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

Crisis

On Wednesday I went for a lovely walk straight from work, at 6 in the morning. My idea was to do my exercise before it got too hot, and I must say as ideas go It was one of my better ones. It was 22 degrees when I finished work and by the time I’d finished my walk I was melting.

The light at that time of the morning was beautiful – all hazy, golden and lovely. I added a bit of contrast to these photos but that’s all, it really was that pretty.

My knee has been playing up again, so after this walk I decided to rest up for a few days. This coincided with that insanely hot Thursday, so as far as having to take a break goes I couldn’t have timed it better.

On Thursday just breathing made me sweat, and since I couldn’t get to sleep if my life depended on it, I decided to use my time productively. One thing I want to work on for the rest of the year is cracking on with my ‘to read’ pile and reducing the clutter said pile contributes to. In that respect I failed miserably.

I decided to start with an easy read, something I could get through in a single afternoon. It came in the form of Things are what you make of them: life advice for creatives by Adam Kurtz.

I bought it after seeing a few snippets on Instagram that were really helpful, but this was in June 2018 and I hadn’t picked it up once since it was delivered. Apart from to move it from one untidy spot to the next over the course of a year that is.

Mental barrier number one: am I really creative enough to be called ‘a creative?’ Well Hayley, it’s not like anyone is checking. You didn’t have to present your Hobbycraft loyalty card as evidence before making the purchase. And what exactly are you doing right now? That’s right. Blogging. Is it not a creative process? And please tell me, when was the last time you went out and didn’t end up on your hands an knees trying to get the best angle for a photo? Some time in 2015 perhaps? That’s right. So just shut up and read the damn book.

What became immediately apparent is that I’m never giving away this book because it’s just too damn useful. It’s not groundbreaking advice -it doesn’t tell you how to live your life, but it got me thinking about the right things and gave me a whole bunch of timely reminders.

This is quite handy, as I appear to be in the midst of a mid-life/existential crisis and could use a bit of direction.

The problem is, I don’t know who I am any more. Going back to who I was isn’t an option either, because I’ve changed too much. She doesn’t exist. I don’t really know what I want or what makes me happy any more – I need to figure it out from scratch. Trying to do that has left my head swimming. I can’t seem to pin down a single thought or make a concrete decision.

What’s more, I no longer trust my own instincts. For a long time now I’ve had the wrong motivations but haven’t been able to figure that out until after I’ve made a terrible mistake. Attempting to question whether I’m doing the right things now have basically paralysed me into inaction. Doing nothing is also not an option, because I’m not happy and want to change things. So how do I know if I’m going to change them for better or for worse? Well I don’t. Does anyone, ever? I don’t know… Asking people for advice is good, and I have people in my life who will give me tough love and honest answers, but I can’t rely on them to make every decision for me. If only it were that simple.

So I’m trying to break it down.

Let’s start with the biggie, but the one most likely to have a simple answer:

Do I still want to lose weight?

Well yes of course! And also, no, I really don’t! Ah, so not so simple after all. The problem is, all of a sudden I am so totally and utterly sick to death of thinking about my weight and what I’m eating. To lose a large amount of weight I think that (for me at least) it was necessary to give it all of my focus to keep that momentum going. But it’s been a long old time since I started – 3 years ago in the next couple of days, in fact – and I’ve had enough.

I believe there will be a time in my life when I am able to intuitively eat well without thinking much about it. In a way I’m already there, because I know the theory well enough, but there’s something in me that goes utterly bonkers as soon as I consider not sticking to a rigid plan. I tell myself I’m ‘just going to eat sensibly’, and before I know it I’ve eaten two tubs of Ben & Jerry’s in one day. It’s been literally years since my eating was this bad.

There are three options I’ve been considering, and the last week or so my brain has been switching from one option to the next over and over, round and round in circles till I’m ready to tear my hair out in frustration.

I could stay the weight I am, call target and work on maintaining. I’ve been interested in the Body Positivity movement for some time now, and whilst my attitude towards other peoples bodies has changed dramatically, for the better, my attitude towards my own has been a lot tougher. So maybe I’m not ready for this after all, as much as I want to be.

