Excitement

Well today I just haven’t been able to settle. I mean, it’s so exciting isn’t it? Oh, you thought I was talking about this ‘football’ that people seem so interested in right now? Nope, today all I’ve been able to think about is a big old plate of fried red onions.

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Weird? Me? You bet.

I haven’t had fried onions in about a year and all of a sudden I had a hankering for them. There are four large onions condensed into that pile, but considering there aren’t going to be many people at work tonight then I shouldn’t have to worry too much about any possible… after effects.

In all seriousness though, I’ve found it so, so hard to stay on plan today. I had my A+B choices as soon as I got in from work and was still hungry when I woke up. I had a big lunch and was still hungry. Thankfully dinner seems to have finally satisfied me, but I can’t help feeling that I’ve eaten too much today.

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That’s what Free Food is there for though, and it’s not like I’ve just been eating for the sake of it. It’s just that when I’m freshly back on plan I always feel extra guilty. Which is silly, because the Slimming World plan is so focussed on letting go of that guilt. I’ll keep on trying though.

The important thing is that I didn’t crack, and it’s the first time I’ve had such a strong urge and have been able to control it in longer than I can remember. A pat on the back for Hayley!

Last night at work was unexpectedly motivating. My manager, who was outwardly supportive and positive about my journey from the beginning said he honestly expected me to last about six months before I put the weight back on. I’m so incredibly grateful he kept those negative thoughts to himself though because they could have been really damaging at the time.

He confessed that he can’t remember what I used to look like, which makes me very happy indeed. However I am taking in a picture tonight to remind him, because that’s always fun to do. It’s good for me to remind myself too. If you feel like deleting all the photos of the ‘old you’ and erasing that part of your history, then PLEASE DON’T!

For one you could be wiping records of so many precious memories, even if they might be tinged with pain, but also it’s so useful to look back and see how far you’ve come. It’s how I’m able to look at this picture of me, taken a few minutes ago with pride.

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Hair isn’t done, no make-up, spotty face, messy room… It doesn’t matter. This Hayley is still so much happier than this one:

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And I put on another two stone after that picture was taken! Look at her, crammed into a camping chair that was threatening to collapse under the weight, bloated, struggling to breathe her jeans were so tight… I need to see pictures like this. I need to look at it and not be able to recognise myself, and to know in my heart of hearts that I won’t go back there.

And THAT is why I ate four red onions for dinner, instead of four peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Loneliness

Whilst doing a tiny bit of research for this blog post I typed in ‘Social media and…’ into Google, which kindly autocompleted the sentence. It came up with ‘Social media and loneliness’, which is actually what I was intending to search for. I read a few articles (research really ain’t my thing!) and it seems studies conducted pertain to young adults, but the research apparently shows that the more time a young adult spends on social media, the more lonely, isolated and envious they can become. Which sounds pretty bleak. When I was in my last year of secondary school I vaguely remember getting into musical debates on the NME message board with my friends, but that was always difficult anyway because of dial-up (it sends a shiver down my spine when I remember the bad old days), but other than that I didn’t interact with anyone online as a young adult with anyone other than a couple of friends. So maybe my experiences are different because I’m from a different generation (man I feel old!) but I think social media kind of rocks.

It just depends how you use it!

My mum always worries about me because I’m not going to have children. She thinks that when I’m old I’m going to be lonely and have no one to look after me. The second part may be true, but as for loneliness, well, I can guarantee it ain’t gonna happen! In the last few months I’ve felt increasingly frustrated by a lack of a connection with most people I know in real life. I adore my brother and sister, and we are very close, but as awesome as they are we still need a variety of people in our lives. So if you’re feeling like I did, just reach out to people, because there are SO MANY fabulous humans out there!

I joined a Facebook group of like-minded Slimming World members, and it’s part of the group rules to ‘not be a dick’. That’s right up my street! I’ve been a member for perhaps a month, and already we’re trying to arrange a meet-up (hopefully) for the end of July. The great thing is that I stressed and stressed about going out with my colleagues, some of whom I’ve known for nearly ten years, but when I think about going out with a bunch of people I’ve never met, hundreds of miles away from home, I feel excited. I already feel accepted, and that’s a wonderful thing.

I started my YouTube channel four weeks ago and already I’ve connected with a wonderful lady, and we have spoken about meeting. As it happens she should be going to this meet-up too, which is very handy! My point is, if you need people, they are there. It is scary, putting yourself out there, but it’s worth it. Trust me!

