So Busy!

This has got to be the longest I’ve been without posting in over a year, but for the sake of my own sanity I’ve had to prioritise and unfortunately blogging was one of many things that just had to wait. It’s weird though how hard it is to get my words down on the page now, it’s not coming easily!

Instead of getting my jumbled thoughts down I’ve been cramming as much rest in as possible, and I’m pleased to say that although I don’t know whether I’m coming or going, most of the time things are generally ticking over nicely.

Next week is my holiday, so a lot of my energy has gone into getting everything sorted for that, and I’ve been spending waaaaaaay too much money. I could get by with taking a few backpacks, but instead I treated myself to a new suitcase. It was only £30 and should last for years and years (it has a ten year warranty), and I would have needed one eventually as I’m planning some trips abroad next year, but still… all the little things that I kind of need have really been adding up.

Last Sunday me and Mr. S went to visit his mum because he had an absolutely fabulous idea. The area where we’ll be hiking is where his mum and dad explored when they were first courting. His dad, who sadly passed away back in the 80’s, was a keen photographer who even had his own darkroom, and his mum has an absolutely beautiful photographic record of that time. So Mr. S said we should try to find some of the spots they visited and recreate the photos. And you guys know how much I love my photography, it’s going to be BRILLIANT!

We can’t recreate this particular photo, because we aren’t taking a dog, but I just had to include something from the albums in this post and I don’t want to be putting pictures of Mr. S’s mother here without her permission.

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Digitising the photos was a really emotional experience for me. Because his parents were clearly so very much in love, and the photos are so beautiful, I spent most of the time in tears. And then there’s also glimpses of Mr. S here and there, little expressions that I recognise jumping out of the pages. What a privilege to be able to see them!

On Monday I went into work for overtime (yes, I sicken myself) because we have loads of new starters coming in and it won’t be available for long. I hate doing it, but it makes sense to take advantage while the opportunity is there.

Then on Tuesday me and Mr. S took our first proper shopping trip together to get some bits for holiday. On the last night of our trip we are going out on the town in Sheffield and I needed something nice to wear, so that was my number one priority.

We went to Next and I took a couple of bits into the changing rooms to try on, going as quickly as I could thinking that Mr. S would be bored out of his mind. I could not have been more wrong about that!

Before I’d finished trying on the first thing I could hear him saying to the changing room attendant ‘excuse me, do you know where the tall lady with red hair is? Can you give her these please?’ and the nice lady handed me more things to try.

Mr. S picked out a whole load of stuff for me, and eventually I chose a lovely dress that I would never have thought to try on if I’d been alone.

Another thing I needed for holiday was a swimsuit, and this part was not as straightforward. The hotel we’re staying at in Sheffield has a pool, and I’m determined to have a swim since I haven’t swum for over ten years.

As I’m 6ft tall, I need something that is long in the body so my first stop was Long Tall Sally. A quick glance told me that none would be suitable, because every suit had a ridiculously high leg. Since I have an ‘apron’ of skin, wearing something with a high leg is inconceivable, and in any case I really didn’t want to pay £60 for one.

In the end I chose a suit from Simply Be with tummy control specifically for tall women. That came early in the week and it was a COMPLETE LIE. It was no longer in the body than a normal swimsuit, and again it had a stupidly high leg which wasn’t clear in the pictures. So that went back.

I decided to look for swimsuits while out shopping so I could see how they’re cut for myself and I couldn’t find anything, not a single thing that would have been suitable!

It was getting depressing by this point, so I went back online and tried two suits from Yours Clothing. They looked so awful when I tried them on, so poorly fitting, that I could have cried.

So I went back to Long Tall Sally, and ordered the one with the lowest leg. Considering Long Tall Sally is a brand just for tall people, and they usually cater for people starting at my height, I was surprised that the suit was no longer in the body than the Simply Be one.

At this point I almost gave up. There was one last thing to try. I went on to Amazon, and found something that just might work. But could I really pull it off? Really? It came this morning, and this is the result…

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I’d just got out of bed, so excuse the hair, but just look! This is the first time in my life I have ever, EVER, tried on a bikini, and it’s something I never, EVER, thought I would do. Yet here I am, doing it, and it looks better than any of the swimsuits I tried.

