Hello There!

Yesterday was a false start. I drew the line, but somehow it got smudged and I ended up eating more bread-based products. On the one hand I’m proud of myself, because I didn’t have my main trigger food (ice cream) which would have been a lot worse. On the other hand part of me is asking ‘why bread?’ because I know it bloats me out so my gain this evening will be that much worse.

I’ve just got to take it on the chin though.

What I did do today was redraw that line, and this time I used permanent marker. I went on to my group’s secret Facebook page and told everyone what had happened and that I’d see them in group tonight to face my gain. Accountability is hugely important.

Fast-forward past a huge pile of laundry (which is still drying now) and a long, drawn out trip with my mother for her hospital appointment, and we get to weigh in. Which was actually the only positive thing about today, despite me gaining 3.5 lbs.

I didn’t gain as much as I thought I would so that’s good, plus there were others in the same boat as me. I think we all left feeling better than when we walked in.

Either way group was a really good laugh and I’m so glad I went, despite all of my instincts being to avoid group like the plague. Sometimes our instincts are lying little gits who should be ignored at all costs.

I have pledged to lose 4lbs this week and I will do everything in my power to achieve that. I feel like today has been stolen from me and I haven’t been able to get back on form as I’d hoped, but I have stayed on plan and tomorrow will be better.

In all of the ‘excitement’ of the last few days I did forget about one achievement – #onplanoctober. I did, by some miracle, manage to spend the entire month absolutely, 100% on plan.

Ok, so a repeat of that for November is now impossible, and I have plans for the 30th, but every other day will be on plan for sure. I may be five days late but…

My plan for this month was to hit target, but after a long chat with a friend on Saturday and lots of contemplation on Sunday, I’ve decided to lower my target.

I don’t even know what I want it to be, I just know that I want to lose more and I’m selling myself short if I don’t really go for it now. Why not aim for the flipping stars?

I’ve decided to just keep losing until my body tells me enough is enough. When the losses start to slow, or stop, that should be the right place.

In the meantime my November weight loss goal is to get to my original target of 12.10, and it’s my new Christmas wish to still be that weight or less once Christmas is over.

I think that’s quite reasonable.

The plan for tonight though is to get some (on plan) grub and get an early night. Tomorrow, I want to hit the ground running.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Starting Out

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This is a bit of a long one, so I recommend grabbing a cuppa first!

My Slimming World consultant has been asking me a lot lately – what advice would you give to someone just starting out on their weight loss journey? Whenever I’m posed with such a question my mind instantly goes completely blank. The same goes for if I’m asked something like ‘how is life different now?’

It’s not that I don’t have an answer, it’s just that my own answer to those questions is made up of a thousand tiny little answers that I’ve come up with over the course of a lifetime. No wonder I can’t give a decent response on the spot! So I decided to write a post to see if I can come up with something helpful. And perhaps something that I can refer back to when the question inevitably comes up in the future.

First of all a little disclaimer – these are just things that have worked for me. It might not be the right way for others, and that’s absolutely fine. Try things out and see what works for you.

Which brings me nicely to my first bit of advice.

1. Trial and error

I’ve been in my current job for 10 years this month, and I’ve been trying to lose weight that whole time. One of my major issues was getting in from work at 6am and being starving. In the beginning I’d be so hungry after my shift that I’d stop off at the 24hr Asda at the end of the road and buy the biggest pizza they sold. And I’d eat the whole lot for breakfast. That only stopped when they went back to normal trading hours (and I found plenty of other food to replace it with).

The pattern of going over the top after work only stopped when I started actively seeking a solution, and it took a good year before I came up with something that worked. I had to work out when is best to eat dinner, what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat my work lunch and what to have when I come in.

For me what works is an enormous Slimming World dinner as late as possible before my shift starts at 10pm, which will see me through to my lunch break at 4am. Then I have a substantial lunch (normally pasta and low-Syn vegan meatballs with passata, packed out with fresh tomatoes and roasted veg) which ensures I’m not famished when the shift finishes shortly after. Often I don’t even need anything when I get in and go straight to sleep, but if I do need something I have my healthy extras (wheat biscuits and chocolate oat milk, yum!)

So my advice is to keep trying different things until you find the thing that works. Try big meals and little meals, healthy snacks, eating at different times… and listen to your body. If it’s hungry you should feed it, just work out when you really are hungry and work around that. If I need two lunches in any given day, then I have two lunches! As long as you follow the plan, you’ll lose weight.

