19 to 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Theft

Recovery isn’t always linear, I’m beginning to find. I read that at some point this year, and it helps me to remember it. After having a terrible experience, I’m getting better at recognising when things aren’t right with a potential romantic interest. Better, but far from perfect.

So, despite numerous red flags, I kept going with my most recent gentleman friend. I didn’t have any particular hopes for us before Christmas Eve, but when he ended up coming home with me I felt that something had changed, that there was something more. I’m not talking about the physical side of things, by the way, and I’m absolutely sure he felt it too.

Even speaking to him Boxing Day, things felt different. And then… nothing. I finally plucked up the courage to call yesterday morning, which is something I wouldn’t do with anyone else, but since this person is always losing/breaking phones, it’s more than possible he just wasn’t getting my messages.

Then when I called, he sounded genuinely pleased to hear from me. I suggested meeting up at some vague point before New Year’s Eve, but then he invited me out that very night. He said he’d message me to confirm the details, but… nothing. I’ve heard nothing since.

It may seem like a minor thing, but it isn’t the first time it’s happened. If I stuck around, I’m sure it wouldn’t be the last. What I want from a relationship (amongst other things) is stability and consistency, and he can’t offer either of these, for whatever reason.

Whether he can’t or he won’t, it’s all the same. It’ll just be even more painful to carry on down this road. Therefore that’s it, I really am done with this one, and I’m glad I’m drawing a line and not carrying this situation into next year. I had a little cry last night, remembered to give myself a pat on the back for only letting this go on for a couple of weeks instead of over a year like the last one, and got myself out for weigh in this morning.

Thankfully, I’ve somehow managed to stay the same since my last weigh in, though I can’t actually remember when that was. Yay for Christmas miracles!

After getting weighed, I then went out leafleting for my consultant. I went yesterday too, figuring that it would be good in several different ways. I get to do some exercise, I help my friend promote her business, and it boosts my commitment to my Slimming World group.

Both times we went out were eventful. In case you don’t know, when posting leaflets it’s a good idea to take a wooden spoon with you, to help you poke the leaflet through the letterbox.

For me, mainly this helps stop your hands from getting sore, because some letterboxes really are more hazardous than you might expect, but it’s also in case your fingers get bitten by a dog.

I didn’t think this would ever really happen, but then the very first time I posted a leaflet through a door yesterday, a humongous-sounding beast grabbed the leaflet and the spoon right out of my hand. I tried to hold on, but it was too damn strong!

Feeling utterly bemused, I rang the doorbell to ask for the spoon back, but no one was home. Some very confused dog owner is probably even now wondering why someone posted a wooden spoon to them. I for one am just glad it’s not my fingers they found on their doormat.

Then today we split into two groups and I went off with a lovely lady with blue hair. In the first street, she had a fall and couldn’t carry on. Although she wouldn’t admit it to begin with and I did have to practically force her to go home rather than trying to continue. Hopefully nothing is broken!

Since coming home I’ve been planning how I’m going to smash my weight loss goals, which is now absolutely essential since I have broken my very favourite item of clothing.

This is an unmitigated disaster. I have other cold-weather items but nothing compares to these babies, and my tummy has gone and burst through the zip! They are £90 to buy new, so although a lovely work friend has donated her pair to me, I’ll be getting these ones repaired at some point.

I also can’t risk wearing the new pair yet, in case I break those too. So yeah, I’m getting serious about this now.

I’m using Slimming World’s own 12 week journal to keep me on track, using my favourite ever picture of me as inspiration. That photo was also taken on the day I last felt genuinely OK.

It was taken in May, at the Swingamajig festival. I felt so good – slim, confident, excited about the future… I just felt like myself. Then everything came crashing down.

I already have tickets for Swingamajig 2020, which takes place on the 8th of May. By then I aim to be back on that good place or, scratch that, even better. For the first time in a long time I really believe that will happen.

I’m just going to take it one day at a time, and congratulate myself for every day that I stay on plan. If I don’t achieve anything else, at the end of the day I can say to myself ‘I did a positive thing, just for me, and I’m proud of myself for doing it’. If nothing else, at least I’ll have that.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Christmas Past

This post is being very stubborn. It just doesn’t seem to want to be written, but I’m forcing it out onto the page. I need to draw a line under this Christmas business before I can move on to healthier, more positive things, and the best way for me to do that is to write about it. No matter how much the words don’t want to come. I think I more than proved my point in my last entry, because I now feel a lot better after purging that from my system.

So, Christmas 2019 then. Honestly? I’m glad it’s over. The whole of December has been a month of backtracking, broken promises (to myself) and failures, and although I did have fun on occasion I struggled to find the tiniest jot of Christmas spirit. This used to be the norm with me, but over the last few years I found myself being able to enjoy the season again. When I think back on it, this coincided largely with me being in control of my diet and actually managing to lose some damn weight!

If there’s anything I haven’t been lately, it’s in control.

