Counter-cursed

The curse of the Sunday night takeaway has been broken! It wasn’t easy, because Sunday night was also family film night. We’re working our way through the Studio Ghibli classics, and Spirited Away night also coincided with mum and brother’s monthly takeaway. I just tried not to think about it too much, and I got through it without too much bother. Even the smell of the pizza dough seemed less intoxicating than usual.

So with this victory in mind how did I get on at group on Monday? Well, I lost a rather wonderful 6.5 pounds! That’s it, that’s exactly what I needed. Now the ball is rolling again I know I can keep going.

My consultant is lovely, but I didn’t enjoy group all that much this week. I think it was a combination of just being really sleepy and wishing I was in bed, combined with the pungent smell of a fish curry. Yuk! We had a curry night in group, and even if I did trust any of the food (I overheard fish curry lady telling someone her dish was vegetarian) I wouldn’t have fancied it anyway. What I am looking forward to is mocktail night which is coming up next month. That could be interesting, especially as I’m off the sauce. No drinkies for me till Christmas Day!

I had planned to do more walking last week but I was so tired that it never came to fruition. I figured if I let myself get too tired, I’m more likely to go off plan, plus it’s good to let yourself have a decent catch up. I must get out this week though because it’s mushroom season and I want to find some good ones.

The trouble is, my sleep pattern is a little bit messed up. It’s mostly because of Newton! When I got in from work this morning, I should have gone straight to sleep. Instead I spent way too long playing with an energetic puppy. Not sensible! I should be sleeping now really, but I just couldn’t get off.

As ever I think it’s just a case if rebalancing again. I’m doing a more physical job at work tonight and I’m determined to get out for a walk tomorrow, so that should help me reset my pattern.

Yesterday a lot of time was taken up at the hair salon. About three hours actually, but it’s always good to catch up with the awesome dude who has been styling my hair on and off for the last seventeen years. Or thereabouts.

In recent times as you know I’ve struggled to locate my mojo, and I haven’t felt much like myself. However as myself has come back stronger than ever I felt it was time that the outside should match the inside.

I thought about getting my haircut once I’d lost a bit more weight. Then I thought… eff that!

This was me yesterday morning:

This was me yesterday afternoon:

Richard has mulleted me many times over the years. It’s something that really shouldn’t work, but I absolutely love it. Just like the mullet, I’m back!

In fact I’d say I’m more ‘me’ than ever right now. After my latest foray into the world of relationships, I really wondered why I allow myself to be treated badly. The usual suspects didn’t ring true – I don’t crave love or relationships (at least I don’t think I do, perhaps I should question that assumption), I’m really happy when I’m on my own, and I never go actively looking for partners. So I figure it’s not a case of just feeling like I’m not complete without a boyfriend.

But when I fall for someone, I ignore all the red flags and will fold myself in half trying to keep the person who is tearing me apart. I have a telephone assessment for counselling coming up later this month, but from what I can the gather the thing I’m mostly likely to be offered is CBT in order to cope with feelings of depression and anxiety in the future.

But I don’t want to cope. I WANT TO HEAL!

I’ve been asking myself if that’s even possible. Do people ‘get better’ or do they just learn to live with it? Is there something wrong with me? Can I be ‘fixed’? If I want more than CBT, what do I even ask for? Is a more in-depth treatment accessible to me? Do I deserve it? Am I depressed ‘enough’?

The answer popped up most unexpectedly, in the most unlikely of places – Instagram! I stumbled across a whole plethora of help and information after reading about dating advice from someone I follow for a completely different reason and it’s been a total game changer.

I thought I was weird, that others don’t have the same problems as me, but when it comes to love it seems I’m pretty much textbook. Everything I read is almost word-for-word my own experience, and what’s more, I’m learning what do to about it! I’ve never felt so sure that I can stop repeating past mistakes and that something/someone really good is out there waiting for me. I could actually share my life with someone in a really fun, healthy and special way, without destroying myself in the process. WHO KNEW?

