Can I Can’t I

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

It’s all going to be fine.

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

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

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

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

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

Me. I did that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Swingamajigging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Choosing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relief!

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

It was the lady who did conducted my interview.

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

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

I’M GOING TO BE A SLIMMING WORLD CONSULTANT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankfully, I’m unrecognisable from that person now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things are on the up!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Time to Lose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Someone asked me a question the other day, which I don’t believe was meant in a concerned, sincere way. It was this: why do you have to eat a whole pizza? Why can’t you just have one slice? Why can’t you just have a little bit of what you fancy?

If there wasn’t anger and accusation behind those words, I would have answered it. But for my own sake and anyone else who struggles with ‘a little bit of what you fancy’, I’ve given it some thought.

First of all, I don’t have to, not really. In theory, it’s completely within my power to just have a little bit. I’ve done it before, though admittedly not often, and on those occasions it has meant that I’ve been able to enjoy social events revolving around food and/or drink without feeling deprived. What’s more, I’ve invariably surprised myself and lost weight come the next weigh in.

There’s a lot to be said for simply being sensible, but if it were that easy then I would never have had a problem with my weight now would I?

It’s a many-layered problem. Since I was a kid any situation slightly out of the ordinary meant FOOD as far as I was concerned. Family party? BUFFET! Holiday? Cooked breakfasts and McDonald’s. Funeral? BUFFET! Visiting a family member? WHAT’S IN THEIR FRIDGE? So as soon as I arrange to do anything, the first thing that pops into my mind is ‘what nice thing can I eat?’

One thing I’m finding it really hard to get away from is the mentality of eating as much ‘nice’ stuff as I can before getting back on my so-called diet. This is ridiculous, because Slimming World especially really discourage this way of thinking. No food is banned, so there’s simply no reason to have to binge on it when you’re being naughty. You can have it any time (in moderation).

That’s the hard part, isn’t it. When I eat something nice I want to eat it till I feel sick, and I experience a genuine feeling of euphoria as I’m doing it. It’s like a drug. But the comedown is oh so bad. There’s a lot of guilt, and that makes it all the harder to get back on plan. When I feel that amount of shame it’s hard to get into a positive mindset which makes eating healthily that much easier. It’s difficult to feel good about what you’re doing when you see it as desperately making up for a terrible mistake.

What’s more, there’s also the troublesome fact that I’m an emotional eater. Happy? Let’s celebrate with food! Sad? Let’s commiserate with food! I’m getting better at this in recent years, but I’m far from perfect. Miles away actually.

The way I see it, I have a two options. I could not eat the ‘high risk foods’ ever again, as my old consultant used to call them. If I don’t have them for a while (cake, ice cream, pizza etc) then I do find it easier to avoid them as time goes on.

Or, I could really and truly learn, once and for all, how to be sensible with food.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tried to do this and failed, especially since I started blogging. I’d write a post about it, saying how determined I was to just have one meal off plan then get back on it the next day.

If we look at my track record then the odds are not great. I fail many more times than I succeed. That’s doesn’t mean I’m giving up though.

There are things I want to do, places I want to go, and I would dearly love to be able to make decent choices at the same time.

I’m out Sunday night, and I want to have a few spirits with low-calorie mixers. This seems perfectly doable, but my danger area is the Sunday morning beforehand. I tell myself I’m bound to screw up so I might as well eat half a loaf of bread with peanut butter and jam for breakfast. I’m not exaggerating, it really would be in the region of half a loaf.

I’m going out with my sister on the 12th for various non-food related pursuits, but she suggested checking out a vegan burger place I’ve wanted to sample for months and months. I can do the just-eating-the-burger part, but when I get home I’ll start to feel guilty about it which will lead to the ‘eff it all’ thoughts.

When I dress up as Mary Poppins I’ll take some food with me but I’m not sure how long I’ll be there and when I’ll be able to eat. If I have to eat out at any point I want to be able to make a sensible, well-informed choice.

Then we have Swingamajig, where food will be largely of the takeaway kind for an entire weekend. When faced with a load of food stalls, I want to be able to make a wise choice. When it comes to breakfast at the hotel, I want to ask for grilled veg and beans, instead of cracking and asking for slice after slice of fried bread with greasy mushrooms or who even knows what.

I can do this, it’s within the realms of possibility. I’m choosing to see it this way – the coming five weeks are a perfect opportunity for me to practice doing those things. I think it’s like exercising a muscle – the more I do it, the stronger I’ll become.

Deep down, although I really want to do all of these things, part of me is already convinced of my failure. That makes me want to avoid the fun stuff altogether. I don’t want to live my life that way.

So I’m daring to imagine that things could actually go well, that I can have my cake and eat it. How wonderful would that be?

I will try again, because I don’t want to live my life avoiding all of the foods I enjoy. Doing that is the absolute last resort.

So how has life been in general? Now I think of it, I’ve already managed to prove my own point. On Thursday I was supposed to be meeting up with a friend for a quiet couple of drinks, but he had an insane hangover from the night before and couldn’t make it.