I’m terribly self-conscious of my wibbly, dimply thighs, but I still feel like I can swim in public like this. I hope this feeling stays, and that I can get into the pool with my head held high, because right now I feel amazing. And in any case, what difference would it really make if that middle bit was covered up? None at all actually! So there we have it, a huge first for me and a wonderful NSV.

Anyway, Wednesday we trained, and yesterday I finally got a haircut as my fringe was starting to migrate into my eyes. My hairdresser was very disappointed that I wasn’t having anything mental done, but all the same he assured me that he can do ‘normal’ cuts just as well as he can do the weird stuff. I asked for something soft and feminine, and this is what I got:

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I’m so happy with it, I’m absolutely loving the 60’s vibe! It’s a terrible photo, but it’ll have to do for now because I don’t intend to do my hair until I have to go to work this evening.

That’s pretty much all that’s been going on so I’d best get on with trying to cram too many things into one day. Today’s priority is going out for a run, because I haven’t been for a couple of days and it just feels wrong! Plus the weather is too perfect not to.

Hopefully I’ll be back to updating a bit more regularly soon.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Trust

I’ve become a little bit obsessed with times and figures. I love using MapMyRun and seeing the breakdown of how long it took me to do each mile, but it’s easy to get disheartened if I pay too much attention to them in the short-term.

I’ve made myself a little spreadsheet where I have all of the times broken down from different routes that I do with accompanying graphs. Because who doesn’t love a good graph? There’s not enough data to make them interesting enough for me to share yet, but I’m looking forward to doing that one day in the future.

When it comes to timing yourself though, there are just too many varying factors. Even more so if you’re training outdoors. There’s the weather, your mood, how much sleep you’ve had, what you’ve eaten, what you’re wearing… so looking at one run then the next and feeling disappointed that it took me two seconds longer is not very productive! It’s all about overall trends.

Yesterday, my trainer took me to a park he hasn’t trained at for about four years but it used to be one of his favourites. We ran around the perimeter which is about three miles (when he lived in that area he used to run around it four times in a row) and he expected me to be able to run about the first mile without stopping. It’s a lot different to our usual place – the hills aren’t as intense but instead there are long slopes that you have to pace yourself on. When we were a third of the way around the perimeter he asked if I needed to stop. It took me a few breaths before I could blurt out a strangled ‘NO!’

It was so muddy, we had to keep leaping over huge puddles and picking our way through brambles just to make sure we kept the momentum going and didn’t stop. And that’s all absolutely fantastic for strengthening the core muscles but it was also very tiring.

Even so I made it the whole way around without stopping! I felt fantastic afterwards – I had the biggest hit of endorphins I’ve had so far I think.

Here’s a picture of me afterwards. It’s not a great one, but in the body positive book I’ve been reading the author mentions that you don’t have to look like a model in pictures. They aren’t taken because you’re on a photo shoot, it’s a snapshot of a memory and it’s enough that you are present no matter what you look like.

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It’s a bit blurry, it was a grey and horrible day, and I do not look comfortable even though I was trying to. But still, this is a record of the day I ran the furthest yet, and the first day I felt confident enough to wear leggings on a run.

I’m so glad I did because I was much more comfortable. I would also like to point out that my hair was not messed up by the run, my trainer thought it looked too neat and very kindly messed it up for me. Bless him.

I have been feeling a little bit frustrated with my apparent lack of progress after the last week or so, but after this I feel right back in the zone again. I just have to trust that even though an app on my phone might not immediately show it, progress is always being made.

After training we went for a meal at the pub around the corner where I had a tasty, albeit expensive (nearly £14 for a bowl of veggies and some balsamic vinegar) vegan lunch that was also full of goodness, washed down with a not-so-healthy diet coke.

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I’ve got to admit that I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening grazing on not unhealthy foods as such, but foods that are not really Slimming World friendly. If I wasn’t on track again today, I reckon I’d be in for a gain but I’m trying not to stress about going off plan and focusing more on whether I’m actually hungry now and what I actually want to eat.

I’ve just eaten my porridge and oat milk, which I wasn’t going to eat yet because it wasn’t ‘time’. But I listened to what my body was telling me and realised that I was in fact experiencing genuine hunger. So I ate!

After I’ve finished my current book I’m definitely going to read more about intuitive eating and try to put it into practice.