I went out Christmas Eve with a group of work friends, a night out I’d been looking forward to for ages. But because of how I feel about my size, these kind of events are again tainted for me. I’d hoped I’d left those kinds of feelings in the past where they belong, but my four stone (YES, FOUR!!!) weight gain since November 2018 refuses to be ignored. I wanted to feel on top of the world, but instead I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious.

I bought a shiny dress specially for the occasion, knowing that I’d be way overdressed compared to my friends. I nearly swapped it out for an oversized black jumper at the last minute, but then I ran out of time so I had to just go with it. I met with my gentleman friend at his house as he lives round the corner from me (don’t ask. I said I was backtracking didn’t I?!) and walking to his in this dress at 11am got me some stares I tell you.

I was definitely the best-dressed on the council estate that morning! After a while I did start to feel more comfortable in my outfit, but I couldn’t help thinking back to how I looked last Christmas. It was my slimmest Christmas ever in fact.

Size 22 vs size 14. Sigh.

I wish I could have worn the Mrs Claus outfit on the night out instead, but it’ll be remaining in the loft till next year.

Because I was feeling sorry for myself, I ended up eating like a pig right up until the night out which meant I was bigger and more bloated than I would have been if I just hadn’t thought about it. It’s so typical of me, I do wonder if I’ll ever stop sabotaging myself in that way.

Christmas Eve ended up being rather special, but I struggled big time with Christmas Day. I’m still suffering massively with tiredness (I woke up at 2am Christmas Eve morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, and Christmas Eve night wasn’t much better) so I felt that because I couldn’t be the happy, energetic person I wanted to be, that I ruined it for everyone else. It was still a nice day though, and someone who definitely wasn’t complaining was Newton, who got a massive pile of presents all to himself.

He was so well behaved, and so tolerant of us dressing him up. He really couldn’t give a damn, probably because he had a massive pile of wrapping paper to destroy. He loves paper, so his first Christmas was a massive success. Such a spoilt doggo.

Christmas night I’d planned a surprise Christmas disco for everyone. I bought a little LED disco light which was actually awesome and a fantastic bargain, we had glow sticks, and I bought some wigs so we could dress up and take some photo booth-style photos. It was fun but we were all so pooped by this stage, it wasn’t quite the event I had envisioned. 

It still made for some interesting photos so I shouldn’t complain.

The idea for Boxing Day was to get right back on plan and change my gosh darn life, and it nearly worked dammit. I slipped at lunch time, but since then I’ve been perfect. Ok, it’s only been one day, but it’s something right?

I had a record-breakingly bad sleep yesterday (a mere three hours, not nearly enough to get through a night shift on) but I did spend a lot of time journaling in preparation for getting everything back on track again. 2018 was a hard year for me, really damn hard, so I was confident at the beginning of the year that 2019 was going to be better. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a whole lot worse. The thing is, I had to let things get worse and make some difficult choices before I even had a shot at them getting better, so now that’s done I know that I can make 2020 the year where things come back together again. Not only that, but they’ll be better than they were to begin with.

What I need to keep in mind though is that there’s every possibility 2020 will throw just as much crap at me, if not more, but the one single, solitary, thing I can change is how I react to the challenges that will no doubt come my way.

I’m not going to let anything beat me, and when I come to write my 2020 Christmas post, neither of us will recognise that tired, bloated woman in the photo above.

But for now, let the work begin!

Hayley x

Expectation vs Reality

It’s a lot longer between blog posts than I intended it to be, but it’s been a difficult week-and-a-bit. First of all, the bug I caught wasn’t too bad, but also not conducive to getting much done.

On day one I felt awful – I went to bed shivering and unable to get warm, and woke up with a temperature. As I was lying in bed mustering the energy to get up and prepare Pea’s breakfast, I remembered how as a child my mum would be ripping off my cosy blankets right now and sticking a fan in my face to cool me down, much to my displeasure. But I’m a grown up now, so I had to rip off my own blankets and make sure I got my temperature down before steam started coming out of my ears. Being a grown up sucks.

Once Pea’s breakfast was done I got back to bed and spent the rest of the day literally sweating the bug out. I mean I was drenched, so much so that I had to sleep on a towel at one point, but when I got up for work I felt strangely fine. This is ok with me, because I don’t like using sick days during the peak period at work. It looks suspicious and I feel guilty even when I’ve done nothing wrong.

This carried on for a few days – feeling fine for work at night and getting weirdly sweaty in the day. Attractive, I know! When Sunday’s family Crafternoon came around, I was still feeling pretty rough.

I had a lovely plan of putting decorations on the table, getting a few nibbles, setting out loads of different art and craft options and in general being an awesome host. I just didn’t have it in me though, so what we did have was a great big mess.

I decided to just do one thing – start work on the donkey decoration I’ve been meaning to sew since December 2017. I’ve been so long getting round to it I even convinced myself it was a donkey when it is in fact a bloody reindeer!

