In Search of ‘Cheese’

I told a lie. I told a big, huge, whopping mountain of a lie. I said I wouldn’t mention Christmas again (yet) but I’ve started to get excited and, y’know, since all my self control is currently being channelled into getting to target something had to give somewhere.

In the family group chat it was decided that this year’s budget will be £10 per person. I think last year it was £20, but I went a bit overboard with special gifts and spent way more than I was supposed to.

This year I’m going to stick to the rules, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be effort involved. I’ve already bought five (very nice) presents and only spent £3.77 in total so I’m off to a great start, but I’m also going to be making some gifts too. And in order to do that I need to start on my projects right away.

I intend to do this every year, but this year I really will because I’m actually feeling the creativity. I mentioned this to a friend who asked me to draw him a picture, so I did. Or rather, I painted it. It’s so hard because I’m never entirely happy with the finished article – all I can see is everything that’s wrong with it – but I need to just carry on anyway. I can’t get better if I don’t practice.

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Considering it’s generally months and months between me picking up a paintbrush I suppose I am happy with it really, just not ‘showing anyone else’ happy. But I’ll still give it to my friend, because it’s time to get out of my comfort zone once and for all. And to practice some consistency!

Yesterday morning I went on a little mission straight from work. The first stop was the big Tesco which is right out of my way, but it’s hard for me to get Oumph vegan products anywhere else. I do love my burgers and sausages, but I could feel that I needed something a little different. I wanted to change things up a little bit before I decide I’m bored and fall off of the wagon.

The kebab spiced pieces are one of my all time favourite things and they really did the job.

I also picked up Tesco’s own unsweetened soya yoghurt (newly Free on Slimming World) and discovered that I really like it. I was expecting it to taste like soya milk, which I can’t stand, but nope I found it really tasty. It has a nice yoghurty twang which I suppose comes from the bacterial cultures in it.

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Next stop was Sainsbury’s to try to find the Daiya cheddar-style cheese which now counts as a Healthy Extra. The only problem is, by now I was feeling pretty tired after my night shift. So by the time I got into Sainsbury’s I wasn’t quite with it and spent far too long fruitlessly looking for Koko cheese. Which Sainsbury’s do not even stock.

Thankfully though I stumbled across the Daiya products and thought I may as well have a look, before it slowly dawned on me that I was supposed to be looking for them anyway.

I was in for a shock though – a 200g block is £4.50! I bought it anyway, because I came all that way on a mission and I damn well wasn’t leaving without it.

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I decided to just sprinkle it on my dinner (chips, roasted veg, kebab pieces, YUM) and first impressions as I was grating it were good. The other brands I’ve tried are all rock hard but this was soft and grated really well. It melted well too.

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A little (40g) went a long way, plus although it smelled a little weird it had a really good taste. After being horrified at the price and vowing never to buy it again, to be honest I probably will. But only once a month I reckon.

Daiya have been around in the US for a while and have only just started selling in the UK, so I hope that once they’re more established and more supermarkets stock them, the price will come down considerably.

Either way it’s nice to be able to support a vegan brand and have it fit in easily with the Slimming World plan.

In other news I had a delivery today after forgetting to cancel my Papergang stationery subscription. Is anyone else a total stationery addict? I bet you are. I’m pleased I was forgetful, because this months box was designed by one of my favourite artists (Gemma Correll) and was very apt taking recent events into account.

It’s all about self-care and I love everything in the very generous haul.

So much good stuff! There’s a notebook, a huge poster with a calendar on the back, stickers, a notepad, an A4 poster, a November calendar (one of these comes with every box and I LOVE them) and even a cuppa, although tea with beetroot in it does sound a little rank…

I put a couple of bits up on the motivational area above my desk. Wonderful!

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Now it’s that time of day again and I must get on my (exercise) bike and do some weights. Then hopefully tomorrow I’m out for a nice long walk, even if it rains!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Going for it!