Today is a rest day, which is a concept I’m struggling with. I always feel like I should be doing something but if definitely helps to have proper downtime. It seems counterintuitive, but having a proper rest is absolutely essential. So today apart from washing all of my muddy exercise gear I’m doing nothing at all. Until work later that is, booooo.

In fact I feel a nap coming on (which will surprise absolutely no one!)

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

No Fluke

Incredibly, the scales are still showing me to be in the 13’s. It’s not a fluke! I’m now going to stop weighing myself over the next few days since I’ve established that the scales haven’t malfunctioned.

Everything has been a bit of mad rush since yesterday, and I really should be getting dinner sorted but I chose to sit down and write with a cup of coffee first.

Yesterday evening my friend dropped over my new (to me) car. It was dark when he turned up so I didn’t get a chance to look at it properly, but oh my word I am chuffed to bits.

After driving a massive 3l 5 Series BMW for the last two years, I simply cannot look at my new car without bursting out laughing. It’s simply ridiculous!

When I parked up at work and got out it looked positively comical sitting there in my usual spot. I could easily fit another one in the space.

After work this morning I was able to get a picture.

This afternoon I had to go out and in the proper daylight I could see just how filthy it is. It was my friend’s friend’s dad’s and it’s been sitting on a driveway for a long old time, just gathering dust.

There are plenty of perks though. Both my tax and insurance payments have literally halved, and I should be getting more than 14 MPG from now on!

This weekend I should be able to give it a good clean as I have a surprise long weekend. Work announced last night that there’s no Saturday shift while they do a huge stock take. Get in! This week is turning out to be a corker.

To top it all off my brother told me that he’s getting the shocks on his motorbike sorted after payday which means it’ll be able to take our combined weight. Then we can go on a road trip.

I went out with my brother and my ex, me riding pillion on my ex’s bike, for a brief period in 2014. It was the first time I’d ever been on a bike, and it was absolutely thrilling, but there was a downside.

I got the biggest size in trousers and jacket for women that I could (a size 22) and it fit like a second skin. It’s supposed to be snug, so that if you come off your gear stays on and keeps you alive, but sitting on the back of a bike with my knees somewhere around my ears meant that I couldn’t really breathe properly. Kinda problematic.

This also coincided with me gaining huge amounts of weight again, so it wasn’t long before I was struggling to get them on at all. When the bikes were put away for winter, I had to put the trousers on with the zip open (they have a kind of flap) and still I could barely get them on. I told myself I’d be back in them by the summer, but it never happened and I haven’t been on a bike since.

Today I got my gear out of storage and had a little try-on.

Wow.

I am over the flipping moon! Everything is too big, to the point where if I end up going out regularly with my brother then I will need new gear and I will need it soon. As it is all of the Velcro straps are pulled in as tight as they go and it’s still too roomy. I’ll have to wear thick layers underneath in order to stay safe.

Buying new gear means hundreds of pounds being spent, but maybe I can sell what I have to raise funds.

Right now I don’t care, I feel too good! I can take the trousers off without even undoing them, and the flap that was like a second skin? Take a look…

I’m so happy I could cry. In fact I just might.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Fresh Inspiration

First of all a shoutout must go to Gempiccaddilly for putting me on to a new (and marvellous) source of inspiration. I’ve watched a couple of YouTuber’s talk about various things in the past and always found it quite cringey, but when Gempiccaddilly mentioned one particular vlogger in this post I decided to give it another go.

Oh. My. Gosh. This lady – Von Choc – is brilliant. She’s just wonderful to watch, and within two days of watching some of her videos she’s already helped me so much. Remember the Super Slimmers ‘documentary’ on Channel 4? She made a video about her thoughts on that and wow, there was such a lightbulb moment. She just has this way of putting things in perspective, which is so important for us slimmers I think. It’s easy to be a bit blinkered and not be able to see the bigger picture.

The first video I watched was nearly 30 minutes long, and to be honest I really didn’t think I’d sit it out. But now I’ve started I can’t stop and I’m currently watching all of her videos from the beginning, which she has very helpfully compiled into a chronological playlist here.