2. Be REALLY kind to yourself 

No one can thrive when they’re being spoken down to all of the time, and that counts for our internal voices too. I’ve been there and I get it – you think you look like crap, you tell yourself you’re disgusting, greedy, lazy and a whole load of other awful LIES.

Being genuinely kind to yourself takes a lot of practice, and even then I’ll admit I’m not perfect. I have days where I look at myself and despair, but it’s usually not long before I’m back thinking rationally.

We are conditioned to think that only slim bodies have worth (just look at the mainstream media, at the images we are bombarded with every. single. day.) But honestly it’s just… bullsh*t (‘scuse my language). Most of the people we see are Photoshopped to high heaven – even models don’t look like like models in real life.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t lose weight. If you want to, then go for it. Quite possibly you’ll have more energy, a longer life, have less aches and pains and a whole host of other benefits. But while you’re doing that, know that fat bodies are beautiful. Flawed bodies are beautiful. Thin bodies are beautiful. And all of them have the right to exist because it’s your body and you can do WHATEVER THE HELL YOU LIKE WITH IT. It’s really hard, but I’d recommend embracing your body every step of the way. I go to group and I look around me and see so many beautiful people, in all shapes and sizes, and when I think of how different people are when they start to lose weight I’m not thinking about how their tummies have shrunk or if their butts are smaller.

More often than not the real big changes are in confidence, how people carry themselves, how big their smiles are. But you don’t actually have to lose weight to do those things.

I’d recommend following real people on social media. There’s a huge Body Positivity movement going on and it’s awesome. If what we see is saturated with bodies only a tiny percentage of us are even physically capable of having, then change what you see. It could change your life.

As far as weight loss goes, you might find (as I have) that how you actually look is a secondary benefit of losing weight. And when you discover the other benefits, it’s a HUGE motivator to carry on.

3. Take the focus away from food

This was a real turning point for me. I’m not talking about distracting yourself if you feel hungry, I’m talking about finding things you love that aren’t eating.

In 2012 I lost 7 stone, but I put it all back on again because even after I’d lost it I was still miserable. Looking back I think it’s because food was the only thing in my life that I truly enjoyed. I was seeing someone at the time and not happy at all. I was bored with sitting in front of the TV every weekend, so much so that my only consolation was a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. I never really did anything for myself, and thinking back I have no idea how I used to fill my days. I didn’t do anything.

So my advice here is to find the things you love more than food. For me they are my parrot, walking, exploring new places, photography and spending meaningful time with family and friends. Luckily for me these pursuits all go hand-in-hand.

I do still enjoy things like reading and films, but I used to find it really hard to sit down and read without a glass of wine in hand, or to watch a film without popcorn. But you can train yourself to enjoy relaxing without mindlessly consuming a thousand calories in one sitting as I was doing. Now I just get fully immersed in a film, and if it’s not grabbing my attention enough that I’m bored and want to eat, then I turn if off and do something else. Life’s too short to watch bad films, and much too short to waste it on ice cream.

4. Ask for help, and give it freely

Really that should be the other way round, because I found that when I started trying to help and encourage people, it was much easier to accept help in return. I’m shy and a bit of an introvert, so this is something that was (is) hard for me so I started small.

I started online. If you think someone is doing well then definitely, definitely tell them, as it could make their day. You can change a bad day into a good day for someone. And you never know what friendships will bloom from that. I get so much support and encouragement from people I’ve never even met (at least not yet, in some cases!) and I know that help is only a message away.

Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Ok, some people will inevitably not be quite up to the task. Perhaps they aren’t the friend you thought they were, or maybe they just have something else going on in their own lives that needs their full attention. But there’s always someone out there who cares. Need a bit of extra support? Then hit me up. Seriously, pop a comment in at the end of the post and I’m all ears. In fact, once I’m done here I’ll see if I can add a contact page to the blog. My inbox is always open.

As far as ‘real life’ goes, I found that after doing these things being encouraging to people face-to-face became much easier too, although I fear I’m still terribly awkward when I talk to people! But trying to lift people up (as best as I can) is more important than worrying about transitory awkwardness.

It’s not always easy to know what to say to people, but I’ve found that a simple ‘what can I do to help you?’ or ‘I’m here if you need me’ is often enough in those cases.