I managed to get the body done before our meal, but I ended up finishing it in the early hours of the next morning because my sleep patterns at the weekend are still very much broken.

It’s a bit messy for my liking, and if I make another one there are some changes I’ll make to the instructions to make it better, but it’s still cute and it still looks good on the rainbow tree.

The meal itself was delicious, but still, it would have been so much nicer if I’d been feeling myself. I’ve been to the restaurant once before and I love how cosy it is, and we even had some live music. I’m not sure how I feel about that though. Are you supposed to clap while you’re eating? No one seemed to know what to do. Was I supposed to tip him? Nope, no idea.

Of course we did some pictures before the food came, and as it happens this is the last picture of my hair like that. More on that in a minute.

For starters, we had ‘prawn’ cocktail. I have no idea what it was made of, but it tasted exactly like a real prawn. Unnervingly so. The only reason I wasn’t totally freaked out is because the texture was too firm to be a real prawn.

Once I got used to the idea I really enjoyed it, but not as much as the mains. The cauliflower/broccoli ‘cheese’ was the absolute best bit which I could have eaten all day long.

Dessert was a bit average, but I was stuffed at that point anyway.

It was a very successful first Christmas dinner of the season, but I must admit I’m struggling to find my Christmas spirit this year. I just don’t feel like I normally do, which might be because I’m still finding my feet after a pretty tough year. Plus life keeps throwing spanners in the works every time I start to feel settled.

I think I need to let go of the illusion of control, because let’s face it, there’s very little in life we have any control over whatsoever.

When I started Slimming World in 2016, to a certain extent I forced control on my life. I stopped socialising, I didn’t really do anything as long as it was in line with my goals, completely avoiding anything that wasn’t.

Part of me wants to go back to that so that I can get back on track, but the other part of me wonders if I even can. Maybe it’s just not possible for me to do that any more.

I mentioned a gentleman friend recently, but I’ve realised I’m not even ready to have casual fun. Even at this early stage I feel myself starting to ‘perform’ for affection and not really be my true self. Plus I don’t feel like I’m getting enough respect, and I just can’t go ignoring red flags any more. I know where that leads and it’s nowhere good.

I am worried that this is me controlling this aspect of my life the only way I can right now (by avoiding the situation) but I’ve decided to go with instinct on this one. I’m trusting that it’s not the right time for this – I still have more work to do on myself before I can potentially be with someone in any capacity. It’s just a distraction, stopping me from getting the work done, which maybe I’d be going along with if my feelings weren’t getting slightly hurt along the way. Time to put a stop to that, because gentleman friends are not supposed to make you feel sad. At least I realised this now. Progress, right?!

So, on Tuesday, even though it was the very last thing I felt like doing, I went to get a hair cut.

I was going to ask to keep the same style and just get it tidied up, but then my hairdresser has a way of convincing me to try something new. Instead of a trim, this happened:

Also, how pretty is my eyeshadow? I’ve been saving that one for December. I love the cut and everyone keeps telling me how much it suits me, but I’m mildly freaking out about how chubby my face has got. You’d think it would be enough to keep me on plan really, but sadly it hasn’t.

I did somehow stay on plan all the time I felt poorly, but after the meal out it all went wrong. Having said that, it hasn’t been as bad as it usually is so that’s something. I’ll weigh in later on and start attempt number 482829937.

To be honest I’ll be glad when Christmas is over, as much as I’m trying to go with the flow and take what comes. It’s harder than it looks.

Rather than end on a negative, here’s a picture of Newton modelling his new Christmas jumper (and looking rather fabulous I might add). At least someone’s in the Christmas spirit!

Hayley x

 

At Least One Step

I often flick through my previous posts to see what was going on when we last spoke, sometimes to see what I planned to do but didn’t. The broken promises just keep on coming. This weekend was no exception – it was going to be my sorting out weekend, but that didn’t happen. Not even close!

That’s not to say I didn’t do anything though. On Friday, I was supposed to be meeting a friend for drinks in the pub, but he couldn’t make it. Part of me was relieved. I wasn’t sure exactly what our drinks were all about (was it going to be a date?) and since I’ve been feeling so awful about myself I somewhat freaked out. When it didn’t happen, I thought ‘ok, great, I can stop worrying and get back on plan’.

I had to work Saturday night, then on Sunday my friend rearranged his own working week so he could have Sunday off as well as me and we could go out together. Ok, back on plan Monday then! Or maybe not…

We stayed at the pub until closing time, then ended up back at mine chatting and playing YouTube videos until the small hours. Did he stay over all night? Was it a date? Did anything happen? Sorry, a lady never tells!

I do feel like I’ve received some external validation, which is kind of helpful, and I can believe that someone can find me genuinely attractive at my current size. This is a big deal for me, because the last person I was ‘involved with’ didn’t want to see me naked until I lost more weight (I was 3 stone lighter than I am now when he said that) and got extensive plastic surgery (which didn’t happen by the way, I got out in time!)