Before I even knew this, I ate a load of rubbish when I got home from work in the morning. Same old, same old. I’m bound to blow it later, I thought. I’d been looking forward to that afternoon, so when I found out I wasn’t going socialising after all, I ate more crap. So silly.

Friday my mum had a little operation and despite us only being at the hospital for a few hours, when we might have been there all day, I used it as an excuse to… eat more crap.

Saturday I kind of came to my senses and ate a bit better, then Sunday it was a mixed bag.

After sleeping for just an hour and a half, I went to a boot sale with my friend. It was so cold, we left after covering about half of it, but only after we’d picked up some sweet treats for ourselves from the cake stall.

Then I cooked a nice roast dinner for mother’s day, which wasn’t too bad (in fact I had a sensible portion), and I didn’t eat again till the next day. By this point I really wasn’t feeling great about going out with the work chaps in the afternoon/evening.

For the first time in ages I did that thing where you try on a load of outfits and feel rubbish in all of them – I very nearly blew it off. Instead I forced myself to go and actually had a fantastic time! I had a few G&T’s with slimline tonic, but when we arrived at a place doing 2-for-1 cocktails I confess to making the most of the Pornstar Martini. In my defence passion fruit is surely good for you…

I’m a bit of nightmare when I go on these nights out as I don’t really have an off-switch, but one of our group overdid it before I got the chance to so all of us from our part of Essex escorted him home in a cab. We never leave a man behind.

I woke up the next day without a real hangover, just feeling a little tired, and I stayed on plan the whole day. I didn’t even feel guilty about the night before, probably because I had so much fun. I was feeling the love from my work buddies.

That brings us right up to weigh in, and miracle of miracles… I lost 1.5 lbs! It just goes to show, the things I did right (at least in this case) made up for the things I did wrong and I came out the other side with a good result. It would have been even better if I’d stuck to plan all the times I could have.

Lesson learned? Not quite, but it’s a step in the right direction. Point proven? Certainly.

This week I’m off to a good start, and I’ve just almost finished a bowl of ramen after being inspired by a fellow slimmer on Instagram.

It’s the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time, and even when I halve the recipe (this is easily enough for four people) it’ll still be filling. I honestly can’t believe how tasty it was despite being completely free on the Slimming World plan. This’ll definitely be a weekly lunch from this point onwards.

I just remembered how awful I felt the last time I posted, so I’m happy to say that things are much, much better now.

If you’re struggling, hang on in there. Things will improve, I promise.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

As Promised

If I have, scratch that, had one regret in life, it’s that last season I didn’t get a mustard pinafore dress when I had the chance. I wasn’t feeling brave enough to sport such a bright and unusual colour, so I left it on the shelf in favour of the maroon.

I do love the maroon dress I bought (it’s one of my wardrobe staples), but the mustard was always the one that got away. Until now.

I walked into town for a spot of exercise and retail therapy, and my reward was finding the perfect mustardy dress, in a sale no less. It was meant to be.

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This evening, as promised I took some pictures of me wearing my flapper dresses. Those I’m not quite so happy with.

The first one is more than a bit too small, but oh so pretty.

You can tell by my expression that I’m really not happy about the situation! I’m not holding out much hope about fitting into this in one month, two weeks and two days time (not that I’m counting) but it makes a good ‘before’ picture I think.

I feel a lot more comfortable in the second dress, but still not at all happy with how it looks. Of course I’m not all done up like I will be on the day, and a bra that actually fits paired with some control panties will work wonders, but I still feel I have a long way to go.

My plan now is to stick to plan, and try not to think about the dresses too much. I’ll try them on again in a month and see how I feel. In the meantime my mind is at rest because I do have a less flapper-y back up outfit if I need it, so there’s no need to fret over it. What will be will be.

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time trying to talk myself out of weighing in this evening, but luckily brave and sensible Hayley won the argument. Having said that, I did have a lucky escape because it was just weigh-and-go today. My poor consultant has a nasty bug, however credit must be given to her for managing to set up at all.

My results were 5.5 lbs on, which isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, plus I was chatting to some lovely ladies in the queue. Honestly there are some absolutely cracking human beings in my group. They made me feel a whole lot better about everything.

Today has already been better. I’ve eaten properly, I’ve exercised (in fact I filled the green ring on my Apple watch twice over, when I haven’t even managed to fill it once for aaaaages) and done something that always cheers me up – I fed the birds.

All I need to do now is keep it going, which is exactly what I intend to do.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Binge Behaviours

Something is definitely rearing its ugly head and I’m not happy about it. After months of not giving it a second thought, binge-eating tendencies have started resurfacing and I want to get them nipped in the bud right now.

I’ve had a Saturday/Sunday slip-up after stupidly having a sneak peek on the scales and seeing a massive and quite undeserved gain, which saw me managing to go about things all the wrong way and do the exact opposite of what I’d recommend anyone in my position to do. What did I do? I ate. A lot.

