Doing Too Much?

I’ve had a really good week, where I’ve tried to cram in as much as possible. But by the time Saturday night came around it occurred to me that I may be pushing myself too hard.

I suppose the way I’ve felt over the last week can only be described as driven. And I’m just so excited about everything right now, about the possibilities for the future rather than not being able to see past the next day.

On Saturday I got up after only a couple of hours sleep in order to be an awesome friend. One of my bestest chums was working overtime and had no possibility to pick up his prescription before he ran out so I offered to get it for him. So pick it up I did, then I posted it through his letter box.

This friend happens to live right near my favourite park, so I took my brother with me and we went for a wander. A two hour wander actually. Week three of my Gold Body Magic is now complete!

The weather was boring, all grey clouds and flat and ‘orrible. But that’s why I like photography, because even if on the surface everything looks rubbish, if you look closer you can always find something beautiful. Ok, you can’t beat beautiful golden light, but there’s still good stuff to be found.

And even more good stuff.

My brother opened a few of these little things up and it seems that an earwig lives inside every single one. That a lot of earwigs.

Later on we came across a heard of cows I’d tried to approach before but they were way too nervous. But I had little bro with me, and he has a curious affinity with cows. They weren’t interested in him (one gave him a sniff and went back to munching on its grass) but they didn’t run away either, as they did with me.

I zoomed in on one cow when I got home and had to laugh. Even though she’s just chewing the cud she looked super grumpy!

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By the time we got home I crawled straight into bed, but I didn’t sleep very well. As soon as I get disturbed, to wake up for a tinkle for instance, I’ve been finding it really hard to get back to sleep again because I just want to carry on with my day.

This is great in one way, but I need to make sure I don’t burn myself out or I’ll be right back where I started before I know it.

As such when I got into work and found we were seriously overmanned, I jumped at the chance of an impromptu night off. To be honest since I’m out of annual leave I had to take it unpaid, which isn’t exactly sensible given my current financial situation, but this will now come out of my pay at the end of October. So I have plenty of time to adjust my outgoings accordingly. That’s how I’m convincing myself it’s OK anyway!

I actually ended up having a fantastic weekend, doing some walking hanging out with friends. I really enjoyed a rainy wander through the glen Sunday morning.

Since I’m feeling in a cooking mood lately, yesterday when I got back I made dinner and dessert. I want to cook for people but don’t really want to eat it, so after dinner I made a decadent apple crumble. It went down so well that one friend kept eating it till he felt sick. I’ll take that as a win.

As for me I’ve been avoiding sweet stuff entirely, apart from unsweetened soya yoghurt with fruit and wheat biscuits for breakfast. Because anything like chocolate or ice cream will set off my sweet tooth. With Slimming World (if you aren’t familiar with the plan) nothing is off limits. If you want to eat a chocolate bar every single day and still lose weight, you can totally do that (though it might not be the healthiest way to go!). But when it comes to the sweet stuff I always crave more and more once I get going, and since I’m really enjoying my food lately I’m going to carry on with cutting these things out entirely. It seems to be working well for me anyway, as I haven’t felt deprived at all.

On Thursday I have another friend coming over for tea but I’m planning on making him something healthy. He’s been working so hard and such long hours, he hasn’t had time to feed himself properly and I want to get some goodness into him.

Other than that I want to make sure I get a good balance for the week ahead with plenty of sleep as well as exercise and creativity, because I need food for the soul, too.

Tonight is weigh in and I’m not sure how it’s going to go, because my hormones have gone a little up the wall and I’m feeling huge. But then I felt like that last week and it all turned out OK anyway. Time will tell!

I’ll update tomorrow with how it went.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Earls Colne, and Other Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Train in Rain

It has been chucking it down since I woke up this morning. I had an atrocious sleep (about three hours) and knew I wasn’t getting off again any time soon so I got up to let Pea out while I had my pre-workout coffee. She has been so affectionate lately, but she soon deserted me for her window perch so she could watch the rain for a while.

My trainer couldn’t come out to play today so I headed out to my usual haunt when I’m training alone, except I’m getting bored with my four laps around the green so I thought I’d venture further into the woods.

I am a little concerned over how isolated I am when I do this so I think I’ll invest in some self-defence lessons, just to be extra careful.

I’ll give the local dog walkers credit where it is due, as even though the view from my car window when I arrived at the nature reserve looked like this, there were still loads of people about, at least on the easy access path.