That doesn’t do much for a gal’s self esteem.

The other end of the scale has its own problems though, because when someone is nice to you, you can start to rely on others to make you feel ok about yourself. Then there’s always that fear about what happens when the person goes away, for whatever reason.

This is where my current learning about myself comes in. I need to realise I have worth without needing anyone to tell me. Needing to hear it from a significant other leads to nothing but misery. Believe me, I know. We aren’t doing that any more.

Still, it’s a work in progress.

I spent most of the day Monday in bed asleep because I didn’t get much rest the previous night before, and I was feeling somewhat delicate shall we say, but I did manage to drag myself to group to get weighed in.

I didn’t really have much choice to be fair. I had two friends who didn’t know each other separately attending the Slimming World ball last weekend, and when I suggested one go find the other (I sent the estimable Davey, of MOTY 2018 fame, to track down my lovely consultant, Amanda) I wasn’t sure he’d be successful. There were a lot of people there after all. But find her he did, and he had a message to pass on to me:

Message received, loud and clear!

Amanda, being the lovely person that she is, said that I could weigh in first and that she’d do it personally, so I wouldn’t have to worry so much. I still wasn’t feeling wonderful about it though.

Since I haven’t had many weigh ins since I rejoined, and I’m much heavier than when I started, I decided to turn over a new page. Literally.

That’s 14.5 pound ON. Ouch! But there’s always a silver lining. It’s about half a stone less than I thought it would be.

I still haven’t managed a full day on plan since then, but I’m determined to make the next 120 hours count. It’s not too late for me to get a loss, so I’m really going to try. Starting from… NOW!

I have shiny Christmas planner to help me along too!

There’s a space in there for my Christmas wish, which is to get into the 14 stone bracket. It’s a big ask, but it’s possible. I’m gonna go for it, I’m really gonna!

I am feeling marginally better since I got the weigh in part over and done with, now I just need to actually eat some healthy food. How hard can it be, eh?

Hayley x

That Time in 2014…

What. Am. I. Doing? I feel like my sense of self has broken into a thousand tiny pieces, and every time I start gluing them back together they just fall apart again. I keep looking for external solutions. Maybe if I just had some stronger glue, for instance. I think the truth is though, these pieces aren’t ever going back together.

Time to rebuild from scratch.

First up? My weight. How about I put everything to one side for now and concentrate on something I can actually do something about. This will be my foundation on which to build more things.

In one way I’m trying to forget about what came before. My past achievements are irrelevant to me now if I can’t stay one day on plan. On the other hand, I need to learn from past mistakes. Yes, I am a walking contradiction.

In 2014, I got down to 14.5 stone and I did not stay there for long. Once I started putting on weight, then came the self denial. So, so many occasions of ‘just one last takeaway. Tomorrow I’ll get back on it’. This is my main problem right now. I keep lying to myself that this will be the last time. I need to make it true.

In 2014 I kept saying to myself – as long as I don’t go over 15 stone, I’ll be ok. 15 became 16, 16 became 17, 17 became 18.

This is me in August 2014, on holiday in Bath. I had to go emergency shopping in Sainsbury’s because I burst out of my size 20 clothing on that trip and didn’t have anything to wear. I was 18 stone-something.

This is me in September 2015, at 19 stone-something. As long as I don’t go into the 20 stone bracket, it’ll be ok. Right?

Christmas 2015, and I’m back in the 20’s. I’ll be over 21 stone by the new year.

So you see, this is how it goes. I’ve been saying to myself – just don’t get into the 16’s! Yet this morning I hadn’t just dipped a toe into that bracket, the scales were reading an undeniable 16 stone 6 pounds.

S#!t.

It’s weird seeing those three smiles, because I wasn’t happy in any of them. Just increasingly desperate. I don’t want to repeat this history. I can’t, I just can’t do that again.

No matter how I’m feeling right now, which to be honest is quite dreadful, I need to get it together because getting bigger has and will make everything incrementally worse. No doubt about it.

I’ve come across people talking online about fat phobia recently, and although I’d like not to be fat phobic (and the same goes for the rest of humanity), truth is, I am. And what’s more it seems like a rational response. Being fat is hard. People treat you differently. Clothes aren’t made for us. Chairs aren’t made for us. Planes, cars, hospital beds, forklift trucks. People shout at us in the street. Make jokes about us. Yes, I’m scared of being fat, of being fatter. Downright terrified.

I must apologise for how bleak this post is coming across, but that’s what’s in my brain, and it has to come out. Often, my brain is not a nice place to be.

I think I just needed to recognise that this can be my rock bottom. I don’t need to let things get any worse before I can truly say ‘enough is enough’. It’s time to act now.