On Friday I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I’d heard mixed reviews, and two people I know said they fell asleep, so I went in with an open mind. I went with my brother and a friend, and my friend did in fact fall asleep! However I think he must have been exhausted though because I absolutely loved it! I was engrossed from start to finish, so much so that I didn’t even touch the (Slimming World-friendly) cinema snacks I’d bought with me. I thought it was the perfect combination of action, humour and sentiment. Yes, I did do a little cry too! Over the last couple of days I’ve been randomly chuckling to myself when I remember a particularly funny scene. It’s nice when a film stays with you for a while.

Even though I had work afterwards, I decided to dress up nicely for the cinema. I have decided that I no longer want to save anything ‘for best’. If it’s nice, I’m going to wear it now! I don’t need a special occasion. I got my friend to take a picture of me as I need to keep my sister regularly updated with what outfits I’m wearing, so I thought I’d use this as an opportunity for a comparison pic which I always find fun!

Please excuse the exciting kitchen backdrop, we do not have a single neutral background in our house! I bought this dress a couple of months ago but never wore it until now because I didn’t have anywhere to go. So silly! It’s lucky I got it out when I did because it’s becoming too big! Conveniently the belt will mean I’ll get a bit more use out of it before it starts a new life at the charity shop. So yes, looking at those pictures side-by-side, I’m feeling incredibly happy and positive. ]

Very soon I have to get going as I have quite a bit to get done today, but before I toddle off I thought I’d show you my most recent Tesco find- Perfectly Imperfect cucumber which is just 35p a pack! I love weird-shaped veg, doesn’t it just make everything more interesting? I’m so glad it’s making a comeback. Who doesn’t want a small, thin, bendy cucumber I ask you?!

On that note I’m off!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Then and Now

This post started as something entirely different, but then went off on it’s own tangent and is now a little weight-loss history from 2008 to now. So I decided to just go with it!

The picture below is me in Malta in 2008, which was an all time low for me. My aunty had decided to emigrate and I asked if I could go with her. I’ve never said these words out loud or written them down before, but I was running away. I was up to my eyeballs in debt, my weight had spiralled out of control, because I was so miserable I thought it would be better for my immediate family if I wasn’t around… and it was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I knew from the moment my dad came to pick me up to take me to the airport that I didn’t want to go, but went anyway. Why? I’m not sure, but it felt like the only option left to me. 

On the plane there I only just managed to do the seat belt up, so I thought once I have this fresh start I can sort my weight out too. Ha! What a joke. I’d already planned to drive from Dover to Barcelona with friends later on in the year so I flew back to England after a couple of months, and on that flight I humiliatingly had to ask for a seat belt extension. I don’t remember exactly what I weighed, but it was over 22 stone.

On that holiday I had the worst ‘fat’ experience of my life. In Barcelona we sat down to eat and a waiter came over to ask me something. Although he didn’t speak a word of English and I was a little tipsy shall we say, I instantly knew exactly what he was asking. He was asking if I wanted a bigger chair to sit in, and I just broke down. I cried all through the meal (the poor waiter was absolutely mortified, he clearly hadn’t intended to upset me) and all the way back to the hotel.

When I got back to my aunt’s in Malta I stayed for another month or so before I knew I had to go home. My mum and dad helped me with flights home and I arrived without a penny to my name. In desperation I got some office temp work, which I hated. The recession was just kicking in and I couldn’t get anything that lasted more than a few weeks at a time, and I felt so anxious I can barely stand to think back on that period of my life.

I think I came home in September, or thereabouts, and by the time October came around I thought to myself, ‘right, where is going to have work to see me to the other side of Christmas?’ The answer came at a local warehouse for a rather large retail company, and since I was still so big I decided picking was a good choice as it might help me lose weight. As if I hadn’t had enough humiliation already, in the group induction the lady in charge came over and asked me (in front of everyone) if I felt I was physically capable of doing the job. The answer was actually no, but I told her yes anyway.

The first few months were hell. I cried every night before going to work because I hated it so much. I was so shy and ashamed of myself that I barely spoke to anyone and within the first few hours wondered how I was going to make it through the rest of the shift. I had terrible blisters on my feet and my thighs rubbed until they were bleeding.

