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

Uncharted Territories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just couldn’t understand it.

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

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

Yup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Up Again

Ah, sweet relief. I’m finally starting to feel human again! Things aren’t perfect of course (nothing ever is, that’s life) but I feel like doing things again – doing them because I want to, not forcing myself because I know it’ll make me feel better in the long run.

Now the fog has considerably cleared from my brain I’ve had time and headspace for reflection. It started with thinking about what I’ve done so far to tackle my weight and what I’m going to do moving forward. What I’m really going to do, instead of continuing to break my own promises.

I updated my motivational wall and that was quite telling. Although my best loss through Slimming World is 8 stone 10 lbs, my current loss is 7 stone on the nose. Interestingly I got my 7 stone award in 2017, and as far as numbers go I haven’t made much progress since then.

ACS_0954

However, the fact I’ve managed to keep off 7 stone for a year and 8 months has exceeded my wildest expectations.

Someone at work the other night asked my how my diet’s going, and it brought me up short for a moment. Although I talk about being on and off plan, I genuinely don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I use the word diet occasionally as sometimes it’s just easier, but bouts of emotional eating aside, this really is forever. As such the idea of ‘being on a diet’ actually feels quite alien. I like that.

I finally feel like I’m really ready to carry on where I left off when I was steaming along for months on end. They were good times.

I’m so happy I’ve started feeling better just before the end of the month, because I do love a fresh start and a new beginning. It just so happens that we’re also on the cusp of the crossing the half-way mark of 2019, and I feel that I’ve learned enough over the last few days to set me up for a fantastic second half.

This week’s goals are all in hand – despite 31 degree heat I still got out and filled my exercise ring today. I can happily take this heat, because I got what I wanted – a whole load of glorious sunshine! I just walked up to the church on the hill and back, but it was enough to get my heart pumping.

I’ve been eating well, enjoying it, and I have a weekend of good things to look forward to.

One thing I have learned lately is that walking is something that’s absolutely essential to my wellbeing. While I was busy I honestly didn’t have the time or energy to do the amount I wanted, which just compounded how awful I was feeling. I’m damn well delighted to be back outside with Mother Nature. Yesterday I saw THREE RABBITS. Three! Funnily enough they didn’t stay still for a picture so this will have to do.

I also got the tyre done on the new car, had the air conditioning re-gassed… then found out there’s water leaking from somewhere. Last week this would have really peed me off, but this week? Not so much. I’m sure I’ll get it sorted, and I still have my existing car to use for as long as I need to. Ain’t nothing getting me down.

Right, it’s now time for me to go get ready for a measly four hour shift. I’m leaving work early as I have a fun thing planned for tomorrow. More on that later!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

By a Thread

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

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

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

Oblivion please.

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

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

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

ACS_0919.jpg

I took a picture. See, pretty yes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll get there.

Hayley x

Belief

150219_3290.jpg

Valentine’s Day marked another little slip for me. Truth be told I used it as an excuse to have ‘one last day’ of naughtiness before really knuckling down again. That’s OK though! Reading my friend’s blog always helps, because no matter what internal struggle I’m going through the likelihood is that he’s been through it too and has some wise words to say on the subject.

One part of his latest post jumped out at me.

‘I screw up and then I sort it out.

Over and over again.’

Exactly that. It’s normal to slip, everyone does it. Neither of us has quite got the hang of not feeling bad about it afterwards, but we’ve both become experts at the sorting out part. That’s why, for the first time in both of our lives, our (lower) weights have been stable.

Dave also mentioned that our new appearances have become our new ‘normal’. I’ve gone from seeing my reflection in a window or mirror while I’m out and realising with a jolt that the person looking back at me is, well, me, to seeing old photos and not recognising that person at all. I’m not sure exactly when my perception shifted, but it’s a good feeling!

Until now any success on the scales would have been very short lived, something my colleagues would testify to.

I don’t really get many compliments about my weight loss at work these days, because any losses I have now certainly aren’t as drastic or noticable, but I do still get the odd ‘we didn’t think you’d keep it off, you know’ comment. I quite like these comments, because I didn’t think so either, and it reminds me of how flipping awesome I am for managing it.

Believe me though, you can do it too. Don’t ever doubt it. If you screw up, sort it out. Over and over again.  

One thing that has cheered me up is the reappearance of that mystical ball of light in the sky, otherwise known as the sun. A few rays and some warmer days has perked me up no end.

Yesterday I went on a walk to get some exercise in before Steve came over, and there was actual evidence of SPRING.

That bumblebee is quite possibly the biggest one I’ve ever seen.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my photography and how excited I am for the future, but I did have a little moment of doubt. I was thinking about how a couple of years ago a friend and colleague asked me to do a wedding but I didn’t have the confidence, so in the end another colleague (who I don’t know personally) did it for him.

I remember seeing the photos and thinking ‘I could have done that’, and it was true as far as technical skills go.

This person quit work not so long ago to go into photography full time, so I thought I’d take a peek at his Facebook page (link) to see how he’s getting on.

Oh. My. Word.

His work is absolutely stunning. Whilst appreciating the hard work that has gone into honing his skills and generally just admiring his style, I also had a sinking feeling. I felt like that should have been me. I should have done that first wedding. I should have had more confidence. I should have pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

Then I metaphorically shook myself, because I couldn’t have just forced myself to become the person that could do that, it’s taken time and effort. I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years thinking and changing and shrinking and growing in all kinds of different ways, and it’s OK that it took me a while (36 years!) to get to this point. Better late than never.

Today was something of a landmark occasion actually. When I went back to Slimming World in 2016 I met a lovely lady called Steph, who is also a photographer. I knew instantly that I liked her, and that it would be cool to take our cameras out together for a walk and have a chat.

We haven’t attended the same Slimming World group for a long time, but we stayed Facebook friends and I always liked to see how she was getting on. Then last week, after literally years of meaning to do it, I asked if she wanted to go out for a walk and a talk (or a twalk, as Dave the blogger would say).

She has a gorgeous rescue dog called Cinnamon (who for a photographer’s dog annoyingly does not seem to want to look at the camera) but I managed a few nice snaps regardless.

I like this new Hayley who isn’t frightened of talking to people, even people she knows. I’d been hoping to meet her for a long, long time.

As for my weight loss, whilst mulling it over at work last night I’ve decided to try something new. From now until April, I’m going to do completely blind weigh-ins. I’m even going to ask the social team not to write my results in my book, because I know it’ll be really hard for me to resist peeking.

The reason for this is that whenever I get close to target I get a little bit obsessed with thinking ‘if I can just lose x amount per week I’ll be at target by such-and-such a date’. It’s good to be focused and have goals, but if I get too obsessed it makes me think of all the worst kinds of food for some reason.

I’m still going to work hard and stay active, but without being consumed by the numbers. Let’s see how it goes!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x