Finding My Voice

I remember when I first started blogging and how uncomfortable I felt with the way it sounded when I read it back in my head. In time I found my ‘blogging voice’, and I’m finding that I need to go through the same kind of process to find my ‘talking to a group of people’ voice.

The initial talk I have planned for my new Slimming World members took much longer than expected, because the first time I tried to say it out loud I burst into tears and it took me a long time to stop. It didn’t happen that day. I was feeling panicked that I should have been further along with it by then, where I’m feeling down my confidence was a bit battered, I’m also not happy with myself and I felt like a fraud…

First of all, I messaged a few trusted people just to get my fears off of my chest, however silly they might have sounded. Reassurances came flooding back, and I arranged to meet my sister on Saturday so that she could listen to me say my talk out loud. I knew I needed to get it OUT of me, just one time, then I’d feel a lot better.

So Saturday came around, and although I was nearly in tears again I got it out. At first I was internally cringing like mad, and that came through in my voice. Plus I kept getting confused and losing my place. But by the time I was half-way through (it takes 25 minutes), my proper voice started to come through. Finally.

As a reward, because it sure did take a lot out of me, me and little sister went for a coffee and a walk. At long last it’s warm enough for me to wear my summer clothes! I started with a lovely floaty shirt dress, but found that unless all of it is included in the photo then I look a little bit like some sort of religious person.

Who cares though? Not me! You may notice the water behind me there. My sister has lived near this park with a lake for nearly two years, and finally we got around to having a go on a pedalo (a little boat with pedals that move the… propeller? Sounds about right).

Neither of us had been on one before and it was surprisingly hard work, but since my exercise has been a bit lacking lately that was an added bonus for me.

It was also surprisingly exciting, because at one point we were almost run aground. We were warned not to get too close to the island or the sides, and we didn’t, but the guy said nothing about going past the island. We pedalled like mad to get out of it, and were saved the embarrassment of either calling for help or just getting out and wading to the shore.

I slept well before work that evening I tell you!

Yesterday I did my new member talk for Pea, and it came out better still. She seemed to like it, too.

I then had a meeting which was all about planning my promotion, which starts next week. There are a lot of things I’ll be doing that will be taking me even further out of my comfort zone, plus I need to keep practicing the talk until I feel confident I can do it with my eyes shut. I have an enormous amount of work to do, plus my normal job, lots of things to worry about (some of which are valid worries, some aren’t) but it does mean that nerves about my first proper night in group are subsiding. Mostly because once that night is done I can relax for five minutes!

Yes I’m finding all of this really hard, but I’m imagining how fantastic I’ll feel when I’ve done all of these things I’m finding it hard to believe I can do in the first place. And there’s the fact I will have done them all on top of each other. I’m pretty sure that anything that comes after this will be a breeze.

I’m going to my group tonight but I’m not weighing in, because I’ve decided to got back to my original group. I was going to wait until after my first night running a group, but I’ve realised I need help, as a member and nothing else, as of right now. As I’ll be telling my members, this is your time, where you can figure out how to have a fantastic week and get loads of ideas from your lovely friends. I need that just as much as anyone else.

Right, to be honest I didn’t really have time to write this blog, so I must get going now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

It’s Really Happening

Despite all of the preparations I’ve been making for relaunching my Slimming World group on the 24th of June, nothing made it seem quite so real as picking up my equipment from head office.

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I’m just back from my foundation training, which was an intensive three-day course. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still loads more to learn, but this is the last bit of official training I get until my group opens. Until then it’s a case of practise, practise and practise some more.

The training was second-to-none, and I just wasn’t prepared for how bloody hilarious my trainer would be. She is absolutely superb at what she does – I couldn’t have asked for better.

It’s also been a week of exciting things for me. I never really have much occasion to dress up (with the recent Swingamajig shenanigans being a notable exception) so it was nice to have to dress smart for my training. I felt pretty fab in the three different outfits I bought.

Who am I kidding? I didn’t bring three outfits at all, it was more like eight, because I have nice things to choose from now. It’s still a novelty, and I’m still extremely chuffed at my first ever outfit from Topshop. I could never get anything that fit from there until now.

It didn’t really register at first, but this is the first time I’ve stayed at a hotel on my own, the first time I’ve travelled for ‘work’ on my own, and the first time I’ve eaten in a restaurant on my own.

If that wasn’t enough I also went swimming IN PUBLIC for the first time since 2008. When I went down to the pool there were other people in there (very scary) and they all had their mobile phones even though there was a sign saying no phones allowed.

Personally I think that rule should have been enforced, because I did feel really uncomfortable knowing that someone could take a picture of me if they wanted to. I went ahead and did it anyway though!