Oh my, so it’s all kicking off again in the Slimming World community it seems! Yesterday the news broke that all flavoured yoghurts will now carry a Syn value, and of course, people aren’t happy that the Mullerlights are no longer free.

For me though, vegan agenda aside, I think this is a good thing. Even before I went vegetarian I stopped eating Mullers because basically I thought they were crap. Overpriced, chemically tasting, watery nastiness. But it is really easy to overeat them, and although they’re ‘only’ 99 calories per pot, if you eat six a day (as some people I know have done) then there’s a chance it’ll negatively affect your losses. Slimming World are just trying to protect our losses, and I’m glad they’re on the ball.

It’s an unpopular opinion among the plant-based members out there, but I agree with Slimming World that avocados shouldn’t be free. I would like to see them given a Healthy Extra allowance or maybe even see the Syns reduced, but if they were free… oh boy, I doubt I’d lose a single ounce!

But there is some EXCELLENT news for us vegans. In fact I was the only one in group last night with a massive grin plastered across my face. Canned jackfruit is now FREE. Plain/smoked seitan is now FREE. And… AND…. we even have FREE plain yoghurt we can eat! I’m chuffed to bits, because it’s nice to be able to plonk a dollop of (soya) yoghurt on a curry or something without having to worry, or to make a salad dressing or whatever.

I’ve just checked the app and Alpro, Asda, M&S and Tesco unsweetened plain soya yoghurts are all free now. Wonderful!

Some Syns for the Alpro yoghurts have increased by a small amount, but again I’m not bothered. I’d rather have to use an extra half a Syn than be frustrated that I’m not making as much progress as I should be.

To top it off we even have TWO vegan cheeses we can use as a Healthy Extra now, but I wasn’t able to get either in town yesterday. But on Thursday I’m going out hunting so we’ll see what I can find.

There will be a new book coming out late December reflecting all the changes, and I’m pretty sure current members will get a new one for free. At least that’s what’s happened in the past when I’ve been a member.

You can read all the info in full on the Slimming World website, which I’d recommend because there are other changes I haven’t talked about here.

Anyway, enough of that. Let’s talk about yesterday. I’ve got into a really good routine where I pop in to visit my dad before going to group (he lives just around the corner) then I leave the car at his then walk the rest of the way.

But yesterday I’d just got up to leave when I realised I’d left my book and card at home. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but since I joined at another group (and wasn’t sure if my details had been transferred over) I’d probably need my card in order to weigh in.

So I rushed back home, grabbed my book, and rushed back to group. I did make it (with plenty of time to spare actually) which was such a relief because I was very anxious indeed to find out how I’d done. It turns out because it’s the same consultant at both groups I needn’t have worried, so that’s good to know for the future!

I held my breath and stepped on the scales…

3lbs off! 

I now weigh 13st 12.5lbs (mini goal achieved, yay!) and have a mere 1st 2.5lbs to go till I reach my target weight.

Now, I’ve been giving target quite a lot of thought and it occurred to me that it’s now truly within reaching distance. At first I was worried to even think about it, but I’m feeling so confident about Slimming World at the moment that I’ve decided.

I’m going for it. I’m going to try to reach target BEFORE Christmas. 

For me there are 13 weigh-ins lefts before the big day, and if I lose 2lbs a week I will be at target in nine weeks. At the start of the year I was convinced that I would hit target in 2018, but assumed as time went on that I’d blown it. But it IS still possible. There is a chance I’ll fall short, but eff it. I’m going to try anyway.

How amazing would it be? I’m daring to dream, and why the hell shouldn’t I?

Group itself was fab as always, and by the end I was absolutely made up to have got Slimmer of the Week. When you have been at it for as long as I have (I’ve been on this current ‘journey’ for over two years now) you just don’t expect to get it any more.