Next up, I could go slow. Maybe add an additional Healthy Extra to my daily plan with perhaps a few extra Syns weekly. Still lose weight, but something in the region of half a pound a week. Don’t get too obsessed over things, just let it happen over time. As soon as I consider this rather sensible compromise, I panic. Because it’s in the realms of the unknown, and it’s scary.

Or… just stick to effing plan and lose what, this time 3 years ago, would have seemed an utterly insignificant 1 stone 9 pounds. Just stop whining, get to target and stop feeling bad that it’s taken you this long when it should have been in the bag months, if not years ago.

My consultant asked me last night, ‘on a scale of one to ten, how important is getting to target to you?’ I paused to think about it and answered, ‘an eleven’. So really that tells me I should take the third plan of action, however I am feeling very much like a rebellious teenager and my inner thoughts are saying ‘NO! I DON’T WANNA!

Do you know what though? I just gotta. Well, kinda. My summer plan is something between options two and three, because I have fun times planned with the siblings -things I want to let my hair down for, plus a wedding to go to. The wedding isn’t too much of a problem, because as official photographer I’ll be snapping away all day and night, apart from the sit-down meal. So it’s not going to be the major blow-out such an event would have been once upon a time. If I drink, the not-so-happy couple may well get 500 out-of-focus shots with my finger in each one, which would not go down too well.

So, back to the book I read. It has fab advice for creatives, but a lot of it is also helpful for life in general.

Am I mentally ready to move forward? Maybe not just yet, but I’m working on it.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my life, and one thing always pops back to the surface without fail. I want to start my own business doing creative things. As I’ve found recently, something like that is just too overwhelming for me, so I’ve decided to break it down into steps.

First of all I considered what my motivations are. For me, it’s that I like making stuff, but I struggle to make stuff unless I have a purpose. Also, if I keep making things then what the hell am I going to do with them? Especially as I’m desperately trying to declutter. My answer then, is to sell the things.

In the meantime, I want to get better at the things. At school I absolutely loved filling in sketch book after sketch book, so phase one is to just practice and have fun, learn and enjoy. I’m not thinking past that point until I’m ready.

I’m also going to decorate and have a properly complete room for the first time in my life. It’s only recently, after getting my POANG chair in fact, that I realised how much my environment affects my mood and productivity. Once I had a place I was comfortable to hang out (and oh boy is it comfortable!) I was so much more content to sit and doodle. With Pea on my shoulder of course.

In order to fund the first part of my renovations I’ve decided not to take any unpaid early finishes from work until the next pay cut-off point, which is the 10th of August. Last week I did a full week for the first time in months, and weirdly it just occurred to me that I found it easier than usual. I didn’t even have a single energy drink last week.

Huh. I suppose it ain’t all doom and gloom after all!

As usual I feel better after untangling my thoughts in a blog post. I left this post to simmer during the day while I went out for shopping and lunch with my sister. We started at IKEA where I got some REALLY cool stuff for my room (more on that in the future, this post is getting LONG) and ended up in Wagamama for lunch where I tried the ‘vegan egg’.

The dish is 10.5 syns and it was nice, but I couldn’t help looking over longingly at my sister’s bowl of ramen. However I am glad I tried it, because I’ve been meaning to since it came out and I would have always wondered…

After a nap I can tell you that I’m ready to crack on with Slimming World now. If a shopping trip tells me anything it’s how important it is to me to reach my target. I saw so many nice things that I’d feel so much more comfortable in with another stone or so off, so that’s what I’m going to do. Get to flipping target and wear the nice clothes!

Thanks for reading this excessively long post,

Hayley x

Responsibility

What with one thing or another, when my week off work came around I felt that it was desperately needed. What I forgot, since I was wrapped up in all kinds of different thoughts, is that I don’t do well with that much time to myself.

I’m not going to be hard on myself, because I got more done than I usually do and that’s an achievement. A massive room sort, lovely time hanging out with Pea, seeing friends, quality sibling time, walking loads, binge-watching Stranger Things, taking time to read… but I always feel sad by the end of the week and wish I hadn’t booked so much time off in one go. Long weekends are the best breaks for me, I just need to remember that.

