Fight or Flight

I’ve always been prone to fairly regular bouts of mild depression, ever since I was a teenager, and now I’m in my mid-thirties I’m getting pretty good at dealing with the bad patches when they come along. At the very least I’ve managed to stop using them as an excuse to gain huge amounts of weight.

On the other hand I’ve never really suffered from anxiety, until now. I’ve had anxious times when I’ve been in bad situations, and this is similar. I’m not feeling like this for no reason, it’s a product of my environment and I haven’t been dealing with it very well. In fact it’s been two weeks of hell.

I really feel for the people who have what I would call a proper medical condition and feel like this all the time for no reason whatsoever.

As for me I’m confident things will be back to normal now that I’ve had some resolutions to the things that have been bothering me. For the last six months I’ve been treading water, trying to fit everything in that I want to do, but now I should have more free time and more of a balance in life. That’s the plan anyway!

In the meantime I was explaining to a colleague what it’s like to feel seriously anxious. So back in the olden days when we were hunter-gatherers if we saw something scary, like a lion who wants to eat us, then we got a nice big shot of adrenaline to help us out of the situation. It would make us more alert, get the heart pumping, and give us that extra bit of juice to either leg it or take that lion on.

But now, simply sitting doing nothing and having a scary thought will give me that same reaction. Which really isn’t helpful! Sitting still but (seemingly randomly) having my heart pumping out of my chest and struggling to get my breath is not fun, and that’s not taking into account that horrible shaky feeling you get when the adrenaline subsides. Unfortunately evolution is quite a way from catching up with modern life.

I haven’t really thought much about Slimming World over the last fortnight, mainly because I’ve felt so uptight I’ve only managed small portions of highly palatable food. Anything else I just couldn’t stomach, and since I wasn’t sleeping well either was just doing what I needed to do to get through.

I’m feeling more relaxed today though, now that things are falling into place. After a sneaky night off work and a very deep and dreamless sleep, I’m ready to sort my eating out again, before too much damage is done.

I had planned to get right back on it on Monday, but by that point I was feeling so anxious that I was wondering how I could spend another second in my own head. That was when a friend came to the rescue and took me out to dinner. Luckily it also had the effect of taking me out of myself for a while, and I was able to just sit back and turn my brain off for a short period.

We went to Wagamama’s, and it’s the first time I’ve been there since I became vegan. Luckily, they introduced a vegan katsu dish (the Vegatsu) a while back and I’ve been desperate to try it ever since.

The food didn’t disappoint, although I do think they need to get on and introduce more vegan options!

To accompany my meal I had jasmine tea, which always goes well with this kind of food and makes me feel super cultured.

As for my friend, I’m so proud of him. When we first met I cooked him a chilli, and asked how it compared to others he’d had. He confessed that he’d never eaten a chilli before, and hadn’t tried anything else that ‘exotic’. It was always meat and two veg in his house!

He was very suspicious of his ramen bowl at first, but he was soon a convert. He’s definitely becoming more adventurous!

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It was a gorgeous evening, and I even had another result – we passed The Whisky Shop so I decided to pop in to get a miniature for my brother. While I was there I found the perfect birthday present for him. It’s not his birthday till next month, but I nabbed it while I was there. I had no idea what I was going to get him, now I don’t have to worry. Until next year…

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Yesterday I went out for a little run, but it was mostly walking as I still need to build back up to a full run. It was lovely to blow the cobwebs away though. I’m going to go for another run on Thursday, assuming my ankle is OK. I twisted it yesterday as an interesting bug landed on my wrist and I stopped looking where I was going. That’ll teach me! (She says. It probably won’t to be honest…)

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My current running strategy is to do about 5k, three times a week, at a pace which is purely enjoyable. I don’t really care about any other factors such as speed or intensity, I just want to have fun whilst getting my exercise. I’ve lost sight of that recently.

Although there is a little something inside of me that wants to do a 10k some time soon, but I’m trying not to think that far ahead. I just want to have fun and see where that gets me.

I will sign off now as my sister is on her way over for a coffee and a natter.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Monday and More

I’m one of those weirdos who really likes Mondays. Mondays are the second day of my weekend, and since I don’t go back into work until the Tuesday night, I save my pre-work dread for Tuesday afternoon. That means I can enjoy my whole Monday.

I did consider doing nothing at all Monday and having a complete rest day, but I discovered Sunday that I’m really not good at that. I tried to lay with my legs out in the sun for a bit, because to be honest they’re a bit of a hazard. I can’t have them out at all on the street, because if the sun reflects off of them they could blind any passing drivers.

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Instead I spent a little while editing photos from the walk I’d done previously, at my very favourite park in Hadleigh.

I’m just not meant to sit still anymore I think, so much so that I find it really difficult to sit down and watch an entire film. Unless it really grabs me, I rarely make it to the end these days. I don’t think that’s a bad thing!