When I think back to how little confidence I used to have, I can hardly believe I did any of these things. There’s another layer to all of this though, which is that I’ve been seriously struggling with my mental health again. I had some great times while I was away. I met some wonderful people, I laughed, I learned, I found out new things about myself… but at the same time it has been such hard work because I’m feeling so desperately low. It’s like trying to run though custard.

I am rather proud of myself for lifting my head high and just getting on with it (private meltdowns notwithstanding), but in a way I feel cheated out of the fabulous few days I should have had. At any other time I would have been bouncing off the ceiling right now. As it is I’ve been listening to a constant tirade of ‘you’re stupid, you’re ugly, no one will want to come to your group, no one likes you, you’re an idiot, you don’t know what you’re doing, stupid, stupid, STUPID‘.

All of that from my own gosh darn brain.

It seems unfair.

So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to go to the doctors, and I’m going to speak to my Slimming World manager, just to let her know that I’m struggling. Because if there’s one thing I’ve taken away from all this, it’s that everyone in the company genuinely cares.

The same goes for the members (not that I’ve met all of them). On my first day of training I was feeling particularly nervous because I hadn’t made any friends yet, but it wasn’t long before I spotted a familiar face on the wall of my particular training room.

It was only my friend Dave! *read his blog here, you won’t regret it*

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This little coincidence really did perk me up for the rest of the day, and, as the real Dave (as opposed to photo-on-the-wall-accepting-his-Man-of-the-Year-award Dave) does on a regular basis, reminded me that I’m not alone.

I have my ups as well as my downs, so I’m sure it won’t be long until the fog clears and I can look back and truly appreciate the experiences of the last few days.

But first? I need to get a damn good sleep. Everything feels better after a good kip.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Can I Can’t I

The last two weeks have been a mixture of feeling like I can take on the world and feeling like nope, I’ve definitely bitten off more than I can chew and moving to Siberia would be a fantastic idea. In order to avoid total meltdown I’ve been doing a fair old bit of reflecting, soul-searching and generally figuring-stuff-out-edness.

It’s all going to be fine.

I must say I’m still feeling perky after the mood-boosting effects of Swingamajig. The cool thing is that I felt like I was living purely in the moment, probably for the first time in my life. So much so that I never even realised it was happening until I looked back on it. After all if I was reflecting at the time then I wouldn’t have actually been living in the moment now would I?

I hadn’t realised – the whole weekend the only time I was thinking about my appearance was when I was deciding which of my dresses I liked the best, or which mad hat to purchase. My weight didn’t come into it, and it was so freeing because I was able to simply enjoy myself.

Check out the finished article from the photo booth. Possibly my most favouritist photo EVER.

At the other end of the spectrum my first night as a Slimming World consultant is coming up fast. I’ve been experiencing a little bit of anxiety about it, and I think I’ve figured out why. You see, I’ve spent my entire life avoiding the very possibility of actually trying for anything, mostly because things (all the things) are scary and until now I would do anything possible to not put myself in a scary situation in the first place.

So here I am, volunteering (VOLUNTEERING!) to stand up in front of a group of 50+ people to help them in their attempts to lose weight.

Me. I did that.

The thing about never trying anything, is that you can never fail at anything either. Of course deep down I don’t think I will fail, but still there’s that nagging little voice in the back of my head regardless. I’ve been working hard and currently it’s a whisper, although it is a little relentless.

Do you know what has helped though? Right now, I feel fabulous! My fun weekends were great and all but I’ve really noticed the difference in my state of mind after not having any alcohol or crappy food for two weeks. A BIG difference. That’s down to just under two weeks being fully back on plan. Last week I lost 6.5lbs, and although I have the usual pre-weigh in nerves I should get another good result tomorrow I reckon.

Rather than this being yet another desperate attempt for my to try and claw my way back on to the wagon, this time I’m really feeling it. I’ve been making a special effort to have more Speed food, which I think has actually given me more energy, and I’ve made an even more special effort to actually try some new recipes. One was coronation chickpeas which is a definite winner and also much cheaper than my usual grub.

Since I’ve been so busy, one thing that has suffered is my Body Magic. I haven’t been nearly as active as I would have liked, but I was studying for a few diplomas and allowing myself to get stressed about it (unnecessarily so) so I put everything else apart from eating properly on the back-burner.

Unsurprisingly I shouldn’t have worried quite so much, although there is a lot of important stuff to remember so it’s not to be taken lightly. I definitely slowed my own progress by spending too much time fighting negative thoughts, which made it all the harder for me to absorb new information. Thanks for that, Brain.

I finished my diplomas on Thursday so this morning straight after my night shift I allowed myself a nice treat and got to the park and get some walking in. ‘Twas long overdue, and I can’t put off my own wellbeing while I try to get myself organised.

