On it in Oxford for On Plan October

Saturday was a day for friends, and it was FANTASTIC. Where my head has been so fuzzy lately I personally made meeting up with these particular humans more difficult than it had to be. When me and two other magnificent bloggers (Dave and Marjolein) decided we would meet in the first place, we had a little discussion about what we could possibly get up to.

I was feeling a bit (a lot) low at the time so I went ahead and booked my train tickets for Oxford as soon as we’d decided which day we were doing it. My reasoning was sound – I’d booked them way in advance, when I actually had some money, so that when it got nearer the time I wouldn’t find I’d run out of cash and have to bail. That wouldn’t do at all. Plus I’d have something solid to look forward to that I could focus on.

The only problem is that I’d invented a memory in my head that we’d decided on Oxford, which we absolutely hadn’t! Thankfully Dave and Mar are awesome and didn’t mind a bit, or if they did they were kind enough to reassure me that it wasn’t a problem anyway.

Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it was the 6th of October and it was time to meet!

I was a bit anxious about the journey, starting with my tickets. I had to phone up and change them (in actual fact a simple task, but I managed to blow it out of proportion in my mind) as I thought I was booking an any time ticket for the outward journey when in fact I’d managed to book a time that would get me there much too late.

For the return journey I thought I’d booked an any day and any time ticket, but I hadn’t. It was just for the 7th, which was the Sunday. I’d had half a mind to book a B&B and stay overnight, but eventually decided against it mainly because I didn’t want to put myself in the path of temptation where food is concerned. I’m sure I’d have made some good choices, but I want to be totally in control of what I eat for the time being.

After waking up at 4:15 (damn) I started the day as I meant to go on – I had my wheat biscuits and oat milk for breakfast, followed by some veggie sausages, butternut squash and tomatoes. I ate until I was full, but that didn’t stop me being famished by the time I made it through London to Paddington Station. I was afraid that would happen.

After a little trek to find a loo (this was to be a theme of the day in fact, needing to pee) and paying 30p for the privilege, my nostrils detected the intoxicating smell of Cornish Pasties. The scent was coming from a shop I’m familiar with which I know sells a delicious vegan pasty, but this is Hayley version 2.0 we’re talking about, and she doesn’t eat such things. Hayley v2.0 went to Pret for an Americano then M&S for a berry medley to eat on the train. That’s more like it.

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The journey to Oxford took a hefty three hours or so from leaving my front door, but I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly public transport seemed to be running on this particular day. Everything just seemed to go my way.

When I arrived at Oxford, before my companions, I had time to pee again and grab another coffee. Then I had just enough time to have a little worry. For some reason I’d assumed Dave, who I’ve met before, would get there first. Then it suddenly occurred to me that it could in fact be Mar. I started worrying if I’d recognise her from the picture on her blog or not.

As is the case for practically everything I’ve worried about so far this year, it was a complete waste of time since I recognised her instantly as she came through the ticket barrier, closely followed by Dave.

The first task was to obtain coffee and to decide what to actually do, because we’d only come up with the vaguest of plans thus far. I don’t think you could even call it a plan to be honest! It just so happened that having a coffee and a chat first of all was probably the best idea anyway, because it meant we got to relax (out of the rain) and get to know each other a bit more before heading out into the city.

It was actually really cool to hang out with people who interests overlap as ours do. We visited a few Harry Potter-related places, and since both myself and Mar are Hufflepuff’s (or so the sorting hat tells us) this pleased us greatly. But there was also plenty of history, architecture, art and stained glass to keep Dave happy, too. It was lovely to see that we could all visit the same place but take something different away from it.

Whilst visiting the Divinity School, where a scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was filmed, we snuck past Madam Pince (possibly) and had a look around in the Restricted Section.

There we became trapped by a group of people on a tour, so we had to wait quietly until they were finished before we could escape. We were caught and told we weren’t allowed there, but only on our way out and only after we’d had some fun with selfies and whatnot.

Personally I blame Dave for my uncharacteristic naughtiness, since he seems to have a complete disregard for the rules. My theory was proved later on when he recklessly encouraged us to eat our packed lunches in Café Nero. It’s a slippery slope – no doubt this time next year I’ll be making a living stealing car stereos.

