Little Teefs

We’ve got this damn heatwave going on in the UK, and whilst I can handle the odd seriously hot day (and even enjoy it) when it’s continuous it ceases to be much fun. Maybe if I didn’t have to go to work I’d feel better about it-even when it gets cooler it takes another day or two for the temperature inside the warehouse to drop.

In my teens and twenties I was so unhappy with my body that I’d still be wearing black tops with long sleeves in this kind of weather. I’m so grateful that although I’m not exactly ecstatic with my physical appearance, at least I give few enough shits to be able to relax these days.

It’s so weird how I’m 5.5 stone heavier than my lowest weight yet I’m so much more comfortable with my body now. When I was dieting, it was just never enough. It was always ‘just a little bit more’, but the end point never came.

The pool was where I spent almost the entire day yesterday, even when my friend came to visit. He’s actually an ex from a long time ago, and when we were together I never would have let him see me like that. I would have gone and got changed into something more ‘attractive’. And I certainly wouldn’t have posted this picture on the bloody internet for all to see!

I used to think that people who said they were fat and happy were just saying that. I believed that they believed it, but couldn’t imagine how it could possibly be true. Well, now I’m doing it, it’s happening, and I’m absolutely positive I’m not lying to myself.

Five years ago I also told myself I’d never, EVER be a desk clerk at work again. That’s the role I took on again last week, and although the job hasn’t changed much, I have changed. A LOT.

People are still rude to me (it’s amazing how many people don’t say please and thank you), there’s drama and backstabbing, there’s either too much to do or not enough… but I have learned to not be affected by things that aren’t my fault. Even if I am being blamed for them! For instance we had a lot of work the other night, more than the amount of truck drivers we had could possibly do. In the past I would have been pulling my hair out trying to ‘make it work’. But that responsibility isn’t mine to carry. I do the best with what I’ve got, and that’s that. No point taking it personally.

I released two loads on to the same bay so one was overflowing and one next to it was empty. In the past I would have felt a massive amount of guilt over this ‘mistake’. I would have woken up in a panic whilst it had been subconciously playing on my mind as I slept. As it is, sometimes the computer gets ‘stuck’ on the previous load and in my retraining no one had reminded me of that. I also asked my trainer to double check my work in case anything was on the wrong bay but he decided not to bother. It happened, it’s something I will look out for in future, and the world didn’t end.

The next night I was on the desk my manager gave me a half day holiday because there was nothing to do. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

There has been garden drama since I last wrote Remember my most magnificent squash? This particular one has been the star of the show, and in between Friday and Saturday it grew a whole two centimetres. Then Newton the destroyer came to visit.

Aren’t his little nibbles the cutest? And you can’t very well fault the boy for wanting to eat his veggies! The damage quickly dried and hardened up, so I’m cautiously optimistic that being eaten just a little bit isn’t going to stop this squash at all.

This is the difference between Friday and today:

The difference day by day is actually astonishing! Also new in the garden this week, a red dahlia has popped up (it’s a stunner) and my one cauliflower that has made it to this point is showing… a cauliflower! I think the reason this one survived wheras the others were eaten by slugs, is because I put it in an old pot I had handy (a metal one that once housed a mini Christmas tree) which I think the slugs and snails aren’t too keen on. That could come in very handy in future.

My biggest sunflower is still going strong and now stands at over 7ft tall. However I’m just as excited about the sunflowers I got from planting bird seed-because I had no idea what varieties I planted it’s been fun to see that some of them will have multiple flower heads. One even has a bud attached to every single leaf node.

I don’t like to wish the time away, but to be honest I’m very much looking forward to more managable autumn weather and seeing how the garden transforms over the coming few months. Autumn is a great time of year, don’t you think?

In the meatime, I will just have to try and stay cool as best as I can.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Invasion

There’s one thing I know for certain – no one, and I mean no one, had an Easter Sunday like mine. There are three adults in our household, and for the most part we all cook our own meals because of our weird tastes and eating habits. Once in a while though, for a special occasion, I get invited to a Sunday roast.