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As I got further in though it was just lil ol’ me for the best part. I only saw one other jogger until I was nearly back at the car.

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Today I wasn’t just exploring a new route – because I knew there would be less people around I decided to try out running without wearing leggings under my joggers. I’ve spoken before about ‘the dreaded applause’ (that noise where your loose skin is flapping about and it sounds like someone’s clapping) and I decided to see if I still get it when I run.

Sadly, I do, so the first mile was mostly just walking until I got away from the dog walkers. Even when I was totally alone the sound was so cringy, I’m definitely not going to be able to wear just joggers any time soon. What I do hope is that my body shape improves enough with my continued fitness/weight loss regime that I’ll at least be able to wear running leggings on their own without looking totally ridiculous.

That’s one goal, but another one I’ve added to my list seems so out there at the moment. My trainer said at some point he wants to get me to do an eight minute mile. Previously I would have scoffed at that, but if anyone can help me achieve it then it’s him. The good thing is he’ll be getting me to work towards it without me even realising, but for the time being I’m just thinking about getting into the 11 minute bracket.

Today’s times were pretty atrocious because of the aforementioned reason, plus I had to stop and look at the map on my phone a few times and backtrack when I’d gone completely the wrong way.

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Plus I had to stop for selfies (gotta indulge when there’s no one else about!) and to take a shot of some slippery ‘shrooms.

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I say my times were atrocious, but a couple of months ago that would have been inconceivable to me. Yet I managed it today without exerting myself too much. I took it rather gently because I’m training tomorrow and I wanted to save myself. I’m going to really go for it!

I’ve just had a post-workout snack of kale and soya beans (sounds boring but it’s one of my absolute faves) wolfed down my A&B choices as dessert (porridge and almond milk) and had a steamy hot shower. Which can only mean one thing – it’s now time for a well-deserved sleep.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Back to Seven

Note to Self: When December comes around, remember that it took you until the end of February to get rid of your Christmas gain. Remember how long it took you to truly get back into the swing of things, and ask yourself if all of those mince pies are really worth it. Hint: They’re not.

I originally got my seven stone award at the end of November, and a couple of days later was when I snapped and spent most of December bingeing on sweet Christmas treats. My mood and self-esteem really suffered, although I tried to pretend at the time that I was OK with it. I was trying to convince myself more than anyone else.

This week I lost 3 lbs, and I’m so happy with that because it did not come easily. I’m so proud that instead of using my trainer’s illness as an excuse to be lazy that I faced my fears and went out alone. I’m proud that despite wanting badly to binge, twice, I managed to keep my cravings in check.

All of that hard work means I can now say I have my seven stone award back, with a total loss of 7 st 1 lb. We’re into (relatively) new territory now, as I haven’t been this weight since 2004.

This week training has been put back yet another day, but after yesterday’s walk I’m not too worried. Where I’m off work on a Monday I find it really hard to hit my calorie burn goal but yesterday I smashed it. I’ll do some home exercise before work today and if training goes back another day then I’ll go out on my own tomorrow. Already it feels wrong if I haven’t been running for a while.

This week has the potential to go wrong, but I sure as hell won’t let it. In January me and my sister pencilled in a date for a food trip to London where we can eat loads of vegan goodies (which happens to be this Sunday), but after our run the other day we both agreed that it wasn’t really conducive to achieving our goals.

We are still going out for a meal, at Mildred’s, but I’ve already checked out the menu and have chosen what I’m having. I’m going to have the ‘Soul Bowl’ which includes so many healthy foods!

How full of goodness does that sound? And where I’m not exactly following Slimming World anymore I can eat the avocado, cashew cheese and seeds without worrying too much.

The important thing for me right now is having three sensible meals a day, and having one meal with more healthy fats than I’m used to is not going to do much, if any, damage.

Rather than go on a food tour of the rest of the city, I suggested that we do something more wholesome and revisit St James’s Park. The wildlife there is so tame it can hardly be called wildlife at all – the last time we went I fed a great tit from my hand, had a squirrel run up my leg and ended up covered in beautiful pigeons!

But there’s more to it than that. The last time we went was in April 2016 and I was pushing 20 stone, so it’ll be fun to go back over five stone lighter. I was also only just getting into photography, so I’m looking forward to getting better pictures, too.

These seem ok, but the top one is not as sharp as I’d like and both are heavily cropped. There’s a lot of room for improvement there, especially now I know what I’m doing.