After lunch we went to the Ashmolean Museum which I liked very much. Again there is something for everyone and I even took away some inspiration for a future craft project. I’m keeping the details under wraps for now though.

Later on we visited the Great Hall at Christchurch, which features in all of the Harry Potter films. It was a great chance to geek out, and I made sure I messaged my sister afterwards to check that she was sufficiently jealous. We’re all Potterheads in our family.

Next door was a beautiful cathedral with some very pretty stained glass windows, though I’m more impressed by the colours than the subject matter (which to be honest I never pay that much attention to).

With this one however I’m pretty sure it’s depicting how someone on a lads night out got drunk, stole a life buoy, and wore it as a hat for the rest of the night.

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Soon after it was time to part ways after a thoroughly satisfying day spent with the loveliest people.

The minimal planning I did before hand, namely the food prep I’d done, definitely paid off because I took enough for lunch and dinner with me. I could feel my resolve slipping by the time I got back to London (with another hour or so of travel to go) so I was glad to be able to munch my leftovers on the last train journey of the day.

I ended the day with lot of steps under my belt, a warm fuzzy feeling inside and my goals for #onplanoctober completely intact.

I’d call that a win.

Hayley x

Worrywart

It’s been a bit of a funny couple of days. I haven’t been sleeping all that well, because I’ve been too busy worrying about silly things. The circular thoughts and catastrophising have returned somewhat and I’ve been feeling more than a little anxious. I know my brain is lying, so I’m just carrying on regardless, and it helps to know not to pay attention when that annoying little voice tells me everything is going to go wrong.

When I feel like this all it takes is one little thing that’s bothering me to get stuck in a (seemingly) never ending loop in my mind that drowns out every other thought. The good thing though? The last time I thought it was never ending, it ended, and I felt better.

This is temporary.

One great thing about blogging is that you often find others out there are just like you.

For instance this week I’m really worried that I’m not going to lose weight because I haven’t wanted to enough.

I feel like because I’ve taken my eye off the ball (where I’ve been busy with other things) although I’ve been within my syns every single day I won’t lose because I haven’t given it enough headspace.

This is completely illogical. Laughable even. But I’d bet all of my worldly possessions that I’m not the only one.

On a lighter note, one thing I believe I am completely alone in is that sometimes I have an itch and I don’t know where it is.

I’ll scratch my elbow thinking the itch is there, but after I’ve scratched I still have an itch. But I’m not sure if it’s in my knee, or on my shoulder, or a butt cheek. It’s not until I scratch the right place that I discover where it is.

Weird right? C’mon internet, prove me wrong and tell me it’s not just me!

Anyway…

Today I’ve been keeping busy with lots of preparations. I’m out early tomorrow and I’m taking lunch with me, which is already done and in the fridge.

I also have a big breakfast already made which I’ll eat before I go to give me the energy I need for the journey (and beyond). I’ll explain where I’m going in the next post, you’ll have to be patient for that part!

Lunch is ENORMOUS – I’m already wondering how many extra calories I’ll burn by lugging it around. It’s also completely free on Slimming World and includes some interesting ‘unicorn carrots’ from Lidl.

There is also the standard orange colour and a carrot masquerading as a parsnip, but I don’t have pictures of those.

I have a microwave meal for 6.5 syns that I can have when I get home if I’m too tired to cook, so I reckon I’m sorted.

I’ve also been wondering (vainly) what to wear because I don’t feel all that comfortable in my usual walking stuff, which would come in handy as it’s looking like it’s going to chuck it down tomorrow.

Instead I’m going to wear mostly practical clothing which I’m comfortable in and will mostly keep me dry. Plus my coat has a hood and I have a brolly. I’ll be fine.

Lately I either look like I woke up in a bin or I’m super fancy. Today the most exciting thing I’ve done is go to Aldi, but I dressed up anyway because I felt like it.

It’s nice to feel confident enough to go out both looking like a tramp and completely overdressed!

Other than that all I’ve done today is take autumnal photos when really I should have been catching up with other things.

So sue me!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

On Schedule

The other day I was looking back on my losses and gains throughout the year so far. It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t lost weight more than two weeks in a row since November last year, which is also the last time I got an award with Slimming World.