While I was mooching around in my room I got a text from mother requesting that I do a quick sketch of my sister, her boyfriend and the doggo. I’m not talented enough to do a quick sketch of something like that so it would end up taking me all day. I said no, but when mum explained why she wanted them, I went one better.

If there’s one thing I love about my family, it’s that we are all quite bonkers. Mum wanted pictures of our absent family so that we could pretend they were joining us for dinner. Then I got carried away.

I printed out pictures of their faces, but then wondered how awesome it would be if I attached them to sticks and sat them at the table. Mum then encouraged me by suggesting that we give them t-shirts (by this time I’m nearly wetting myself with laughter) then the icing on the cake was when I thought to give them stick arms. I haven’t laughed so much in such a long time.

As I was looking for pictures that would print well, I couldn’t resist this hilarious picture of my sister’s boyfriend doing a pretend grumpy face one Christmas. I looks as if Newton has just let off a really smelly parp, which is exactly what he would have done if he was really there. Just before we ate, I video called my sister and luckily she wasn’t frightened at all and thought it was as funny as me and mum did. My brother said something like ‘save me’, but deep down I bet he was really just impressed at our stroke of genius. That must be it.

We decided to keep stick-Newton until we can have the real one back. Even stick-Newton is better than no Newton.

On Monday I had planned to start eating healthily again, however when I last went shopping I bought a huge bag of granola for ’emergencies’. Well, it kept calling to me and I ended up having granola for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (with ice cold coconut milk, flipping delicious I tell you) and couldn’t leave it alone till it was all gone. I regret nothing, it was ace.

Yesterday though, I realised I had to get myself sorted. Not because of weight gain or anything like that, but because I believe I had genuinely become a fire hazard. When I eat rubbish, my tummy does not at all approve and what with the vast quantities of broccoli and cauliflower I ate Sunday, there was a critical build-up of noxious gasses. Lives were at steak – a flick of a light switch and we all could have gone up in flames.

After a day of eating sensibly (including some absolutely banging Marmite roast potatoes), all is back to normal and the crisis has been averted.

Last week, after a delivery of compost, I decided to test my green fingers. The last time my sister came to the house, I don’t even remember when, she left me some plant babies. I thought I had compost in the garage but we were all out, so I just got some mud out of the garden and popped them in an old container I found.

So far so good.

As they’re house plants, I had to bring them indoors. I popped them on the windowsill, and happily went about my day.

Next morning, I woke up to find that I was not alone in bed. I was sharing the duvet with several ants. Ah. I tried to live with them for a while, but in the end I was overrun and had to risk leaving the plants outside.

By the time the compost had been delivered, they were not happy. But then I cut away the dead bits and I have new growth. Perhaps I can be a plant lady after all!

I’m not a huge fan of instructions. I’ve had some seeds in the cupboard for years, but when I read the instructions I put off planting them. It all sounds so complicated – acidic soils, alkaline soils, sunlight, shade, indoors, outdoors, not too much watering, not too little… in the end I just decided to stick everything in pots randomly and hope for the best.

Then after a few days of nothing, we have… life! Check out my cool timelapse, taken over a period of about seven hours yesterday.

Considering some of my seeds should have been sown by 2017 at the latest (according to the packets), and the most recent of them should have been sown by April 2019, I’m really pleased that I have anything at all. It’s all surprisingly exciting!

I’m sure you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats at this point. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Unsettled

I didn’t do anything creative with my block of clay after all. When I began my self-isolation last Tuesday, the advice for the time was for everyone in the household to stay home for 14 days. That has now changed. Because I was the first to develop a cough, as of today I can now leave the house. Well, to a certain extent.

