A Wet Start

Oh look, it’s November! October was a really hard month for me, but it all turned out ok. I’m alive, I’m breathing, I’m ready to try again continue. Life goes on, things get better, and progress isn’t linear.

I opened a can of worms, which was totally necessary. I’ve been unpacking a load of crap from my past which has made me (amongst a plethora another emotions), angry, sad… and hopeful. There are things I didn’t want to look at ever again, things I didn’t know to look for in the first place, things I thought were gone, but all of these buried things have a way of showing up in our lives without us even realising. Until I acknowledge them and deal with them, I can’t have a full life.

Last week I did wonder if it would have been better not to have opened the can and stay quietly yet comfortably miserable for the rest of my life, but in recent times it’s been anything but comfortable. The only way is forwards.

On a very soggy walk this morning, I had an epiphany regarding my first proper relationship in 2005. When I was a kid my dad would often go out, get drunk and not come home when he said he would. I’m not talking a little bit late, I’m talking more like a day late. Kids pick up on things, and I saw how it left my mum bereft.

Fast forward back to 2005, and the logical part of me knows that all men aren’t like that. Then the guy I was seeing at the time, quite reasonably, couldn’t make the last train home after hanging out with work friends in London and had to stay over. He let me know so I didn’t worry, but I felt abandoned. It was so, so painful. My head knew that his behaviour was reasonable and ordinary, but my body was reliving everything from when I was a kid, making me feel scared, anxious… bereft.

I’ve been reading about how the body remembers what the mind forgets, which I couldn’t really understand at first. Then when I thought back to that example, I totally got it.

What’s more, while I’m waiting for a professional to talk over these things with, I’ve found a Facebook group run by one of my favourite Instagram accounts, Loving Me After We. When you join you are provided with prompts and guidance to start the work of healing. I see this as a very good starting point. I’ll do that and see how I go.

If it gets too much, I’ll remember that this work is difficult, and cut myself some damn slack.

So, this morning, straight after work, I went for a walk in my up-until-today favourite park. I realised that I don’t actually like the park as much as I thought I did – it is good for working out because it’s very hilly, but the park round the corner from me (the one with all the mushrooms) is actually much nicer.

I’ve been avoiding this particular park because I didn’t want to bump into a particular person I know, but I decided to stop not doing things for that reason. It was only when I got there I noticed it didn’t hold the same appeal that it used to.

This is good, because I faced that particular fear so I can stop wishing I could go there. Now I just don’t want to go there!

Having said that, it was still a nice walk. It drizzled the whole time but it was still warm enough and so refreshing after spending a night in a dusty warehouse. I took a couple of photos, but not too many because I didn’t want to destroy my camera, and well, it was mostly just grey anyway.

Anyway, the important thing is that I got out. My new plan is to be out walking Monday to a Friday, then spend time on the more arty things I like on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m going to try hard to get back into a healthy routine.

November goals right there!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Rule Breaker

I’ve been breaking my own rules lately. Some of it has been not-so-good (this is it, I’m REALLY going to stick to plan this time. Yeah right!) and some of it slightly better.

I love getting second-hand bargains, but I always drew the line at shoes because it’s a bit icky. Then I started trying to save money, and I decided to reconsider my used shoe stance.

I joined a vegan Facebook buy and sell group, with the intention of selling some vegan shoes, but instead I ended up buying some. A pair of rather battered purple vegan Dr Marten’s caught my eye – and they were in my size! I’m an 8 so this doesn’t happen often, but since I didn’t really need them I held off and held off.

Until I couldn’t any longer.

I got in contact, paid the seller, then waited a few weeks for them to be posted to me. I paid £35 for a pair of boots that would have been almost £150 when new, but I thought I had been done over if I’m honest! The seller told me she was poorly but no attempt was made to drop me a quick message to keep me updated. £35 is still much more money than I wanted to lose.

Eventually they turned up, and while the seller had been honest about marks and scuffs, no mention was made of the dodgy zip on one of the boots. I found this quite dishonest, and while they mercifully smelled of nothing worse than incense, there were crisps inside them. I’d say Pringles if I had to guess.

Thankfully I managed to salvage the zip for now by bending the teeth back into shape, and they’re really comfortable and I do love them. Having said that I think I’ve had a lucky escape. I’ll definitely go through eBay from now on where at least there’s more buyer protection.

