest, I could have laid down there and then and slept for about 20 hours, but there were more things to be done!

Since the day after Boxing Day, I have been super good. I have been out on many walks, and taken many lovely photographs.

Last Saturday, I took my old Russian Helios Lens out with me on my walk and got some gorgeous shots. What’s more, the sun very kindly made an appearance.

The last one is my favourite. I never usually do anything abstract, but I think it’s lovely.

The question is, did all of this hard work pay off when I weighed in Monday evening? The answer is… YES! I lost 3lbs, which I think is great considering I managed to pull back a huge gain and get away with a maintain when I officially weighed in on the last day of the year.

AND I got this, which was most unexpected!

After group, I went for a coffee with my friend Tom, in a McDonald’s of all places. We met at 7pm, when most coffee shops shut, so we didn’t have a huge amount of options. It was surprisingly nice though, and can someone tell me how long table service has been a thing?

Because I’d love another good result on the scales next week, I’m keeping the hard work going. It’s so strange (but GREAT) to want to get out of bed again. I hope I can keep this going for a good long while.

Today I did a six mile walk, and I took my camera with me again. For my own purposes, I’m choosing one shot a day to add to a ‘Walks of 2020 album’ that I can look back on at the end of the year. If some shots are samey or not that interesting, it doesn’t really matter as long as they capture something about that particular walk.

I wasn’t expecting to get anything interesting since I went to the same park on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, but I still managed to find new things.

Pretty awesome.

Well then, I’d best get a nice, healthy dinner on the go before work. I cannot tell you all how good it feels to be writing whilst feeling something like my old self.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

19 to 20

I literally cannot help myself. I’m positively compelled to get reflective towards the end of a month, year, decade… hell, even the end of a week if I’m honest.

2016 was the year I began the attempt to consciously build and shape my life, starting with sorting my weight out. In a way, it’s been a success. I have managed to protect a five stone weight loss, give or take a few pounds at times of particular stress, for two years. Even taking into account the massive gains of recent months, this is still the best I’ve ever done. I’m proud and relieved in equal measure. The last few years haven’t been for nothing after all.

My weight was taking a downwards trend right up until November last year, when I started nearing my target. It’s fairly easy not to think about other important, life-impacting things when you’re focused on that one goal, especially when being successful at weight loss has been something that’s eluded you your entire life up until that point.

But when the other stuff ain’t right, you end up building on top of rickety foundations. Cracks start appearing in the walls, and you can only turn the other way for so long. As such I spent most of 2019 tearing what I’d built to the ground in order to clear space for me to start over. I’m going into 2020 with a determination to build new, solid, foundations, and from there, I’m going to build something good, something sturdy. One brick at a time.

The last day of 2019 started off ok. I cleaned out the refrigerator of the few veggies that perished over Christmas, took delivery of my online shopping, and refilled it with plenty of healthy Slimming World Free Foods.

Then I went out for my last walk of the year, on what was turning out to be a foggy and soggy day. You know, kind that never gets fully light.

The weather matched my mood though, because I’m still really upset about my ‘friend’. I was thinking – if we had met on a dating app, hooked up a few times and this happened I could probably shrug it off. Just block him and get on with my life. But we’ve known each other for a decade. I think that’s why it hurts so much.

So on my walk I did a lot of stomping to try and work it all out of my system. It helped a little.

Despite being such a dull-looking day, there were curiosities to be found, such as this decorated Christmas tree. I’ve seen it before, but it’s never been decorated this nicely until now. If I remember I might add something myself next Christmas.

It was also a good opportunity for me to try out my new socks. Waterproof ones, no less. I found out about them from a post in a hiking group I’m in on Facebook. Even many seasoned hikers use them if they get leaks in otherwise comfortable boots, rather than going through the horrible process of having to break in a new pair.

Since my most comfy footwear isn’t waterproof, I decided to give them a go.

They work! Although since the muddy water was so cold I could feel it going in, my feet stayed completely dry. Pretty cool.

When I got home all the fresh air had tired me out, but no one was as tired as Newton was. He was visiting while his human parents were out shopping in London, and we had a good old cuddle on the sofa. If you are in any doubt about just how sleepy he was, check out his sleeping positions.

