At Least One Step

I often flick through my previous posts to see what was going on when we last spoke, sometimes to see what I planned to do but didn’t. The broken promises just keep on coming. This weekend was no exception – it was going to be my sorting out weekend, but that didn’t happen. Not even close!

That’s not to say I didn’t do anything though. On Friday, I was supposed to be meeting a friend for drinks in the pub, but he couldn’t make it. Part of me was relieved. I wasn’t sure exactly what our drinks were all about (was it going to be a date?) and since I’ve been feeling so awful about myself I somewhat freaked out. When it didn’t happen, I thought ‘ok, great, I can stop worrying and get back on plan’.

I had to work Saturday night, then on Sunday my friend rearranged his own working week so he could have Sunday off as well as me and we could go out together. Ok, back on plan Monday then! Or maybe not…

We stayed at the pub until closing time, then ended up back at mine chatting and playing YouTube videos until the small hours. Did he stay over all night? Was it a date? Did anything happen? Sorry, a lady never tells!

I do feel like I’ve received some external validation, which is kind of helpful, and I can believe that someone can find me genuinely attractive at my current size. This is a big deal for me, because the last person I was ‘involved with’ didn’t want to see me naked until I lost more weight (I was 3 stone lighter than I am now when he said that) and got extensive plastic surgery (which didn’t happen by the way, I got out in time!)

That doesn’t do much for a gal’s self esteem.

The other end of the scale has its own problems though, because when someone is nice to you, you can start to rely on others to make you feel ok about yourself. Then there’s always that fear about what happens when the person goes away, for whatever reason.

This is where my current learning about myself comes in. I need to realise I have worth without needing anyone to tell me. Needing to hear it from a significant other leads to nothing but misery. Believe me, I know. We aren’t doing that any more.

Still, it’s a work in progress.

I spent most of the day Monday in bed asleep because I didn’t get much rest the previous night before, and I was feeling somewhat delicate shall we say, but I did manage to drag myself to group to get weighed in.

I didn’t really have much choice to be fair. I had two friends who didn’t know each other separately attending the Slimming World ball last weekend, and when I suggested one go find the other (I sent the estimable Davey, of MOTY 2018 fame, to track down my lovely consultant, Amanda) I wasn’t sure he’d be successful. There were a lot of people there after all. But find her he did, and he had a message to pass on to me:

Message received, loud and clear!

Amanda, being the lovely person that she is, said that I could weigh in first and that she’d do it personally, so I wouldn’t have to worry so much. I still wasn’t feeling wonderful about it though.

Since I haven’t had many weigh ins since I rejoined, and I’m much heavier than when I started, I decided to turn over a new page. Literally.

That’s 14.5 pound ON. Ouch! But there’s always a silver lining. It’s about half a stone less than I thought it would be.

I still haven’t managed a full day on plan since then, but I’m determined to make the next 120 hours count. It’s not too late for me to get a loss, so I’m really going to try. Starting from… NOW!

I have shiny Christmas planner to help me along too!

There’s a space in there for my Christmas wish, which is to get into the 14 stone bracket. It’s a big ask, but it’s possible. I’m gonna go for it, I’m really gonna!

I am feeling marginally better since I got the weigh in part over and done with, now I just need to actually eat some healthy food. How hard can it be, eh?

Hayley x

That Time in 2014…

What. Am. I. Doing? I feel like my sense of self has broken into a thousand tiny pieces, and every time I start gluing them back together they just fall apart again. I keep looking for external solutions. Maybe if I just had some stronger glue, for instance. I think the truth is though, these pieces aren’t ever going back together.

Time to rebuild from scratch.

First up? My weight. How about I put everything to one side for now and concentrate on something I can actually do something about. This will be my foundation on which to build more things.

In one way I’m trying to forget about what came before. My past achievements are irrelevant to me now if I can’t stay one day on plan. On the other hand, I need to learn from past mistakes. Yes, I am a walking contradiction.

In 2014, I got down to 14.5 stone and I did not stay there for long. Once I started putting on weight, then came the self denial. So, so many occasions of ‘just one last takeaway. Tomorrow I’ll get back on it’. This is my main problem right now. I keep lying to myself that this will be the last time. I need to make it true.

In 2014 I kept saying to myself – as long as I don’t go over 15 stone, I’ll be ok. 15 became 16, 16 became 17, 17 became 18.

This is me in August 2014, on holiday in Bath. I had to go emergency shopping in Sainsbury’s because I burst out of my size 20 clothing on that trip and didn’t have anything to wear. I was 18 stone-something.

This is me in September 2015, at 19 stone-something. As long as I don’t go into the 20 stone bracket, it’ll be ok. Right?

Christmas 2015, and I’m back in the 20’s. I’ll be over 21 stone by the new year.

So you see, this is how it goes. I’ve been saying to myself – just don’t get into the 16’s! Yet this morning I hadn’t just dipped a toe into that bracket, the scales were reading an undeniable 16 stone 6 pounds.

S#!t.

It’s weird seeing those three smiles, because I wasn’t happy in any of them. Just increasingly desperate. I don’t want to repeat this history. I can’t, I just can’t do that again.