I’ve been very much enjoying my new specs and the macro capabilities of my new iPhone. To be honest I had no other reason for getting new phone than serious photo jealously. I have a problem!

Although I’ve been periodically questioning my abilities, one thing I haven’t had any doubt about is whether Slimming World is the employer for me. I cannot begin to describe the support and generosity of my fellow consultants, even though there’s nothing in it for them.

Today I had a lovely gift from my old consultant, Amanda (which I will show you when I post photos of my first night) and a whole load of stuff from her friend Viv who is a former consultant. When she stepped down (not through a lack of love for the job, just a lack of time due to other commitments) she donated a whole load of her stuff to me which will save me a ton of time, money and energy. Plus it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to how my original consultant, Lynn, helped me so much in the beginning (and middle) and how she was the first person to see the glimpse of a future consultant in me. She believed I could do it waaaaay before anyone else did. I want to find a nice way to thank all of these lovely people.

I have so many odd bits and bobs to do, I’m finding it next to impossible to get properly organised, but when I put that aside I feel the excitement coming back. It’s important I don’t forget the reason for it all.

Now I have just a three days left before my proper training starts at Slimming World head office. Now that I’m really looking forward to, because everyone says it’s awesome. I’ll get as much of the bits and bobs done as I can before heading off, then I’ll put everything else out of my mind until I’m back. I need to re-harness that power of living in the moment and just enjoy the experience!

I’m heading up to Derby the day before to, hopefully, have a good old soak in the tub (I’ve requested a room with a bath, let’s keep everything crossed I get one) and I’ll DEFINITELY be going for a swim in the free, on-site pool. Well I’ve been talking about it for long enough haven’t I?

I’ll be blogging again soon, because that along with Body Magic is something that’s really important to me and very high on my list of priorities. I need to make time for it, for my own wellbeing.

On that note, although it’s not even 9pm I’m off to bed. It’s a busy day tomorrow, and I’m actually MAKING something from scratch to take to group in the evening. Watch this space!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Swingamajigging

I’m so sorry, I just can’t believe how long it’s been since I last blogged! The last time I wrote I was talking about hoping to scrape a loss the following Monday, but what actually happened was I didn’t just scrape a loss, I had an AWESOME loss! Of 6.5 pounds!

Do you know what? I really needed that. Just to prove I can still do it I suppose.

After that I took the brakes off in spectacular style, and Tuesday evening I weighed in (a day late, but I’ll come to that later) with a 9.5 pounds GAIN. When I go, I go large.

Let’s be realistic here. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve a gain, but the likelihood I ate enough calories in order to gain 9.5 pounds of pure fat is not very great. I’m bloated like hell (partly because of what I ate/drank and partly because of the dreaded HORMONES) so as long as I get right back on plan NOW, I should be fine. Plus I’ll get extra steps going to the loo and back because the theme of the next few days is going to be peeing, peeing and more peeing.

I’m so convinced that this is the case, mostly down to past experience, that I’ve pledged to lose 12 pounds by next Monday. It’s totally possible! To help me achieve this I’m committing to filling in a food diary, I’m going to do a couple of SP days, and I’m not going to give into cravings.

I’m feeling genuinely excited again. I don’t have any events coming up that I can use as an excuse to be off plan and I’m starting to feel better about my relationship status, so much so that I’m mostly just looking forward to the forthcoming relationship with my new employer – Slimming World! I signed the contracts last week so it’s all official now – there’s no going back! I have six weeks till I do my first group, and I’d love to great some great losses in between now and then.

What I do need to do is be organised, because I’m going to be busy and if I don’t plan my meals I will almost certainly slip up. It’s true what they say – fail to plan and plan to fail.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to feeling healthy again, in my body and my mind. It’s been long overdue. It’s time to pull myself together, in more ways than one!

Anyhoo, this bank holiday weekend was awesome, but it sure was a financial drain (totally my fault by the way).

On Saturday I met up with the lovely Mar in Nottingham, a city I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time. Unfortunately Nottingham wasn’t quite the place we were both expecting it to be, but we did still have a great time catching up and visiting Wollaton Hall and Deer Park.

We only saw one single deer, but I’m glad we saw at least one otherwise I would have been disappointed. I was particularly taken with the paper sculptures – so cool.

After spending the day in Notts I headed to my friend’s in Leamington Spa as he’s the chap I’d be attending Swingamajig with. It was really great to catch up with him, but I’ve got to say, Tara stole the show. Tara is my friend’s Bengal cat, and she is beeeeyoooootiful!

After a catch up my friend and I both fell asleep – he was jet lagged because he’d been on holiday to New Zealand (poor thing) and I’d simply got used to having early nights while I’ve been off work.

In the morning I got glammed up while he made me shots for breakfast (yes, the boozy variety) then after some actual breakfast we headed off to Brum for the festival.

