Uncharted Territories

I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this here post. I feel like I have travelled enormous distances these past few weeks, and from here on in we venture into the unknown. It’s scary, and exciting.

I’ve changed so much in the last 18 months. At my core I’m still the same, as a wonderful friend pointed out to me. Perhaps neither of us knew it at the time, but I felt like I was drowning and she threw me a lifeline. I still have the same core values – I may mess up, and I may have messed up more frequently and severely lately than ever before in my life, but I’m still me and I still want the same things. I want to be the best version of me that I can, and I want to be happy. I want the people I love to be happy too. That’s it in a nutshell.

I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads, because the best version of me no longer equals the slimmest version of me.

One of the ways I’ve changed a lot relates to dieting, and because of that Slimming World is no longer a good fit for me. I have much to be thankful for, such as incredible friends I may not have met otherwise. That’s the most important thing to me of all. The support at Slimming World is great, but with around 50 people attending a group it’s understandable that you can only delve so deep. After all, consultants aren’t trained as psychologists. Even if they were they aren’t there for full-on emotional support, and although most I’ve met would do it in a heartbeat it wouldn’t be fair to ask that of them.

I’ve scratched the surface, but I have a lot more work to do. A Slimming World group just isn’t the place for me to grow anymore, as much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I’ve been going for the best part of three years now, and trying to force myself to carry on when I don’t want to has been having a negative effect. I felt guilty because I didn’t want to abandon my friends, I felt scared I was using it as an excuse to abandon my diet, and I felt trapped because deep down I really didn’t want to be there. In the end the new part of me, the one I’ve been nurturing for a while, decided that I was just going to do what was right for me. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’ve been thinking about learning how to eat intuitively for a while now, because there are a whole bunch of people out there learning how to have lives free from diet culture. It’s possible to be happy, and whole. It takes a long time, but it can be done. I can barely even imagine it, but I want it. I want it bad.

However, I know I’m not ready yet. Intuitive eating isn’t about weight loss, and I want to get my recent gains off, for good. Ordinarily as soon as I feel happier or resolve something that’s been bothering me, I jump straight back on the wagon and get on with things. Since a lot has been bothering me lately, I figured I’d got the taste for the sweet stuff and needed to go cold turkey, but no matter how good I felt or how much I filled up on healthy food, I couldn’t seem to get it together.

This last week I’ve had a few downs, but now I feel good. Not just good, SUPER GOOD. So why then, do I still feel truly, ravenously, tummy-achingly hungry ALL THE FRIKKIN TIME? I normally feel a bit like this when I’m hormonal, but it never lasts for this length of time.

I just couldn’t understand it.

I decided to spend a few days just eating what I wanted whenever I wanted, whilst trying to gauge my feelings and cravings as an outsider. To just be an observer, and not be invested in what was happening. There was no need to feel guilt, or worry about gaining weight. It was an experiment. Weight gain would just be an interesting data point to analyse.

I didn’t worry or fret about the results, and do you know what happened? I only went and figured it out. It was a genuine facepalm moment. I went back to check my dates and weight history to check I was right.

Yup.

It’s the flipping anti-depressants messing with my appetite, I’m sure of it!

Now what I feel is sweet, sweet relief. If you don’t know what the problem is how can you fix it? But now I have something I can change! I have to consider my options. Am I ready to come off of the pills now I’ve removed so many damaging things from my life? Shall I go the doctor to ask about trying a different medication where I may get different side effects? Something else I haven’t thought of yet? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that there is hope. In any case I’m not taking my mental health lightly and I’m waiting for a referral to come through for some kind of counselling, so I’ll still be getting help.

When I thought about intuitive eating I never thought it could ever work for me, not when my body was screaming at me that we really, really wanted a tub of Ben & Jerry’s even though we’d just eaten a pizza, a load of garlic bread, plus 3 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That’s six slices of bread on top of what is already a significant amount of pizza dough! I’m pretty sure that in such cases the body is not to be trusted.

But if my body returns to sending me proper signals again that I can tune into, then one day I can be free. Free from a lifetime of trying to shrink. Free from points or Syns or macros. I used to think such thoughts meant I was deluded, that such a thing couldn’t be done. That the balance I’ve yearned for all these years could never be attained. In the meantime the evidence keeps mounting up that it yes it can!

As such I now begin a new chapter of my life and I’m absolutely ready for it! As I mentioned before, I still intend to get these gains off, which is going to take a lot of hard work whilst I feel like my tummy is a huge, gaping hole that can never be filled. While I’m doing that my plan is to learn, learn and learn some more, along with feeding my soul with books, art, friends, family and experiences. In other words, with life.