I have two events I plan to wear these to next year – Swingamajig and Shambala festival, the latter of which I bought tickets for today and I’m super excited! They’ll definitely be perfect festival boots, because I’ve never been able to find a pair of wellies yet that didn’t make my big toes go numb.

Yesterday I got out for another mushroom walk, this time through the other half of the nature reserve (two different areas are separated by a road) where I took another 400 pictures. I edited a lot less of them however because many were very similar to the shots taken Monday. Yesterday’s highlights were definitely the puff balls, which are always fun!

I probably should have been a bit more careful because of the spores but, y’know, it’s too cool!

As you may be able to tell from my tone, I’m a feeling a lot better today. I’ve eaten some rubbish, which I’m not exactly happy about, but I’m feeling more positive and just doing what I can.

I’m hopefully going out to socialise with a friend next Friday, though that’s always touch and go because he’s not the most reliable of going out buddies – he’s very prone to cancelling. If he doesn’t cancel (I hope he doesn’t, we’ve been meaning to go out since his birthday in August) then I’m not going to let the way I currently feel about my body stop me from having fun.

Perhaps I won’t have lost weight the following Monday, but I still haven’t given up on the idea of being able to enjoy the odd night out, not freak out about it before or after, and get back on plan straight away the next day. That’s probably my number one diet goal right now and I refuse to give up on it because I know it’s attainable!

Right, I’m signing off now. I’ll see you next month!

Hayley x

September

I’m running out of post titles, at least for the time being. How many different ways can I hint at Fresh Starts, New Beginnings and This is the Last Times? If I had a better imagination it might be easier, but as it happens I don’t think I’m going to need to get particularly creative after all.

Its 2:30am and I’m too wired to sleep, too tired to do anything. I’m therefore doing what any committed caffeine addict would do – drinking a coffee and thinking ’bout stuff.

I currently have a tummy that is still way too full of pizza dough to be comfy, but I think perhaps I have eaten enough of the stuff lately to actually get to the point where I’m completely sick of it.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally eaten my fill.

The timing is good, because I promised my Slimming World consultant that I’d weigh in later today, come what may. We have a plan you see. She thinks that perhaps I’m putting too much pressure on myself, so she suggested a higher Syn allowance for a while, and perhaps not committing to a full seven days on plan at once. I love that she’s thinking outside the box for ways to help me, and I love that she’s given me another option to think about for the time being. I don’t feel quite so at a loss as to what to do.

Having that backup plan in place kind of set me free to focus on doing things properly without being too concerned about it not working. I’m giving it one last big push, because I know I can do this. I know that when my head is in the right place, I can absolutely get the pounds falling off me. I’m sure I just need one good week, one good result, to get be back in the zone. When it gets close to Monday, though, I have so much riding on that result. I think that’s why I self-sabotage. If I know I’ve already screwed up, then I don’t have to worry about stepping on the scales and seeing that I’ve failed at that moment. It’s a foregone conclusion, I already know I’ve failed and I’ve prepared for it.

I get told I’m brave for weighing in anyway. I don’t feel very brave.

This week, I AM going to be brave. I’m going to do a full seven days on plan. I’m going to go on some walks. I’m going to stay within 15 syns. I’m going to step on those scales and take whatever result I see.

Maybe it’ll suck, and I’ll break down and cry in front of a room full of people. Well so what? Maybe that’s what I need. Maybe I’ll have a great result and I’ll cry anyway. I just know I have to do it, because this is getting beyond silly now. If it goes tits up, I have alternative options that my consultant has provided, but I have a sneaky suspicion I won’t need them.

2013 Hayley was in this exact same position. 2013 Hayley deleted her blog around this time, denied to herself that this was happening, and regained everything, the whole seven stone, by Christmas 2014.

I’m not letting history repeat itself. I will fight tooth and nail before I let that happen. Maybe that’s what’s been missing – my fighting spirit! It’s back. Just you wait and see what I’m capable of.

September has been a hungry month, a month of gains, but it’s also been a good month. I’ve been struggling a bit to keep my spending under control, so I made a really good plan to sort it out. I’ve looked at exceptionally simple ways I can save money which also happen to benefit my health.