Now I had a choice to make – sensible shoes or pretty shoes? Yeah, pretty shoes won…

I think that day was the most fabulously dressed I’ve been in my entire life.

But it gets better. I’d been hanging out at the cocktail van, so by the time we got round to checking out the quirky little stalls I was already quite tipsy. Hence… the hat of magnificence!

It was expensive, though not unreasonably so as a lot of work must have gone into making it. Still, sober me probably wouldn’t have splashed out, though I’m glad I got it. I got talking to so many people because of it and already have plans to meet up with other madly-hatted people next year. Yep, I’ll no doubt be attending Swingamajig every year for as long as it keeps going, which will hopefully be forever.

Entertainment-wise the highlight for me was the Electric Swing Circus (an awesome band) who my friend knows personally so I got to meet loads of the band members too (and even got a hug in one instance).

I now have their albums which I’ve been listening to on repeat ever since.

After the main festival ended we headed down the road to the after party, where I was enjoying myself as the music was BANGING, and nothing at all like the chart rubbish they play where I live. However by 3am I was flagging so we went back to the hotel, though not before stopping for hangover-preventing curly fries. Perfect!

The next day I made sure I set off with plenty of time to make it to group for weigh in, but some drink-driving idiot had other ideas and I spent 3 hours sitting on the M25 instead.

So that was that. If this blog seems somewhat rushed, that’s because it is. I have so many things to get done and very little time to do it in, but I wanted to get my thoughts down anyway.

Since Tuesday I’ve been perfectly on plan and for the first time in a while I have no doubt that there won’t be any slip ups. It’s time to make real progress again.

As of this moment my dinner is now cool enough to eat, so I’ll say by for now.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Murphizzle Poppizzle Foshizzle

Do you remember I was planning to dress up as Mary Poppins for charity? That event came around quicker than I thought it would – mainly because I thought Good Friday was next Friday. That means I booked the wrong week off work so when it was time to get my Mary on I had work the night before and I was knackered. Thankfully I managed to get home a couple of hours early so I wasn’t as knackered as I could have been, but it still wasn’t ideal.

Continuing the theme of being completely unprepared I didn’t think to ask how long it would be going on for, I just assumed it couldn’t be toooooo long. Surely?

There was another thing I failed to consider. I am 6 feet tall, and children are teeny, so I did lots of crouching down for photos. This wasn’t too bad for the first hour or so, but after FIVE HOURS I must admit it was beginning to take its toll on my knees.

Finally after over 1000 kids had met Ms Poppins I was able to escape the woods and head home sharpish to try to get just a little bit of sleep before going back to work again. It was an exhausting day, and when I woke up again in the evening I realised that it wasn’t my knees I should have worried about – my thighs were absolutely killing me and to be honest they aren’t much better now. Imagine doing squats for five hours! On the plus side my thighs should be like steel from this point onwards.

The exhaustion was worth it though, for several reasons. I was still feeling quite low but it was good to know I can slap a smile on my face and just get on with things, as uncomfortable as it was to begin with.

It was also waaaaaay out of my comfort zone. I haven’t interacted with kids much in my adult life so I don’t really know how to deal with them, but I did just fine. The same for having the attention on me – I found that I was able to cope with it quite well.

On the day over £6000 was raised for the local school, but apart from that what I enjoyed the most was being physically able to do it. When I was heavier I couldn’t have crouched down all those times, I couldn’t have made it to my spot in the woods (wearing hells no less), I couldn’t have been on my feet for that long and I couldn’t have fit in the biggest Mary Poppins costume available to buy.

I also had some lovely compliments saying that I was a very pretty Mary Poppins and one person who said I was like Mary Poppins but slimmer. That was rather unexpected! I have a friend who is a rapper in his spare time who years ago nicknamed me ‘Murphizzle’ (my surname is Murphy) which has now been extended to Murphizzle Poppizzle. I must admit I rather like it.

Saturday I was out again even though I haven’t been getting nearly enough sleep. I’ve definitely been overdoing it this week, but since I’m now off work for two GLORIOUS weeks I thought I could afford to be a bit silly.

So instead of catching up on some shuteye I went with my friend (who knows a thing or two about cars) and my sister to see about her buying her first set of wheels. We found something suitable for her, and while she was was sorting out her insurance I got my friend to take a picture of me because I love my stripy top so much.

Summery or what? I saw it in a shop for £20 which I thought was a bit pricey, but I couldn’t find anything even vaguely comparable anywhere else so I had a ‘screw it’ moment. Which worked out perfectly because I got it in the Easter sale for a lower price. Sweet!

Saturday night I got out of work early again so I got a good sleep before going out leafleting once more with my friend (and now esteemed colleague) Amanda. I was annoyed that I didn’t think to bring bunny ears, but don’t think for one second I’ll ever be making that mistake again.