But get it I did, and it was a very generous haul. Among other things there was a bottle of Fry Light, some delicious looking apricots, a tin of water chestnuts and a bunch of flowers. What a nice thought! I especially thanked the lady who put them in because it was such a lovely idea and really brightened my day.

Earlier on in the day I made a fantastic start to week 3 of my Gold Body Magic Award with a 2.5 hour walk around the park and into town. I was thinking about putting it off till today but I’m so glad I didn’t, because the light was so much nicer yesterday.

Along with other kinds of mojo I’m definitely getting my photography mojo back. My favourite thing from the walk though was a silvery bush where the odd few leaves had gone yellow and green.

One of my favourite things ever is light shining through the leaves, so it was good to be able to combine these two things.

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Just… gorgeous.

In town I didn’t get much except a couple of bottles of Fry Light, and a little retro robot for my brother for 99p, but it was such a lovely day I’m really glad I got out. Of course it goes without saying really, but I did feed the geese as well.

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It’s back to work tonight so my only real plan for today is to get some exercise in and have a nap. Normally I’d feel that this wasn’t ‘enough’ but I had a really active weekend so what the hell!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Earls Colne, and Other Things

Last week was really good. Friday was my brother’s birthday, and although I had work that night I stayed up for the afternoon/evening in order to hang out with the family. And it was great! It’s testament to how much better I’m feeling as hanging out with brother, sister and mother (and all the noise and chaos that brings) was so much fun.

I also had my Body Magic for the day to complete, so I took my hula hoop and kettlebells downstairs and socialised at the same time. When my brother got home from work we had a laugh by comparing what weights we could lift and how many push ups we can do. It wasn’t really competitive – my brother is really tall and naturally strong, I’m tall and fairly weak in comparison, and my sister is a tiny little thing – so we all knew how it was going to go anyway. I still had to laugh at my sister trying to lift a 10kg weight, while everyone laughed at me trying to do one of those push ups where you clap on the up part (and nearly smashing my face into the carpet while I was at it!)

Things are so different to how they used to be. When we were kids my sister would be out with her friends, my brother would be playing Runescape on the PC, and I’d be trying to get him off the PC, because it was my turn dammit! Then my sister would come home and also want the PC, and the place would turn into a war zone.

But the real difference isn’t that we are all such good friends now (although that’s awesome and one of the best things about my whole life) it’s that we are so much more healthy and active. I’m not sure we’d be as close if we didn’t get out and do things together.

Speaking of getting out, the weekend has been very outdoorsy. I went to visit a friend on Saturday on one condition – that we go out for a walk. I had a load of stuff I should have been doing that day, mostly to prepare for my Sunday, and if I was going to put it off it had to be for a good reason. For one thing I wanted more Body Magic, and this particular walk meant I completed week two of my Gold award. Whoop whoop!

Signs of autumn are beginning to show everywhere, and I have a very strong impulse to make the most of every single day before everything is grey and barren again. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year, and I don’t want to waste a second.

When I got home I got myself straight to bed for an hour’s sleep, then made sure I got up in time to at least do some prep.

Me and my brother agreed that we were going to do a walk from my ’50 walks in Essex’ book, that I bought months ago and hadn’t looked at since. Weirdly, since I’m useless at planning such things, he left the choice of walk and all the details up to me.

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So I chose a walk, worked out how long it would take us to drive there, how much sleep I’d need in the morning in order to do the drive safely, and told him what time we were leaving. Then (even more importantly) I pre-made my lunch for the next day, because if I don’t have food with me it could mean disaster. That done, I toddled off to work for my final shift of the week.

In the morning we were out of the door by 10:15 am (I almost managed 3 hours sleep) with plenty of coffee in tow. We were headed to Earls Colne to do a 6.5 mile circular walk which would take us through Chalkney Mill.

I had a little moment where I wasn’t sure what to wear – I didn’t think I had anything warm enough to hand (the weather looked a bit grim) but eventually I decided on a t-shirt dress and leggings because I’d no doubt warm up during the walk anyway.