This video, titled Can Slimming World Be Better, had me saying ‘yes, exactly!’ out loud to my computer. Just to be clear – like me, this lady loves the Slimming World plan, but there are things that could be improved (Syns Online search function, I’m looking at you) and her idea, along with other vloggers, is that if we start the conversation about it as members, then maybe we can implement change.

Since I’m a vegetarian I’ve been watching the Porky Lights saga unfold from a distance, but Von Choc makes some really interesting points about the whole thing in a video dedicated to ‘SausageGate’. There are a few facts that you won’t get from your Slimming World consultant, in fact I haven’t heard a thing since Slimming World’s initial statement advising people to use 4.5 syns per sausage, so I’d recommend giving it a watch. I’ve managed to convince a fellow member not to feed the 18-pack she’d just bought to her dog, which cannot be a bad thing.

Ok, I think I’m done gushing for now!

Do you ever go through a phase of a month or so where you don’t feel any different, then all of a sudden you just do? Lately I’ve looked in the mirror and just seen my old self looking back at me, but yesterday I felt really slim for some reason. I tried on my old motorbike trousers a little while ago (I don’t remember when) and I could just about get them over my legs. As for being able to do them up well it wasn’t even close! So I decided to get them out of storage and they only bloody well fit now! I can do them up AND breathe at the same time. Which is handy. Unfortunately I can’t sit down in them yet, but that’s not hugely important. At some point the plan is that I’ll go out with my brother on his bike as he’s never had anyone ride pillion with him before. When he passed his test his instructor told him that when he does it for the first time to take someone who has experience being a passenger on a bike, and I think I’m the only person he knows with that qualification. The problem is that at the moment our combined weight is too much for the bike to handle! I haven’t been able to do those trousers up since 2014 though, so I’m still feeling pretty good about it.

The day before yesterday I started doing more structured exercise again and got my kettlebells out for the first time in weeks. At the time it didn’t hurt, but now it really, really, does. So I’ve been walking a little bit like I’ve made a mess in my undergarments, but as soon as the soreness has died down I’ll do it again. I also have a pilates video recommended by my sister to try out. I really want my Gold Body Magic Award, which is eight weeks of 30 minutes exercise a day including two sessions of strength training. I do 30 minutes walking every day at least (which is where I actually take time out to walk around rather than include any incidental walking as I go about my day) and if I keep up the exercise videos too then that award will be mine! I’m not very good at remembering to do my kettlebells so I’m hoping the incentive of a new shiny sticker will keep it fresh in my mind.

Work has been a little… tricky this week. Our activity is monitored every second of every shift, so we always have to be doing something, but this is the quietest time of year for the company I work for. So there isn’t actually much to do. It’s been a fine balancing act of doing enough that we hit our rate as a department but also pacing it out so it lasts, and hitting our personal rates as workers, and also not falling asleep due to the sheer boredom of these quiet times. And then there’s the fact that we can go home if we want to, but it’s unpaid. Things are a bit tight for the next couple of months but that temptation is ever present!

So far I’ve been good though and have stayed at work, and I’m staying motivated by thinking about my plans for the weekend. Me and my brother are going back to the woods we visited last week, as we are waiting for the bluebells to come out. According to my mum they’re what I photographed last Sunday, and I don’t want to miss them even though it’s still very early and unlikely they will flower for a good few weeks yet. But I’m not taking chances! For extra exercise and to save using petrol, we are going to walk to the country park. It’s at the top of a very long and very steep hill, which is excellent for exercise and excellent training for our Snowdon trip in May.

I shall update on Sunday when I have more to say other than how boring work was!

Hayley x

 

Downtown

This morning I took a walk into town, which I had originally planned to do Sunday. However on Sunday I was completely knackered – so much so that I slept through several alarms and my mum coming in to check that I hadn’t died. I am determined at the moment to do what I need to do to stay on plan (and sane). Sometimes that might be giving myself a kick up the butt and pushing through the tiredness, but it’s important to recognise that sometimes the best thing for you is a 12-hour catch-up. After all you can’t go off plan if you’re unconscious!