Now I’m just chilling in the garden with little Pea, contemplating the things I have to get done and the fun stuff I have planned over the next fortnight. I also have to think about how these things fit in with Slimming World.

First of all, I have to get weigh in tomorrow out of the way. I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it but my schedule has been freed up so I will indeed be attending. To be honest I’ve been only been on plan for about half of this week, but I’m likely to get a gain much bigger than I deserve. This is because as soon as the sun came out I puffed up like a damn balloon. I shan’t be avoiding weigh in for that reason though, I will just take it on the chin.

I’m out for a meal in a vegan restaurant Thursday evening at another place I’ve wanted to try for at least a year, then it’s drinkies on Friday with a good friend. In general the eating out and drinking lifestyle is not one I’d like to make a habit of, so once these two weeks are over I’m definitely going back to concentrating on healthier pursuits.

I’m allowing myself this for now though because I want to make time for certain friends before I knuckle down and really try to make a success of my Slimming World group. I want to give it all of my focus.

Of course I still have Swingamajig on the horizon, but once that’s over I’m definitely back to ‘walking for fun’ rather than ‘drinking in the pub for fun’. I only really enjoy these things if they’re sporadic in any case, so I certainly won’t feel like I’m missing out.

In the meantime it’s ‘on plan when I can’, which I’ve been much better at over the last week. Mainly because I’m feeling a lot happier I think – that sure makes it easier. I also want to catch up on things around the house that have been neglected, and make sure I’m properly organised and ready to go once my Slimming World training starts.

I’ve got to say, the immediate future is looking very bright indeed.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Choosing

I’ve been feeling real bad lately. Real, real low. When you’re feeling like that the last thing you probably want to do is put on your happy face and go to a job interview – one where it’s essential that you are warm and positive and enthusiastic.

It’s hard. In fact it’s exhausting, but in some cases it’s also really, really worthwhile. You see, I’ve been playing the long game.

I know from experience that my low patch was only going to be temporary, and that if I didn’t take the bull by the horns and throw everything I had at my interview then I’d deeply regret it. So rather than curl up into a ball I put on my brave face and went out there and did it.

I have only ever had one proper interview. Seriously, ever. It was in the early 2000’s and I had absolutely no idea how to prepare for it. What’s more I was going for a job I didn’t really want, as I have done with every single job I’ve done so far. My criteria is ‘can I actually do it?’ With the only other factor being ‘how miserable will it make me?’

As such my interview was a complete and utter disaster, with the low point being, in my nervous state, me forgetting to let go of the interviewers hand during a handshake and him having to pry himself out of my grasp. Mortifying.

Weirdly, I didn’t get the position, and it put me off going to another one until this very week.

Coming back to the present, my interview yesterday was for something that I badly want. I’ve been thinking about it on and off for years, because the idea of it has always grabbed me but I didn’t have the confidence to actually do it.

In 2012-ish I went to find out more about it, and the very thought made my palms sweat with anxiety. So I put it to the back of my mind for the time being.

Then more recently the idea presented itself again, but this time I started fantasising about how brilliant it could be and what I personally could bring to it. I’ve never felt like that about anything. I realised that not only can I do it, I can actually be really good at it AND make a difference. At 36 I’ve finally found a thing I want to do! What’s more, the stars seemed to have aligned and everything fell in to place. I was in exactly the right position to to be able to do it.

Then the blues hit. I thought to myself – if I get this job, then I need to be able to do it and do it well no matter how I’m feeling, because people are going to be looking to me for advice. I strongly believe that sometimes you have to listen to your instincts and if they are telling you that you’re doing too much and it isn’t the right time, perhaps you should heed the warning lest you completely burn out.

At other times though, it’s worth pushing through because the end result is worth it. It’s a tough one to judge, but in this case I got it right.

I woke up this morning feeling like the dark cloud had lifted from above my head and everything seemed more-or-less back to normal.

Relief!

I was told I’d possibly find out about the job by the end of the week, all being well, yet as I got on with the chores that I’d been neglecting in favour of other more enjoyable things, the phone rang.

It was the lady who did conducted my interview.

Since it’s only Wednesday I thought she must need some more information from me. I didn’t expect for one second she was phoning to tell me that I got the job.

So, my good readers, it is with great excitement that I can announce to you…

I’M GOING TO BE A SLIMMING WORLD CONSULTANT!

The best bit though is that I’m going to be taking over the group I currently go to. We’ve had various temporary consultants since before Christmas, trying their best to keep us going till someone was recruited to run it permanently. Who knew that person was going to be me?

I’m not the only one who has found the uncertainty tough, so I’m chuffed to bits that I’ll be able help the people who have been keeping me going to the last few months. That’s why it was especially important to me to do this now.