5. Keep going to group, and do what you can

Even, no, especially when you’re struggling. When I lost weight before as soon as I hit a stumbling block I stopped going to group. After all what’s the point in still going if you aren’t even losing weight? What’s the point of going if you’re gaining weight.

I’ll tell you now – there is every point in going. When I went back to group in October 2016, tail between my legs and almost every pound of my 7 stone loss regained, I noticed a little group of ladies who had been attending the same group even before I originally started going in 2012.

They didn’t have anything like as much as I had to lose, even at their start points, yet they still weren’t at target after all this time. Did I think any less of them for that? Did I think they had failed in some way?

Nope. I was envious. Insanely jealous.

They had done exactly the right thing. They might not have been making as much progress as they’d like. They all have active social lives so I’m guessing a lot of the delay was due to having a fantastic time with friends, but they still kept going and chipping away, half a pound at a time if necessary. When there were gains they were taken on the chin. When there was an off plan day, there were another six of being on plan. They didn’t talk down to themselves or beat themselves up over it.

I’ve tried to emulate that attitude and it has worked. In the not-so-distant past an off plan day for me would always turn into an off plan week (or two) and it was not unusual to see me gain half a stone in a week.

My weight has yo-yo’d dramatically in the past, but somehow during my most recent period of real struggling (which was between November last year up until the end of August) I managed to more or less maintain my weight for the first time in my life. And it was all down to sticking with the plan every moment I felt I was able to, and not letting a bad weekend spiral into a bad week. Sometimes I had to take one meal at a time, but it meant that when I found my current group after being an online member for a while, I’d only gained 2 pounds rather than, well, everything I’d previously lost.

6. Don’t take things at face value

This is something I’ve been thinking about after starting my new group, because the people there haven’t seen me at my biggest. On the face of things it’s easy to look at me and think ‘blimey, she’s lost over 7 stone in a fairly short space of time, why can’t I do that?’ I’ve had those thoughts, I still do have those thoughts. It’s natural I suppose. But then you have to dig a little deeper.

It hasn’t really taken two years for me to get to this point. In reality it’s taken decades of learning about myself, of falling down and picking myself up time and time again. So don’t feel bad if you feel you’re not making progress as quickly as someone else is, you will get there in your own sweet time.

This is my weight graph from September 2015 to now, and as you can see it’s been anything but plain sailing.

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The important thing is to focus on an overall downwards trend, and not worry about how long it will take. It will feel impossible, until all of a sudden it isn’t and target is within reaching distance. If it’s anything like my experience, it’ll sneak up on you when you least expect it!

7. Think about what scares you, and face that fear

This is something that came up in group last night, and something I’ve given a lot of thought to. Whenever I’d just had a weight loss award, I would tend to self-sabotage, and it takes a lot of introspection to find out why you’re doing it.

At first I thought my own theories were nonsense, but as I get to know myself better I realise they aren’t. The truth is, getting what you want, what you’ve fought for so hard for, for so many years, is actually quite scary.

My number one fear is what I’ll be left with when I’m done, particularly loose skin. I think it’s something we all worry about, and I know for sure that I’ve failed at weight loss attempts in the past due to negative ‘what’s the point I’ll still look crap’ thoughts sneaking in.

Going back to body positivity, those thoughts should be ignored for that reason alone, though there are others. Your body is a miraculous thing that made space for you when you were bigger. It might have been under a lot of pressure (I have had knee problems myself) but it still kept you going, and those things sometimes leave their mark. That’s OK!

I worry that people wouldn’t be attracted to me because of my body, and yeah in some cases that’s true. It’s true if even if you have a ‘perfect’ body. Not everyone is going to find us attractive! It’s easier to say this than actually believe it (it’s a tough one for me) but if someone likes you for you but can’t accept your body, then they are NOT THE ONE.

It’s a concept I’ve struggled with recently – I met someone I really clicked with, but I knew my body was not for him. It took me a long time to accept that, and it really affected my confidence (it was even a factor in stalling my weight loss) because you just can’t help it when you have intense feelings for someone.

I even started considering a tummy tuck, an idea I’d dismissed some time ago, because deep down I just wanted him to like me. But if you have to cut bits off of yourself for someone to like you, again, they are NOT THE ONE.

The other thing I’m frightened of is getting to target and it never being enough. I’m scared of what I’ll replace the buzz of getting a good loss with once I’m not losing any more. It’s a huge part of my identity right now, what happens when I’m ready to stop losing for the first time in my whole life?