A few examples – not having a takeaway each week will save me at least £80 a month. Not taking an energy drink to work will save me £30 a month. When I reach target and no longer have to pay for Slimming World, that’s another £20 a month. Feeling good about myself and not buying myself ‘treats’ to cheer myself up, well, I can’t even count that high. Basically I’m going to be minted.

Not being wasteful is also going to perk me up. Not that I feel especially sad right now, I actually feel rather good. Apart from that damn monkey on my back that is my relationship with food!

So, September highlights then! I’ve been especially creative this month.

I made a present for my brother:

I did lots of painting:

I scritched a bird:

I played in the sea:

I photographed a mutha flipping wedding:

Love, love, LOVE the photo of the bride’s sons gatecrashing the first dance!

And then there’s the stuff I haven’t told you about yet. Most importantly, I truly moved on after being really quite badly hurt by someone. Although I knew a sincere apology or an explanation was never going to be forthcoming, I finally stopped needing those things. That was BIG I tell you. I honestly thought I’d be carrying that burden around for the rest of my life.

At the wedding, I kissed a boy! Unfortunately there wasn’t that spark, but it was another big thing for me that I recognised that straight away and didn’t jump in and do something I didn’t really want to, just for the sake of it. I was told by one friend that I should have slept with him, basically because it’s been ‘too long’ since I last slept with anyone. What even is too long though? I wasn’t aware there was a time limit! Plus I don’t need to be sexually active to be whole.

Finally, and this is my absolute favourite bit, I got to meet Newton. Newton is the newest member of the family, and I suppose I’d describe myself as a dog aunt now (he lives with my sister and her boyfriend who are going to be just the bestest dog parents).

IS HE NOT THE MOST GORGEOUS BOY EVER?

He’s not just cute though, he also has the most adorable personality. He’s so funny, especially when it comes to his sleeping positions. Boy, you just cannot be comfortable like that!

He visits us during the day while my sister is at work, and he’s a joy to have around. I love my little nap buddy to bits already, and I haven’t laughed so much in a long, long time. Him stealing a pair of my brother’s underpants was particularly funny. It totally makes up for him peeing everywhere except where he should.

You could use the photo below as a reference for a) how happy I was to meet him and b) how teeny he really is!

So, it’s now much, much later and I’ve just been weighed in. I’ve put on half a pound (nothing short of a miracle) meaning my current weight is 15 stone 11 pounds.

It is what it is. I’m going to put it behind me and welcome in October. By the time I’m getting ready to be annoyed by the trick-or-treaters, I’m going to have made a huge amount of progress. Hopefully I’ll be back in the 14’s, which is a worthy and achievable goal.

It’s going to be a good month. I can feel it.

Hayley x

Not my best start ever

Let’s get right into it. How did I get on at Slimming World? Well, for the first week of my restart it must have been a good one, yes?

Er, no.

4 lbs on this week and I just keep getting bigger and bigger. My current weight is 15st 10.5lbs and I’m really not happy with that. I’m moving further and further away from my goals as the days go by! What the hell is going on?

To be honest I was doing great until Sunday. I’d been 100% on plan and I was feeling pretty good in myself, but not convinced the weight was coming off. So I had a sneak peak on the scales. Ah, 3lbs on? I couldn’t believe it.

So I did what any sensible stoooopid person would do and ordered a takeaway. As such, today’s result was, unexpectedly, a nice big gain. Damn.

Something that is good is that I went to group anyway, even though I strongly considered throwing a sickie. I am glad I didn’t, but still, I’m fairly annoyed in general as you can imagine!

Good lord, I seriously need to get my act together! I try again then. What else can I do? My action plan for this week is to cut back on added salt, hold up on the white pasta, which bloats me, and no home weighing!

In the meantime I’ve had a busy weekend. I spent several hours today editing wedding photos, and they’ve gone down well. Despite spending all of my free time today on it, I’ve only got so far as the wedding morning. I’m hoping to finish up by the end of the week though, but we shall see.

This is one of my faves – the bride getting laced up into her dress. Look how happy she is!

Yesterday I was out walking with my little bro in Kent. First stop was a nature reserve in Wye, which is very small but also very steep.

Millions of years ago all of that was under water. How bonkers is that? We were there maybe an hour, just long enough to walk the nature route and realise how unfit we’ve both become. Time to get back into training I think! I also got some lovely shots.