I made the right choice – when we got there the skies turned blue and we were treated to a beautiful day. So beautiful I was starting to worry that I should have bought sun cream with me.

Do you know what my favourite part was though? THE FOOD! First of all we found plenty of blackberries, and since I’d left my lunch in the car to have once we were finished these were most welcome.

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Further along the route we came across an apple tree, but all of the fruits within reaching distance had been started on by birds and bugs. But I had my brother with me, and he’s always up for a challenge. He found us a couple of really tasty looking apples.

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I do like apples, but I’m seriously fussy about them. I’ll NEVER buy them from a supermarket (unless it’s for a pie or crumble) because they are invariably disappointing. The apple I had from the tree though – it was hands down not only the best apple I’ve ever had, but the tastiest fruit I’ve eaten in my whole life hands down. It was utterly delicious!

Later on we came across a friendly little family, whose young son was very interested in what I was doing with my camera. I was photographing fungus at the time (as you do) and I marvelled at the fact the kid has clearly been raised to appreciate the outdoors rather than simply plonked in front of a TV or tablet. Most other kids his age would probably be more familiar with technology than nature.

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I don’t normally know what to say to tiny humans (I find them quite frightening) but it was easy to explain what I was doing and show him the camera screen. Then we got talking to the dad who told us what other kind of fungi we could expect to see around this time of year.

As it happens we didn’t see any stinkhorns (although I’d really like to) but it’s good to know they can be found in that area for when we return at a later date. As I’m sure we will.

In contrast to all the nature, one part of the route also took us directly underneath a pylon. I’m quite happy with that, as I’ve never been so close to a pylon, so I took the opportunity to get an ‘arty’ shot.

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When I got home I had leftover curry that I made the other day which was completely Syn free, packed with Speed foods and even tastier than when I originally made it. Thinking ahead has definitely helped me this week.

As it happens I have group this evening and despite feeling really confident earlier on in the week today I’m feeling a bit bloated so I don’t know how it’s going to go. What I do know, is that I have been completely on plan without a single slip-up for two whole weeks now. And that feels soooooo good.

Another thing I know is that if I don’t get the result I want today, I’m just going to carry on what I’ve been doing. I’m not going to use it as an excuse to have a blow-out.

The only other plan I have for today is to walk into town (Body Magic, yay!) and hunt for Koko vegan cheddar which has been spotted by my fellow vegans in Home Bargains. When I first went vegan there were no cheeses you could have as a Healthy Extra, but this one does count so hopefully I can get my mitts on it.

On that note I’d best get cracking, so I’ll say goodbye for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Already?

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

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

MINCE PIES. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Bad Decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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That’s more like it!

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

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

One day at a time, Hayley!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Absolute Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He gets it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to never giving up x

Budget

I’ve written about trying to be more careful with money several times since starting this blog, but somehow I never seemed to do anything about it. In fact being sensible financially ended up right at the bottom of my list of priorities and it’s now caught up with me. I’m in just a little bit of a pickle, so trying to be careful has turned into ‘really Hayley, you MUST be careful now or we’re screwed‘.

Thankfully I checked my accounts and my outgoings kinda just in time. I’m currently £30 into my planned overdraft, I have £87 left to pay out for the month, and £36 in cash to spend on food. Oh and 10 days until payday.

Because I have some catching up to do and a few expensive things to pay out for, things are going to be tight until about November, and then it’s Christmas. It’s going to have to be a frugal one this year!

I only just got around to trying ‘The Chunk‘ which is a vegan meat replacement from Oumph! I’d already tried the kebab pieces and the pulled ‘pork’ which are both delicious, but they have syns so I thought I’d try the plain pieces, which are syn free.

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I wish I hadn’t put if off for so long because even without seasoning ‘The Chunk’ is really tasty. After I’d tried it on its own I added garlic and paprika and it was delicious. The only problem is, although totally worth it, the Oumph! products are quite expensive and I can’t afford to get any more for the time being.