Since I found this out, which was on Saturday I think, I just haven’t been able to settle enough to do much at all. On the one hand, I’m really looking forward to going back to work and seeing the faces of some of my bestest friends. But I don’t think there’s any such thing as a straightforward feeling these days. Apart from looking forward to seeing people, I also feel immense guilt because there are others who won’t see another face for who even knows how long.

Above all else though, there’s fear. Fear of what I might pick up at work and bring back home to my family. Just quitting my job of 11 years has seriously crossed my mind, and I feel disgusted with myself that I’m not brave enough to tell work to stick it. Even if we were dealing with food I’d be ok with going in, but it seems like absolute madness to be dealing with curtains and toasters and microwaves at a time like this. Am I risking the lives of others so people can still get their lawnmowers?

Somehow, incredibly, I am classed as a key worker. When it was announced yesterday that the UK is now taking measures to keep people indoors I was relieved. Until I saw the list of exceptions that is, now I am just as scared as ever.

I don’t think these measures are enough. The trains are still packed. I work in just one warehouse of 500 people that’s still allowed to operate. Imagine how many more there must be throughout the UK. How can this be right?

I’m in work tonight, and I will speak to my manager about perhaps doing a reduced work week, which the company are considering. I figure, the less I’m in contact with other people, the less risk I pose to my family. It’s some sort of middle ground I guess. I’ll worry about the loss of earnings some other time.

ANYWAY, I have been able to find little bits of joy in my days. My sister had to bring her car over yesterday as a mobile mechanic needed to do some urgent work to it on our driveway.

I didn’t see her at all (social distancing people!) but Newton was in the garden so I stuck my head out of the window to say hello. He looked at me quizzically for a moment then carried on with some very important sniffing business, but it was lovely to see him all the same.

Then next door’s dog came out, and wanted to get in on the action. I don’t think this doggo was impressed though. I got a few woofs telling me to go back inside.

Then later on there was my first virtual Slimming World group, and do you know what? I loved it. I got my laptop out and got it functioning (I hadn’t even turned it on for over a year) and got to see the faces of my old fellow group members.

It’s not even about the weight loss. For me it’s something solid that I can focus on and look forward to every week, when everything else is going tits up all around me. Some people don’t have home scales, so they are just focusing on non-scale victories. Of course we have reduced control over what food is available right now as well, and we’re just concentrating on making the best of it. I highly recommend it!

Despite barely moving over the last week, I still managed to lose 1.5 pounds. My goal for March was to get back into the 15 stone bracket, and now I’m 15 stone 6 pounds and there’s one more weigh in left this month.

I’m glad I didn’t get any ‘treats’ with our last online shop, because I know I would have found it hard to resist. As it is I find myself in a situation where I’m saving my last tin of beans for a ‘special occasion’. Blimey, life has become so strange!

That’s it for me for today then. Thanks for reading, and in the words of Jerry Springer, take care of yourselves and each other.

Hayley x

Tough Times Ahead

For someone who is normally a great big ball of anxiety, I’m strangely calm. I’ve been worrying about this coronavirus for about a month now, and finally spoke up to my family just before the ‘delay’ phase was introduced. They thought I was overreacting, though even then I wasn’t panicking.

When covid-19 started hitting the news the very thought scared me, so I decided to look into it further to allay my fears. I figured it was just scaremongering, but what I found was the opposite. I found plenty of evidence to suggest this is a very real threat that’s going to hit us hard (not just one of those things that happens in ‘other’ countries) but the thing that caused me the most stress was that no one in the UK seemed to be taking it seriously.

They still don’t. I don’t know what it’s like in other areas, but here in Essex it seems to be complete disbelief. We have the panic-buyers going crazy, but it doesn’t seem to be because they’re scared of the virus, just that they are scared they’re going to be left behind when everyone else has taken all the food.

I am worried that there won’t be anything left when the greedy people have had their fill, but I’m much more worried of the increased risk being in a packed supermarket would bring. In our house we have an online shop ordered (same as we do every week) and what we get, we get. We aren’t going to starve! I know I’m not setting foot in a supermarket unless I absolutely have to.