Up until the wedding I found it very hard to enjoy photography because I was just so worried about letting my friend down, but now it’s over and done with I can relax and just enjoy taking photos again.

Since the walk didn’t take up much time, I had a back-up plan. We headed to Dungeness, also in Kent, because a friend of mine told me there’s an old boat that’s popular in with photographers. He was right, I even recognised it, but I’ve never seen anyone take the same shot as me.

There’s a kite-flying club just down the road, too, which made for some cool shots.

If that was the last summery day of the year (and I suspect it was) I’m glad I had my camera with me!

So I shall just crack on now, because what else can I do? Fitting back into my lovely clothes is so important to me, I really need to make some progress.

So here we go again, let’s hope this week is better than the last one!

Hayley x

The One and Only Wedding

Finally I can stop worrying, because the wedding is done! The relief is almost palpable. Friday night I had something between four and five hours sleep, that’s how stressed I was. I just couldn’t get off.

I learned a lot this weekend. I learned that anything related to a wedding will take at least four times as long as it would ordinarily. I learned that you need someone to boss the wedding party around otherwise nothing will ever get done. I realised that wedding guests are like particularly unruly cats who just refuse to go where you want them to. In short, I learned I am never doing this again!

I’m not complaining though, because despite all of the negatives I actually had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the experience. The first plus point was meeting Kerry, my friend’s parents’ goddaughter. The usher dropped out last minute at which point Kerry stepped in, and she was BRILLIANT.

I’ve rarely met someone I’ve liked so quickly and so fully – she’s an absolute diamond and I truly believe the bride would still be getting into her dress now if we hadn’t had her to keep everyone in check. She’s a pure soul, completely and utterly herself at all times and so full of life. She helped me fulfil my photographic duties no end, and even had some great suggestions for shots which came out beautifully. I will be forever grateful that she was there. She’s also a wonderful hair stylist, with her own salon no less, so if you’re ever in Devon and need your hair (or beard) tended to, you can find her at Shortcutz.

Here she is taking a break in her ushering duties getting the groom’s beard under control.

At this point I even managed to sneak in a selfie of me in the wonderful dress!

The scariest part for me was the bride coming down the aisle. It was a particularly short aisle, and I just didn’t have the time to screw up. But I got the shot, then I could relax a bit. That was probably the part I was most worried about. Anything else could be redone. After that I could breathe again.

Then came the group shots, and a really weird thing happened. I kind of ended up in charge, taking over from Kerry, but the especially strange thing is that I was pretty good at it! I really surprised myself. What’s more, I enjoyed it.

I well and truly found my very loud ‘do as I say’ voice which certainly carried itself all the way to the stragglers at the bar, but when people were being particularly stubborn I found that I was bossing them around in a nice way, with a smile on my face. I actually spent a large portion of this stage of the proceedings laughing my head off. I never knew I had being confident in front of 60 people all looking to me for direction in me!

Next up I got into a stunningly beautiful VW camper van with the newlyweds where we drove to a nice spot to get the couple shots.

In a way I’m disappointed with what I got, because if I’d had a couple of hours to play around I could have done so much more. But I didn’t have a couple of hours, I had about 20 minutes. The couple have seen an initial couple of edits and thankfully they’re over the moon. I don’t have to move away and change my name after all!

The chap who drove the van, Lawrence from Retro Rides 4 Brides, was just an absolute star. I told him I’d never photographed a wedding before and he chipped in straight away with the best shots he’d seen other photographers do during the course of his work. He was so friendly and helpful, I honestly could have cried with how sweet everyone involved was. I’m feeling the love!

The DJ in the evening was the same. He arranged his lights the way most photographers asked it to be done to make sure they didn’t ruin the shots for the first dance, he took the time to learn my name and made sure I was available before he announced the dance or the cake cutting.

Once those bits were done I really started to enjoy myself. Official duties were over, so I dumped my flash in my room, grabbed my fastest lens (the lens that lets in the most light, so it’s good for low light conditions) and did what I do best – just capturing little moments throughout the night where the subjects are none the wiser. Because I don’t have to think so much about this kind of photography, I unashamedly got on the G&T’s. Which explains the dreadful hangover I had the next day.

Now the editing really begins, and I have a lot of work to do. Professional photographers often allow months for this turnaround, so I’m happy to take my time and do it over the next couple of weeks. I don’t want to rush it.