In between walking and dinner I also had a little gin and slimline tonic from a nearby pub that I never knew existed – Barge Gladys. Yes, it actually is on a barge! Apparently it’s been there for 41 years (how have I never heard of it before?), is right near a handy train station and is of course on the coast so there are plenty of walking to/from opportunities. I’m thinking more of a nice place to have a diet coke or water in future though, I’m really not fancying alcohol much at the moment. Just that one drink went right to my head!

So on Monday instead of trying and failing to veg out, I went for a walk in the park. In 30 degree heat… Thankfully I slapped on the factor 50 before I left the house and am pleased to report I did not burn to a crisp.

I had a really good time by myself at the park, except I wasn’t actually by myself, truth be told. There are always plenty of feathered friends about. When I got to the lake where the majority of the geese hang out, I saw that most of them (apart from four or five milling around the shore) were in the water.

But when they saw me, the whole flock got out of the water and headed straight for me. At this point there was no sign of me having any food for them (although of course I did, it was safely tucked away in my bag) so I wonder if they remember that I’ve fed them lots of other times before? There were other people there and they didn’t get the same welcome as me!

Look how close they were, and still they hadn’t seen the food.

It’s clear that these guys love me!

Then yesterday things took a little nosedive. I was going to weigh in Monday night at my new group, but something came up and I couldn’t make it. So I planned to go Tuesday morning instead.

But then I couldn’t sleep, and subsequently didn’t wake up in time. That also meant I didn’t wake up in time for my planned run, and by the time I got myself moving it was too hot. Then my day ended up being taken up by other stressful things anyway. The upshot of it was that I was tired, hungry, stressed, dreading work, and I ate my feelings. Thankfully it was only one day and I’m right back on it now, and since the temperature is much more reasonable after a little storm last night, I’m definitely running later. As for weighing in, my home scales say I’ve maintained, which I’m happy with.

For the last week or so work has been a bit of a nightmare from which I cannot wake, and I’ve been getting through it by keeping my head down and working hard. But last night there was a planned system shutdown for the first five hours of the shift and I knew I’d just have to mill around. The thought of that was simply unbearable, and that’s what threw me. It’s just excuses though. I could have got through it and stayed on plan, I just chose not to. I took the easy option (or at least the one that was easier in the short term).

As it happens, the shutdown didn’t happen but something went wrong and there wasn’t much to do anyway, so I was allowed to go home. When I go to work tonight I can stick to the original plan and just crack on with my job. So it’s not great, but I can cope with it.

And I will NOT use food to help me get through it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Back Where I Belong

It’s the 1st of August, a fresh new month, and I’m feeling damn good. Finally I’m back in my favourite spot. The number one spot that is, on the Fitbit leaderboard.

I’m also back in the +100k for my steps over the last seven days (actually since I took that screen shot yesterday it’s closer to 120k), which got me thinking.

It’s two years to the day that I rejoined Slimming World and simultaneously started taking my fitness seriously.

I began with a 10k per day step goal, and I found it really difficult to reach. I’d often find myself pacing the living room trying to make my total, because going outside and really giving it some was inconceivable to me at the time.

I also found that I was highly sceptical of other people’s step totals. I had a few people I’d added as friends via Instagram who were smashing it, and I honestly thought they must be cheating somehow.

Yet here I am achieving, fairly easily, something I thought impossible. All you have to do is start, be consistent, and before you know it it’s second nature.

Of course on an anniversary like this I’ve been getting reflective anyway. The temperature is on the rise again so I went for a shady run today – 1.5 miles, without stopping, almost completely pain free!

I felt absolutely fantastic at the end – boy did I miss those running endorphins.

Yet it’s not so long ago, at a family party, that I simply crouched down and couldn’t get back up. It took two of my burly male cousins to hoist me back up again.

I have a kind of life now that I never even imagined. I mean, I didn’t even dream of it because it wasn’t on the radar at all.

Sometimes I’d worry that I’d give myself a terrible disease from the lifestyle I was living, but in a split second the next thought was ‘ah well, at least it’d be over soon’.

This time two years ago I was recovering from a food hangover and the ordinary kind. We’d had our annual family BBQ and as usual I’d totally overdone it. I bought so much food, and since I knew I wanted to do something about my weight (again) starting from the next day, I saw it as my mission to eat the whole lot.

I was fit to burst, probably literally. I’m talking dangerously full up, and that’s not even including the alcohol.

That smile? Not even close to being a real one.

I weighed myself on the day of the BBQ and was horrified at what I saw.

Yet something obviously clicked, because although I came close (I didn’t knuckle down properly until October) I never saw that number on the scales again. And I never will (unless someone gets on there with me!)

When I think back to those times I rarely think about how I look, probably because I’ve adjusted quite well to my mental image of myself. I’m so grateful for that, because in the past I’ve still looked in the mirror and seen 21+ stone Hayley looking back at me and I tell you – that messes with your head.

What I think about now is how different I feel. Back then I felt like my body was something alien to me, and I would have given anything to have all of the bits that ‘weren’t me’ taken away. Now I’m not exactly happy with my body, but I’m coming to accept it for what it is.

It might not look perfect, but it keeps me going whereas before I had no energy. I used to drink two 500ml energy drinks a night just to get through my shift.