There’s so much selfishness. I couldn’t give two hoots whether I catch the virus or not, but I’m painfully aware I could pass it on to other more vulnerable people. Boris has only just suggested we start our social distancing (see this great resource about that) and it’s baffled me that it’s taken this long.

This is a flipping disaster, but we as individuals have the chance to alter the course of this thing. If we slow the spread (see flattening the curve) we can make sure the NHS isn’t too overwhelmed and the mortality rate could be much, much lower.

We aren’t being asked to do much – just wash our damn hands and stay the hell at home! WE CAN LITERALLY SAVE LIVES BY DOING THAT!

Yet, there are some idiots who still go to work with symptoms. I get it – if you’re self-employed it’s an impossible situation, but I know people who get FULL SICK PAY, doing non-essential jobs, who are going to work sick. If you CAN do something to help then please, DAMN WELL DO IT, whether you believe it’s real or not.

Ok, rant over. As I say, I’m surprisingly relaxed about all this. I think it’s because I’m simply doing all I can as a responsible member of society, and also that I’m a total home bod who was made for this very situation.

I took Newton for a walk today, which I figure is practically risk free. We didn’t see many other humans, and those we did encounter were from a distance.

Being in nature was so grounding. Newton was happily sniffing all the things, and got dew drops from sticking his snoot in the long grass.

If it gets to the point where we aren’t recommended to visit the park, then I’ve been gradually getting the garden tidy. Newton absolutely loves it out there, but planting flowers may be problematic.

He loves to run around and rip up chunks of stuff (he’s particularly taken with the primroses right now) so I guess investing time in planting stuff directly into the soil is inadvisable. I have some little seed bullet things I was going to scatter in the garden next month, but since he would probably eat them I figure it’s safer to start them off in doors.

That brings me nicely to the fact I have a load of fun things planned to occupy my time indoors, which I’ll share in the next few posts. Cultivating the plant lady aspect of my personality is one of them, now that I’m emboldened by managing to keep a cactus alive for several months. One is even growing!

This was a round cactus that is gradually getting long. The lighter green at the top is all new growth. This really is an achievement, coming from the girl who managed to kill an air plant.

I’ve decided not to go back to my Slimming World group for the time being. I do feel bad, because I know my consultant’s income will be affected, yet I simply cannot take the risk. Hopefully Slimming World’s head office will help their franchisees through this time, and I’d happily get an online subscription if I knew it was going to help consultants.

The last time I weighed in I lost 5 pounds and I’m still absolutely smashing it! I’ll now weigh in from home every Tuesday morning instead, and I reckon I’ve had a good loss this week too. My clothes feel a lot more comfortable, with 1 stone 3 lbs gone in only three weeks. I thought my ability to do this well was long gone, yet I’ve proven myself wrong.

Now I just need to keep my motivation up without the help of group. It’s going to be difficult, but not impossible, and I’ve resisted the urge to by junk food ‘just in case’. If I’m quarantined at any point, I’d rather not come out of it feeling worse than at the beginning. I’m optimistic for the future, and have no intention of throwing the towel in now.

Hang in there everyone, we’re gonna get through this.

Hayley x

Five Years

It’s been a bit longer than I intended between blog posts. While things have been quite wonderful, I’ve also had a bit of writer’s block. Things have really shifted for me over the last couple of weeks, however on the face of things not much has really happened. It’s hard to put into words.

Last week I really started getting my energy back. Whilst my medication makes me pretty much unconscious as soon as I take it, when I am awake, I’m really awake. I hadn’t realised how much of a monumental effort it was taking me just to exist until things started getting better.

Somehow I managed to stay on top of things as far as work goes (although I have lost a significant amount of money in unpaid leave in order to not lose the plot entirely) and have had a good enough performance to hit my targets and stay out of trouble.

But now… I’m actually smashing it! Last week I was top driver on the department. Everything is just kind of flowing, and it feels good having a spring in my step again as I jump (not quite literally) on and off of the forklift truck a hundred or so times a shift.