Although I’ve been struggling like mad, I have no doubt at all that I’m going to get to target with Slimming World. When I rejoined in August 2016 I made the decision there and then – this is going to be for life. I may flirt with unhealthy eating from time-to-time (especially lately) but Slimming World is going to be in my future for years and years to come, so it seemed fitting to cement that idea by making it my career, too.

Ha, career. A word I never thought I’d have the vaguest interest in. Yet here we are!

Yesterday I had no trouble at all getting back on plan after a day of eating some naughties. The sole reason is that although I was still feeling bad, I got back in control. When I ate some vegan treats with my sister during a visit to London, it was because I chose to, not because I was trying to self-medicate with food. It made alllll the difference.

This time I actually enjoyed my food sensibly rather than eating till I felt sick, and thought about whether or not I really wanted it before eating it.

I had a doughnut the size of my head from Doughnut Time, but it wasn’t just on a whim. I’ve been wanting to try this thing since it came into existence. It was worth the wait.

This photo was taken in Covent Garden, London. A trip to London always makes my contemplate how far I’ve come because it’s not a city that’s friendly to fat people.

Apart from to eat, drink or pose, we didn’t sit down the whole day. When I was a teenager I went to London a lot with a couple of slim and fit friends. We did a lot of walking, which always left me feeling sore and exhausted. It was an ordeal, but I put up with it because we were usually there to see bands. Music was EVERYTHING to me back then.

Thankfully, I’m unrecognisable from that person now.

What’s more I can sit down on a seat in a ridiculously cramped tube train without touching the people either side of me. I can trot up and down broken escalators, and I can go into almost any high street shop and find something to fit me on the rails.

We went into Zara, somewhere I’ve never shopped before. Their sizes range from S to XXL, so when I saw something I liked I automatically picked up the XXL, whilst hoping against hope that it won’t be too small.

Turns out when shopping at Zara I’m an M. A flipping MEDIUM people!

I’ve also wanted something from Oliver Bonas for an age. I picked up a dress in a 16. I’m a 14-16, but since I’ve put on a few pounds lately I went for the larger size. It drowned me!

I’m now the proud owner of a size 14 gingham dress that I have no doubt I will wear the HELL out of over the summer.

I knew things would turn around. I’m so glad I grit my teeth and saw it through.

The icing on the cake? Despite the fact I normally have light meals on weigh day, I just about made it to weigh in on time Monday evening with a tummy full of vegan goodies and came in with a loss of half a pound!

I’ve never been happier to lose such a teeny amount.

Things are on the up!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Far From Perfect

I have a rather large confession to make. Over the last couple of months I (consciously) slipped off of the V-wagon. That is to say, I made the decision to go back to being vegetarian for a while. Well, the original plan was to have a few veggie meals when out and about with Steve if no other options were available and eat as much vegan food as I could in the meantime.

Because I’ve been feeling so down I haven’t had the mental capacity to care much about much at all to be honest. Nothing seemed to matter any more. So I’ve been eating cheesy pizza and ice cream like it’s going out of fashion, with no thought to how it affects the animals or my own health. Deep down though I haven’t been happy with myself for backtracking. In actual fact I’ve felt rather ashamed.

I didn’t say anything about it publicly through a genuine fear of backlash from a minority of the vegan community, but now I’m ready to jump back on the wagon I feel like I should get it out in the open, come what may.

I’m reluctant to call myself vegan from now on, because there’s one thing I haven’t been able to give up – photo printing.

I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal, so for me knowingly doing something that involves animal products means that I couldn’t and shouldn’t call myself a vegan. However, I am going back to eating like one. The same goes for cleaning materials, cosmetics etc. I’m happy to say that all of that has remained vegan for me.

No more cheese from now on! Anything else aside, boy that stuff is addictive. Seriously! Completely going without was working much, much better for me. Plus now I can start to get my life back in line with my values. Perhaps I’ll sleep better with a clearer conscience too.

I think it’s important for me to be open about this particular struggle, because maybe there’s someone else doing something similar who isn’t sure where to go from here. I ate vegan for an entire year before I slipped, so that’s better than doing nothing at all, right? Plus I intend to be doing it many years from now on (well, forever if I can!)

Another thing I’ve been giving a lot of thought to is my target weight. Originally it was 12 stone 10 pounds, which I smashed in November. I felt the best I’ve ever felt in my entire life when I got there, but I felt compelled to go lower. Now I’m 1 stone 4 pounds away from that weight, and I’ve decided that to go any lower than that just isn’t right for me.

Looking over some fairly recent photos, I can’t say that I’m unhappy with them at all!

Everyone I’ve voiced my thoughts to has unanimously agreed that I looked great at that point and wondered why on earth I wanted to lose more.