Plus I have other things to be getting on with, which I’ll talk about in the next post. The wedding day felt very much like both an ending for me and a new beginning, which I wasn’t expecting.

Right, time for me to get on now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Student Digs

Whenever I’ve stayed away from home lately I’ve been spoiled. Over the last year or so I’ve grabbed some serious bargains when it comes to accommodation (the cheapest being FREE) and I’ve been super lucky that everywhere I stayed was rather lovely. I suppose my luck had to run out eventually.

Tonight I am staying in Canterbury ready for my friend’s wedding tomorrow, which I’m photographing. I only wanted a place nearby where I could sleep, because I don’t want to be braving the motorway on the morning of the wedding. Especially as the M20 is closed in both directions near my friend’s house. That would not be wise.

Since I’m only sleeping here, it’s not too much of a problem that it’s not exactly the nicest place I’ve stayed in. It smells like dog, and it’s generally all a bit forlorn, but it’ll do. I can just about see Canterbury cathedral from my room.

Since it’s a university town this kind of accommodation is to be expected, and it was dirt cheap, so I’m sure not complaining. I spent the money I saved in a Mountain Warehouse round the corner as they are in the midst of a massive sale. I bought a couple of quick-drying bits which I love, love, love. I wear moisture-wicking clothing whenever I can these days, it’s the best!

Anyway with this wedding imminent I can’t decide if I’m being calm today because I think I know what I’m doing, or if I’m in complete denial and will freak out tomorrow. It’s anyone’s guess.

I ate at Wagamama and spent the time between courses arriving finalising my shot list as well as making sure I have everything covered and appropriately planned. I am feeling positive but I’ll also be mightily glad when it’s all over. My friend hasn’t had the best track run when it comes to weddings, so this better be the last one he has because I sure ain’t photographing another one!

In the meantime, for all of my talk about avoiding diet culture I finally hit my limit. I have been unable to locate my off switch so I’m going back to Slimming World for help!

Basically I have put on a rather large and unacceptable amount of weight (the dress I bought only a couple of weeks ago for this very wedding is already rather tight) and I’m feeling downright uncomfortable now. My own reflection is looking odd to me. I look like I’ve been stung by several bees.

I don’t regret my actions of the last few months. I made big changes in my life and I needed to get to a good place before I could really think clearly about my diet.

What I do wish is that I could have figured out exactly what was going on at the time. The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing is it not?

I think what I wanted deep down was a break from it all, and that’s what I got. But boy did I beat around the bush first!

After years of dedicating most of my thoughts to making progress with my weight, I’d just had enough. Plus my brain was too busy focusing on other things.

Now I really, really feel ready to continue, and it’s actually quite an inconvenience to have this wedding in the meantime. To be honest I’d like to start eating properly RIGHT NOW, but instead I have another day before my food is back in my own control.

It’s not the end of the world though. Tomorrow is going to be so busy (I will be on the go from 7am to midnight) it’ll be over before I know it.

I might not feel comfortable as I am, but I also know I’ll be feeling a million times better in just a week or two. It won’t take much to turn this around.

My plan today had been to explore Canterbury, but I didn’t even get a chance. The time has just disappeared. Instead I’m going to get as much sleep as possible to I’m in the best condition for tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Hayley x

Love Conkers All

Aha, I’m BACK! Where have I been you might ask?

I don’t rightly know.

In fact I didn’t realise just how far I’d wandered until I returned. I started feeling a bit more like myself last week, but as I said in my last post, part of me was waiting for it all to go wrong again. I certainly wasn’t going to be counting any chickens before they’d hatched, not this time.

But the weird old month of August did its thing – I set some boundaries, I accepted some things that couldn’t be changed, I stopped waiting for apologies and explanations that I knew wouldn’t come, and I started living for myself. It was like my inner self knew that it was safe to come back home.

Now we’re back together again we’re stronger than ever, and we are finally on the same page as far as weight loss goes. I might not be miserable where I am now, but I’m not prepared to settle for simply ‘not being miserable’. I can do be better than that. I can make a really good life for myself. Can and WILL.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much conflicted. I so, so want a world without diet culture, because there’s so much wrong with it. Most of us know that the vast majority of people who go down that road end up right back where they started or, worst case scenario, with a serious eating disorder. I know that my relationship with food is not a good one, and I know that as a dieter (especially one who does it in the public domain) I’m part of the problem.