Well, a lot of you knew. You tried to tell me, but I didn’t really understand, or if I did and happened to believe it, it didn’t think it could be true for me. I’m sure I’ll go into this more in future posts where I’ll share really valuable resources (I need to make a list and get all of the information in order) but for now let’s just say my mind is well and truly blown. If you are struggling with absolutely anything in life, although social media obviously isn’t a replacement for actual therapy, you can guarantee there’s an Insta-therapist who can point you in the right direction. In my case it simply helped me learn what to ask for. That’s a pretty good starting point.

In the meantime I’ve added a couple of paintings to my Birdtober collection, but I am now a couple of days behind. I intend to catch up tomorrow though and I’m ridiculously excited about fairy wrens. Watch this space.

Thanks for reading,

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

Disappointment & Desperation

Is there anyone on earth as practiced in the art of self-sabotage as I am? I suspect not. After a week of being perfectly on plan AND enjoying it, on Sunday night I found myself alone at my sister’s house.

I had been looking after her parrot, Petrie, but decided to take her home early (instead of Monday morning) so I could have a soak in my sister’s tub.

Four hours and three Lush bath bombs later (they needed to be used and I don’t have regular access to a bath) I was feeling relaxed. But then a thought popped into my head. If I ordered a Papa John’s, no one would know. So I did. Of course I felt shit about it, so my sabotage in the form of overeating carried on until this afternoon.

WHY AM IN DOING THIS?

I’m so disappointed in myself, but it’s worse than that. Im getting really unhappy with my size now and starting to feel more than a hint of desperation. I know Slimming World works, but I’ve lost my faith in it and myself. I just can’t seem to get into it like I used to, and I don’t have any alternative! I don’t know what to do!

Someone please send a kick up the arse. This weekend I’m going up the country a wee bit to visit at least one friend, hopefully two, and I’m hoping this weekend of goodness (and friends who share my goals) will perk me up.

Not that this weekend wasn’t interesting. At my house, when I let Petrie out she headed straight for my glasses and proceeded to attempt to destroy them. When I had the audacity to stop her she bit me on the nose and made me bleed.

She does seem to have something of a fascination with my specs.

When I took her home, I figure she just felt a bit safer in her usual environment. When she started chewing again, I was able to take my glasses off without being attacked.

Well it kind of worked…

She’s such a capricious little bird. One minute I’m trying to message my sister while she’s inserting her head underneath my thumb because she wants attention, the next she’s biting my toes.

This snuggle sesh somehow ended up with a bite to the ear. I don’t get it! I still love her though.

Well then, unfortunately blogging hasn’t helped me getting anything particularly figured out as it sometimes does. I just have to keep trying until my mojo comes back, hopefully for a full seven days in a row.

Here’s hoping.

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

I vs It

I’M IN LOVE!

Before you start wondering what the hell I’ve got myself into this time, then fear not. My new love cannot break my heart, because the object of my affection is just that, an object. It is a set of watercolour paints.

I must say Instagram seem to be making rather a success of their targeted ads, because they appear to know exactly what I like. When I saw these watercolours, I followed the company and saved a post in my ‘wish list’ collection. I’d come back to that after pay day.

But once posts from people using the products started filling my newsfeed, I just couldn’t wait. So what’s so special about these paints? The coolest thing, the reason I bought them, is that they are kind of printed in a little cardboard booklet! Talk about portable, they fit so nicely into my pencil case. The colours are also so vibrant and blend so well, and you only need a single brush pen with you to use them. It’s just genius.

But when they came, they turned out to be even more fabulous. Check out these colours! But the descriptions don’t quite fit, right?

Right. These paints clearly come directly from Diagon Alley, because they’re nothing short of magic. And you only need the teeniest bit on your brush for a whole load of colour.

I neither know nor care how they do it! They are expensive, but they’ve already been so much fun to use and it’s nigh on impossible to paint a bad picture with them. I’ve used them every single day since I got them.

Check out Viviva Color Sheets if you want to know more.

In between painting, sketching, and stressing about weddings, I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking. I reckon my inner toddler has been showing up in full force, because truth be told, I think I’ve just been rebelling against all things diet.

I didn’t want to eat my veggies. I didn’t want to be healthy. I wanted ice cream for breakfast, and on more than one occasion, I did just that.