Although I do have a whole week booked off in September there’s not really much I can do about that. In the first half of the week I’m camping with my brother, and in the second half I’m photographing my friend’s wedding. I’m starting to get a little nervous about that, but they’re the good kind of nerves. It’s something I’ve never done before but for once in my life I’m not actually doubting my abilities. Well that’s a weird feeling!

Since I’ll be so fully occupied I doubt I’ll have time to feel sad.

As far as eating goes, I have been eating all the things, but miraculously I have still hovered within a few pounds of the 14 stone mark. My body seems to be really happy at that weight, and I can easily maintain it whilst having a really unhealthy diet. I could call target right now and ‘live my best life’. Is that what I want though? Is my definition of my best life one where I settled for less than I wanted? Do I want to keep up with what could easily escalate into an uncontrollable binge/purge cycle? Maybe once, but not now.

I’ve been so unsure of myself lately. I’ve been stuck in a rut, especially as far as Slimming World goes, and I’ve felt boredom settling in. I spoke to my sister yesterday about perhaps stopping my membership for a few weeks, then I thought it through on my own. Then I got another opinion from a trusted friend, and eventually figured out what it is I actually want and need.

I need a fresh start, that’s for sure, and I’d absolutely love to have my old consultant Amanda helping me get to target. Now I’m just a plain ole member again I’m free to switch to her group if I wish, but I feel bad about leaving my existing group.

Y’know what? I’m sick to death of feeling bad. I can be miserable and guilty where I am, or I can change things and be happy in the long term. I have to remind myself – I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYONE ELSE. I feel the most ridiculous amount of responsibility, so much more than anyone would probably guess. There’s someone at work with a poorly family member. I don’t even know him that well at all but when talking to him about it I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to make him feel better. That’s just… stoopid! Most of the time just being a friendly ear is enough.

I was reading this post from Elsie from A Beautiful Mess about how she changed her life, and although she wasn’t giving advice, simply sharing her experience, I was inspired to do something similar.

I had a pretty notebook with no particular function, so rather than let it sit there gathering dust I’ve used it to list a whole bunch of stuff I want to change, do and work on. There’s no time limit, though in general I’m thinking along the lines of the remainder of the year, and my plan is to just flip through it and decide which thing to do next.

Some will take longer than others as I’ll need money (such as re-carpeting most of the house) but others are simpler, like making a doctor’s appointment I’ve been putting off or not ripping pages out of my sketch book if something isn’t ‘good enough’. I think it’ll be a fun, useful and eye-opening project.

So, a plan of action. I’m back at work tonight which always makes eating healthy easier too, so back on plan it is. It’s soooooo hot this week, I’m going on my walks straight from work so I don’t get burnt to a crisp, and I’ll go to my group next week and explain to them I’ll be moving on after that. Simple, right?

Now I’m hanging out in the garden until it’s time for my pre-work nap.

Bye for now!

Hayley x

The Beacon is Smaller

It took me a while to get around to this post, mainly because holiday mode morphed into EXTREME holiday mode, mixed with some EXTREME instances of attempting to eat my feelings.

That wasn’t my intention. I was going to face my gain (5.5lbs on. Damn) then get on with things. I would be in for another gain on Monday, but I can’t make group because my sister is visiting and I don’t want to have to rush off. It’s been too long since we had a proper catch up.

Tuesday I went with my brother to his fishing lake, which reinforced what I already knew – that fishing would never be for me even if I did think it would be a good idea to put a hook through something’s face, which I don’t. His biggest catch was a bream, which was absolutely smothered in horrifying goo. That’s normal apparently.

This was my view for the day. I was content to mainly sit and contemplate how I was going to tell my friend I no longer wanted him in my life (something I wanted to think carefully about as I don’t do well with confrontation) and attempt to get some colour on my milk bottle legs. Despite rotating regularly, the sun decided to give me two thin strips of sunburn on the front of my legs and nothing anywhere else. Strange.

This summer I’ve been brave and started baring my arms, and I want to do the same in the leg department at some point. However before I’m comfortable enough to do that I would like them to be slightly less pale. I’ll keep trying!

It was such a gorgeous day. The lake was teeming with butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and we were sat right opposite a little family of moorhens with two adorable little babies. Sadly I couldn’t get a good picture of those, but a damselfly did land right on me which was handy.