Before weigh in I was thinking how crappy it would be if, because of things totally out of my control (ie the inner workings of my body), that I failed to break that trend this week. I wasn’t exactly feeling negative about it though, I was just preparing myself for that particular outcome and making decisions about what I’d do next.

I had it firmly in my mind that if that was the case I’d just carry on doing exactly what I have been doing and wait to get the loss I was owed. If I don’t have a plan in place I might be tempted to go off the rails which is the very worst thing you can do in such situations.

But, and this will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one, I needn’t have worried. I tell myself about ten times a week to trust in the plan, but come weigh day there are always the same doubts.

I lost 2.5 lbs, and got my flipping 7.5 stone award! I got my 7 stone award on the 28th of November last year, so this one has been a bloody long time coming. I could beat myself up for taking ten months to get it, but actually I’d say this is the one I’m most proud of. This is certainly the one that I tried the hardest for, when there are so many, many times when it would have been easier to give up.

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Can you even imagine how glad I am that I didn’t? Where would I be now? Nowhere good, that’s for sure.

And do you see that shiny, sparkly little number there? Yep, most surprisingly I also got Slimmer of the Month! I’m absolutely buzzing right now.

So that means I’m still on schedule to hit target by the end of the year, something that I’m keeping in the forefront of my mind. I’m actually ahead of schedule, but still aiming for a 2lb loss every week. For every week I do better, like this one, then I see it as a bonus and that I’m giving myself even more time to get to where I want to be if things slow down.

Even though I’m feeling positive and VERY excited, I’ll be honest – there’s a certain amount of fear that’s going with it, something I didn’t think I’d be feeling at this stage.

I’m really scared that it won’t be enough, which is silly because I already know it won’t be enough. What I mean is that losing the last stone is not going to magically make all of my problems disappear. I know I still have to work on accepting the imperfections in my body (of which there are many) and learning to do that could take a whole lifetime really.

What do they say? Feel the fear and do it anyway. Because there’s no alternative really. At least if I’m a healthy weight then I’m giving myself a body that’s capable of fighting for all the other stuff rather than slowly killing it with sugar.

I do still think I may have to adjust my target weight at a later date, but for now 12 stone 10 pounds is where I want to be. I won’t know for sure how I’ll feel till I get there, but this is the weight I’ve had in mind for literally decades so it’ll be mind blowing when I get there. I have no idea how I’ll react!

Once there I’ll spend a little time maintaining and getting used to my new weight before I decide what to do next. Either way it’s always good to have a plan, even if I don’t always stick to it.

Yesterday I took some photos I was really happy with. My friend bought me a bunch of flowers to say thank you for getting his prescription, but he also accidentally broke the heads off of a load of them. Of course I didn’t mind, there were plenty left in tact and I decided that the others were begging to be photographed. So I took them out into the garden for a little shoot.

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When someone buys me flowers I always take photos anyway, because then they will last forever, but I’m especially happy with these.

The light was briefly rather beautiful yesterday, then it turned damn cold. So it was lovely to wake up this morning to a message from my union rep asking if I want to trial some new thermals. HELL YES I DO! Every year that goes along I can stand the cold less and less, so who even knows how I’m going to cope this year. Hopefully these new thermals are something special, then maybe I’ll wear them at home, too!

Soon I’m walking into town and I’m on a mission to visit every charity shop there. Which is probably for the best because most every other kind of shop has shut down anyway. Hopefully I can find a nice bargain, and get my exercise done in the process.

So I’d best get cracking!

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

Already?

Guess what popped up on my (dedicated Slimming World, no less) Instagram feed this afternoon?

You’ll never get it, so I’ll tell you.

MINCE PIES. 

This is too early, even for me! I’ve found combining slimming with veganism really hard, not because finding vegan options is a problem, but because there are so many options now.

My trigger foods have always been pizza and ice cream, for as long as I can remember. I thought that not having access to these things would really help my efforts – I can no longer order a 20″ pizza and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s right to my door for £15 after all. But then along comes the release of two (incredible looking) vegan pizzas and a vegan Magnum in the last couple of weeks alone. Oh and Violife have bought out a mozzarella substitute that I like the taste of and melts really well.

That’s now six or so vegan pizzas that are readily available in major supermarkets! And now the vegan mince pies are popping up already. Damn.