Before I sign off I’ll briefly return to the ordinary kind of blogging where I ramble on about everyday life a little bit. After a few years now of falling in love with nature, I’d say I’m more attuned to it than most. I’m pretty good at spotting things others might miss.

Perhaps that’s why, at work last night, I spotted a small-yet-perfectly-formed mushroom growing out of the wall outside the toilets. It was absolutely thriving in some seepage leaking out between a crack on the wall and the floor, though I dread to imagine the exact nature of said seepage.

As such today’s journal page was dedicated to mushrooms, though the work one was not as exciting as those shown here. They are all drawn from pictures of mushrooms I found myself whilst out and about.

I then spent a ridiculous amount of time going through my photo albums. Even with some relatively nice experiences I’ve had over the last year many of my photos had bad, bad memories attached to them. I was conflicted for a while, thinking that if I removed them it wasn’t an ‘honest’ record of my time.

I then realised it was stupid to hang on to things that hurt me, and when I looked back over what remained for 2018, my year clearly was not nearly the write-off I thought it had been. There was plenty of good stuff to look back on and I ended the exercise feeling a whole lot better.

No more hanging on to the bad stuff, it’s time to move on.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A Rock and a Hard Place

For some months I’ve been spending too much time with people who set great store by someone’s physical appearance. I’ve met people who I thought were quite nice only for a Facebook status to pop up saying something like obese people are a waste of space and should euthanised. They are of course now blocked, and although I am totally, passionately opposed to these kinds of views, because of the way I tend to put myself down, hearing/reading such things chipped away at my self-worth alarmingly quickly.

When I removed myself from that environment I found that a lot of my motivation to lose weight lately has been to keep others happy. Or perhaps it’s more a case of subconsciously trying to gain their approval, now I look back on it. When I came back to my senses, I took the brakes off and ate EVERYTHING, and I haven’t stopped since. This alone would be problematic, but since eating rubbish does nothing to help depression, my mood has plummeted. On top of that I’ve slipped back into binge eating behaviours with absolute ease, I feel like a failure, I need to retain some confidence to photograph my friend’s wedding and I’m terrified of letting him down. Every time that particular thought comes to mind I find myself back at the fridge door.

The rock is me knowing that my self-worth doesn’t stem from my weight or size, so I’ll eat what I want, right? The hard place is knowing that I’m not at a point yet where I can stop following a plan and just be a bit more relaxed – instead I immediately develop a huge problem with disordered eating.

I know, I know deep down that I want to be 12 stone 10 pounds. I want it for me, only for me, and I will stop at nothing to get there. I’ve had so many doubts about this lately, and in the back of my head I’ve been trying to think of a way out other than admitting that the only way I’ll get to where I want to be is by facing up to the mess I’ve made of the last year-and-a-half and starting over.

Well, not entirely over, I’m still 6.5 stone down from when I started, but you know what I mean.

I’m not going to make promises, because I’ve made promises to myself every day this week and I’ve broken every single one. I’m out with my sister tomorrow for vegan eats in the city, and I’m out for a meal Tuesday for my dad’s birthday. Once they are done with all I can do is try my hardest to truly have a fresh start.

Except I also have other events dotted around up until the 10th of September, and I don’t cope well with having things in the pipeline. After then I’m not making any plans unless they involve coffee, walking or art, all of which I can do with my favourite people. I’m going to do this, I know I’ll never be satisfied till I do.

It hasn’t been all bad though. Today I started my Christmas shopping record-breakingly early, although that was not my intention when I left the house this morning.

My brother and I went to seek out antiques, and that’s just what we found, at Battlesbridge Antiques Centre. There are loads of different traders there, but they were all much of a muchness. Antiques dealers are FLIPPING WEIRD. I found them all invariably unwelcoming, there were all kinds of odd smells that cannot be attributed simply to old stuff, and it was mostly junk that was waaaaay overpriced. Most strange of all was that they didn’t seem to want you to buy anything.

I overheard some people discussing whether their business would take off, while standing in the doorway blocking access to potential customers and ignoring people in the vicinity who clearly wanted to come in. We found this a lot, especially in the spaces that were especially cramped. Either the dealers wouldn’t let you in, or we couldn’t find them. It’s like… we would like to give you some money please?

If proof of strangeness is needed, consider this:

Definitely odd. It certainly wasn’t a wasted trip because as I say I managed to stumble across a present that a friend of mine will love, I took my brother to the motorbike museum (he’s a total bike nut) and I found a great place that my nerd friends will love. I shall take them all there one day, though perhaps not at the same time.

Behold, the Nerd Base!