Later on, I did manage to speak to my friend and now that chapter of my life can be closed. I went for option B in the end – I explained why I had to do what I had to do, as hard as that was. Wednesday I had a cathartic day of sorting through pretty much everything I own, deciding what to throw, what to give away and what to sell at a boot sale.

It helped me sort through some feelings too, but to be honest I still feel awful about the whole situation. This person has caused a lot of pain in my life, and whenever I’ve taken gradual steps to protect myself in the recent past, it’s taken a while for me to adjust to the new state of affairs. This time I have to do the same thing, but I take comfort in the fact that this is the last time I ever have to do that. Then it’s over, finally. Only healthy friendships from here on in!

A walk with my little brother yesterday also helped. We started at Ivinghoe Beacon, which we first visited in April 2016. This was a few months before I started my current membership with Slimming World, and the first time I really started trying to get out into the world.

This is the beacon, and it seemed like such a huge undertaking for us at the time. We were so unfit, it really was a feat getting to the top. We went back again in April 2017 as part of preparing ourselves for climbing Snowdon, but even then it was still quite difficult.

Yesterday, it felt as if the beacon had shrunk. It was an absolute doddle! As much as I’ve struggled with my diet for over a year, at least I can say my fitness hasn’t suffered.

After scaling the beacon in no time at all, we then went on a 15 mile walk along The Ridgeway, which is a National Trust trail that starts at the beacon in Leighton Buzzard and ends 87 miles away in Wiltshire. People have been walking The Ridgeway for 5000 years, so although it’s pretty cool to walk the route and imagine what kind of people had been there before us (kings, knights, bandits, wenches, vikings…) the novelty of that wore off pretty quickly.

Although I’m ordinarily happy to keep walking until I drop, it was all a bit samey and we quickly became bored of traipsing through forest that all looked exactly like the last stretch we walked through. At least we know now though – The Ridgeway isn’t quite our bag and rather than try the next stretch of the trail it’s probably better if we look for something new for next time.

One thing that is pretty awesome is that we didn’t even sit down until we were about 8 miles in, and the only reason we stopped in the first place was so my brother could get the stones out of his boots. After that we didn’t stop again until the end of our 15 mile route. Even then we didn’t need to stop, it was just that we had arrived at a convenient place. That’s pretty impressive in my book.

Something that’s apparent is that we don’t have much luck with this part of the world – every time we’ve been here the weather has been awful and we got rained on, a lot. Although having said that it was quite refreshing!

Plus I did see a slug eating a mushroom, some cool fungus, and I had a fight with a tree. Now I have a lumpy head. The tree won.

On today’s agenda is making plans for staying on plan over the coming weeks and months, eating well, then this evening I’m off to the cinema for a nice, mindless zombie movie.

Perfect.

Hayley x

Bloat

I feel fat today. Except I don’t, not really. My sister pointed out to me a while ago (after reading about it on the internets) that fat isn’t an emotion. Once you realise that, you allow yourself to think about what’s really going on and then you can deal with it. Lightbulb moment.

Physically, I’m bloated. I currently have trapped wind and hiccups, and my tummy is noticeably bigger than it was yesterday. This doesn’t stop me looking in the mirror and automatically thinking ‘oh god I’ve failed!’ even though I’ve been absolutely spot on with my diet for the last 19 days. Not that I’m counting…

In fact I was going to blog yesterday about how slim I’m feeling and how it only took 18 days of eating healthily for things to start to turn around. The fat feeling isn’t real.

I’m also into week three of no at-home weighing, and the only reason I’ve resisted this week is that I’m scared they won’t show a loss. If they haven’t budged much for a second week (or at all) then it’s going to hit me hard. I’m trying to tow the line between staying positive and not getting my hopes up too much. That’s a difficult balance to get right!

Mentally I’m worried. Worried that it’s not working for me right now, worried I’m not making progress, worried my (considerable) efforts are for nothing.

This is all really silly though, because I KNOW it works. I know it works for me. I lost 5.5lbs the week before last, and it’s unlikely my biology has changed that much in the last fortnight that I’m no longer capable of losing weight. Very unlikely. Now it’s written down I realise how utterly ridiculous my own brain is. Get a grip brain.