New Year’s Eve is typically quite hard for me, and last night was no exception. I was mulling over the last year and finding it so hard to remember the good and positive things. But then I looked at the doggo on my lap, and of course welcoming him into the family made the whole 12 months worthwhile.

I think my current views are clouded by my recent rejection, especially as I’ve been so clearly reminded of previous abandonments lately. I’m guessing the way I feel about being stood up has little to do with actually being stood up. I believe I had hoped for a distraction to make me feel less of a failure last night, and instead I just got a reminder of everything I was trying not to think about.

There’s also the fact that the last two New Year’s that stick in my mind weren’t good ones. There’s the one where my uncles decided it would be a good idea to spike my drinks with numerous other spirits, so I ended up getting absolutely paralytic. I have a vague recollection of my cousin’s fiancé kissing me in the hall as the clock hit midnight, then of my friend trying to drag me up from the pavement outside because I literally couldn’t stand up.

After that, my cousin’s fiancé came on to me and some other relatives at another party (this time I mercifully had my wits about me) so after speaking with my mum (I was still quite young at the time), she spoke to my aunty about it. The response was that I wasn’t to believed, and my cousin ended up marrying the guy. Needless to say, they aren’t still together.

The other one was in 1999 where I was in Cardiff seeing the Manics at the Millenium Stadium. Which sounds pretty cool, but I was so unhappy. I didn’t really feel like I fit in with my group of friends, plus we were staying with friends of friends and I was so shy and uncomfortable. But back then I would have done anything, anything to see my beloved Manics, therefore it seemed like a good idea at the time.

We stayed with student friends, and the house was grim. I got an allergic reaction off of a manky cushion I used as a pillow that night (I didn’t even have a blanket, and I still remember how awfully cold it was) and my face went all bobbly and swelled up. I had to go to the doctors when I got home as by that point my eyes were reduced to tiny slits.

So yeah, it would have been cool to have a distraction from those particular thoughts, but it wasn’t to be. It’s got to be a good thing, because these are thoughts I haven’t entertained in many, many years. How about I deal with them now, and in 12 months time be in a much better place? Sounds like a plan.

The rest of the evening was spent watching Blade Runner 2049 with the family (awesome) then I got an early night as I was planning a very early morning.

The little brother agreed to come out walking with me, and as is tradition we try to leave as early as possible. The problem is, he left the planning up to me which never, ever works out.

You see, I forgot that it’s winter, so when we got to our destination it was can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. So, we had a nap in the car while we waited for daylight, then enjoyed our first walk of 2020.

It was much like yesterday’s one – foggy and soggy! But we did what we set out to do, which for me was to start the year off how I want it to continue. I want to do much more walking and exploring than I did last year, no matter what the weather, and take more pictures with my DSLR.

I’m back at work tonight which means some semblance of routine and normality again, which will hopefully help get me out of this little funk I’m in right now.

I’m sure it’ll pass, because I’m doing the work to make it that way. Building them foundations.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Patternless Sleep

Oh bloody hell, my sleep is totally broken. I’m doing well in one respect – I’m not generally having caffeine at work, but then for some reason I’m finding it even harder to sleep after my shift. On the first day of my weekend, if I sleep in too long I can’t sleep at night, or (as was the case this Sunday) I physically cannot keep myself awake watching Princess Mononoke at 7pm! It’s ridiculous.

I did have a bad anxiety day on Saturday where I completely overreacted about something and barely slept at all, so I had break my no caffeine rule and had two 500ml energy drinks to get me through my shift.

Despite being awake, I couldn’t concentrate or settle on anything, so I’m a bit behind on all the things I want to do. It was my birthday yesterday, and I got some art supplies I’d asked for (metallic watercolours and black paper, I’m looking at you) and I really wanted to try them out, but I simply ran out of time. Now I’m just way too tired, ‘cept I can’t sleep. Damn it.

This is probably because I’ve been hammering the coffee today, and in actual fact I’m going to knock it on the head completely because it’s not doing me any good, in any respect. Sure, it’ll keep me awake at certain times (usually the wrong times) but it doesn’t help me function any better. If anything it’s mainly become a procrastination aid – I’ll do the thing after just one more cup of coffee, honestly. I’ll just finish off my last jar of caramel popcorn Beanies, which is less than half full, then I’ll go cold turkey and see how that goes.