I’ve been putting off going back to group, because the lady who does the weigh ins is going to look at my result and be confused, thinking that something is wrong with the scales. They are going to say at least one stone on. They say ‘no judgement’ at Slimming World groups, which is true, but she’s not going to be able to control that initial look on her face. It’s not her fault, but it still makes me feel like crap.

What’s the alternative though? I could waste a lot of money (I’m a paid member up until about March) and start over somewhere else, or I could face this moment of discomfort in exchange for preventing the rest of my life being in continuous discomfort. Seems like the more sensible option.

If I didn’t have faith somewhere deep down that I can do this, that I can face reality and turn it around, then I wouldn’t be writing this now. So perhaps things aren’t quite as bleak as they seem.

I’ve got good friends, I have family who love me, and I have a Newton to snuggle.

It’ll all be ok.

I’m in work tonight then I have three days off, and I’ll use that time to get the ball rolling again and make a plan. I do love a good plan.

I have a sibling Christmas dinner booked on the 1st of December at an amazing vegan restaurant and already I’m worrying about it due to my ‘all or nothing’ mindset. All I have to do is stay on plan before and after, so why am I worrying about that already? Why can’t I just enjoy a nice meal out without freaking out about it? Stay tuned for how I figure this one out, because I swear one day I will!

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading. Here’s for nicer posts in the future!

Hayley x

I vs It

I’M IN LOVE!

Before you start wondering what the hell I’ve got myself into this time, then fear not. My new love cannot break my heart, because the object of my affection is just that, an object. It is a set of watercolour paints.

I must say Instagram seem to be making rather a success of their targeted ads, because they appear to know exactly what I like. When I saw these watercolours, I followed the company and saved a post in my ‘wish list’ collection. I’d come back to that after pay day.

But once posts from people using the products started filling my newsfeed, I just couldn’t wait. So what’s so special about these paints? The coolest thing, the reason I bought them, is that they are kind of printed in a little cardboard booklet! Talk about portable, they fit so nicely into my pencil case. The colours are also so vibrant and blend so well, and you only need a single brush pen with you to use them. It’s just genius.

But when they came, they turned out to be even more fabulous. Check out these colours! But the descriptions don’t quite fit, right?

Right. These paints clearly come directly from Diagon Alley, because they’re nothing short of magic. And you only need the teeniest bit on your brush for a whole load of colour.

I neither know nor care how they do it! They are expensive, but they’ve already been so much fun to use and it’s nigh on impossible to paint a bad picture with them. I’ve used them every single day since I got them.

Check out Viviva Color Sheets if you want to know more.

In between painting, sketching, and stressing about weddings, I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking. I reckon my inner toddler has been showing up in full force, because truth be told, I think I’ve just been rebelling against all things diet.

I didn’t want to eat my veggies. I didn’t want to be healthy. I wanted ice cream for breakfast, and on more than one occasion, I did just that.

It started off with hormones, medication, life-changing decisions… all of that making me reach for unhealthy foods in an effort to comfort myself or try to relieve the intense cravings I was experiencing. But I’ve done the work on this before so it didn’t take much for me to go back and revisit what I learned previously.

My findings come from the book Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hensen, but knowing me I’ve quite possibly got everything arse about tit. If it sounds like something you’d find useful, I’d recommend cutting out the middle woman and just reading the book.

Anyway, the book theorises (I think the brain is too complicated for solid conclusions and in any case, the author isn’t a scientist) that the more primitive part of the brain (It) is just trying to keep us alive in times of food deprivation. If my brain thinks I’m starving, it’s going to send out strong signals for me to find food.

As I lose weight, part of my brain thinks there’s a problem and tries its hardest to protect me. This part of the brain is a bit behind with the times and doesn’t know there’s a 24hr BP garage down the road. I tried to tell it but it just will not listen to reason.

As I start to agree with its compelling arguments to find sugar and fat, I build myself a nice little habit of binge eating, and thus find it incredibly difficult to break out of once I’m feeling better.

The thing is though, it’s the more recently developed part of the brain (I) that is in charge. I can choose to listen to the other part of my brain’s compelling arguments (you had a hard night at work, you deserve to binge. You are worried about the wedding, a binge will make you feel better) and ignore it. The more I do this, the better I become at doing it, and eventually urges to binge subside.

I know it works, I’ve done it before! I just needed to re-read the book to remind myself of all this and get myself back in control. The book talks about ‘intrusive’ thoughts to binge, as if it’s not really coming from me. That’s exactly how it feels.

I don’t want this. I want to be healthy and in control.

I can be, because I am ultimately in charge.

Now I’m back in this good mental space, I felt it was the right time to return to Slimming World. I have put on just under three stone since last November, but weirdly I’m not too worried. I know I’ve got this now.

I’m doing a complete fresh start. My start weight is 15st 6.5lbs, with a target of 13st. There won’t be much to write about in terms of my diet, because I have no doubt I’m going to smash it. There won’t be many struggles to get out onto the page. I will however update you every Monday. Let’s do this!