So, now I’ve established that, actually, everything is fine, I can crack on. It’s out of character for me, but next week I may well do some proper food planning. Usually I’m a total carboholic, and not eating copious amounts of potatoes would leave me grumpy, ravenous and from time to time give me a banging headache. Recently though, where I’ve been trying to increase my Speed food intake, the carbs have naturally dwindled. As it’s happened gradually I haven’t had any adverse effects.

This week has been SP-ish (SP is a part of the Slimming World plan designed to speed up your weight loss, focusing on especially low energy-density and high-protein foods) so next week I may well try a whole week of full on SP. Since it’s supposed to give me an extra decent loss, if it doesn’t work I intend to bury my face in a giant plate of delicious wedges!

This is an example of one of my SP-ish meals. Loads of veg with Aldi sweet potato burgers, which are THE BOMB.

I’ve also been on some excellent walks over the last few days. The first one was to town, where I got some fantastic bargains. I don’t think I’ve ever even been in a Laura Ashley before, but I spotted some nice things in the window alongside a sign for up to 60% off. That’s my kinda sign.

I bought two lovely dresses to wear straight away, and then I did something I haven’t done for a long time – I bought two dresses to slim into… in a size TWELVE no less. I tried on a very warm, wintery dress which I suspect I’ll virtually live in when the weather turns again, but the 14 was on the verge of being too big already. Come November I’m going to be wearing that dress.

When my sister visits next I’ll get her to take some pictures (it’s already decided that I’ll give her a little fashion show to show off my purchases).

The other walks were in my favourite park, and I’m really enjoying being truly functional when it comes to my appearance. I may well get a funky hair cut in the winter, but I’ll see how I feel closer to the time. For now I’ve been pinning my hair back and going make-up free most of the time, so I’m ready to leave the house and get walking in record time. Plus the less make up I wear the more my skin condition improves.

I even have a tanned face for the first time in my life!

It’s a far cry from this time three years ago.

After reading the latest Slimming World magazine I’ve been inspired to update my motivation wall, and I’m awarding myself new weight loss certificates as I re-earn them. That’s the perks of almost being a consultant I suppose.

The pegs represent half a pound each, and there are 32 of them. When they have all been moved to the bottom string, I’LL BE AT TARGET!

Next week will be completely full of good things. I only have tonight’s shift then I’m off work till a week on Tuesday. Most importantly though, it’s going to be full to the brim of positive, healthy pursuits.

Bring it on.

Hayley x

Up Again

Ah, sweet relief. I’m finally starting to feel human again! Things aren’t perfect of course (nothing ever is, that’s life) but I feel like doing things again – doing them because I want to, not forcing myself because I know it’ll make me feel better in the long run.

Now the fog has considerably cleared from my brain I’ve had time and headspace for reflection. It started with thinking about what I’ve done so far to tackle my weight and what I’m going to do moving forward. What I’m really going to do, instead of continuing to break my own promises.

I updated my motivational wall and that was quite telling. Although my best loss through Slimming World is 8 stone 10 lbs, my current loss is 7 stone on the nose. Interestingly I got my 7 stone award in 2017, and as far as numbers go I haven’t made much progress since then.

ACS_0954

However, the fact I’ve managed to keep off 7 stone for a year and 8 months has exceeded my wildest expectations.

Someone at work the other night asked my how my diet’s going, and it brought me up short for a moment. Although I talk about being on and off plan, I genuinely don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I use the word diet occasionally as sometimes it’s just easier, but bouts of emotional eating aside, this really is forever. As such the idea of ‘being on a diet’ actually feels quite alien. I like that.

I finally feel like I’m really ready to carry on where I left off when I was steaming along for months on end. They were good times.

I’m so happy I’ve started feeling better just before the end of the month, because I do love a fresh start and a new beginning. It just so happens that we’re also on the cusp of the crossing the half-way mark of 2019, and I feel that I’ve learned enough over the last few days to set me up for a fantastic second half.

This week’s goals are all in hand – despite 31 degree heat I still got out and filled my exercise ring today. I can happily take this heat, because I got what I wanted – a whole load of glorious sunshine! I just walked up to the church on the hill and back, but it was enough to get my heart pumping.

I’ve been eating well, enjoying it, and I have a weekend of good things to look forward to.