It started off with hormones, medication, life-changing decisions… all of that making me reach for unhealthy foods in an effort to comfort myself or try to relieve the intense cravings I was experiencing. But I’ve done the work on this before so it didn’t take much for me to go back and revisit what I learned previously.

My findings come from the book Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hensen, but knowing me I’ve quite possibly got everything arse about tit. If it sounds like something you’d find useful, I’d recommend cutting out the middle woman and just reading the book.

Anyway, the book theorises (I think the brain is too complicated for solid conclusions and in any case, the author isn’t a scientist) that the more primitive part of the brain (It) is just trying to keep us alive in times of food deprivation. If my brain thinks I’m starving, it’s going to send out strong signals for me to find food.

As I lose weight, part of my brain thinks there’s a problem and tries its hardest to protect me. This part of the brain is a bit behind with the times and doesn’t know there’s a 24hr BP garage down the road. I tried to tell it but it just will not listen to reason.

As I start to agree with its compelling arguments to find sugar and fat, I build myself a nice little habit of binge eating, and thus find it incredibly difficult to break out of once I’m feeling better.

The thing is though, it’s the more recently developed part of the brain (I) that is in charge. I can choose to listen to the other part of my brain’s compelling arguments (you had a hard night at work, you deserve to binge. You are worried about the wedding, a binge will make you feel better) and ignore it. The more I do this, the better I become at doing it, and eventually urges to binge subside.

I know it works, I’ve done it before! I just needed to re-read the book to remind myself of all this and get myself back in control. The book talks about ‘intrusive’ thoughts to binge, as if it’s not really coming from me. That’s exactly how it feels.

I don’t want this. I want to be healthy and in control.

I can be, because I am ultimately in charge.

Now I’m back in this good mental space, I felt it was the right time to return to Slimming World. I have put on just under three stone since last November, but weirdly I’m not too worried. I know I’ve got this now.

I’m doing a complete fresh start. My start weight is 15st 6.5lbs, with a target of 13st. There won’t be much to write about in terms of my diet, because I have no doubt I’m going to smash it. There won’t be many struggles to get out onto the page. I will however update you every Monday. Let’s do this!

Since I’m getting back into healthy habits, I started yesterday with a big long walk, in the rain no less. My waterproofs just about still fit me, as long as I don’t attempt to bend over.

It’s a really nice feeling knowing I don’t have anything scary coming up and I can spend my time enjoying art and nature exactly as I see fit.

Today I finally timed the route in the park near me without stopping for photos. I only took one shot, still moving, as I was joined by this wonderful entourage. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take them home, boooooo.

Well, I’m back at work tonight after a quite wonderful week off, but to be honest it’ll be nice to get back into something of a routine!

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

Crisis

On Wednesday I went for a lovely walk straight from work, at 6 in the morning. My idea was to do my exercise before it got too hot, and I must say as ideas go It was one of my better ones. It was 22 degrees when I finished work and by the time I’d finished my walk I was melting.

The light at that time of the morning was beautiful – all hazy, golden and lovely. I added a bit of contrast to these photos but that’s all, it really was that pretty.

My knee has been playing up again, so after this walk I decided to rest up for a few days. This coincided with that insanely hot Thursday, so as far as having to take a break goes I couldn’t have timed it better.

On Thursday just breathing made me sweat, and since I couldn’t get to sleep if my life depended on it, I decided to use my time productively. One thing I want to work on for the rest of the year is cracking on with my ‘to read’ pile and reducing the clutter said pile contributes to. In that respect I failed miserably.

I decided to start with an easy read, something I could get through in a single afternoon. It came in the form of Things are what you make of them: life advice for creatives by Adam Kurtz.

I bought it after seeing a few snippets on Instagram that were really helpful, but this was in June 2018 and I hadn’t picked it up once since it was delivered. Apart from to move it from one untidy spot to the next over the course of a year that is.

Mental barrier number one: am I really creative enough to be called ‘a creative?’ Well Hayley, it’s not like anyone is checking. You didn’t have to present your Hobbycraft loyalty card as evidence before making the purchase. And what exactly are you doing right now? That’s right. Blogging. Is it not a creative process? And please tell me, when was the last time you went out and didn’t end up on your hands an knees trying to get the best angle for a photo? Some time in 2015 perhaps? That’s right. So just shut up and read the damn book.