Inside the Thundercats theme song was playing on a loop, there’s a life size model of Deadpool and I found loads of 80’s toys I’d forgotten I even had back in the day. Wicked!

As for buying old stuff I shall stick to the charity shops because to be quite honest I tend to find more interesting things in them than anywhere else. You just have to keep looking. Plus the staff are way nicer (and also actually in the shop).

In between the search for bargains, I really will keep trying to get it together. I’ll never give up!

Hayley x

Never Simple

Is this it now? Am I healing? For the last few weeks my sadness has been pressing on my chest like a physical weight. It actually hurt. But then yesterday and the day before that I started feeling better. Every time I think I’m on the up however, I come crashing down again. I wish there was a simple answer, like THIS is the thing that’s making you feel bad. Fix it and all will be well! If only.

Will it all be for naught once my monthly arrives again? (They seem to be getting worse lately, I’ll have to speak to the doctor about that). Will my cravings, which have subsided a bit over the last few days, come back with a vengeance? I have to carry on as if they won’t, because the only way is forward.

I know I’m on the up because I’ve been tidier and more organised, and I’ve been creative without feeling like a bag of poo. I started a little project last week and loved it at the start. Then I lost my way and almost gave up completely, until yesterday when I decided to give it another shot. I kept looking at it thinking ‘I can’t do it, everything I do is rubbish’.

What happened was that I wound up having a fabulous art session. I put a film on Netflix to have on in the background but hardly looked up. I spent three hours in the end, fixing what I wasn’t happy with, trying something different for the bits that weren’t working out. I’m delighted with the end result and can’t wait to share it with you, but it has to reach the recipient first. It won’t be long I promise.

I think what changed is that, although it was always intended to be given to someone, I stopped thinking that way and did it for the joy of it, for the process, rather than thinking it had to be perfect. It’s far from perfect, but I still love it.

Petrie the little blue house guest has now gone home after causing havoc. Just after the above picture was taken she stole my earring out of my ear and wouldn’t give it back. How she even did it I have no idea, because I find them quite difficult to get out! Then it disappeared and I was terrified, thinking she’d swallowed it, but luckily I found it under the newspaper in her cage. Phew! I put the earring back in and didn’t think anything of it until I took it out to clean.

The little cow! Please excuse the state of my fingers by the way, I got clothes dye on them. I’ve decided to keep my mullered earring because firstly they’re so small you can’t tell unless you look really closely, and secondly I think it’s super adorable to go around with her little beak imprints. I just love her, even if she is a bloody menace.

Bird time goes especially well with journaling, which I’ve got right back into in a major way. Pea is hardly ever quiet but when we’re sitting together with me working on my bits and bobs she’s good as gold. I’ve been using my bullet journal more like a traditional diary but also adding little ten-minute sketches, to illustrate something out of my day. Such as when Petrie visited…

And when a colleague handed me a dead moth at work…

I actually love how it’s just accepted now that I’m a bit odd, and that when someone finds a dead thing they’ll bring to to me because they know I’ll be interested.

Poor headless elephant hawk moth. On this occasion it isn’t as weird as it seems. A work friend has recently got a tattoo so I sent him a picture of my brother’s tattoo of this moth. He had no idea something like that could be found in the UK, then lo and behold one turns up at work a few days later! How cool would it be to see a live one though. Of course I took it home to show my little bro, adding it to the list of other insects I’ve rescued from work, including the live ladybird that I released into our front garden.

Right now I have to crack on because I have an important delivery coming tomorrow -a hideous 70’s wall unit that I have big renovation plans for. It’s going to be AWESOME. Plus it was only £20 from the charity shop. I just need to move everything around first to accommodate it!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

I’ll do it tomorrow…

‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ has been my motto for the last month. I’ll get back on plan, I’ll go for the walk, I’ll do the thing, whatever the thing may be. But tomorrow never arrives, so yesterday I had to grit my teeth and just do it. I haven’t been doing much, because everything is an uphill struggle again. There’s no real reason why, just the blues I guess.

So I ate the healthy things, and have done the same today. That can only improve matters in the long run, especially as due to the rubbish I’ve been eating my face has erupted with spots. They’re everywhere, in parts of my face I’ve never had a spot in my life! If that’s not my body telling me things have to change then I don’t know what is.

They have started to calm down now, but in any case I think my current house guest is doing a good job at taking the attention away from my face.

Here she is again modelling my latest Ikea purchase which I’m oh so happy with. I fell in love with these boards as soon as I saw them, and luckily they’re some of the crazy cheap things you can get from Ikea.

The little plastic drawers are so cool, they pull out but the lid stays put so you can put cute stuff on top! I’m going back to get another one next month.