Since I’m getting back into healthy habits, I started yesterday with a big long walk, in the rain no less. My waterproofs just about still fit me, as long as I don’t attempt to bend over.

It’s a really nice feeling knowing I don’t have anything scary coming up and I can spend my time enjoying art and nature exactly as I see fit.

Today I finally timed the route in the park near me without stopping for photos. I only took one shot, still moving, as I was joined by this wonderful entourage. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take them home, boooooo.

Well, I’m back at work tonight after a quite wonderful week off, but to be honest it’ll be nice to get back into something of a routine!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Disentanglement

Although I’m not ready to jump straight into the world of intuitive eating, that doesn’t mean I haven’t considered some small and immediate changes I want to start making. It also doesn’t mean I haven’t been giving things a significant amount of thought. That’s kinda my thing you see, chronic over-thinker for sure. As long as my thoughts aren’t going round in circles and I’m making progress though, I can deal with that particular character trait.

What I’ve started doing is untangling the mess that is my current view of what my health means to me. The problem is, the threads of diet culture are mixed right up in there, and it’s going to take a while to separate them. There are a fair few knots to undo.

My first priority is to isolate my reasons for eating healthily that have nothing to do with weight loss. If I were giving intuitive eating a proper go, then I’d have to put weight loss completely out of my mind, however I’ve already established I’m definitely not ready for that. What is clear though is that my increasing weight is not enough of a motivator to stop my binge eating behaviours.

What I’ve been doing then is thinking about my other reasons, and it turns out they’re pretty damn solid as reasons go!

    Smells. When I eat a lot of rubbish, my tummy goes wrong. TMI? Undoubtedly, however you guys know I keep it real on here as much as I can. I’ve eaten well for just under 48 hours and already this windy situation has drastically improved (much to the relief of my poor family).
    Indigestion. It only takes one day of me eating well for any heartburn/indigestion to completely disappear.
    Mood. Healthy food helps with a healthy mood!
    Taste. I really love fruits and vegetables. I genuinely don’t think there’s a person on earth who is as into kale as I am. So when I’m eating rubbish I have no idea why I don’t include lovely veg in my meals. I want to think about what I genuinely enjoy rather than how I can use something sugary to self-medicate my depression.
    Sleep. When I eat better, my sleep quality is better. If I’m having trouble getting off I can send myself into a ‘sugar coma’, however a good sleep that does not make. Afterwards I’ll wake up after a short, restless sleep with my heart pounding and feeling like it’s trying to escape my chest.
    Skin quality. Crappy food means crappy skin, and lots of really itchy, painful spots that get redder and sorer without breaking the surface of the skin.
    Energy. The more crap I eat, the more lethargic I feel, the more I crave a sugar fix, the longer the cycle continues.

As you can see that’s more than enough to be getting on with! At the same time I’m going to switch to weighing myself on the first Monday of every month, starting in October. I’m going to try really hard not to weigh myself at all until then. I’m tired of being a slave to the scales, but I also want to keep an eye on things to a certain extent.

If I can do this (and I’m sure I can) I think it will reinforce the above reasons for eating well rather than waiting for affirmation from the scales. This way I hope to be more in touch with how I’m actually feeling. All the while I’ll keep reading and learning more about intuitive eating on the whole, building up my knowledge for when I take my next step.

Since this morning was the first time I managed to control myself whilst going to the shops straight after work in over a MONTH, I’m feeling very positive about it all. I thought about what I actually wanted to eat, and it turned out to be a big juicy orange!

I’d tentatively say that things are on the up, since I feel better than I have done in months, but I’m also staying alert and looking out for signs that it’s another false start. I don’t think it is though.

I think that’s enough reflection for one day. I’ve been out for a few walks lately and plan to go straight from work tomorrow morning, but despite the heatwave of the last few days there are definite signs of autumn in the air.

My plan is to get out walking as many times a week as possible from now on, because last year (and every year now I think of it) I’ve failed to find a single conker. This is unacceptable. Since autumn is so gosh darn beautiful, I’ll be recording as much of it as possible in my journal, which I’m completely addicted to.

I won my current journal in a YouTube competition, perhaps two or three years ago, and I’ve only just figured out the style of journaling that works for me. It took trial and error to find out what I like, but better late than never, eh?

This week’s theme is ‘garden birds’, and I’m copying (emulating?) a wonderful artist by the name of Matt Sewell. I have his book ‘Our Garden Birds’ but I never looked through it properly until now. In fact I have a few birdy art books I’ve never dedicated any proper time to.

It’s good practice, and Mr Sewell is SO TALENTED. At the beginning of the book it explains about jizz (is that a rude term in your neck of the woods? Because it certainly is in mine!)

In the bird world it refers to capturing the overall ‘vibe’ of a bird, and I doubt anyone does it as beautifully or simply as this particular artist.

I haven’t felt this inspired to keep up with my art since I was doing my GCSE at school. I got an A* by the way, one of the things I’m still very proud of to this day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a much more positive blog than I’ve been posting of late – I’m sure I enjoyed having the opportunity to write something truly happy for a change!