Of course I’m not really complaining, it’s fantastic for the vegan movement after all, but it is really hard not to get carried away and try ALL THE NEW THINGS.

I feel a sense of responsibility to try to support businesses making the effort to bring these products to the shelves, but for my own benefit and the benefit of others attempting the same thing, my time (and money) will be better spent showing that it’s totally doable to combine Slimming World with veganism.

For those wondering, you can still eat pizza and ice cream on Slimming World (and sometimes I do) but for me personally I find it best to avoid them all together or I will more often than not lose my head and eat way too much.

As it is those mince pies got me thinking about Christmas already (sorry!) and this year I’m looking for some decent middle ground.

Since I properly started my journey (sorry again, that word!) in 2016 I’ve had two Christmases – the first I stayed mostly on plan, only gained half a pound but felt really deprived. The second I was out of control from the end of November till the beginning of February, put on over a stone and felt really miserable.

This is me in December vs me last month. I don’t think I’m imagining that there’s quite a difference there, but it’s genuinely hard for me to tell what with the angles being different and whatnot. I do remember how the Hayley on the left felt though, and I don’t want a repeat of that.

Thinking back on it, what do I really remember about last Christmas? The actual day was brilliant – the best Christmas I’ve ever had. I remember making the Bosh mushroom wellington which is hands down one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten, seeing my family’s faces when they opened the gifts which so much thought had gone into, and playing silly games in the evening.

As far as other food and drink goes, the only ‘must have’ vegan things I remember was the vegan Baileys Almande (quite nice but my tastes have changed a bit, wouldn’t bother with it again) a liqueur from M&S (it was revolting) and trying Besos de Oro which is a vegan-friendly Bailey’s kind of drink (doubly revolting). So if I don’t get all of the must have things this year, it’s no big deal and I won’t even remember what they were by the end of January. Unless they stick out in my mind for being particularly awful.

I also stopped going to group at the end of November, and I tell you now, that is DEFINITELY not going to happen this time around!

My plan of action is to not buy anything at all until about a week before the day, because if it’s in the house I’ll definitely eat it, and only buy enough for one single day of eating and drinking.

If a certain item I want is sold out, so what? Does it really matter? Of course it doesn’t! In the meantime I shall write down my plan of action in my journal, so it’s even more cemented in my mind, then say no more about it at least until December.

I’m glad that’s out of my system (for now) and anyone posting festive pictures on social media is getting temporarily muted!

Anyway! On to more pressing matters. Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, and luckily I can’t eat the enormous cake my mum has bought for him. Considering she’s a diabetic and my brother is doing fantastically well with his weight loss and fitness efforts, I’m not sure it was exactly wise for her to get a 16-portion cake for the two of them, but what can you do.

I used the opportunity to ask her not to buy me any food items for my birthday (which is next month) to which she responded ‘Ok, but do you want a cake?’ Bless her, she really does mean well, but NOOOOOOOOO I don’t want a cake! While I was at it I messaged my sister to ask her not to get me any food either, and to cancel plans we had for a food-based get together. I still want to do something, but it doesn’t have to revolve around food. So I think I’m covered. I don’t think anyone else would get me anything edible anyhoo.

On Sunday me and my brother are doing some sort of healthy ‘outdoorsy’ thing in order to celebrate, though we haven’t decided exactly what yet. Whatever we choose I’m sure it’ll be fun though. He’s my number one adventure buddy.

I also want to start taking more photos again, which is best done with my brother because he’s so patient with me. Some friends wander off while I’m trying to get a good shot whereas my brother is more than happy to mill around for a bit while I get totally lost in what I’m doing.

He’s such a good brother, and I am so lucky to have him.

The Google Photos app has yet again been reminding me that last year I was taking a lot more photos than I am this year…

This needs to be rectified, and I need to get out and do more interesting things, more often.

Today though, so far, all I’ve managed to do is write this post which has taken hours because I keep procrastinating. I reckon I’m done for now though, so it’s time to get exercising. This Gold Body Magic award won’t earn itself you know!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Tired & Wired

I’m a few days in to my course of antidepressants now and the side effects are hitting me hard. I’ve been on the same medication before but never suffered from anxiety until now, and since one of the (albeit temporary) side effects is, wait for it, increased anxiety, I’m really struggling to keep everything together.