What became immediately apparent is that I’m never giving away this book because it’s just too damn useful. It’s not groundbreaking advice -it doesn’t tell you how to live your life, but it got me thinking about the right things and gave me a whole bunch of timely reminders.

This is quite handy, as I appear to be in the midst of a mid-life/existential crisis and could use a bit of direction.

The problem is, I don’t know who I am any more. Going back to who I was isn’t an option either, because I’ve changed too much. She doesn’t exist. I don’t really know what I want or what makes me happy any more – I need to figure it out from scratch. Trying to do that has left my head swimming. I can’t seem to pin down a single thought or make a concrete decision.

What’s more, I no longer trust my own instincts. For a long time now I’ve had the wrong motivations but haven’t been able to figure that out until after I’ve made a terrible mistake. Attempting to question whether I’m doing the right things now have basically paralysed me into inaction. Doing nothing is also not an option, because I’m not happy and want to change things. So how do I know if I’m going to change them for better or for worse? Well I don’t. Does anyone, ever? I don’t know… Asking people for advice is good, and I have people in my life who will give me tough love and honest answers, but I can’t rely on them to make every decision for me. If only it were that simple.

So I’m trying to break it down.

Let’s start with the biggie, but the one most likely to have a simple answer:

Do I still want to lose weight?

Well yes of course! And also, no, I really don’t! Ah, so not so simple after all. The problem is, all of a sudden I am so totally and utterly sick to death of thinking about my weight and what I’m eating. To lose a large amount of weight I think that (for me at least) it was necessary to give it all of my focus to keep that momentum going. But it’s been a long old time since I started – 3 years ago in the next couple of days, in fact – and I’ve had enough.

I believe there will be a time in my life when I am able to intuitively eat well without thinking much about it. In a way I’m already there, because I know the theory well enough, but there’s something in me that goes utterly bonkers as soon as I consider not sticking to a rigid plan. I tell myself I’m ‘just going to eat sensibly’, and before I know it I’ve eaten two tubs of Ben & Jerry’s in one day. It’s been literally years since my eating was this bad.

There are three options I’ve been considering, and the last week or so my brain has been switching from one option to the next over and over, round and round in circles till I’m ready to tear my hair out in frustration.

I could stay the weight I am, call target and work on maintaining. I’ve been interested in the Body Positivity movement for some time now, and whilst my attitude towards other peoples bodies has changed dramatically, for the better, my attitude towards my own has been a lot tougher. So maybe I’m not ready for this after all, as much as I want to be.

Next up, I could go slow. Maybe add an additional Healthy Extra to my daily plan with perhaps a few extra Syns weekly. Still lose weight, but something in the region of half a pound a week. Don’t get too obsessed over things, just let it happen over time. As soon as I consider this rather sensible compromise, I panic. Because it’s in the realms of the unknown, and it’s scary.

Or… just stick to effing plan and lose what, this time 3 years ago, would have seemed an utterly insignificant 1 stone 9 pounds. Just stop whining, get to target and stop feeling bad that it’s taken you this long when it should have been in the bag months, if not years ago.

My consultant asked me last night, ‘on a scale of one to ten, how important is getting to target to you?’ I paused to think about it and answered, ‘an eleven’. So really that tells me I should take the third plan of action, however I am feeling very much like a rebellious teenager and my inner thoughts are saying ‘NO! I DON’T WANNA!

Do you know what though? I just gotta. Well, kinda. My summer plan is something between options two and three, because I have fun times planned with the siblings -things I want to let my hair down for, plus a wedding to go to. The wedding isn’t too much of a problem, because as official photographer I’ll be snapping away all day and night, apart from the sit-down meal. So it’s not going to be the major blow-out such an event would have been once upon a time. If I drink, the not-so-happy couple may well get 500 out-of-focus shots with my finger in each one, which would not go down too well.

So, back to the book I read. It has fab advice for creatives, but a lot of it is also helpful for life in general.