The truth is I’ll be stumbling around in the dark for a while, but it has to be done anyway. When I do think about how life has changed for me (that’ll be covered in another post as soon as I can find the words) it’s even scarier to imagine going back to how I was before.

Well, I suppose I’d say those are my top tips so I’ll leave it there for now. In any case I hope it has been useful, and it’s definitely been helpful for me to get these thoughts that have been swimming around my head into some sort of order.

If you made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with it!

Hayley x

Hello October!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Less than a stone.

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

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

Until next time,

thanks for reading!

Hayley x

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

Bad Decisions

This is the third attempt at writing this blog post. Sometimes they just don’t come easily, and in this case it’s mostly because I haven’t had much at all to write about!

This weekend I have made a couple of bad decisions, which revolve around staying up when I really should have had an early night. Sunday I spent the afternoon with friends and had a lovely walk in the park.

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I was planning to get home early Sunday evening, be in bed by 8pm and get up early the next day to get sh*t done. Instead I let myself be tempted into staying and watching a couple of movies. I didn’t have any dinner with me, as it was Sunday the shops were shut, and I was starving.

So we went to the local Co-op which is mercifully open till 10pm even on Sundays, and I was presented with an array of vegan-friendly goodies. Unfortunately only one item (apart from fruits and veggies) also fit in with Slimming World, so I ended up eating a pack of Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages for dinner. It’s only 3 syns for the pack, and I ended the day on about 7, but let’s just say it’s not the most exciting of dinners!

My friend tried his hardest to convince me to have a pack of Jammy Wheels (Co-ops own Jammy Dodgers) which are vegan and delicious, but I wasn’t budging off plan for ANYTHING.

I am very glad that I didn’t let one bad decision turn into two bad decisions.

Yesterday (much like today actually) I found it really hard to get going, even with a shed load of coffee. I did get all the boring stuff done though (laundry, hoovering, cleaning Pea’s cage, blah blah blah…) and got up in the loft to dig out my thermals for work. The days have been lovely and warm but the nights? Yeah, not so much.

In fact in about a month or so I reckon I’ll be digging out my work salopettes, but I’m hoping I can lose a bit more weight before then.

Last year was the first year I was able to fit into them – before then I’d end each winter shift on the verge of hypothermia. I’m not even exaggerating – it would take me hours and hours to warm up. I’d go to sleep straight away because I was so tired, but be woken up an hour later by my body being absolutely wracked with shivers despite having the heating on, extra blankets and two hot water bottles. I’d touch my thighs and they’d still be ice cold to the touch. It was no laughing matter.

Yet last year I had one of my biggest non-scale victories to date when I could not only fit into the salopettes, but also not feel that everyone was looking at me and sniggering behind my back.

This is me when I first got them last November, and I already know that they fit me better already despite only being a few pounds lighter now than I am in the pictures. Because of the exercise I’ve been doing my body shape has changed quite significantly and I’ve lost a good few inches from the waist and tummy area.

I want to make as much progress between now and… whenever it’s so cold that I have to wear them, so that they feel really different when I wear them next. Then next year I can get another pair (we get a free pair every two years) because the only thing better than one pair of the coziest salopettes you can possibly imagine is having two pairs!

Speaking of making progress, last night was weigh in and for the first time in ages I was really looking forward to stepping on the scales. I didn’t feel like I’d managed to lose much, but I was confident I had at least lost something. Which is a rare feeling these days!

So I was pleasantly shocked to find that I lost 4.5 pounds.

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That’s more like it!

Group was another good one, though I did miss the lady who gave me the high five last week. She’s on holiday in Devon (and determined to stay on plan) so I’m looking forward to finding out how she got on next week.

I now have 1st 5.5lbs to go till I reach my target, and it occurred to me yesterday that it’s still within the realms of possibility that I could achieve that this year. I’ll try not to think about that too much though, as I might get disheartened.

One day at a time, Hayley!

I did spend a little bit of time yesterday evening looking at my Fitbit stats and reflecting on how far I’ve come since I started recording everything in September 2015. And as it happens it’s almost exactly a year since I came out of the ‘obese’ BMI category and entered the ‘overweight’ one. As you can see I’ve had some ups and downs (I briefly went back up into obese over Christmas) but I’ve managed to stay ‘only’ overweight for the best part of a whole year.