Because of the sleep problem, I haven’t had time to go running again, but my brother did come on a birthday walk with me. The park I chose I haven’t been to since I was a kid, and I certainly was never allowed to go there alone because it was full of perverts, murderers and drug addicts. Apparently. I chose it because a friend from work told me the rats there are ridiculously bold, and I wanted to see for myself.

He wasn’t lying. Those guys really don’t give a damn.

After that we had a walk around and we found loads of mushrooms, with this one being my shot of the day:

My brother did a bit of research and was going to take one home to eat before he realised the mushroom he had chosen fit the description of at least three different varieties, probably more, and not all of them were edible. Definitely not worth the risk.

He was somewhat put off after reading about a certain fungus that will give you terrible sickness and diarrhoea, after which you will seem to make a full recovery, then you will die. Thanks but no thanks.

Because I slept so badly the night before, and because I got up early to see my sister when she dropped Newton off in the morning, I desperately needed a birthday nap before heading off to Slimming World.

To be honest I was so reluctant to get up when my alarm went off that I really thought about giving group a miss. However I decided against it because as I’ve been doing so well, I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardise my losses. Hence going to get weighed in on my actual birthday! Group was… embarrassing! They sang happy birthday to me, and I was slightly mortified, but losing 3 pounds AND getting Slimmer of the Week more than made up for it. That’s two whole weeks on plan! If (scratch that, when) this month is up and I’ve been perfectly on plan, it’ll be the best I’ve done this whole year.

Today, apart from making sure I get enough sleep before work, I’m going to catch up on #birdtober and play with my pressies before getting out for exercise Wednesday. Then I will work on building a routine again.

It’s all happening now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Only Up

Thursday was supposed to be my getting out day. It didn’t work out at all. The reason will not surprise you at all.

I mean seriously, would you have done anything different? I didn’t make it past the living room floor! I did have to make a deal with myself – if Thursday wasn’t to be the day then I absolutely had to go today. No excuses. Of course the weather on Thursday was quite nice, and today was drizzly. That’s ok by me though. The park was virtually empty and everything was nice and clean and shiny. There was a lot of everything to see as it happens.

Mushroom season is in full swing! One thing I’m rather desperate to see is a red toadstool, but that’s going to take some active searching while I’m not focusing on my fitness. That’s probably not going to happen this season, because getting back into my fitness is the most important thing. It felt so good to be out!

The last time I walked in the park it took me about an hour because I kept stopping to take pictures, but I did the same route today (and clearly took plenty of pictures) and it took about 50 minutes. That’s because whenever I could, I RAN! I only ran on the level or uphill parts, and if my knee started to hurt I stopped, but it was so good! I got all rosy cheeked but the rain cooled me down again nicely. When there are less mushrooms to see I hope to get the time down to under 40 minutes, purely from a time-saving point of view. The quicker I get my route done, the more time I have left in the day for other things. Like drawing and painting!

I’m now up-to-date with #birdtober again, and I’m especially happy with the wren. It came out exactly as I wanted it to.

I’m enjoying it so much I’m going to paint as many birds as I can once the month is up.

That’s it for my news I think. Thanks for reading!

Hayley x

Not my best start ever

Let’s get right into it. How did I get on at Slimming World? Well, for the first week of my restart it must have been a good one, yes?

Er, no.

4 lbs on this week and I just keep getting bigger and bigger. My current weight is 15st 10.5lbs and I’m really not happy with that. I’m moving further and further away from my goals as the days go by! What the hell is going on?

To be honest I was doing great until Sunday. I’d been 100% on plan and I was feeling pretty good in myself, but not convinced the weight was coming off. So I had a sneak peak on the scales. Ah, 3lbs on? I couldn’t believe it.

So I did what any sensible stoooopid person would do and ordered a takeaway. As such, today’s result was, unexpectedly, a nice big gain. Damn.

Something that is good is that I went to group anyway, even though I strongly considered throwing a sickie. I am glad I didn’t, but still, I’m fairly annoyed in general as you can imagine!