Luckily I also know other people who have been through the same thing and gave me the heads up so I knew what to expect. The other side effects are actually quite welcome. One is that they keep me awake, so I haven’t needed coffee to get me through work (in fact I’ve had to lay off the caffeine otherwise I get completely wired), and when I get home I’ve been sleeping really well. And I’ve had a decreased appetite, but I’m still trying to eat properly because I find if I haven’t eaten my anxiety gets worse.

So things are still tough, but I’m actually feeling stronger and know that I just have to get through the next couple of weeks before things really start to improve. I just have to try and ride it out.

Although my weekend has felt rather panicky, it’s still been OK with a few welcome distractions. I went to drop off some bits at a friends house as they’ve been cluttering up my room for some time now, and while I was there I managed to photograph his regular foxy visitor with my cheap telephoto lens. The photos are noisy (grainy) as hell but there wasn’t much I could do with what I had and the conditions, but I’m still happy with them overall.

That is one healthy looking fox!

Then on Monday another friend invited me out for a stroll around the bank holiday boot sale and I jumped at the offer. It was nice to get a little bit of exercise and he even treated me to some boxing gloves, so now I can hit the man in my garage that my brother has been beating up for some time now. Plus this kind of exercise doesn’t involve my knee.

I didn’t sleep much at all Sunday night (taking the pills in the evening at weekends is a necessary evil), so when I got home from the boot sale I had a little nap before going to Slimming World in the evening.

I finally got to stay at group and meet everyone, and I must say they are all lovely. It’s a much smaller group than I’m used to which is much, much nicer, and very good for me since I wasn’t really up to being in a room with lots of people.

I put on 2lbs since my last official weigh in, which I’m kind of happy with because it could have/would have been a lot worse (I did at least manage some days on plan in August) and I’m already feeling so encouraged by my fellow slimmers I’m sure I’m going to do well from now on.

I was really looking forward to August but it’s been the worst month I’ve had in many, many years. So here’s to September being a lot better (and totally on plan!)

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Drenched!

I’ve bitten the bullet and made a doctors appointment. I hate going but I really should get a professional opinion about my knee, which is feeling better still but isn’t right. Or even pain free for that matter. I walked today as I said I would, but although it was lovely it added half an hour onto my time for that route. It’s no problem when I’m off work, like today, but otherwise it would just eat up too much of my day. So I must run! I MISS running!

Having said that, it was waaaaay too hot to actually run today. I started at 10:30am and was melting within minutes. I don’t know what the temperature was but the sun was already beating down and being reflected back up from the sand/gravel track. It’s not so much of a problem for me these days, but there was a time when that kind of environment would have floored me. Today it was mostly me trying to be sensible that prevented me from attempting a run regardless.

I remember going to festivals with my friends and although I loved the music I would often only wear jeans and cover up with long-sleeved tops. I don’t think anyone knew how much of a struggle, how utterly exhausting it was. There’s also a lot of walking involved when you’re making your way between stages, and my thighs would rub until they were literally bleeding. I’m glad that kind of thing is firmly in my past, so the only things I have to think about now when it’s hot are ‘do I have enough water’, ‘do I have enough sunscreen on’ and ‘have I remembered my sunglasses’.

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As it happens today I remembered all of those things.

Everything was so gorgeous today, just saturated with colour. It was nice on the eyes but by the time I got back to the car I was drenched!

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Obviously it was well worth it though. So that’s 1 Body Magic session out of a total of 5 planned for this week. I really hope there’s good new at my doctor’s appointment, which is on Saturday morning. No matter what the verdict though I know I’ll keep active one way or another, because now I’ve started I know I can’t stop. There are plenty of options out there.

As mentioned in my last post, I gave it some thought and I’ve decided I’m REALLY going to try to only weigh myself after Lady Time. If I can do it, then imagine the excitement as I step on the scales to get the verdict of a whole month’s worth of being on plan. I just have to stick to it.

I had a really bad sleep last night (my brain wouldn’t turn off) and I think I have just enough time to nap before my friend comes over this afternoon to do some bits to my car. So I’ll be off now.

Mmm, naps…

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x