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My goal for the week ahead is to try my hardest to get into the 13 stone bracket, but I also want to keep a level head and prepare myself for the fact it might take an extra week or two. As long as I keep going, I’ll do it. I’m still bloody excited though!

I went to bed late again last night. Monday’s are always late anyway, because group doesn’t finish till around 9pm, but I also stayed up to watch Deadpool 2 with the family. Yep, another bad decision. I’m so sleepy today! It was good, with some laugh-out-loud moments, but not brilliant.

As such there’s not a huge amount going on today even though there is plenty I could be getting on with.

I’ve just had an Iceland shop delivered, now that there’s enough of a vegan range to warrant getting a whole shop, which has come at just the right time. My local shopping centre is being knocked down and rebuilt, so that it’s had a knock-on effect at the local Lidl’s. They just can’t cope with the extra business, so every time I’ve been there lately it’s been an absolute ordeal. Plus the shelves have been virtually empty anyway.

As I need to save money shopping at the big supermarkets isn’t an option either, so getting the best part of a whole shop from Iceland, for £35 with free delivery, has been a huge help.

Along with these bits I also got a load of fresh stuff, and I’ve sent off photos of the new vegan range to Slimming World so hopefully the bits that aren’t listed will be added to Syns Online soon.

Now I’m off to prep all of my work lunches for the week so I don’t have to worry about that, then I need to get some exercise and sleep in before work. It’s not the most exciting of tasks, but I’m happy that I’m on top of things and looking forward to the week ahead.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Absolute Truth

I’ve got to be honest here, I was thinking of taking a little blog break because I’m feeling so down in the dumps. But it’s so, so important for me to be straight up in this little corner of the internet here. I’ve been wanting to start this post for a while, but getting out of bed has been a big enough challenge.

Thankfully this evening I’m feeling a little more with it.

I thought I’d feel better once some changes had been made in my life, and I was really looking forward to getting some time to myself back. But the problem is… me and myself aren’t great friends right now.

Over the last 6 months or so my self-esteem has gone from being pretty damn good to slowly getting to the point where I basically despise myself. I know it’s a temporary feeling, but at the moment all I have to keep me company when I’m alone is guilt, shame, disgust and other lovely things along those lines.

Being with people is better, but not great, because I can’t concentrate properly on conversations, and if there is background noise/more than one person I’m finding it almost unbearable. Texting is best, and my sister has been brilliant. Plus my mum and brother have been super patient and always available for hugs.

Work has been tough too, but there are also some good, good people that I can speak to there who have been great.

Up until recently I had someone in my life who was not so supportive, and one particular colleague really hit the nail on the head – he said it’s like I’m carrying around a really heavy backpack, but this person keeps adding rocks to it. And is trying to trip me up at the same time.

He gets it.

I haven’t been following Slimming World at all. At 9:30pm Saturday night, even though I started work at 10pm, I was literally crying into a tub of (vegan) ice cream. Of course that’s only a very temporary way of making myself feel better, and I have to stop doing that RIGHT NOW.

So what the hell am I going to do about all this?

First of all, I’m going to keep talking. I had a major breakthrough with my brother and sister who have been helping me get my thoughts in order, and my main problem at the moment is that I had someone in my life who was larger than life (mostly not in a good way) and even though I know I’m better off without them, I’m left with this massive gaping hole that I don’t know how to fill.

I used to love my own company, but thinking back on it, that was something I had to learn how to do. I need to relearn it. If I did it once, I can do it again.

Secondly, I have a doctors appointment on Thursday because it can’t hurt to get a professional opinion. I do think I would benefit from a little chemical assistance to ‘level me out’ a bit. I’ve taken that route before and it’s worked for me in the past, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t help again.

Thirdly, even though I don’t feel like doing anything but adopting the fetal position, I’m going to eat healthily and continue with my running. In the morning I’m going shopping for supplies straight from work (to hell with my budget, staying healthy comes first) then I’ll go for a run in the afternoon. I know it’ll make me feel better once I’m out there doing it.

Finally, I’m going to be strict and get my routine back, because it’s something that I’ve sorely missed. I like structure. I need structure. And it will help everything else fall into place.

I already feel better getting this blog up, and taking a little time for myself. That includes a vegan-friendly clay face mask from Superdrug. I’m not sure how much they really help my skin, but it feels nice and refreshing plus it makes for quite interesting selfies!