Good lord, I seriously need to get my act together! I try again then. What else can I do? My action plan for this week is to cut back on added salt, hold up on the white pasta, which bloats me, and no home weighing!

In the meantime I’ve had a busy weekend. I spent several hours today editing wedding photos, and they’ve gone down well. Despite spending all of my free time today on it, I’ve only got so far as the wedding morning. I’m hoping to finish up by the end of the week though, but we shall see.

This is one of my faves – the bride getting laced up into her dress. Look how happy she is!

Yesterday I was out walking with my little bro in Kent. First stop was a nature reserve in Wye, which is very small but also very steep.

Millions of years ago all of that was under water. How bonkers is that? We were there maybe an hour, just long enough to walk the nature route and realise how unfit we’ve both become. Time to get back into training I think! I also got some lovely shots.

Up until the wedding I found it very hard to enjoy photography because I was just so worried about letting my friend down, but now it’s over and done with I can relax and just enjoy taking photos again.

Since the walk didn’t take up much time, I had a back-up plan. We headed to Dungeness, also in Kent, because a friend of mine told me there’s an old boat that’s popular in with photographers. He was right, I even recognised it, but I’ve never seen anyone take the same shot as me.

There’s a kite-flying club just down the road, too, which made for some cool shots.

If that was the last summery day of the year (and I suspect it was) I’m glad I had my camera with me!

So I shall just crack on now, because what else can I do? Fitting back into my lovely clothes is so important to me, I really need to make some progress.

So here we go again, let’s hope this week is better than the last one!

Hayley x

The One and Only Wedding

Finally I can stop worrying, because the wedding is done! The relief is almost palpable. Friday night I had something between four and five hours sleep, that’s how stressed I was. I just couldn’t get off.

I learned a lot this weekend. I learned that anything related to a wedding will take at least four times as long as it would ordinarily. I learned that you need someone to boss the wedding party around otherwise nothing will ever get done. I realised that wedding guests are like particularly unruly cats who just refuse to go where you want them to. In short, I learned I am never doing this again!

I’m not complaining though, because despite all of the negatives I actually had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the experience. The first plus point was meeting Kerry, my friend’s parents’ goddaughter. The usher dropped out last minute at which point Kerry stepped in, and she was BRILLIANT.

I’ve rarely met someone I’ve liked so quickly and so fully – she’s an absolute diamond and I truly believe the bride would still be getting into her dress now if we hadn’t had her to keep everyone in check. She’s a pure soul, completely and utterly herself at all times and so full of life. She helped me fulfil my photographic duties no end, and even had some great suggestions for shots which came out beautifully. I will be forever grateful that she was there. She’s also a wonderful hair stylist, with her own salon no less, so if you’re ever in Devon and need your hair (or beard) tended to, you can find her at Shortcutz.

Here she is taking a break in her ushering duties getting the groom’s beard under control.

At this point I even managed to sneak in a selfie of me in the wonderful dress!

The scariest part for me was the bride coming down the aisle. It was a particularly short aisle, and I just didn’t have the time to screw up. But I got the shot, then I could relax a bit. That was probably the part I was most worried about. Anything else could be redone. After that I could breathe again.

Then came the group shots, and a really weird thing happened. I kind of ended up in charge, taking over from Kerry, but the especially strange thing is that I was pretty good at it! I really surprised myself. What’s more, I enjoyed it.

I well and truly found my very loud ‘do as I say’ voice which certainly carried itself all the way to the stragglers at the bar, but when people were being particularly stubborn I found that I was bossing them around in a nice way, with a smile on my face. I actually spent a large portion of this stage of the proceedings laughing my head off. I never knew I had being confident in front of 60 people all looking to me for direction in me!

Next up I got into a stunningly beautiful VW camper van with the newlyweds where we drove to a nice spot to get the couple shots.

In a way I’m disappointed with what I got, because if I’d had a couple of hours to play around I could have done so much more. But I didn’t have a couple of hours, I had about 20 minutes. The couple have seen an initial couple of edits and thankfully they’re over the moon. I don’t have to move away and change my name after all!

The chap who drove the van, Lawrence from Retro Rides 4 Brides, was just an absolute star. I told him I’d never photographed a wedding before and he chipped in straight away with the best shots he’d seen other photographers do during the course of his work. He was so friendly and helpful, I honestly could have cried with how sweet everyone involved was. I’m feeling the love!