Whenever I post a before and after picture, I’m sending out a subconscious message to everyone who still looks like my ‘before’ picture that they need to change. I’m making an assumption that because my life was horrible at that size, then theirs must be too. I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want the way society views fat people to carry on as it is now.

On the other hand (and this is where I start myself running around in circles) I am SO GOSH DARN DETERMINED to get back to 12 stone 10 pounds and nothing will stop me doing that! I want to fit into my nice clothes that have become too small. I want to continue to take advantage of vastly more clothing options than I used to have. I want to continue to be able to find things that fit in charity shops. I JUST WILL NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.

I’m aware that I’m a hypocrite, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept about myself for now. That’s probably the least harsh thing I’ve thought about myself in recent times, so there’s progress there at least.

So it’s a new season, a new start, and autumn is coming in strong! I’m off work this week and I’ll be honest, I’m currently sitting in the garden wearing warm socks, a cosy cardigan, with a lovely glass of red wine at my side. The big push to get back to my target weight starts properly next week when I don’t have so much going on. Until then I’m simply refusing to give it too much headspace.

My disentanglement from my last post continues however, because despite what I’ve eaten I’ve still managed to hold on to the enormous value of going for a lovely walk. Typically if I’ve eaten rubbish I default to a ‘what’s the point’ attitude, but there’s always a point.

My most recent walk was intended as an experiment. I devised a new route that I think will take me about 45 minutes, but the last time I did it, it took me about an hour as I kept stopping to take photos.

What I want is a decent, shortish route that I enjoy walking so that I can do it every day and still fit in all of my arty pursuits, which I am loving with an absolute passion right now.

So Saturday morning, straight after work I told myself sternly – ‘no photos, ‘kay? Let’s just get a move on and see how long it takes’. 30 seconds later, however…

Well! I can’t be blamed, can I? It was a beautiful morning and there was so much to see! The route that took me an hour last time took me an hour-and-a-half this time round. Oh well, it’s not like the park is going anywhere.

I did nearly get stuck in a ditch trying to find my way into a field isn’t officially part of the park and that was full of early-morning mist. The sun was hitting it just perfectly, but I couldn’t get the shot. After escaping from the deceptively deep ditch, I took a detour thinking I could get through but I hit a dead end – a little cul-de-sac in the woodland with one special feature. A frikkin horse-chestnut tree!

I don’t find a decent conker in years then I stumble across this untouched treasure trove! Quite simply, I am winning at life.

As I mentioned before, my arty pursuits are becoming so much fun. Trying to make something used to exhaust me, because I always found it hard to push through the ‘ugh this is going to be sh*t’ moments. From what I can tell I think everyone has those. What I’ve found is that things always look a bit pants halfway through, so now I just accept it as part of the process.

Yesterday I spent all day making a really cool present for my brother. I’ll share that in a couple of weeks once his birthday has come and gone.

What I can share now is my journal progress which I’m oh so happy with! This morning I woke up at 3am, unable to get back to sleep, so I painted this whilst watching the new Netflix series of The Dark Crystal.

I absolutely adored those weird 80’s movies, whilst simultaneously being rather terrified of them. In fact David Bowie in Labyrinth used to scare the absolute bejaysus out of me and often I couldn’t watch it without my mum in the room. I kinda miss being that kind of scared of things, it was fun!

A few birdies later and it was time for a check up at the dentist, which is testament to how much better I’m being at taking care of myself. My check up was a year overdue, but thankfully no treatment is needed so after a clean I went on my merry way.

After that I went to visit an old work friend for coffee and a catch up, but I needed some serious nap time when I got home. Which again will leave me awake at stupid hours when I have another early start tomorrow. Ah well, what can you do? I’m taking my brother somewhere fun as a surprise, so more on that after the event.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Perfect Week

I’m currently laying in bed feeling tired, a little crisp (sunburn, didn’t realise how… sunny it was) but most of all content.

For the first time since I’ve had my Apple Watch I’ve had a perfect week – meaning I achieved all of my activity goals every single day. Finally!

What’s more, I’ve had a week of being perfectly on plan for what I believe is only the second time this year. It hasn’t even been that difficult, which is something I struggle to get my head around. Why, oh why does it have to be so damn hard sometimes and plain sailing the rest of the time? Why am I unable to channel whatever it is I’m doing now during those other times? If I had the answer to that I’d be sorted for life.