Here’s part of my room as it looks now. There is normally more space but since I had to accommodate an extra birdy I had to move things around. I reckon I’ll have the time and money to decorate in October so I thought I’d use this opportunity to show you my ‘before’ picture. I’m really looking forward to the end result.

You can also see that under the window there is an old fashioned telephone table which I bought from a charity shop for £25. I’m going to sand it down and repaint it, then it will be used to store all of my photography equipment. My camera bag fits perfectly in the compartment under the seat and the more fragile bits and bobs go in the drawers.

All I’ll tell you about the rest of my plans for my room is that it’s ‘colourful’. You’ll just have to wait and see what else I have in store!

It’s now the end of my weekend which has flown by in record time. I went to visit the friend whose wedding I’m photographing on Sunday, and I ended up not getting home till gone 11pm after only having 3 hours sleep after my Saturday night shift. It’s taken me the rest of the weekend to recover from that to be honest, but at least I got some important things done. I’m sure this will be the last time he ever gets married so I really don’t want to mess it up.

I did manage to start filling in my sketch book during the week, and although I hadn’t planned on sharing it here is a little drawing of one of our cats.

Her head is a bit squished, but I must keep reminding myself IT DOESN’T MATTER! We all have to start somewhere.

My knee is still sore but I did manage to get out for one lovely walk with a friend.

He’s not the kind who would normally walk for fun so I’m not sure if he’ll come again, but I’ll keep trying anyhoo.

From tomorrow (yes, I really WILL do it tomorrow) I’m going to ramp up the walking again starting with a trip round the park straight from work in the morning.

That’s sure to make me feel a bit better at least.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Where do I begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least the view is nice.

Hayley x

By a Thread

Since I last posted I’ve been in a dark place. Me starting to feel a tiny bit better was then replaced by depression coming along and punching me right in the side of the head with all its strength – and I’m still reeling from the blow.

Notable achievements over the past week have been having a shower and being awake for a few hours in a row. The other day I even picked my post up from the floor. It sounds funny when I put it like that, but I’m not exaggerating. That was a big deal.

My ‘ordinary’ job has been quiet, which is lucky, so I have been going home early at every opportunity, though without pay. I know I can’t really afford it, and I feel guilty and scared about that, but also I know that being unconscious is the only thing that feels good at the moment and I’ll take any opportunity that will allow me to achieve that. What I dearly want from most from life right now is to be asleep. To be anything but feeling like this.

Oblivion please.

Eating well has gone out of the window and I skipped weigh-in on Tuesday partly because I genuinely didn’t have the energy and partly because I wasn’t in a fit state to interact with people, at least unless absolutely necessary. I wanted to go, but there’s only so much I can handle.

Somehow, on Monday night I managed to find the strength to make it to my own Slimming World group and deliver what seemed to be a perfectly acceptable new member talk. Huh. Although I suspected I had it in me, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it feeling like… this. But I did. Cool.

Let me try and explain what it’s like. I know things, logically – for instance I went out for a walk last Thursday and I knew that the cool breeze was lovely on my face, I knew that the sun was making everything look pretty, and that going for a walk is good for me. I knew it but I couldn’t feel it.

ACS_0919.jpg

I took a picture. See, pretty yes?

Afterwards I went for a really nice meal at a pub down the road. The food was super fancy but in a down-to-earth setting with no snooty staff. I had a chocolate bomb and the waitress came round with a teeny tiny saucepan full of sauce to pour over the top, melt the shell and reveal the delicious insides. It came with real flowers on top. I ate a flower. Normally that would have thrilled me, but not then. Damn.

Today a friend very kindly came out with me for moral support while I was putting up some posters for my Slimming World group. It went a lot better with company, and I am feeling more confident that I’ll find some hidden reserves in order to give my group the service they deserve when I launch on the 24th. They really do deserve it, they are special people.

In the meantime, after sobbing down the phone to the doctor’s receptionist my appointment has been moved from next Wednesday to this Saturday morning. I’m genuinely counting down the days. One more to to get through once tonight is over with.

I know I won’t feel better straight away, but I need to know that something is going to get better.

I was looking back at photos from last year and the end of November was the last time I can say I felt really, properly happy. I really want to get back to feeling like I was then, and looking like I was then, too. Blimey I felt skinny!

I might be hanging on by a thread right now, but the truth is I know deep down that it’s a deceptively strong thread. I will be back to how I felt in November sooner or later. It’s testament to how much I’ve changed though because although I slip (more often than not these days it seems) apparently gone are the days when I completely give up.

So if you’re not feeling tip top right now, just like me, then give yourself a pat on the back for still putting one foot in front of the other, even if it is a tiny step.

We’ll get there.

Hayley x