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Once I’m feeling better in myself, I can crack on with things I’ve been meaning to do since the beginning of the year. It’s nice to put others first sometimes, but not all the time, and my own things that I wanted to do have recently gone right to the bottom of the pile.

If I can get some concentration back then starting on my ‘to be read’ pile is high up on the list. This doesn’t even scratch the surface though, I haven’t even thought about what’s on my Kindle.

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Plus I really can get back to my Slimming World group which is way, way overdue. I’m going to be in for a huge gain, but I need to take that on the chin and just get on with it.

Everything will be ok in the end, I just need to keep fighting.

Here’s to never giving up x

Found

One particularly perceptive reader has already cottoned on to something, namely that I have FOUND MY MOJO! I don’t know where it went, but that doesn’t matter now. The important thing is that it’s back.

This is despite the fact that the heat has finally got to me. It was so stuffy at work last night, by the end of it I was completely done in. I doubt anyone was particularly productive come to think of it.

Because I was so tired I got a lift home, so in no time at all I was out in the garden, eating my breakfast on a wet garden chair that had been rained on. The air hadn’t cleared one tiny bit (just think hot sauna rather than just hot) but it was still pleasant sitting there with a soggy bottom.

Before I dragged my damp, sleepy arse to bed there was just enough time to appreciate how lovely the light was this morning – all pinks and oranges. And what was that in the sky? Surely not actual clouds!

I woke up to get Pea her breakfast at 10am, then resigned myself to the fact there was no way I’d get back to sleep. Then the next thing I know it’s 2:30 pm! I was so happy with that. 6 hours sleep almost in one go, on a work day! Brilliant!

I checked my phone and saw a missed call from my friend, so I called straight back only to find out that my car was ready to be collected. There was a long pause… ‘but I thought it was being done tomorrow?’ Nope, I got it totally wrong. So that was a very welcome surprise. I also love how he stealthily came into my house, found my car keys and took my car away without me knowing!

Despite the fact I now I have my car back as soon as I got home I left the it on the drive and walked to Lidl for what is quite possibly the fourth veg top-up of the week so far, and a much needed step top-up what with being lazy and not walking home from work.

But the most excellent news? I’m going to try for a run on Sunday! I’m actually excited!

It’s been another brilliant day for food, but lunch was a particular highlight. I had Ugo pumpkin and sage raviolini, which is vegan, gluten free, yummy and cooks in 1, yes ONE, minute.

Annoyingly on the app it’s listed as 1.5 syns per 100g cooked, which is really irritating, but since I’m being 100% on plan I did weigh it after cooking. It was 320g, so by my calculations that 4.8 syns. May as well round up to five then.

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I got mine from Sainsbury’s but I do believe Waitrose also sell it.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been getting quite reflective about how different my life is now to how it was just a couple of years ago.

As you can tell, if you’ve been reading for a while, I’ve been through a bit of a rough patch and have found it hard to cope, but when a similar thing happened in 2016 I was a complete and utter mess. I’d regained seven stone that I’d lost with Slimming World and split up with my boyfriend of five years. I just couldn’t keep it together at work and was crying every time someone showed me the tiniest inkling of kindness, and I was totally lost.

When I was with my boyfriend we didn’t really do much. A typical weekend was pizza, ice cream and a film. We very rarely did anything fun even though I loved to go out visiting places. I think we went to a couple of zoos in the time we were together, and the cinema a few times. I started to get into photography but didn’t have any real drive to learn.

Then I found myself single and everything started to change – I started to get to know myself properly for the first time in my life. I found that I like clubbing (but that once a year is enough), that photography wasn’t just a passing interest, I LOVED IT, I found compassion for animals and humans alike, I discovered I prefer being outside, that I like summer over winter, that you can be friends with a parrot, that if you write a blog some people will even read it

So recently when I found myself feeling a little bit lost, it wasn’t really that long until I was able to pick myself up again. All of the time I was still me, despite everything else going on, and knowing that made all the difference.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Odd One Out

Yesterday morning me and my brother were out the door at 3am for our bike ride. Weirdly, he left the navigating up to me. Even though the journey to Southend-on-Sea is one I’ve done plenty of times in a car, doing it on a bike whilst avoiding the A-roads, in the dark, is a bit different. So we went the wrong way a couple of times, but we did find a much nicer route than one straight boring road.