For the first time in a long time today I went on a little adventure with my siblings. I was looking at Google Maps for potential walks near a friend’s house as I hope to one day badger him into getting a little fitter, when I swiped a little bit too far and ended up in Kent.

Quite accidentally I came across ‘Deer Park’. On further investigation I found out it’s part of a National Trust site called Knole House, so that’s where we ended up going.

The whole place is rather beautiful, but I fancied being outside on such a lovely day so rather than pay full admission I asked if it was ok to just explore the grounds. Their website said the car park gets really full on Sunday’s so we arrived slightly before opening, and as the gatehouse was unattended at the time the lady at the information desk told us we didn’t have to pay a thing. Result!

As soon as we entered the grounds we discovered that the deer are really not difficult to find. Some hang out near the house and are clearly accustomed to scavenging from visitors (even though you are told not to feed them) where as some who seem to live nearer the middle of the park are a lot more skittish.

It was great for all kinds of nature. We saw woodpeckers, squirrels a rabbit and plenty of bugs.

And a huge mushroom. I didn’t pick it though.

When it comes to food these kind of places can be really difficult for me, especially if they’re National Trust. They sell a dark chocolate-covered bar of marzipan which I find really hard to resist, but resist it I did. We bought packed lunches so everything I had was Slimming World-friendly.

After all this hard work if I don’t get a good result on the scales tomorrow I may well throw a hissy fit. This week has also been the first week in maybe a whole year where I haven’t weighed myself at home at all. Not even once. Weigh in will be complete surprise, and I’m already a bit nervous about it.

Not long till I find out though! Here’s to another good week ahead,

Hayley x

Time to Lose

So, after my grand plan of learning how to do things in moderation, have I made a good start? Have I heck. This week I’ve felt especially low, and eating well started to go down the toilet from Thursday afternoon. I’m really quite cross with myself (understatement of the year!)

Thursday should have been perfect. My friend put his car in for its MOT so I kept him company while he was waiting for a call back from the garage. I dragged him along for a walk at Langdon Hills, and although it was still much too cold for my liking, it was a beautiful day.

Comparisons have been made between that second picture and one you may remember from Windows XP. I’m pretty sure the Windows picture earned the photographer an obscene amount of money, so I’m now patiently waiting for several thousand pounds to hit my back account.

So, after a healthy and hilly stroll, what did I do? I went out for lunch. At a pizza restaurant. Did I search out a tomato-based pasta dish with salad? Nope. I had a three-course meal including sugary drink and I didn’t even enjoy it that much.

Things went downhill from there, though I did still get out of the house, this time with my little brother. Now we’re members of the Essex Wildlife Trust I’m on a mission to visit all of the sites in Essex, so we started at Fingringhoe Wick.

I didn’t have any expectations as to what it would be like or do any research, but it turned out to be lovely. It’s a bird-orientated place with loads of hides and loads of wildlife. We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but we did see a cormorant eating fish which was really cool. It disappeared under the water for ages it a time and came back successful about five times as we watched.

We also made friends with a pheasant, who we have named Bertram.

It was a really rubbish day in terms of weather, and the light was flat (bad for photography) so I was happy looking for the little details.

Another trick is to look for things that suit black & white.

That evening though, once I was home, I felt more out of control with my eating than ever. I honestly haven’t made myself feel that ill in years.

Yesterday I didn’t eat much, but for everything I didn’t eat I made up with several gin & tonics. Perhaps I’m understating things. I mean a lot of gin and tonics.

In this instance I have no regrets (not even the fact that I’ve been in bed all day nursing an awful hangover) because I had a lovely time. I bought me and Steve tickets to see ABC months and months ago and it finally came around.

They were accompanied by an orchestra who played an instrumental medley of their most famous hits. It was spine-tingly awesome. The band then played in two halves – the first half didn’t grab us so we went out to find more gin (strangely the venue closes the bar when the band is on, never seen that before) and we came back just in time for the second half. Then the band played their most famous album, The Lexicon of Love, in its entirety. It was seated but we got up and had a dance and I had just the most fabulous time.