Until next time,

Hayley x

Uncharted Territories

I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this here post. I feel like I have travelled enormous distances these past few weeks, and from here on in we venture into the unknown. It’s scary, and exciting.

I’ve changed so much in the last 18 months. At my core I’m still the same, as a wonderful friend pointed out to me. Perhaps neither of us knew it at the time, but I felt like I was drowning and she threw me a lifeline. I still have the same core values – I may mess up, and I may have messed up more frequently and severely lately than ever before in my life, but I’m still me and I still want the same things. I want to be the best version of me that I can, and I want to be happy. I want the people I love to be happy too. That’s it in a nutshell.

I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads, because the best version of me no longer equals the slimmest version of me.

One of the ways I’ve changed a lot relates to dieting, and because of that Slimming World is no longer a good fit for me. I have much to be thankful for, such as incredible friends I may not have met otherwise. That’s the most important thing to me of all. The support at Slimming World is great, but with around 50 people attending a group it’s understandable that you can only delve so deep. After all, consultants aren’t trained as psychologists. Even if they were they aren’t there for full-on emotional support, and although most I’ve met would do it in a heartbeat it wouldn’t be fair to ask that of them.

I’ve scratched the surface, but I have a lot more work to do. A Slimming World group just isn’t the place for me to grow anymore, as much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I’ve been going for the best part of three years now, and trying to force myself to carry on when I don’t want to has been having a negative effect. I felt guilty because I didn’t want to abandon my friends, I felt scared I was using it as an excuse to abandon my diet, and I felt trapped because deep down I really didn’t want to be there. In the end the new part of me, the one I’ve been nurturing for a while, decided that I was just going to do what was right for me. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’ve been thinking about learning how to eat intuitively for a while now, because there are a whole bunch of people out there learning how to have lives free from diet culture. It’s possible to be happy, and whole. It takes a long time, but it can be done. I can barely even imagine it, but I want it. I want it bad.

However, I know I’m not ready yet. Intuitive eating isn’t about weight loss, and I want to get my recent gains off, for good. Ordinarily as soon as I feel happier or resolve something that’s been bothering me, I jump straight back on the wagon and get on with things. Since a lot has been bothering me lately, I figured I’d got the taste for the sweet stuff and needed to go cold turkey, but no matter how good I felt or how much I filled up on healthy food, I couldn’t seem to get it together.

This last week I’ve had a few downs, but now I feel good. Not just good, SUPER GOOD. So why then, do I still feel truly, ravenously, tummy-achingly hungry ALL THE FRIKKIN TIME? I normally feel a bit like this when I’m hormonal, but it never lasts for this length of time.

I just couldn’t understand it.

I decided to spend a few days just eating what I wanted whenever I wanted, whilst trying to gauge my feelings and cravings as an outsider. To just be an observer, and not be invested in what was happening. There was no need to feel guilt, or worry about gaining weight. It was an experiment. Weight gain would just be an interesting data point to analyse.

I didn’t worry or fret about the results, and do you know what happened? I only went and figured it out. It was a genuine facepalm moment. I went back to check my dates and weight history to check I was right.

Yup.

It’s the flipping anti-depressants messing with my appetite, I’m sure of it!

Now what I feel is sweet, sweet relief. If you don’t know what the problem is how can you fix it? But now I have something I can change! I have to consider my options. Am I ready to come off of the pills now I’ve removed so many damaging things from my life? Shall I go the doctor to ask about trying a different medication where I may get different side effects? Something else I haven’t thought of yet? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that there is hope. In any case I’m not taking my mental health lightly and I’m waiting for a referral to come through for some kind of counselling, so I’ll still be getting help.

When I thought about intuitive eating I never thought it could ever work for me, not when my body was screaming at me that we really, really wanted a tub of Ben & Jerry’s even though we’d just eaten a pizza, a load of garlic bread, plus 3 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That’s six slices of bread on top of what is already a significant amount of pizza dough! I’m pretty sure that in such cases the body is not to be trusted.

But if my body returns to sending me proper signals again that I can tune into, then one day I can be free. Free from a lifetime of trying to shrink. Free from points or Syns or macros. I used to think such thoughts meant I was deluded, that such a thing couldn’t be done. That the balance I’ve yearned for all these years could never be attained. In the meantime the evidence keeps mounting up that it yes it can!

As such I now begin a new chapter of my life and I’m absolutely ready for it! As I mentioned before, I still intend to get these gains off, which is going to take a lot of hard work whilst I feel like my tummy is a huge, gaping hole that can never be filled. While I’m doing that my plan is to learn, learn and learn some more, along with feeding my soul with books, art, friends, family and experiences. In other words, with life.

Before I sign off I’ll briefly return to the ordinary kind of blogging where I ramble on about everyday life a little bit. After a few years now of falling in love with nature, I’d say I’m more attuned to it than most. I’m pretty good at spotting things others might miss.