Am I mentally ready to move forward? Maybe not just yet, but I’m working on it.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my life, and one thing always pops back to the surface without fail. I want to start my own business doing creative things. As I’ve found recently, something like that is just too overwhelming for me, so I’ve decided to break it down into steps.

First of all I considered what my motivations are. For me, it’s that I like making stuff, but I struggle to make stuff unless I have a purpose. Also, if I keep making things then what the hell am I going to do with them? Especially as I’m desperately trying to declutter. My answer then, is to sell the things.

In the meantime, I want to get better at the things. At school I absolutely loved filling in sketch book after sketch book, so phase one is to just practice and have fun, learn and enjoy. I’m not thinking past that point until I’m ready.

I’m also going to decorate and have a properly complete room for the first time in my life. It’s only recently, after getting my POANG chair in fact, that I realised how much my environment affects my mood and productivity. Once I had a place I was comfortable to hang out (and oh boy is it comfortable!) I was so much more content to sit and doodle. With Pea on my shoulder of course.

In order to fund the first part of my renovations I’ve decided not to take any unpaid early finishes from work until the next pay cut-off point, which is the 10th of August. Last week I did a full week for the first time in months, and weirdly it just occurred to me that I found it easier than usual. I didn’t even have a single energy drink last week.

Huh. I suppose it ain’t all doom and gloom after all!

As usual I feel better after untangling my thoughts in a blog post. I left this post to simmer during the day while I went out for shopping and lunch with my sister. We started at IKEA where I got some REALLY cool stuff for my room (more on that in the future, this post is getting LONG) and ended up in Wagamama for lunch where I tried the ‘vegan egg’.

The dish is 10.5 syns and it was nice, but I couldn’t help looking over longingly at my sister’s bowl of ramen. However I am glad I tried it, because I’ve been meaning to since it came out and I would have always wondered…

After a nap I can tell you that I’m ready to crack on with Slimming World now. If a shopping trip tells me anything it’s how important it is to me to reach my target. I saw so many nice things that I’d feel so much more comfortable in with another stone or so off, so that’s what I’m going to do. Get to flipping target and wear the nice clothes!

Thanks for reading this excessively long post,

Hayley x

Responsibility

What with one thing or another, when my week off work came around I felt that it was desperately needed. What I forgot, since I was wrapped up in all kinds of different thoughts, is that I don’t do well with that much time to myself.

I’m not going to be hard on myself, because I got more done than I usually do and that’s an achievement. A massive room sort, lovely time hanging out with Pea, seeing friends, quality sibling time, walking loads, binge-watching Stranger Things, taking time to read… but I always feel sad by the end of the week and wish I hadn’t booked so much time off in one go. Long weekends are the best breaks for me, I just need to remember that.

Although I do have a whole week booked off in September there’s not really much I can do about that. In the first half of the week I’m camping with my brother, and in the second half I’m photographing my friend’s wedding. I’m starting to get a little nervous about that, but they’re the good kind of nerves. It’s something I’ve never done before but for once in my life I’m not actually doubting my abilities. Well that’s a weird feeling!

Since I’ll be so fully occupied I doubt I’ll have time to feel sad.

As far as eating goes, I have been eating all the things, but miraculously I have still hovered within a few pounds of the 14 stone mark. My body seems to be really happy at that weight, and I can easily maintain it whilst having a really unhealthy diet. I could call target right now and ‘live my best life’. Is that what I want though? Is my definition of my best life one where I settled for less than I wanted? Do I want to keep up with what could easily escalate into an uncontrollable binge/purge cycle? Maybe once, but not now.

I’ve been so unsure of myself lately. I’ve been stuck in a rut, especially as far as Slimming World goes, and I’ve felt boredom settling in. I spoke to my sister yesterday about perhaps stopping my membership for a few weeks, then I thought it through on my own. Then I got another opinion from a trusted friend, and eventually figured out what it is I actually want and need.

I need a fresh start, that’s for sure, and I’d absolutely love to have my old consultant Amanda helping me get to target. Now I’m just a plain ole member again I’m free to switch to her group if I wish, but I feel bad about leaving my existing group.