We rode through the park where I usually do my training, and that in itself was a bit hairy. Where it’s been so dry the gravel track was extra loose and dusty and I had to be really careful that I didn’t go too fast and find myself unable to stop.

It was just before entering the park that I fell over, too. Ridiculously, I had stopped and was just setting off again when I completely lost my balance. Yep, I fell over from standing. Which is something I’ve done before actually, and I had a scar on my elbow from that for years.

I didn’t hurt myself this time thankfully, and after a little seat adjustment I felt a lot safer.

As we left the park and went on what was more like a farm track, by backside really suffered. The ground had huge cracks in it from the heatwave, and as my brother’s bike is a hybrid which he mostly uses for commuting, the suspension isn’t built for that kind of thing. It was really hard going.

But we made it to our destination eventually, where we saw a fair few people doing the ‘walk of shame’ after coming out of the clubs. There wasn’t much to see so after a quick selfie I suggested we head back. As far my legs go, which are obviously doing the most work, I would have been happy to keep going. But my undercarriage was really suffering by now so we went back via the main road.

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The journey home was half an hour shorter, but for the last hour especially I felt every little bump. If cycling becomes a regular thing for me then I’ll definitely get some padded shorts. And the largest, comfiest saddle in existence.

We were home by 7:30 am after completing 33, yes thirty-three miles, so I had time for a well deserved nap before getting Pea her breakfast.

I even went out for a walk to the shops later on, and it really hit home how that would have been an impossibility not so long ago. It’s only because of my better fitness levels in general that such a bike ride was even something I could consider. Today I expected to ache all over, but my legs are absolutely fine (must be all of the running) and the only thing that hurts apart from the obvious is my shoulders. The only reason they hurt is because of the shock going through them from the handle bars.

Yesterday I had loads of praise from people I know for completing such a feat, then one negative comment really got me down. It’s always the way – that one person can really make or break a mood. But I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and support networks lately so I dropped a couple of messages to people that I know have my back.

Well my phone was lighting up like a Christmas tree for a good hour with people offering advice, encouragement and generally cheering me on. The majority of people want to see you do well, and those are the ones we need to focus on as hard as that may be.

I’ve had lots of help too from someone I have as a friend on Facebook. I don’t know him all that well, as we only worked together for a fairly brief period and he was on another department anyway, but his words of wisdom have really been made me feel better. This one from yesterday was especially apt:

Don’t forget that if you’re feeling sh*t people care. Reach out, if you get longed off they ain’t your pal, rinse repeat till you find a human.

And he was right. I reached out and people came to my rescue. So I decided to drop him a message to let him know what a difference he has made. If someone moves you, tell them! Let people know they’re appreciated! And don’t let that odd one out (there’s always one) dampen your spirit.

Anyway, today I was supposed to be going back to Slimming World but I can’t make the group I wanted to go to as I need a car for that. So I’m waiting till tomorrow and going back to my original group.

I’m going to be knackered at work afterwards, especially as I have to walk there too, but I don’t especially care. This is too important! It’ll be lovely to see everyone, so what I might do is weigh in at that group periodically. In fact I really like the idea of weighing in at different groups anyway, especially if I’m visiting a Slimming World friend. It’d be fantastic to meet the people helping them get or stay at target!

This plan of action will mean that next week the days between weighing will only be 6 rather than the usual 7, which scares me a bit. But hell, I need to get over all that. It doesn’t matter if the scales don’t reflect my exact losses because I’m in it for the long haul, and I’ll get what I’m owed the next week if I don’t let it get to me and stick to the plan.

In the meantime, it’s coming up to 11am and I haven’t eaten yet. It’s time to get me some brunch!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Excitement

Well today I just haven’t been able to settle. I mean, it’s so exciting isn’t it? Oh, you thought I was talking about this ‘football’ that people seem so interested in right now? Nope, today all I’ve been able to think about is a big old plate of fried red onions.

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Weird? Me? You bet.

I haven’t had fried onions in about a year and all of a sudden I had a hankering for them. There are four large onions condensed into that pile, but considering there aren’t going to be many people at work tonight then I shouldn’t have to worry too much about any possible… after effects.

In all seriousness though, I’ve found it so, so hard to stay on plan today. I had my A+B choices as soon as I got in from work and was still hungry when I woke up. I had a big lunch and was still hungry. Thankfully dinner seems to have finally satisfied me, but I can’t help feeling that I’ve eaten too much today.