Ho hum, it’s my own fault entirely.

Thankfully some of the best things in life are completely free, so I took advantage of a very rainy Thursday and went out for a run. It’s probably an unpopular opinion, but running in the rain is FANTASTIC! At least if it’s still quite warm, as it was then.

There’s something really peaceful about it all, especially as I had the park almost exclusively to myself. I only saw one little family with their brollies and wellies walking in the opposite direction, right at the beginning.

I did 3.7 miles, at what is a good pace for me, without stopping. My knee was a bit stiff the day after, but I think as long as I don’t run on consecutive days then I can keep going.

It. Felt. So. Good!

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Not my best photographic work, but an accurate representation of my afternoon!

Yesterday I didn’t do much, because after a couple of weeks of not sleeping all that much I’ve been allowing myself extra time in bed. I did however still get out for a walk before I went back to bed before my shift, and took some nice flower pictures up at the church. I’m not religious, but I do like going up there and the church gardener definitely takes pride in their work. Plus it’s right at the top of a very big hill, and hills are bloody good exercise.

I have work tonight so I’ll have another little walk soon to top up my steps then have a nap, and think about what I’m going to do with my weekend. I know that Monday evening I’m going out for dinner at Harvester for my dad’s birthday, and I know that I can stay on plan, too. Unlimited salad it is, and do you know what? I may even have a jacket potato. I know how to live!

I hope you lot out there are having a lovely weekend, and don’t have to work tonight.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Yes I Can

I was going to post about my day last night, but in the end I decided to wait until it was officially over and that I had in fact done what I set out to do.

Yesterday I met up with my sister and we went into the swelteringly hot city of London to sample some vegan treats. I’ve written about similar things on here so many times before, about how I’m going to stay on plan right up until the last minute, and get back on plan when I get home, but normally I start to slip a couple of days beforehand.

Before I know it, by the time the actual event I’ve been so eagerly anticipating comes around, I feel like a total failure and it ruins the whole day.

Not this time though! Work stress may have had something to do with it, but I managed to stay perfectly on plan, even when it came to my breakfast.

If I did it this time, I can do it any time.

I did nearly 20k steps during the day, and covered nearly 10 miles, which may go some way to negating the off-plan things I ate. It’s better than doing nothing, that much is true.

I’ve been meaning to go to the Hackney Downs Vegan Market for over a year now, so it was about time I actually went and did it. And by some happy coincidence (the vendors change regularly) a stall selling epic hotdogs was there (Pig Out), whose wares I’ve also been wanting to sample for many months.

The only question was, which one to have?

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I decided on ‘The American’, because the truffle oil sounded super fancy. And oh boy it was lovely! The hotdogs were so authentic-tasting, yet knowing there aren’t any questionable parts in there and that a cute piggy didn’t have to die to make it had me questioning why I ever ate the non-vegan kind.

I also had a tiramisu, because it used to be one of my favourite pre-vegan desserts. The cream tasted more like marshmallow, but it wasn’t a bad thing because it still worked. But it’s testament to how good Dope Soft Serve ice cream is because ‘The Pornstar’ was incredible in comparison, and the tiramisu was good enough to begin with. One of the tastiest vegan things I’ve eaten so far. I chose it because it sounded the most refreshing – raspberry, passionfruit and chopped nuts. Delish!

Once I got home I managed to stay on plan. I had an uneaten work lunch in the fridge (comprising only of Free and Speed foods) but since I was still hungry after I had some soya beans which never fail to fill me up.

I did it! I did EXACTLY what I set out to do!

I now have the whole of Sunday and most of Monday to try to ensure I still (hopefully) get some sort of loss. What with managing to get out for a couple of runs and how spectacularly on it I’ve been this week, I’m fairly hopeful.

Next Sunday me and the little sis are having a picnic in the park, which is way more adaptable to Slimming World! That means I can stay 100% on plan and enjoy family time.