It’ll be extra exercise, too, because I’ll be taking my heaviest camera and lenses. I’ll probably be lugging an additional stone about, but I’m no stranger to carrying extra weight so it shouldn’t be a problem.

As I’ve changed my daily step goal to 15k, I’d best get moving now because these steps aren’t going to do themselves.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Snow Day

I’ve got everything crossed that proper training goes ahead tomorrow because I’ve really missed it. My friend has confirmed that we are going whether it’s snowing or not, the only thing that remains to be seen is whether he’s well enough.

I remembered that I left my hat in my locker at work, and since I’m not back until Tuesday night I’ll definitely be needing one during training. Where we go is quite high and always windy, so I imagine it’ll be bitterly cold, too. Me being me, I decided to walk into town, in the snow, to get a hat.

Y’know, I really could have done with a hat while I was doing that…

As soon as I stepped out of the house the wind was so icy I got brain freeze, but thankfully that didn’t last as I got used to the temperature and warmed up a bit by walking fast.

By the time I reached the park, which is right near town, the snow had stopped and in one direction there was a nice blue sky.

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The other direction (the one I was headed in) was not looking quite so inviting…

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Despite the temperature there was just so much life about! I think it’s because I seemed to have the whole park to myself and all of the creatures could go about their business without being disturbed. I saw a grey heron, swans, canada geese, coots, moorhens, blackbirds, magpies, pigeons, gulls, squirrels, voles, tufted ducks and mallards. Which is pretty damn cool.

In town I finally found a vegan deodorant I like so I stocked up on those, and also got a hat for £1.

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I must admit that despite my ethical new year’s resolutions I did get it from Primark. They have all of their summer stuff in now and only had a few hats left in the corner so I grabbed one while I could. I have made progress with that particular resolution but it still needs work.

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Well, it’ll keep me noggin warm in any case, and it’s also highly likely that I won’t bother doing my hair for future runs!

I had loads of things that needed doing today but most of them have been postponed. One of our cats has been off her food so me and my brother took her to the vets to get checked out. They’ve done a blood test and sent it off for speedy and detailed results, so we should find out something tomorrow, and they have also kept her in to try her on appetite stimulants and to get some fluids into her.

She’s a very old cat now, but I have everything crossed that it’s nothing terrible. Things just wouldn’t be the same without that kitty…

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Somehow a trip to town, the vets and just doing a few bits around the house has eaten up the whole of the day and I’m just about ready to drop. It doesn’t help that I woke up early after having really grim nightmare with my heart trying to escape from my chest!

The good thing about being this tired is that I should sleep well. At least I hope I do, because it’s weigh day tomorrow and I’d rather not spend the night anticipating what the results will be. I’ve had a couple of sneak peeks but you never really know till the official time. I reckon it’ll be OK but it would be so awesome if my Christmas gain has finally been eliminated!

I’ll keep you updated.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Give No Effs

I  got an early from work last night because I was bored, tired, and so, so cold. I’ll have been working at the same place for ten years this October, and I’ve never, ever had a fire drill during the summer. It’s always in the winter. We had one last night, and although I was grateful that it wasn’t snowing this time around, I still didn’t manage to get warm again until I got home.

I’ve got to say I had a thoroughly decent (and warm and toasty) sleep and feel all the better for it, but what about my steps for the day? I normally finish a shift on about 7,500 these days but this morning when I got home I was only on 3,500. Well something had to be done about that, especially as I’ve changed my daily goal from 10,000 to 15,000.

When I got up I pottered around a little bit but I still had loads of time left so I decided to GO OUT RUNNING. ON MY OWN! 

The important thing about running, I have discovered, is to give no f**ks. I went to my local nature reserve and stuck to the paved, circular route because I didn’t think it was a good idea to go traipsing around the woods on my own. The route is 0.7 miles (ish) so I did it three times intermittently running and walking. Then I had a fast walk on the fourth lap but took a detour and stopped to say hello to the pigs. As you do.

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On my way around I kept seeing the same lady going in the opposite direction and she gave me a smile each time. Part of me was wondering if she was laughing at me because even though it was only 2 degrees out I was sweating like mad and more closely resembled a tomato than a human. But it doesn’t matter. She was probably just being friendly, and if I did amuse her then so what? It’s good that I brightened her day.