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That’s what Free Food is there for though, and it’s not like I’ve just been eating for the sake of it. It’s just that when I’m freshly back on plan I always feel extra guilty. Which is silly, because the Slimming World plan is so focussed on letting go of that guilt. I’ll keep on trying though.

The important thing is that I didn’t crack, and it’s the first time I’ve had such a strong urge and have been able to control it in longer than I can remember. A pat on the back for Hayley!

Last night at work was unexpectedly motivating. My manager, who was outwardly supportive and positive about my journey from the beginning said he honestly expected me to last about six months before I put the weight back on. I’m so incredibly grateful he kept those negative thoughts to himself though because they could have been really damaging at the time.

He confessed that he can’t remember what I used to look like, which makes me very happy indeed. However I am taking in a picture tonight to remind him, because that’s always fun to do. It’s good for me to remind myself too. If you feel like deleting all the photos of the ‘old you’ and erasing that part of your history, then PLEASE DON’T!

For one you could be wiping records of so many precious memories, even if they might be tinged with pain, but also it’s so useful to look back and see how far you’ve come. It’s how I’m able to look at this picture of me, taken a few minutes ago with pride.

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Hair isn’t done, no make-up, spotty face, messy room… It doesn’t matter. This Hayley is still so much happier than this one:

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And I put on another two stone after that picture was taken! Look at her, crammed into a camping chair that was threatening to collapse under the weight, bloated, struggling to breathe her jeans were so tight… I need to see pictures like this. I need to look at it and not be able to recognise myself, and to know in my heart of hearts that I won’t go back there.

And THAT is why I ate four red onions for dinner, instead of four peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Sideswiped

I honestly don’t know what has happened. I went to bed on Sunday night feeling really good. In fact I’ve been ecstatically happy for the last three weeks because everything has been going so well and I’ve just been enjoying life!

On Sunday morning me and my brother went to Tilbury Fort which is just down the road from us, and we had a great time. We got there a little early so checked out the surrounding area first, which was honestly a complete and utter dump. We wanted to walk the coastal path to another fort, then come back on ourselves before we visited the English Heritage-run site we had come to Tilbury to see.

But the path was covered in so much dog poo and so much rubbish, it was too dangerous and/or depressing to continue.

But when we actually got into the fort it was great. We had the whole place to ourselves for ages, the man who gave us our tickets took the time to give us some history, and my brother really enjoyed himself playing with the guns because you can actually climb on and have a tinker with most of the stuff there (although of course you can’t actually blow anything up).

When I went to bed I was feeling tired but content, and got a decent sleep.

But since Monday morning, I haven’t even been able to wake myself up properly because I feel totally and utterly depressed. I’m not talking about a bad mood – I’m no stranger to those and know the difference. This is a whole other kettle of fish. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to be around people, I just want to be unconscious. But my dreams are just… insane. Every time I close my eyes I’m being chased or threatened or I’m seeing animals in pain. It’s really not good.

I feel like I need to adopt the fetal position and have a good cry, but the tears won’t come.

This week I’ve also had a totally unexpected gain of 4 lbs, my heart rate has just skyrocketed for no apparent reason and I wake up with my heart feeling like it’s trying to escape my chest every single time I’ve been to sleep. I suppose it’s a reaction to the bad dreams?

And I’ve been eating crap because I literally didn’t have the energy to prepare anything. Today’s low point was eating pecans dipped in vegan buttercream icing.

I’m refusing to go into February carrying on like this, so tonight I’m forcing myself to make something for my work lunch and getting back on plan. Because what else can I do? I can’t stay in bed forever, as much as I want to.

I’ve had to dial back on the exercise which adds another layer of guilt, but I have still kept up with my press-ups and planks, so that’s something.

My step count is atrocious, but I’m determined to make it to 70,000 steps for the week regardless. The last two weeks I’ve been above 120,000, so I’m sure I can make 70k. I WILL make 70k.

Since this depression has just come out of nowhere, I’m hoping it’ll disappear just as quickly. I’m just going to hang on for dear life until it goes away. It’s as good a plan as any!

Sorry for the negative post, but that’s what’s been happening so there you go.

Hopefully the next one will be better!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

PS I just thought of a positive – My new boots came and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM! They are so comfy and worth every penny of the £150 paid. I reckon I could walk to the moon and back on these babies and not even get a blister. Yay!

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