No matter how I’m feeling right now, which to be honest is quite dreadful, I need to get it together because getting bigger has and will make everything incrementally worse. No doubt about it.

I’ve come across people talking online about fat phobia recently, and although I’d like not to be fat phobic (and the same goes for the rest of humanity), truth is, I am. And what’s more it seems like a rational response. Being fat is hard. People treat you differently. Clothes aren’t made for us. Chairs aren’t made for us. Planes, cars, hospital beds, forklift trucks. People shout at us in the street. Make jokes about us. Yes, I’m scared of being fat, of being fatter. Downright terrified.

I must apologise for how bleak this post is coming across, but that’s what’s in my brain, and it has to come out. Often, my brain is not a nice place to be.

I think I just needed to recognise that this can be my rock bottom. I don’t need to let things get any worse before I can truly say ‘enough is enough’. It’s time to act now.

I’ve been putting off going back to group, because the lady who does the weigh ins is going to look at my result and be confused, thinking that something is wrong with the scales. They are going to say at least one stone on. They say ‘no judgement’ at Slimming World groups, which is true, but she’s not going to be able to control that initial look on her face. It’s not her fault, but it still makes me feel like crap.

What’s the alternative though? I could waste a lot of money (I’m a paid member up until about March) and start over somewhere else, or I could face this moment of discomfort in exchange for preventing the rest of my life being in continuous discomfort. Seems like the more sensible option.

If I didn’t have faith somewhere deep down that I can do this, that I can face reality and turn it around, then I wouldn’t be writing this now. So perhaps things aren’t quite as bleak as they seem.

I’ve got good friends, I have family who love me, and I have a Newton to snuggle.

It’ll all be ok.

I’m in work tonight then I have three days off, and I’ll use that time to get the ball rolling again and make a plan. I do love a good plan.

I have a sibling Christmas dinner booked on the 1st of December at an amazing vegan restaurant and already I’m worrying about it due to my ‘all or nothing’ mindset. All I have to do is stay on plan before and after, so why am I worrying about that already? Why can’t I just enjoy a nice meal out without freaking out about it? Stay tuned for how I figure this one out, because I swear one day I will!

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading. Here’s for nicer posts in the future!

Hayley x

Patternless Sleep

Oh bloody hell, my sleep is totally broken. I’m doing well in one respect – I’m not generally having caffeine at work, but then for some reason I’m finding it even harder to sleep after my shift. On the first day of my weekend, if I sleep in too long I can’t sleep at night, or (as was the case this Sunday) I physically cannot keep myself awake watching Princess Mononoke at 7pm! It’s ridiculous.

I did have a bad anxiety day on Saturday where I completely overreacted about something and barely slept at all, so I had break my no caffeine rule and had two 500ml energy drinks to get me through my shift.

Despite being awake, I couldn’t concentrate or settle on anything, so I’m a bit behind on all the things I want to do. It was my birthday yesterday, and I got some art supplies I’d asked for (metallic watercolours and black paper, I’m looking at you) and I really wanted to try them out, but I simply ran out of time. Now I’m just way too tired, ‘cept I can’t sleep. Damn it.

This is probably because I’ve been hammering the coffee today, and in actual fact I’m going to knock it on the head completely because it’s not doing me any good, in any respect. Sure, it’ll keep me awake at certain times (usually the wrong times) but it doesn’t help me function any better. If anything it’s mainly become a procrastination aid – I’ll do the thing after just one more cup of coffee, honestly. I’ll just finish off my last jar of caramel popcorn Beanies, which is less than half full, then I’ll go cold turkey and see how that goes.

Because of the sleep problem, I haven’t had time to go running again, but my brother did come on a birthday walk with me. The park I chose I haven’t been to since I was a kid, and I certainly was never allowed to go there alone because it was full of perverts, murderers and drug addicts. Apparently. I chose it because a friend from work told me the rats there are ridiculously bold, and I wanted to see for myself.

He wasn’t lying. Those guys really don’t give a damn.

After that we had a walk around and we found loads of mushrooms, with this one being my shot of the day:

My brother did a bit of research and was going to take one home to eat before he realised the mushroom he had chosen fit the description of at least three different varieties, probably more, and not all of them were edible. Definitely not worth the risk.

He was somewhat put off after reading about a certain fungus that will give you terrible sickness and diarrhoea, after which you will seem to make a full recovery, then you will die. Thanks but no thanks.

Because I slept so badly the night before, and because I got up early to see my sister when she dropped Newton off in the morning, I desperately needed a birthday nap before heading off to Slimming World.

To be honest I was so reluctant to get up when my alarm went off that I really thought about giving group a miss. However I decided against it because as I’ve been doing so well, I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardise my losses. Hence going to get weighed in on my actual birthday! Group was… embarrassing! They sang happy birthday to me, and I was slightly mortified, but losing 3 pounds AND getting Slimmer of the Week more than made up for it. That’s two whole weeks on plan! If (scratch that, when) this month is up and I’ve been perfectly on plan, it’ll be the best I’ve done this whole year.

Today, apart from making sure I get enough sleep before work, I’m going to catch up on #birdtober and play with my pressies before getting out for exercise Wednesday. Then I will work on building a routine again.

It’s all happening now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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