The DJ in the evening was the same. He arranged his lights the way most photographers asked it to be done to make sure they didn’t ruin the shots for the first dance, he took the time to learn my name and made sure I was available before he announced the dance or the cake cutting.

Once those bits were done I really started to enjoy myself. Official duties were over, so I dumped my flash in my room, grabbed my fastest lens (the lens that lets in the most light, so it’s good for low light conditions) and did what I do best – just capturing little moments throughout the night where the subjects are none the wiser. Because I don’t have to think so much about this kind of photography, I unashamedly got on the G&T’s. Which explains the dreadful hangover I had the next day.

Now the editing really begins, and I have a lot of work to do. Professional photographers often allow months for this turnaround, so I’m happy to take my time and do it over the next couple of weeks. I don’t want to rush it.

Plus I have other things to be getting on with, which I’ll talk about in the next post. The wedding day felt very much like both an ending for me and a new beginning, which I wasn’t expecting.

Right, time for me to get on now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Student Digs

Whenever I’ve stayed away from home lately I’ve been spoiled. Over the last year or so I’ve grabbed some serious bargains when it comes to accommodation (the cheapest being FREE) and I’ve been super lucky that everywhere I stayed was rather lovely. I suppose my luck had to run out eventually.

Tonight I am staying in Canterbury ready for my friend’s wedding tomorrow, which I’m photographing. I only wanted a place nearby where I could sleep, because I don’t want to be braving the motorway on the morning of the wedding. Especially as the M20 is closed in both directions near my friend’s house. That would not be wise.

Since I’m only sleeping here, it’s not too much of a problem that it’s not exactly the nicest place I’ve stayed in. It smells like dog, and it’s generally all a bit forlorn, but it’ll do. I can just about see Canterbury cathedral from my room.

Since it’s a university town this kind of accommodation is to be expected, and it was dirt cheap, so I’m sure not complaining. I spent the money I saved in a Mountain Warehouse round the corner as they are in the midst of a massive sale. I bought a couple of quick-drying bits which I love, love, love. I wear moisture-wicking clothing whenever I can these days, it’s the best!

Anyway with this wedding imminent I can’t decide if I’m being calm today because I think I know what I’m doing, or if I’m in complete denial and will freak out tomorrow. It’s anyone’s guess.

I ate at Wagamama and spent the time between courses arriving finalising my shot list as well as making sure I have everything covered and appropriately planned. I am feeling positive but I’ll also be mightily glad when it’s all over. My friend hasn’t had the best track run when it comes to weddings, so this better be the last one he has because I sure ain’t photographing another one!

In the meantime, for all of my talk about avoiding diet culture I finally hit my limit. I have been unable to locate my off switch so I’m going back to Slimming World for help!

Basically I have put on a rather large and unacceptable amount of weight (the dress I bought only a couple of weeks ago for this very wedding is already rather tight) and I’m feeling downright uncomfortable now. My own reflection is looking odd to me. I look like I’ve been stung by several bees.

I don’t regret my actions of the last few months. I made big changes in my life and I needed to get to a good place before I could really think clearly about my diet.

What I do wish is that I could have figured out exactly what was going on at the time. The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing is it not?

I think what I wanted deep down was a break from it all, and that’s what I got. But boy did I beat around the bush first!

After years of dedicating most of my thoughts to making progress with my weight, I’d just had enough. Plus my brain was too busy focusing on other things.

Now I really, really feel ready to continue, and it’s actually quite an inconvenience to have this wedding in the meantime. To be honest I’d like to start eating properly RIGHT NOW, but instead I have another day before my food is back in my own control.

It’s not the end of the world though. Tomorrow is going to be so busy (I will be on the go from 7am to midnight) it’ll be over before I know it.

I might not feel comfortable as I am, but I also know I’ll be feeling a million times better in just a week or two. It won’t take much to turn this around.

My plan today had been to explore Canterbury, but I didn’t even get a chance. The time has just disappeared. Instead I’m going to get as much sleep as possible to I’m in the best condition for tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Hayley x

Perfect Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x