I weighed in this evening, and was actually quite surprised that I only put on 2.5lbs. Now I really do have to make some changes to my current lifestyle, especially because I have something really exciting happening next week.

Next Tuesday I’m going for an interview for something really cool, and this is a massive deal. Traditionally I’ve been terrified of interviews and it’s probably definitely the main reason my career never progressed.

So me going for an interview now is especially great because it means for one I feel confident enough to actually do it, and two the thing I’m interviewing for is important enough to me for me to risk failure and rejection. No small deal at all.

This week I’m aiming for a decent loss (I’ve pledged five pounds in group) because I’d love to be feeling properly back in control for the first time in months when I have my interview. From then on I want to start making proper progress again. I’m not happy right now, and I know that making progress will undoubtedly bring me happiness.

I just have to stop stalling and get the hell on with it.

Hayley x

A New Chapter

Now that the thing I had hanging over my head has been resolved, I can be a tiny bit more open in my blog (without airing my dirty laundry in public of course).

I am once more a singleton, and whilst this is OK it has affected my eating in more ways than one. Even if you know it’s absolutely the right thing to do for everyone involved, ending a relationship is scary, and it hurts. The feeling scared part had me reaching for the bad foods, that’s for sure.

It’s not just that though. Once I’d made the decision and I realised I wasn’t morally obliged (although I never really was, these are obligations I totally put on myself) to tell a partner my results after going to group, I had a bit of a free-for-all. Hence last week’s 5.5 lb gain.

This week I had a bit of anxiety leading up the telling-the-other-person part, which again saw some bad food choices, but not as bad as the week before. I had a 1 lb gain this week which is about right. I knew what I was doing and I’m cool with it.

Whilst I’m feeling super-duper positive about the next chapter in my life, there’s still a little foreword to get out of the way before I really begin. I’m going to the pub with a friend on Thursday, then I’m out with the youngsters from work Sunday night. This is not conducive to a good result on the scales!

I could play it a few ways. I could go to the pub and drink diet coke, and do the same on Sunday. I could say ‘to hell with it’ again and have another mahoosive gain. I’ve thought about it and have decided to do something in between.

My main strategy is to be ‘on plan whenever I can’, so rather than thinking ‘I’m going to be naughty Thursday so I might as well not bother now’, I will make sure that today, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are perfect days. Although Slimming World do not recommend it, I’m also going to be setting aside a few syns.

As for Thursday and Sunday, they are going to be gin-and-slimline-tonic kinda days, rather than the high-syn red wines I’m normally drawn to. Damage limitation is not my strong point, but I’ll never stop trying anyway.

The Sunday after will be a similar situation, then it’s a clear run till Swingamajig.

Anyway, onwards and downwards.

The week before last I went to Warley Place, which is run by the Essex Wildlife Trust. There was a chap there trying to sign people up to be members, but he was really pushy. I also didn’t have a huge amount of time and could see that he wanted me to fill out forms and things. I said I’d think about it and do it online later if I decided I wanted to go ahead.

‘I’d rather you didn’t,’ was his curt reply. Hmm, that got my back up.

I went on my walk and on the way out he said ‘if you just come over here I’ll finish your application’… Er, no way. You just lost yourself a sale mate!

Pushy people who have no idea how to speak to members of the public aside, the Wildlife Trust do loads of good work so last week I went ahead and registered online. I got a voucher through the post to exchange for a guide to all of their sites in Essex.

I did that today at the visitor’s centre at the nature reserve just down the road, since I was planning to go for a walk there anyway.

As it happens my walk was sublime. There was absolutely no one else around and it was so peaceful. All I could hear were the scurrying of squirrels, a woodpecker pecking, robins singing… it was just the best.

At the visitor’s centre there are some beautiful gardens but they’re looking a bit sparse right now. There were loads of volunteers out working on them though so I don’t imagine it’ll be long before there’s colour everywhere.

The best bit though was walking back and finding a bumper collections of mushrooms.

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Nope, not these ones. Though they are pretty cool.

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Look even closer…

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And even closer…

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That last one was in a dark crevice right at the back. An honourable mention must also be given to the fungus that looks like a poo.

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After seeing a jay, several green woodpeckers, blackbirds, tits of all kinds, pied wagtails, robins and a sweet little wren, I can safely say it has been a most productive day! My plan now is to visit every single site in my guide. Who knows what other treasures I might find?

I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x