Speaking of which, I was enjoying how me and my sister are looking more like sisters than we ever have before!

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When we were kids I could have quite happily wrung her neck. Yet here were are, the bestest of friends. It’s funny how things turn out.

Later on today I’m going for a walk in the park, because it’s just too hot to run, and before weigh in tomorrow I’ll definitely be doing some form of exercise. I’m thinking maybe a short run first thing, then I walk into town later on. We’ll see.

Either way, despite the prospect of not losing any weight this week, I’m looking forward to going to group and actually staying this time.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Good Vibes

Well I went out and attempted a bit of a run yesterday and it went OK. I only ran for one very slow mile (and walked for another two) and while I’m actually moving there’s no pain. But my knee is rather tender today. I think it’s too soon to be thinking about doing a full run, but I think I’ll go out again tomorrow and jog the flat bits whilst power-walking the hills.

It didn’t really matter what I was doing anyway, because it was gorgeous out there. Plus I did press-ups, so my arms, shoulders and chest are giving me a nice gentle ache which tells me I did some good!

Now I have my car back I’m not feeling quite so disheartened about not being able to run properly, because at least I can drive to more interesting places in order to have a walk. Just traipsing around my estate is pretty grim to be honest.

After my little bit of exercise I had some lunch, and even though I was hyper aware that everything I put in my body was adding weight before group later. I had to be sensible and give my body what it needed, even if that did include two litres of water.

Before weigh in I went to see my father as he lives just around the corner from my new group, and it was nice to have a catch up. I don’t see him that often, which is good because him and his girlfriend love to feed me. And since I hadn’t been for a while it was nice to get the ‘you’re looking so slim!’ compliments.

As it happens over this last week I have felt slimmer, and my face definitely is less puffy.

But what did the scales say?

Since I got the time wrong I was 15 minutes early to group, which didn’t help my weighing-in nerves. But of course I needn’t have worried, I lost 2.5 lbs!

I have to say I’m getting a really good vibe about this group. It’s much, much smaller than the one I’m used to, and my consultant (who runs both this group and my old one) was able to spend a lot more time milling around among us. Of course if there are new members that will be different, but it feels a bit more tight-knit. But not cliquey.

I couldn’t stay to group this time, but I’m looking forward to next week when I definitely will be.

I had planned to stop off at the nearby giant Tesco and pick up some bits on the way home, but I was very tired and very hungry and knew if I went in there I’d quite possibly come out with more than I intended to. I’m not quite feeling strong enough to test myself with things like that yet.

Once back I had a delicious completely Free dinner followed by a Rowntree’s fruit pastille lolly for 3 syns. Later on I realised I’d only had 4.5 syns, which just won’t do, so I had another one.

I did go and look in the fridge just before bed, but thankfully I realised that I wasn’t actually hungry. Waking up this morning knowing I’ve spent my whole weekend on plan, knowing there’s no catching up to do or feeling guilty for the first time in weeks was priceless.

As you can see I’ve been carrying on with taking pictures of my food, and have even started creating weekly Google Photos albums along with what result eating that food got me. I imagine I’ll get bored of it one day in the future, but while it’s fun I’m just going for it.

If you want to see last week’s food (I was on plan from Wednesday onwards) then feel free to have a look (link).

Finally I bought a delicious-sounding vegan ready meal from Sainsbury’s the other day. I hear really good things about this sweet potato katsu curry, so before buying I checked I could freeze it. That meant I had time to email the packaging to Slimming World and wait for them to update the syns database.

Sometimes it’s hard getting vegan stuff added, but those lovely people at head office were on it on this occasion and it’s now listed as 15.5 syns. Which I think it quite reasonable. I’ll let you know how it was once I’ve tried it, using half a syn banked from another day. I only had 7.5 yesterday so I do have some spare.

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Well that’s all of my news for now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x