When I had to transfer stock over by hand to an empty pallet, I’d inwardly groan if I saw that it was particularly heavy. Now when I see I’ve got to haul a load of 20kg boxes, I’m glad for the opportunity to flex my muscles. It feels good to feel good to move, if that makes sense.

I feel like I’ve spent most of the year so far horizontal, which probably isn’t far from the truth. During February I barely moved at all in fact. Now I’m coming out of hibernation.

On Monday I walked into town for the first time since I don’t even remember when. Apart from to exercise, I had one single other objective- to pick up a free paper from Wilkinson’s. I use them to line Pea’s cage and catch the poops you see. Of course that is the one thing I came home without. Typical.

I did however see some lovely signs of spring, even if it was a grey old day.

The next day Newton came out on a nice long walk with me. It’s the first time we’ve been out walking together, just the two of us, and it was lovely to have a furry companion. He had a great time too, even if he was thoroughly disappointed that I wouldn’t let him eat goose poo. He loves the stuff. He was also not impressed that I wouldn’t let him eat used chewing gum, poop from other dogs and a jelly baby. It’s a hard life, being a dog.

After that my medication got adjusted, so although I’ve maintained my energy levels for work, I’m absolutely zonked as soon as I get in. I’m not worried though- I know there will just be a short adjustment period and I’ll have a good balance going again.

It does feel as if I’m entering a new season of life now. Five years ago, I’d just got my first DSLR and was starting to venture outdoors in search of things to photograph. I made a lot of headway in those five years. I figured out what I really like doing. I started to tackle my weight. I started to get a life.

In recent years I let myself get distracted and wasn’t really thinking about my future. It’s not surprising, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. Since leaving school, it’s been a case of ‘this will do’ in an absence of knowing what I really wanted my life to look like. All this time I’ve just been getting by.

So, five years later, and I’m finally starting to think about what I’d like my next five years to look like. I’ve always been terrible with money, and over the years I’ve said countless times that this is the moment I get on top of things once and for all. But it’s really happening! Last month I stayed within my means for the first time in living memory, without having to play catch up at all. I tracked all of my outgoings and I spent £500 on food, £200 of which was on takeaways, and nearly £400 on non-essentials. Before you start thinking I’m minted, I’m not. I just had extra money that month from working over the Christmas period.

Since pay day at the end of February however, I have spend zero pounds on takeaways. My non-essential spending currently stands at about 20 quid. I have a couple of really short months coming up, because of the unpaid leave, but even then I can still live within my means. Just about. When I’m back earning my full wage, I can start to pay off all of my credit, put aside some savings for the first time ever, and stop buying things to distract myself when I’m feeling bad.

That’s the key word. Distraction. It’s at the root of all my troubles – my weight, my finances, my relationships. Everything I’ve done in my life so far has been focused on making myself feel better for the next five minutes, without a thought for the effect my choices would have on the next five years.

That changes now though, and do you know what? I’m thoroughly excited. The single spanner in the works is that I’m currently freaking out about coronavirus and envisaging something akin to the Walking Dead in my near future. Hayley’s anxious brain is braced for the entire breakdown of society, or, you know, being dead. But positive Hayley is preparing for the future where everything turns out ok. What will be will be.

So, my spending has improved. I’m not engaged in any destructive relationships. How about food then? As it happens, I’ve been smashing the weight loss too with another 3.5 pounds off this week, plus Slimmer of the Week.

I’ve also been super organised. Everything is clean and tidy, and I have grand yet frugal redecorating plans which will be carried out over the course of the year.

Yep, everything is pretty damn good. It’s nice to be able to say that.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

So Fresh

I’ve had this WordPress account since 2012, and various different blogging projects have come and gone. Last year I rather fancily upgraded to a premium account, but this year I’m being sensible (ish) with money, so the premium has to go.