Gradually though, things improved. A new man came on to the night shift and we got talking, and I fell head over heels for him. At this point I’d actually started to lose weight from all the activity, my finances were being sorted out, and having someone to talk to really bought me out of my shell. Unfortunately whilst he was interested in a way, it turned out to be a one night stand. He led me on for a long, long time, which I honestly doubt he meant to do. I think he was just lonely and although he didn’t want me for a partner he wanted a friend. Perhaps he didn’t really know how to go about it. Anyway I ended up feeling really low again, the weight went back on and I ended up taking anti-depressants.

It took me a while to get a grip on myself, but eventually I started losing weight again. I was about 18 stone when I met another man at work who I liked, and we ended up being together for five years. This period in my life took me to my heaviest and lowest weights since 2008.

In our five year relationship I was kept a secret from his ex-girlfriend and children the entire time. I could write a novel about how bad I felt over those five years, and although in general I coped better than at other bad times in my life, I sure did use food to help me get through. This man also didn’t show me any affection at all, so I thought it must be because I was fat. We got together in 2010, and in 2012, at my heaviest ever recorded weight of 22 st 4 lbs, I did something really stupid and/or brave. I agreed to walk almost 30 miles for charity.

It took me over 12 hours and it almost ruined me, but I did it. At the end of the journey I got to meet a little girl (the daughter of a colleague) who was successfully battling cancer. She was only a toddler at the time and I thought to myself ‘what the hell is your bloody excuse Hayley? Sort your life out!’

The next week I joined Slimming World, weighing 21 st 9 lbs. The walk did help me lose weight but I really wouldn’t recommend it! In the next year I got down to 14 st 7 lbs, but I was still so miserable. My boyfriend’s nan had just passed away but when she was ill he wouldn’t let me see her. I wasn’t allowed to see him upset, or hug him too much, or talk about it. I had to ask permission to go the funeral, and I went alone. He still didn’t show me any affection and was never once supportive of my weight loss. Once he tried to force me to eat pizza until I cried. Deep down I knew then that it was never going to work.

Strangely enough, I regained ALL of the weight. Who could have guessed that would happen? Since I couldn’t get real affection, and being slim just made our relationship even worse because he hated me losing weight, I thought I might as well be miserable and eat all the crap I wanted to at the same time.

I somehow found the courage to end things in March 2016, and I had a nice little stress loss at the beginning. Then something amazing started to happen. For the first time in my life I started to do things that genuinely made me happy, just for the sake of it. And I haven’t stopped doing that since. I had some half-hearted attempts at Slimming World during the first few months but then I’d go out clubbing with the young men from work and put on everything I’d lost. It was kind of worth it at the time though!

Finally, in October last year, I found the balance I’d been looking for between having fun and being healthy so I rejoined my original Slimming World group, where I intend to stay until the end of time.

On Saturday I went back to my old hair stylist, who hadn’t done a proper cut on me since about 2006, and as he was cutting away I started to see the old me emerge in front of the mirror. For the past decade I’ve almost always worn my hair like in this picture, which I took in the car before my appointment:

I never liked it like that, I just didn’t care enough about my appearance to make an effort. As long as people didn’t look at me too much, I was OK with that. I didn’t see the point of spending time, effort and money on myself because quite frankly I didn’t think I was worth it.

This is me now:

And here’s a couple of side-by-side comparisons for you. That’s August last year compared to yesterday. Just a bit of a difference, yes?

And in this one on the left I’d already lost about 2 stone!

I still have a very long road ahead of me, but something is entirely different this time. That something is that I have found interests in my life, things that make me happy and fulfilled, that have nothing to do with food. I love being outside which used to mean picnics but now means photography, I love birds which used to mean eating them deep fried in a crispy coating and now means keeping one as a pet, training her and enriching her environment. I love spending time with my brother and sister, purely because I want to laugh with them and see how they’re doing, instead of using it as an excuse to eat out.

I’m only halfway to the target I’ve set myself, but I’m a million miles away from the person I used to be. I’m ready to say goodbye to her forever.

Hayley x

Slimming Fever!