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I’m so pleased with myself, because although my trainer must of course take some credit for starting me off, it was me who did that. And it’s HUGE. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have gone out walking on my own, and look at me now!

I’m also pretty chuffed with my lap times. It’s a new record!

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Although I found I pushed myself harder as far as speed goes without my friend there, I did miss the strength training which I wasn’t confident enough to do on my own. And it’s not the same without company. But the fact is I’m going to need to be able to train more than once a week if I’m going to make significant changes, and I’m finding that I’m getting itchy feet if I don’t have plans to go!

Normally after posting the day before about not having a binge I’d now be posting to say that I did in fact blow it after all. But not this time! I’m still on the straight and narrow and LOVING IT.

I also got confirmation last night that I have a few days booked off at the beginning of April so I will be going out disco dancing with the young work men. I really, really want to get a nice outfit and get on that dance floor. I can’t wait! Plus it’s all extra exercise, after all.

There might be a cold snap at the moment but I’m definitely feeling excited for spring and fun times ahead. It can’t come soon enough!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

The Great Outdoors

It has been so flipping cold this week, but at least the sky has had the decency to be blue from time to time. It makes finding the motivation to actually go outside so much easier.

Yesterday me and the brother went on our long walk, and ended up being out for three-and-a-half hours. It was windy, and bitingly cold, but we both had hoods which kept the worst at bay. When I took mine off I actually got brain freeze.

I was working the night before, so we went out about 6:30am, which coincided perfectly with the blue hour (the hour before golden hour).

I checked the light and sky indices using the (free) app GoldenHour.One, which tells you how likely you are to have a nice sky for a decent shot, but I also use it just to tell me whether it’s likely to be a depressing grey day or a nice interesting one. As it happens Thursday is looking to be a stonker!

The skies were lovely and clear yesterday so I managed to get a blue hour shot that I’m really happy with. There’s something really magical about that these times of day. 110218_2479

And my app informed me that the sky index would be quite good. It was right!

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How gorgeous? We did a gentle 7.5 miles, since my brother is way out of practice with his walking after spending most of the summer either fishing or on his motorbike. I was happy with that too actually, since I was feeling pretty tired after all!

I found out that my expensive new boots are in fact waterproof as advertised, which is always nice to know.

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They’re not quite as shiny as when I first got them though…

After we’d finished exploring one half of the nature reserve, we crossed the road to visit the other part which is also home to the visitor centre.

We arrived there at the exact right time, when it was still empty, so we purchased a bag of duck food and sat down for a cup of coffee. Just as we had finished the place started filling up so we moved on to the duck lake.

Before we got there though we met a friendly robin who hopped into a bush just feet from me. And it turns out robins like duck food too. Who knew?

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In fact the robin seemed to like the duck food more than the ducks, who weren’t all that hungry. We did see some tufted ducks, but they were timid and wouldn’t come very near. Mostly it was just seagulls dive bombing and stealing it all.

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By the time we got home I was absolutely exhausted, and vaguely aware that the only thing I’d put into my body since two in the morning was coffee. But I needed sleep more than food, so I had a quick nap.

When I woke up it was a mad rush to get ready to go to my friend’s house. I took him over a load of dirty washing, because I’m nice like that, and we left the washing machine running while we went to the cinema to see Downsizing.

On the drive to the cinema I realised that I was actually ravenously hungry, and Tesco was due to shut in 15 minutes. Once there I just grabbed whatever I could find, which ended up being a vegan sandwich and wrap from the new Wicked range, and some chocolate.

Not the healthiest choices ever, but in terms of calories in vs calories out I reckon I was way in credit for the day, so I don’t feel bad about it at all.

The film was not something I would have chosen to see myself, it’s mainly that the showing time fit in with mine and my friend’s schedules. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and although it’s been slated it’s actually quite an interesting film. Not great, or perhaps not even good, but interesting (if poorly executed). Hardly a glowing review, but there you go!

After that I dropped my friend off, picked up my laundry, then crashed out for an epic sleep. Today I have a day filled with bits and bobs to do, but with the sun shining through my window it’s not all that bad.

From tomorrow I’m looking after my sister’s birds so that should sure keep me busy, training with my friend has been pencilled in for either Wednesday or Thursday, and I’m doing the physical job at work for four weeks that I should have been doing for the last four weeks, only for it to be cancelled. Hopefully it actually happens this time!

I will update again tomorrow with weigh in results, especially since I’ve no clue how it’s going to go.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x