Y’know what? I’m sick to death of feeling bad. I can be miserable and guilty where I am, or I can change things and be happy in the long term. I have to remind myself – I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYONE ELSE. I feel the most ridiculous amount of responsibility, so much more than anyone would probably guess. There’s someone at work with a poorly family member. I don’t even know him that well at all but when talking to him about it I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to make him feel better. That’s just… stoopid! Most of the time just being a friendly ear is enough.

I was reading this post from Elsie from A Beautiful Mess about how she changed her life, and although she wasn’t giving advice, simply sharing her experience, I was inspired to do something similar.

I had a pretty notebook with no particular function, so rather than let it sit there gathering dust I’ve used it to list a whole bunch of stuff I want to change, do and work on. There’s no time limit, though in general I’m thinking along the lines of the remainder of the year, and my plan is to just flip through it and decide which thing to do next.

Some will take longer than others as I’ll need money (such as re-carpeting most of the house) but others are simpler, like making a doctor’s appointment I’ve been putting off or not ripping pages out of my sketch book if something isn’t ‘good enough’. I think it’ll be a fun, useful and eye-opening project.

So, a plan of action. I’m back at work tonight which always makes eating healthy easier too, so back on plan it is. It’s soooooo hot this week, I’m going on my walks straight from work so I don’t get burnt to a crisp, and I’ll go to my group next week and explain to them I’ll be moving on after that. Simple, right?

Now I’m hanging out in the garden until it’s time for my pre-work nap.

Bye for now!

Hayley x

Rivalry

I don’t normally check the weather before I go out walking, but something made me have a look before bed yesterday. In the morning thunder storms were forecast, and since I was going walking in the woods I figured it would be best to wait till the afternoon. I really don’t fancy getting hit by a bolt of lightening.

Before I left the house, just before midday, I double checked. The forecast was cloud then sunshine. Perfect!

In a bid to attempt to free the legs, I got myself some cargo shorts. I wish I’d done this sooner – they are so comfy and airy!

What I might do though, is invest in some of the quick-drying variety, because as I arrived at the nature reserve the heavens opened. The other day I got rained on plenty, but this was something else entirely. It was like someone had poured a bucket of water over my head, and I could barely see in front of me. Then the thunder and lightening started, but since I was well in amongst the trees by then there wasn’t really much I could do but carry on.

I was soaked through to my under crackers.

There’s a bit of friendly rivalry going on between me and a friend, to see who covers the highest average daily distance over the month. With this in mind I walked to the nature reserve rather than driving then walking, did my old 5k running route, then crossed the road to another part of the reserve to go to the visitors centre.

There I bought 2kg of wild bird seed, as you do, because I figure it’s nicer for the profits to go to the Essex Wildlife Trust than some big corporation. They do some damn good work y’know. Plus it’s more exercise lugging the extra weight home.

Since my friend is tracking in kilometres I decided to do the same to make it easier, and I covered almost 20 of them today. Not bad.

As the sun came out to play I was almost completely dry in a very short space of time, apart from my bottom which stayed soggy all the way home.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate how ridiculous I must have looked taking that photo?

From there on in I was able to appreciate the reserve more, so of course I went and got myself licked by a cow. As you do.

Everything was all so nice and fresh after the rain. So good for the soul.

And it also won’t be long till there are plenty of blackberries to forage. I’ve been making a mental note of all the best spots to go back to.

So yesterday I went to the cinema for the first time in months, with a zombie-nut friend to see The Dead don’t Die. I don’t have much to say other than please don’t bother seeing thus awful film! I feel it is my duty to warn you. I kind of see what they were trying to do – they were trying to make a commentary on the materialism of modern society, which could have been interesting but OH MY CRAP IT WAS JUST SO BORING TO WATCH. Go ahead, be arty, have meaning, but Jesus make it watchable yeah? Just a thought. It was so bad, four people couldn’t even make it to the end and walked out!

I’m going to a boot sale tomorrow with the same friend, which will hopefully be a more successful venture. Plus it’s massive so I’ll get more kilometres in. I can’t go wrong.

I’m up early for that, so it’d best get to bed.

Until next time!