This presents a problem, because I’ll lose out on storage and I’ve blogged a lot of photographs. They simply won’t fit when I get downgraded. So I decided to wipe the slate clean and start completely over.

This comes at an opportune time, because I’m doing other kinds of starting over too.

I took a complete break from Slimming World for a few weeks, and to be quite honest, spent a lot of time curled up in bed in the fetal position. It hasn’t been a great.

Last year was really tough, with lots of changes and lots of challenges. But when everything eventually calmed down, I realised there was still something seriously wrong. I didn’t have any destructive romantic interest in my life. My family was healthy. I had a roof over my head, enough money to live comfortably, friends I could talk to and rely on. Yet I felt worse than ever. How could that be?

I spent way too long looking for some elusive thing I could change in my life, in the belief that when I found it, everything else would magically fall into place.

I thought if I could find the exact right time to go to sleep and the exact right time to wake up, it would fix everything. If I could find the exact right things to eat, everything would be ok. If I exercised for the optimum amount of days per week, I’d be happy again.

Unsurprisingly, none of it helped. When I realised I could barely force myself to leave my bed and it became a battle to get through a single night at work, I figured it was time to see the doctor.

I was prescribed antidepressants, which take 2-3 weeks to build up in your system and start to making a difference. It’s now day 13, and right on cue, I can feel the darkness lifting.

While they were kicking in (they also make you feel worse before they make you feel better) I curled up under my duvet at every available opportunity and obsessed. My brain was telling me that the pills wouldn’t work, that there was no hope. It didn’t help that every time I had a reasonably good day, it was followed by a really bad one. I had to keep reminding myself, over and over, to just hang in there, to just keep going. I read to distract myself, and have demolished seven books so far this month. That’s a new personal record.

Then just like that, an ok day was followed by another one, then another one.

Until now, every time I made an attempt at anything, be it weight loss, getting my spending under control, exercise, keeping my room tidy… I’d have overwhelming thoughts of there being no point to it all, that I’d just fail anyway. It was all so tiring.

I knew deep down that it was nonsense, that I can do anything I put my mind to, but the depression wouldn’t let me hold those thoughts in my mind. It pushed everything positive right out of me.

Since I now have space in my brain for good things, last night I got my butt back to Slimming World. I rejoined a closer group, which is just around the corner from me. I stopped going there originally because it’s on a Tuesday and I have to work after, but I’ve realised with proper planning I can get a nice nap in before work and it should work out ok. I’ve actually learned how to clear my mind and relax myself enough to get to sleep quickly, which is a massive bonus.

As it happens, I’m the heaviest I’ve been since May 2017. Yet it’s not a complete disaster.

I got my mum to take a fresh ‘before’ picture of me, to go on this freshest of new posts along with this fresh new start. Looking at it now, I’ve been in complete denial at how much weight I’ve put on. I haven’t properly seen myself in months, yet here it is, clear as day.

I am quite pleased that I managed to squeeze into one of my favourite outfits, because I really didn’t think I’d manage to get it on at all. Thankfully we did not have to call the fire brigade to cut me out of it again, but it was a close call.

I hunted down some pictures that I thought I had deleted from May last year. Rather than being utterly dismayed at the difference, I am for once more excited and focused to get back to that point than I am disappointed and angry at myself.

I visited my sister on Monday and got her to take yet another comparison shot, but this time I wasn’t the main focus. Whilst I certainly am bigger in the second photo than I am in the first one (taken last October) the change is not quite as dramatic as in young Newton.

Look at how handsome and grown up he is!

I did manage to get out on one river walk with my little brother, between storms that is, and although it wasn’t the most inspiring of walks ever we are definitely going back later on in the year. We are going to hire a boat, and hopefully not drown. I bet the area will be transformed with a bit of sunshine.

Once the wind has died down and I can be reasonably certain that my woodland walks are not going to result in a tree falling on my head, I’ll start increasing my exercise again, too. Better days are undoubtedly just around the corner.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x