Perhaps that’s why, at work last night, I spotted a small-yet-perfectly-formed mushroom growing out of the wall outside the toilets. It was absolutely thriving in some seepage leaking out between a crack on the wall and the floor, though I dread to imagine the exact nature of said seepage.

As such today’s journal page was dedicated to mushrooms, though the work one was not as exciting as those shown here. They are all drawn from pictures of mushrooms I found myself whilst out and about.

I then spent a ridiculous amount of time going through my photo albums. Even with some relatively nice experiences I’ve had over the last year many of my photos had bad, bad memories attached to them. I was conflicted for a while, thinking that if I removed them it wasn’t an ‘honest’ record of my time.

I then realised it was stupid to hang on to things that hurt me, and when I looked back over what remained for 2018, my year clearly was not nearly the write-off I thought it had been. There was plenty of good stuff to look back on and I ended the exercise feeling a whole lot better.

No more hanging on to the bad stuff, it’s time to move on.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A Rock and a Hard Place

For some months I’ve been spending too much time with people who set great store by someone’s physical appearance. I’ve met people who I thought were quite nice only for a Facebook status to pop up saying something like obese people are a waste of space and should euthanised. They are of course now blocked, and although I am totally, passionately opposed to these kinds of views, because of the way I tend to put myself down, hearing/reading such things chipped away at my self-worth alarmingly quickly.

When I removed myself from that environment I found that a lot of my motivation to lose weight lately has been to keep others happy. Or perhaps it’s more a case of subconsciously trying to gain their approval, now I look back on it. When I came back to my senses, I took the brakes off and ate EVERYTHING, and I haven’t stopped since. This alone would be problematic, but since eating rubbish does nothing to help depression, my mood has plummeted. On top of that I’ve slipped back into binge eating behaviours with absolute ease, I feel like a failure, I need to retain some confidence to photograph my friend’s wedding and I’m terrified of letting him down. Every time that particular thought comes to mind I find myself back at the fridge door.

The rock is me knowing that my self-worth doesn’t stem from my weight or size, so I’ll eat what I want, right? The hard place is knowing that I’m not at a point yet where I can stop following a plan and just be a bit more relaxed – instead I immediately develop a huge problem with disordered eating.

I know, I know deep down that I want to be 12 stone 10 pounds. I want it for me, only for me, and I will stop at nothing to get there. I’ve had so many doubts about this lately, and in the back of my head I’ve been trying to think of a way out other than admitting that the only way I’ll get to where I want to be is by facing up to the mess I’ve made of the last year-and-a-half and starting over.

Well, not entirely over, I’m still 6.5 stone down from when I started, but you know what I mean.

I’m not going to make promises, because I’ve made promises to myself every day this week and I’ve broken every single one. I’m out with my sister tomorrow for vegan eats in the city, and I’m out for a meal Tuesday for my dad’s birthday. Once they are done with all I can do is try my hardest to truly have a fresh start.

Except I also have other events dotted around up until the 10th of September, and I don’t cope well with having things in the pipeline. After then I’m not making any plans unless they involve coffee, walking or art, all of which I can do with my favourite people. I’m going to do this, I know I’ll never be satisfied till I do.

It hasn’t been all bad though. Today I started my Christmas shopping record-breakingly early, although that was not my intention when I left the house this morning.

My brother and I went to seek out antiques, and that’s just what we found, at Battlesbridge Antiques Centre. There are loads of different traders there, but they were all much of a muchness. Antiques dealers are FLIPPING WEIRD. I found them all invariably unwelcoming, there were all kinds of odd smells that cannot be attributed simply to old stuff, and it was mostly junk that was waaaaay overpriced. Most strange of all was that they didn’t seem to want you to buy anything.

I overheard some people discussing whether their business would take off, while standing in the doorway blocking access to potential customers and ignoring people in the vicinity who clearly wanted to come in. We found this a lot, especially in the spaces that were especially cramped. Either the dealers wouldn’t let you in, or we couldn’t find them. It’s like… we would like to give you some money please?

If proof of strangeness is needed, consider this:

Definitely odd. It certainly wasn’t a wasted trip because as I say I managed to stumble across a present that a friend of mine will love, I took my brother to the motorbike museum (he’s a total bike nut) and I found a great place that my nerd friends will love. I shall take them all there one day, though perhaps not at the same time.

Behold, the Nerd Base!

Inside the Thundercats theme song was playing on a loop, there’s a life size model of Deadpool and I found loads of 80’s toys I’d forgotten I even had back in the day. Wicked!

As for buying old stuff I shall stick to the charity shops because to be quite honest I tend to find more interesting things in them than anywhere else. You just have to keep looking. Plus the staff are way nicer (and also actually in the shop).

In between the search for bargains, I really will keep trying to get it together. I’ll never give up!

Hayley x