Hayley x

The Beacon is Smaller

It took me a while to get around to this post, mainly because holiday mode morphed into EXTREME holiday mode, mixed with some EXTREME instances of attempting to eat my feelings.

That wasn’t my intention. I was going to face my gain (5.5lbs on. Damn) then get on with things. I would be in for another gain on Monday, but I can’t make group because my sister is visiting and I don’t want to have to rush off. It’s been too long since we had a proper catch up.

Tuesday I went with my brother to his fishing lake, which reinforced what I already knew – that fishing would never be for me even if I did think it would be a good idea to put a hook through something’s face, which I don’t. His biggest catch was a bream, which was absolutely smothered in horrifying goo. That’s normal apparently.

This was my view for the day. I was content to mainly sit and contemplate how I was going to tell my friend I no longer wanted him in my life (something I wanted to think carefully about as I don’t do well with confrontation) and attempt to get some colour on my milk bottle legs. Despite rotating regularly, the sun decided to give me two thin strips of sunburn on the front of my legs and nothing anywhere else. Strange.

This summer I’ve been brave and started baring my arms, and I want to do the same in the leg department at some point. However before I’m comfortable enough to do that I would like them to be slightly less pale. I’ll keep trying!

It was such a gorgeous day. The lake was teeming with butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and we were sat right opposite a little family of moorhens with two adorable little babies. Sadly I couldn’t get a good picture of those, but a damselfly did land right on me which was handy.

Later on, I did manage to speak to my friend and now that chapter of my life can be closed. I went for option B in the end – I explained why I had to do what I had to do, as hard as that was. Wednesday I had a cathartic day of sorting through pretty much everything I own, deciding what to throw, what to give away and what to sell at a boot sale.

It helped me sort through some feelings too, but to be honest I still feel awful about the whole situation. This person has caused a lot of pain in my life, and whenever I’ve taken gradual steps to protect myself in the recent past, it’s taken a while for me to adjust to the new state of affairs. This time I have to do the same thing, but I take comfort in the fact that this is the last time I ever have to do that. Then it’s over, finally. Only healthy friendships from here on in!

A walk with my little brother yesterday also helped. We started at Ivinghoe Beacon, which we first visited in April 2016. This was a few months before I started my current membership with Slimming World, and the first time I really started trying to get out into the world.

This is the beacon, and it seemed like such a huge undertaking for us at the time. We were so unfit, it really was a feat getting to the top. We went back again in April 2017 as part of preparing ourselves for climbing Snowdon, but even then it was still quite difficult.

Yesterday, it felt as if the beacon had shrunk. It was an absolute doddle! As much as I’ve struggled with my diet for over a year, at least I can say my fitness hasn’t suffered.

After scaling the beacon in no time at all, we then went on a 15 mile walk along The Ridgeway, which is a National Trust trail that starts at the beacon in Leighton Buzzard and ends 87 miles away in Wiltshire. People have been walking The Ridgeway for 5000 years, so although it’s pretty cool to walk the route and imagine what kind of people had been there before us (kings, knights, bandits, wenches, vikings…) the novelty of that wore off pretty quickly.

Although I’m ordinarily happy to keep walking until I drop, it was all a bit samey and we quickly became bored of traipsing through forest that all looked exactly like the last stretch we walked through. At least we know now though – The Ridgeway isn’t quite our bag and rather than try the next stretch of the trail it’s probably better if we look for something new for next time.

One thing that is pretty awesome is that we didn’t even sit down until we were about 8 miles in, and the only reason we stopped in the first place was so my brother could get the stones out of his boots. After that we didn’t stop again until the end of our 15 mile route. Even then we didn’t need to stop, it was just that we had arrived at a convenient place. That’s pretty impressive in my book.

Something that’s apparent is that we don’t have much luck with this part of the world – every time we’ve been here the weather has been awful and we got rained on, a lot. Although having said that it was quite refreshing!

Plus I did see a slug eating a mushroom, some cool fungus, and I had a fight with a tree. Now I have a lumpy head. The tree won.

On today’s agenda is making plans for staying on plan over the coming weeks and months, eating well, then this evening I’m off to the cinema for a nice, mindless zombie movie.

Perfect.

Hayley x