This was me in November:

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That’ll do thanks.

As soon as I talked about it I felt much, much better. I know deep down that it’s the right thing for me and me alone. In this case my opinion is the only one that actually matters.

Also, I know I can do it. Because I already did!

I’m tentatively feeling rather excited at the prospect of officially becoming a target member of Slimming World, but since I know how much my moods have been up and down lately I’m trying not to get ahead of myself.

Just gotta keep going, and try to get those numbers going down instead of up for a while.

Thanks for reading,

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

All the Effs

This week I did something frivolous – I got my poor, shattered, Apple Watch screen repaired. Believe me, I do not have the money to do it, but if I want to eat for the rest of the month then I HAVE to start going through my ‘to sell’ pile that’s gathering dust in my room. Especially as I intend to get a 12-week countdown from Slimming World on Monday.

It’s something I’ve been putting off because fun stuff has been taking priority, and I’m not relishing the thought of dealing with it because, well, it’s boooooring. The fact that I could really do with the money though should make sure I actually get it done, with the added incentive of freeing up some much needed space. If I can raise enough cash to get some decorating done too, then all the better.

Getting my watch in order was especially important to me for two reasons. For one, it came from my good friend Dave (read his blog here) who used it as a tool to help him get fit. Hmm, that’s not a good enough description. He used it as a tool to turn his entire life around. While I’m filling my rings it’s impossible not to think of the incredible feats my watch has recorded, and who wouldn’t be motivated by that? When I say incredible, I mean incredible.

Since he started wearing an Apple Watch in September 2015, he has walked over 8549 miles. 

As I write this I thought I’d check my Fitbit stats. Coincidentally I too started tracking in September 2015 and have since walked over 6942 miles. I’m actually rather chuffed and surprised at how large a number that is, however it’s still quite a way off of Dave’s running total. With the work he puts in daily I don’t think I’ll be catching up any time soon!

Secondly, despite having so many dreams and schemes in other areas of my life, I’ve decided to spend February focusing more on the fitness side of things. It’s a really tough balancing act, finding time to do everything I want to, so my approach at the moment is to choose what my priority is and give myself permission to go and do it.

I have become a little bit obsessed with journaling (OK a lot obsessed, whatever) but it’s really helping me because I don’t feel bad about putting things off so to speak. I have a page dedicated to stuff I want to achieve in the first quarter of the year, so I have a clear idea of what I’m dropping this month and what’s getting picked back up in the next.

It’s safe to say I’m enjoying the creativity of it, but most of all it’s fantastic to be able to write down my plans and not have to think about them for a while, because it stresses me out trying to hold all of my ideas in my head at once. It was just becoming too much.

I’ve also allocated Wednesdays as my ‘chill out day’. I made a little ‘to watch’ list in my journal (stuff that Steve has already watched without me or he’s not interested in) but it occurred to me that I haven’t made time to just sit down and watch something by myself for an entire year.

There hasn’t been much I have wanted to watch to be fair, but even when I have fancied a movie or even sitting down to read a book, I’ve found it really hard to not feel guilty about doing so. No more of that though, life is for enjoying which is exactly what I intend to do.

Today I walked into town in order to get my daily activity (and the warmest thermal socks I could find), and I must say it was a bit, um, nippy out there. I discovered though that a mile of walking is exactly how long it takes me to warm up. Besides, I don’t really mind the cold as long as there’s a bit of sun, and as luck would have it there was a little bit peeking through the clouds.

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Even though it’s freezing, the coming week is going to be all about fun, fitness and Free Food. February in the Slimming World community is also known as Free Food Feb, but there’ll be more about that in my next post. It’s something that’s close to my heart, so I’m very much looking forward to it.

Ok that’s enough of ‘F’ related things now, it’s time for me to get as much caffeine in my system as is humanly possible before I start work.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Buzzing!

Remember I said I was working ten shifts in a row? Well it’s all done now. I expected it to be hell on toast, but as I’ve been getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating well and generally looking after myself, it was a breeze. In fact it was miles easier than doing a 4-day-week not so long ago.

The best part of all though was (is) the four-day weekend which I’m still enjoying now. Friday I hardly sat down and got an absolute ton of stuff done. I did a couple of errands for Steve, I had a massive clear out in the kitchen, I went shopping, I dropped off seven bags of stuff at the charity shop, I did my laundry, I cleaned Pea’s cage and I vacuumed. Then Steve came over and I cooked him dinner. Phew!