In the past when I’ve hit the 3 st loss mark, that’s when people around me have really started to notice I’m losing weight. And this time around is no exception because now people can see it (and also I’ve been raving about how fantastic I feel for weeks now) they have started coming to me to tell me about their own journeys. Which is bloody great! As those of us who stay to group know, it’s a huge boost to have people on the same page as you. One lady is just trying to be sensible and I believe she’s going to the gym too, but there’s another lady who I think I can convert to the Slimming World way. When someone tells you that they’re debating whether to have that single boiled egg as a snack, and that they’re starving hungry, I think it’s our duty as Slimming World members to point out that a better way of doing it would be to eat 3 boiled eggs. And salad and new potatoes and a bit of cheese. And why not add some ham to the equation too? I don’t think she’s convinced but it makes me sad that people believe that going hungry to lose weight is OK or even necessary. There’s another lady who was telling me that she has decided not to eat at all during work hours! So I’ll keep on trying to convert, but gradually so I don’t sound preachy and scare them away!

My mum is nearly two weeks into her diet now and after losing 5 lbs last week I really hope she has another loss. She has an underactive thyroid so it’s a bit like two steps forward and one back for her, but when she has had an unexpected gain in the past it’s completely thrown her off the rails. I think I’ve convinced her not to weigh herself constantly, which isn’t helpful to anyone ever, and that if she sticks with it she’ll get the losses eventually.

My dad has been getting somewhat, um, rotund since he gave up smoking a few years ago. He had a fall at work this week and currently has a black eye but when he has recovered he is seriously considering joining Slimming World. I’m going round for dinner next weekend and may prepare my own food just to show him what I can eat. Normally when I visit I just ask for boiled potatoes, veg and whatever meat they’re having, but since I’m a veggie now things have changed. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to really get him on board (plus I hope visiting will be easier from now on because both my dad and his girlfriend are relentless feeders!)

Best of all the slimming stories this week was when I got a message this morning from the girlfriend of one of my longest standing friends (and of course a friend in her own right now) to say that she has taken the plunge and actually joined Slimming World! I have a dedicated Instagram account where I post a lot of what I eat and at first I thought it was really weird that friends and family were following that account. I wondered why they would possibly be interested in what I was having for dinner! But it’s clearly having a positive effect. She’s already started cooking Slimming World meals for the whole family and everyone has given them the thumbs up. I can’t wait to see how she gets on! Her partner has always been so supportive of my weight loss attempts so I think she’ll have plenty of help on that front too.

Yesterday as planned I went to see La La Land with my sister. The cinema is a difficult place for me to be because I love cinema popcorn and I love to raid the Ben and Jerry’s stand! So preparation was key, and even though I’ve never been a fan of shop-bought popcorn I decided to try the Sunbites wholegrain popcorn just so I had a little something to snack on. I took the sweet and salty variety (2.5 syns) and the sweet caramel variety (3 syns) with me, plus an apple. In the dark I couldn’t tell which bag I was eating but one of them was absolutely delicious! I repeated the experiment today and found that the extra tasty one is the sweet caramel, but the other one is nice too. I am a packet popcorn convert! I enjoyed the film itself, which surprised me, and I had to hold back some tears at the end. My sister wasn’t quite as restrained but then she cries at pretty much everything. I’m not sure the film is quite as deserving of all the hype and awards it’s getting, but it is sweet, a little funny, a bit sad, and definitely worth a watch.

Before the cinema my sister took a progress picture for me in my favourite dress. I thought the dress was going to be too big but in actual fact it just fits properly now and feels a lot more comfortable. It’s much nicer when you don’t have to squeeze into things, and I think it has a few outings left in it yet! Anyway I thought the time was ripe for a little comparison picture. The one on the left was taken in September 2015 and I actually gained another stone after the picture was taken! In total the difference between the two is 2 st 10 lbs.

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I’ve spent a considerable amount of time today looking at clothes- I really like oversized look but when I wear them as a fat person I feel like someone who is wearing it just because it’s the only thing that fits (which is usually exactly the case), and I also feel really frumpy. I’m looking forward to wearing these things and having them actually be oversized. When I have my fancy haircut in a few months I’ll need to go on a shopping spree because I’ll have a completely new look that doesn’t go at all with my current ‘I hate it but it covers my tummy’ wardrobe. So I need to be prepared for when that time comes!

Now I must be off to prepare dinner and get myself ready for, finally, my final shift of the week. My weekends are normally filled with getting odd jobs done and playing with my parrot, so before I know it Tuesday will be upon us and it’ll be time for weigh in. Which again I’m genuinely looking forward to! So weird…

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x