These days I only have tea on my lunch break, mainly just because I’m thirsty, and I don’t have coffee because I don’t want to have trouble sleeping in the morning.

My resting heart rate has gone down from 77 beats per minute to 49. I’m sure most of us have seen the meme before pointing out that we only have a finite number of heartbeats in our lifetime, so it’s best not to exercise and use them all up quickly. But if you do live a healthy lifestyle, then for the other 23 or so hours of the day you aren’t working out, you’re still saving those precious heart beats!

So I went to work that night feeling fabulous. I have a little pre-work ritual where I put my Airpods in whilst doing my hair and makeup and drinking a strong coffee, because it prepares me for the work night ahead. I suppose it’s getting my game face on.

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It’s a pretty crap blurry picture, but who cares? It’s the difference between this one and the BBQ picture that matters.

That particular night I was feeling particularly slim and in control, and I thought nothing could bring me down.

Within the first two hours of my shift that changed, and although I can’t talk about it, and it doesn’t directly affect me, my anxiety went through THE ROOF. When I got home I could only manage a couple of hours sleep because I so uptight, and my mind started racing. How can I make myself feel better? Because I can’t stand feeling like this.

Food? No. I’ve been in control, I don’t want it. Plus I feel sick anyway. Alcohol? Don’t be silly Hayley it’s ten in the morning, and even if it wasn’t? No.

So I decided to channel all of that nervous energy into a run. I did 3 miles this time, and my knee was getting sore by the end so I walked the last little bit.

 

One thing I did learn is that if you don’t prepare yourself properly for a run then it’s so much harder. I went out at 9:30am and hadn’t eaten since early evening the previous day, so what with not sleeping properly either, it was a slog. But it did make me feel a bit better, so that the feelings inside me were manageable.

I managed to stay on plan the whole day, even though I didn’t really eat enough. And I didn’t photograph anything either – I was running on essential services only.

Today though, after a much less stressful night at work, I’m feeling mostly ok. But especially proud of myself for not going off the rails, because I’m doing so well!

I had a sneak peek on the scales and I’m back to the weight I was when I first started getting into running. I even saw that elusive 13 stone bracket again.

However over the weekend I’ll make sure I don’t have any more sneak peeks. If I see a good loss, I’ll think I have space to eat more food. If I see a gain I’ll be disheartened. So no looking until official weigh in Monday evening!

I have a busy weekend planned, but rest assured there will be regular updates. I MUST keep this good thing going.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Cleaning House

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being more open with my blogging, and perhaps (shock horror) I may even let some friends and family know that it exists. The problem is, there are things written here that I don’t want them to read.

I started to go through my old posts and edit them, but that would have taken an age. I like having a record on here of what I’ve been up to, so deleting them isn’t an option either. I then found that you can set a post to private, so when you are viewing your own blog everything appears chronologically as it normally would.

That seemed the best option, but again doing that to every post with sensitive information would still have taken forever.

Going forward, I will still write as open and honestly as I can, but I’ll start archiving those old posts and eventually only stuff from this point onwards will be live.

I can’t imagine that anyone would be that interested, but in case anyone did want to know the timeline of what’s happened since I started writing, I’m going to create a post detailing just that. I reckon it’ll be quite fun for me, and therapeutic to see how far I’ve come.

That should keep me occupied for a while, anyway.

In the meantime I’m still feeling very positive and have enjoyed this day off work immensely.

My car is currently undrivable (the wheel may actually fall off at any given time) and I can’t get it sorted until next week. So me and the brother driving somewhere interesting in order to have a nice walk on Sunday is off the cards.

However, we have instead decided to have an epic bike ride to Southend-on-Sea. Assuming my bottom, which hasn’t been on a proper saddle in some time, can take it!

My brother is lending me his commuting bike, but I was missing one vital piece of equipment. As such I took a lovely walk in the sunshine to the nearest Halfords…

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I am way too accident-prone. Being without a helmet is simply out the question. My brother did suggest I wear my full motorbike gear, but I suspect it’ll be a little too hot for that.

It’s a 28 mile round trip, and y’know, given enough time, I reckon I can make it. But if I can’t, then we’re basically following the train line home anyway and can hop on if we need to. I don’t think we will though.

For the rest of the afternoon I took Pea out in the garden, got the picnic blanket out and settled down for a good read. I’ve been meaning to read Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig for months, but even though it’s been said to help people (it’s even been called a lifesaver) I just couldn’t face reading something so real, personal, and very close to home. It’s about the author’s battle with depression and anxiety, so no light subject that’s for sure.

It’s very good though, and I’m pleased I finally picked it up. I’ll let you know the verdict when I’m finished. I suspect that won’t be too long in the future!

Then I had a delicious dinner (still reading, can’t put it down) of Linda McCartney scampi-style pieces (vegan friendly, 5 Syns for half a pack).

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Now all that’s left to do is watch Thor with the family, if I can stay awake long enough, then I’m looking forward to a damn good early night.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Hayley x