On Saturday my little sister came to visit, and I was supposed to drop her off at home. As it happens her boyfriend fell off his bike and needed to go to the hospital, so I drove to hers, picked him up and then dropped them both off at A&E. That’s not exactly the whole story though. He fell off about two minutes from home, did a two hour bike ride, came home, showered, cleaned his bike, then realised that his arm was most probably broken. He’s one of the most educated and intelligent people I know whilst simultaneously being a complete tit. It turns out he broke the radial head in his arm (something to do with the elbow?) so no cycling for him for six weeks. It’s probably for the best.

Between then and the early hours of this morning I barely moved from my desk, but that’s not to say I haven’t been busy.

I have a ‘Project Life’ photo album where I print off and keep all of my favourite shots. I love the layout and it looks great, however it’s very time-consuming. First of all I decide what I want to print, specifically edit them for gloss paper, make sure I have the right number of portrait and landscape shots, then (the really fun part) I have to resize the portrait ones and stitch two together at a time in Photoshop so that they can be printed on 4×6 paper.

Let us not forget that when I collect the prints the little ones have to then be separated, plus I have to be awkward – I don’t like square corners so I then use a corner punch to round them off. No really.

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Since meeting Steve I have taken a lot of photos and had very little spare time, which has resulted in me being a year-and-a-half behind on my editing and printing. It took me hours, but the editing is finally done and some of the prints ordered. I only ordered 36, because that’s how many prepaid print credits I had left. The rest will have to wait until I get my March pay.

Only my best DSLR shots and/or special events make it into the main album, so now I ‘only’ have literally thousands of phone shots to go through. I want them to be even smaller than 2×3 prints (I’ll show you what I’m doing with them at a later date) so that’s going to take even more editing, but I’m getting the hang of it and my workflow is, well, flowing.

I’m going to stay on top of it from now on. Honest.

This morning I was up at 6am to be at a local park for sunrise. My brother asked me if I had a camera he could borrow that would be suitable, but I knew if he just trusted the automatic settings it would be overexposed. The best solution was for me to meet him there (he cycled) so I could take the picture myself.

Unfortunately the light index was rubbish meaning that the photo isn’t very interesting, but it was still sort-of nice to get out in the painfully cold fresh air. I had thermal gloves on and I swear I was on the verge of getting frostbite. It felt like it anyway.

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There just weren’t enough little clouds for it to be a decent shot. Ho hum.

After returning home I loaded the car up for a trip to the local recycling centre, visited the farm shop for a giant Spanish onion, super cheap sprouts, some yummy looking kale and an argument debate at the checkout with a man who said you only see fat people at Slimming World so it can’t possibly work. Then I legged it home just in time for my photography lesson.

Yep, you read that right. Some years ago I made a really excellent decision. I did a foundation diploma in photography for £20 (online) with the Shaw Academy and once I’d finished I found I’d caught the bug. I thought about simply signing up for the advanced course, but instead I bought a package which means I get access to all of their courses for the rest of my life. I think I paid somewhere between £300 and £400, and it was worth every penny just for the two courses I’ve done so far.

Since technology changes so fast and there’s something new in the photography world every other minute, I thought it would be good to be able to revisit the course as and when I please.

When my friend asked me to photograph his wedding I logged in with the intention of redoing the advanced course, just for a refresher, but then I noticed that they do a specific course in wedding photography. BONUS!

My first lesson went brilliantly and I’m positively buzzing with excitement. Until recently I never would have considered it, but I’ve decided to try and do something with my skills, and already I’m seeing benefits from putting out the feelers.

I spoke to a friend yesterday who invited me to an event in Birmingham in May. Just on the off chance (because he knows A LOT of people) I asked if he knows the organisers and if he could find out whether I’d be allowed to take a professional-type camera in just for personal use. I need to practice shooting with a flash in low-light conditions because until now I’ve purely been in love with natural light, plus I need to start building a portfolio. He thinks that wouldn’t be a problem, but even better than that, he can probably get me in for free if I agree that they can use the photos I take.

Experience AND exposure? Erm, YES PLEASE!

In addition to the photography stuff, when I’m done with the wedding course there are a ton of other courses I can take to help with the business-side of things such as promotion and whatnot.

Until now I never thought I had anything to offer in an industry that’s already so competitive, but I think my style is developing and that I have something quite out-of-the-ordinary to offer.

Whatever direction I decide to go in, what I know right now is that I’m EXCITED at the uncertainty of it all for the first time in my life.

ANYTHING could happen!

Speaking of which it’s time for weigh in. Talk amongst yourselves…

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I lost 3 lbs! I had one of those weeks where I felt like I hadn’t lost much, and I was concerned that my change in schedule over the weekend and the fact I’ve barely moved would have an impact but it seems I’m home and dry.

I now weigh 13st 0.5lbs and I’m tantalisingly close to being back into the 12 stone bracket. Not to worry though, I’ll have that next week for sure.

Group overran this evening so I’d best get on with cooking dinner before I start trying to eat my keyboard.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x