I didn’t need 12 hours on this occasion and woke up early feeling refreshed. I was out the door at 10am and ready to face the delights of my local town centre. It’s really not a great place! I took my ‘personal attack alarm’ with me as I walked past the place where a lady was sexually attacked in broad daylight. It’s scarily common to see the police dogs over there hunting through the bushes for god-knows-what. Evidence? Criminals? I don’t know. After passing this point (which is still on a busy main road I might add) I had the choice of going through the park or sticking to the main roads. I went for the latter as the local newspaper recently discouraged people from walking alone around the park area. Someone was mugged just a couple of months ago, again in broad daylight.

As I got closer to town I was suddenly transported down memory lane when I came across this sculpture. It’s actually in the middle of a roundabout that my dad drove around hundreds, probably thousands of times when I was little, and I always wondered if you could get down there. And if so how? That answer came many years ago but I only just remembered the question. It’s weird how these memories suddenly re-emerge without warning.

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Miraculously I made it to town alive where I was relatively safe but had to endure people spitting on the floor and the pervasive stench of Lynx body spray. Despite that, it was an excellent trip! First stop was M&S to try on some extra high-impact sports bras. I tried the biggest size on a couple of months ago and it wasn’t even close, so I thought I’d have another go and see how I’m getting on. I was very pleased to find that I needed the next size down, but I didn’t end up purchasing one in the end. The label claimed it had ‘excellent bounce control’ but I tested it out by jumping up and down a few times and it is a lie. While I was there I took the opportunity to take a changing-room selfie, and I was pleasantly surprised! I was already feeling good wearing my size 20 jeans and Paddington coat, but I had no idea what I currently looked like as I don’t have a full-length mirror. When I got home I compared it to a picture taken in June or July. It was really hot that day but I was wearing what can only be described as a knitted smock- it hid me the most out of all of my clothes.

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Next on the list was Primark. One of my goals is to be able to buy cheap clothes in ‘normal’ shops, so I thought I’d pop in and see what sort of stuff is available. I haven’t been able to buy anything from Primark for years so I was stunned to find three things that actually fit me, including a pair of skinny jeans. I didn’t manage to find much in my size though, so I don’t see this goal as complete just yet.

I had a stroll around a few other shops but nothing caught my interest so I went into Evans to pick up some jeans which I’d ordered online. They do a pretty good selection of jeans for women who are too tall for their own good (in the picture above I’m wearing a standard-length pair as a cropped jean), and I managed to get a pair of 33 inchers in their sale for £15.

Finally I popped into Iceland (someone was stabbed outside of it just last year) for a couple of Slimming World bits. It was quite sunny but still very cold so I thought I’d be safe carrying the frozen bits back on a 30 minute walk. Annoyingly I bought the onion gravy but didn’t realise it had beef stock in it until I got home. I mean, beef stock is obviously tasty but there are very few vegetarian options in Iceland. Couldn’t they just let us have that one? I also bought the sweetcorn chowder and a couple of the potato salads to try. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the potato salad but I thought it was lovely. Some people complained there was too much mint, but I love mint and potatoes together so I was in heaven. I scoffed a packet with salad and a bowl of the ‘Heinz’ tomato soup (Free) for lunch as soon as I got in.

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Speaking of the fake Heinz soup, I heard about it years ago but never tried it as I assumed it couldn’t be as good as people said. I’m distrustful by nature. But when I cooked it for myself I actually said ‘holy sh*t!’ out loud because it really does taste like cream of tomato soup! It’s mental! The only ingredients are two tins of beans, two tins of chopped tomatoes, a tin of carrots (including the water) and a few pickled onions. That’s it!’

Yesterday was clearly a day for cooking as I also made one of the lentil recipes I’d bookmarked earlier in the week – Curried Lentils with Ginger. It’s so rare nowadays that I cook a proper recipe from scratch, but I’m so glad I did. From the beginning the kitchen was filled with the most amazing aromas as I toasted off and ground the herbs in my pestle and mortar. And very conveniently each stage of the recipe allows time to tidy away all of the previous spices and whatnot. I am a very messy cook and it’s good to keep on top of these things.

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It was delicious, and I’m looking forward to having the leftovers for dinner tonight. I used less lentils than the recipe suggested as it seemed like an awful lot, and switched full fat coconut milk for light. The whole lot was 4 syns in total and definitely worth it. I also increased the quantity of the lime pickle as I love the stuff, and decided against skinning the tomatoes. Mostly because I couldn’t be bothered, but it’s also extra fibre. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway…

Hayley x