One thing I have learned lately is that walking is something that’s absolutely essential to my wellbeing. While I was busy I honestly didn’t have the time or energy to do the amount I wanted, which just compounded how awful I was feeling. I’m damn well delighted to be back outside with Mother Nature. Yesterday I saw THREE RABBITS. Three! Funnily enough they didn’t stay still for a picture so this will have to do.

I also got the tyre done on the new car, had the air conditioning re-gassed… then found out there’s water leaking from somewhere. Last week this would have really peed me off, but this week? Not so much. I’m sure I’ll get it sorted, and I still have my existing car to use for as long as I need to. Ain’t nothing getting me down.

Right, it’s now time for me to go get ready for a measly four hour shift. I’m leaving work early as I have a fun thing planned for tomorrow. More on that later!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Where do I begin?

What’s this? I have time to blog? Truth be told, I’m going to have a lot more time from now on. That’s because I’ve made the really difficult and to be honest quite heart-wrenching decision to not be a Slimming World consultant after all.

I’ve been putting off writing this post, because although it’s occupied my thoughts constantly for days, I’ve been trying to avoid examining things too closely. Right now I’m feeling like a big huge failure with a capital F.

My main reason for wanting to become a consultant was sound. The people in my group needed a permanent consultant and they are truly lovely people, so I wanted them to have just that. I’m feeling a massive amount of guilt, because I know I’ve let all of those people down, especially the ones who have been helping me with promotion.

Guilt is probably the word of the day. I feel guilty for all of the extra work I’ve put on to other people – my manager will have to start again looking for another consultant whereas if she’d chosen anyone but me then there’d be someone ready to go this Monday. There’s all of the returning of my equipment to sort out and getting cover for the group in the meantime. I’ve wasted so much of everyone’s time. I hate myself for that.

My main reason for giving up at this stage is depression. Maybe, just maybe if I wasn’t feeling so bad then I’d be able to cope with everything. But what I really feel, deep down, is that it’s more likely I’m just not the person I thought (hoped?) I am or could be. I’m not strong. I can’t just knuckle down and get on with things. I’m a flake. I’m not looking for sympathy, I just can’t be anything but honest here. I feel quite pathetic right now.

I feel guilty for every single person who has a lot more to deal with than I do and copes with it. I feel guilty for every other consultant who manages to do it alongside a full time job. I feel guilty for every consultant who runs their groups alongside raising a family. If they can do it why can’t I? What’s wrong with me?

I feel scared to death that this is all I’ll ever be. Will I just be in my little comfort zone forever, scared to leave? Is this all I’ve ever amount to? Ugh. I’m being dramatic!

So yeah, I’m not really a fan of myself right now. On top of it all I’m the heaviest I’ve been in a year because I’ve been comfort eating. Just lately food has been the only thing that has bought me any kind of enjoyment at all, but I’m so angry at myself for knowing how brief that enjoyment is and what it means for my future happiness (or lack thereof) and choosing to go down that road anyway.

Where do I go from here then? Well… backwards I think. Now I have spare time again I’m right back out there getting my exercise in. I do love going for walks, and I’ve realised that no matter where I end up in future then in order to be happy I must make sure I don’t consider having to sacrifice that again. It’s a deal-breaker. I can’t walk to work and back because it’s not safe in the dark on my own, so although it’s time consuming it must be done in my spare time.

Also I need to go back to my lowest weight. I’ve said it before but I was happy then. So back to last November I go, even though I’m further away from it than I was the last time I wrote about it.

Thankfully, although I feel like the world’s biggest pile of crap, at least I’ve realised what needs to happen before any more damage is done.

I must say I have had nothing but love and support from so many people at Slimming World. Although I don’t feel I deserve it, everyone without exception has been absolutely brilliant. When making my decision I had brief thoughts about not being able to show my face and having to give up as a member, or finding a group way out where no one would know what trouble I’d caused. That’s not the Slimming World way though, and I was really surprised to find that right from the members to the very top their values stay the same. To be a big company and keep that going through and through is quite an achievement.

Right now I feel like my foundations have been well and truly rocked and I have a lot of thinking to do about who I am and where to go from here, but just for now I’m just content to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

At least the view is nice.

Hayley x