It’s Monday morning and I have group tonight. Our ‘Greatest Loser’ will be announced. I’m fairly sure that even with the huge gain I’m due it’ll be me (out of everyone who stays at my group I’ve lost the most weight) and I’ve never felt less deserving of the title. I knew it was coming, and I really wanted to have a loss so as not to ‘let my group down’ (not that any of them think that way) but I screwed up anyway.

Rather than making the decision to have something off-plan, this felt more like a compulsion, and it really scares me. I must regain control.

Something that should help me regulate my currently insatiable appetite is getting off my arse again. I’m currently sitting on a train en route to meet my friend (when said friend suggests an impromptu meetup one does not say no lightly), and luckily my knee is back to a fairly ordinary ache rather than the pain I was experiencing. Come rain or shine, this week is going to be about getting out of the house and making progress again.

I’ve just passed through London to get on my connecting train, and it’s looking rather nice, at least from a distance. I’m not really a fan of the city so it’s nice to be heading out in a different direction.

It’s now Tuesday and I’m picking this post up after finally getting some sleep! I was on the go all day and didn’t have the mental or physical energy to write, so now we’re changing over to past tense. I say on the go… a lot of it was based around sitting down drinking coffee but once all that caffeine wore off, I assure you I was pooped.

Coffee, chatting, strolling and charity shop browsing were the themes of the day, which are some of my very favourite things. I found a nice pair of thermal tights which were perfect for wearing to Slimming World later in the evening.

Spending time with my buddy Davey is always a great experience. He’s a font of excellent advice, an interesting fellow in general, and a positive influence when it comes to food. I only munched on fresh Syn-free grub the whole day, washed down with cup after cup of black Americano. I didn’t once feel like eating everything in sight, and in fact only ate in the first place as I knew if I didn’t I’d let myself get too hungry and be more likely to reach for crap food later on.

Once every single charity shop had been exhausted, and there were a few mind you, we headed to a park across the road for a walk around and somewhere nice to munch on not just any fruit, but M&S fruit. Ain’t we posh?

What did we find in the park? Only an outdoor gym!

It’s actually really cool. It uses your own body weight for the resistance. My arms even have a nice little ache today, and I’m so impressed I’m going to write to the council and ask for something like that locally.

Dave did much better than me what with his strong swimming arms. That reminds me, I really must get around to going swimming one day…

The park turned out to be quite beautiful once we found a secluded area up some stairs. I don’t think anyone had realised what was up there.

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Plum in hand, we investigated.

After a little sit down I learned a valuable lesson – my knee will start hurting again if I sit with my legs crossed. So I really must remember not to do that. Thankfully it recovered again really quickly and it’s mostly OK today.

After more coffee and such a lovely day I got the train home, only just making it in time for Slimming World. It’s a good job I left right then as I didn’t have as much time as I thought I did (story of my life).

Group was a surprise to say the least, because somehow, by some miracle, I managed to maintain. I can only assume that the walking, coffee and fruit did me the world of good, and now I just have to be especially on it in order to avoid a catch-up gain.

I’m by no means out of the woods, but at least I got to accept my award without feeling too guilty about it.

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Funnily enough although I’ve gained it’s great to still feel ‘normal’, whatever that may be. This is no time to relax though, because I’ve ordered a new dress for Swingamajig that I absolutely ADORE. It’s in a size 12-14 though (the biggest size it comes in), and I have no idea whether it’ll fit in time. I’m currently a 14-16 but this dress will leave nothing to the imagination so it will definitely be touch and go.

This week I’m restarting my tummy exercises which I let slip over Christmas. It has therefore resulted in everything getting even more squidgy around the middle if I’m honest.

When the dress arrives I’ll take a picture of me wearing it, no matter how silly it looks, and we’ll compare it in roughly 8 weeks time when the big event rolls around.

It’ll be a fun challenge!

Right, I’m off to get dinner then. The plan is the same as yesterday – I must not let myself get too hungry.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Buzzing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experience AND exposure? Erm, YES PLEASE!

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

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

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

ANYTHING could happen!

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Cold Snap

Yep, the weather has turned in the UK. I used to be hot all year round, but now I have less insulation my default setting is cold. When the sun is shining, like today, I’m perfectly happy with that. Now I’m slimmer I can fit into the cold weather clothing provided by my work, so for the last few shifts, what with a thermal base layer, joggers, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a woolly hat, two pairs of socks, gloves and a fleece snood, I was positively toasty.

The best part though is that I’ve discovered I’m a hat person. When I gain weight my face gets really big and hats just don’t look right. This is the only old photo I can find of me wearing a hat but I’m sure you can, um, kinda get the idea…

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Don’t ask.

This year has definitely been the year of the hat which has saved me SO MUCH TIME. I don’t think I’ve done my hair for work since November, which means an extra 10-20 minutes in bed. Yay!

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This is my favourite hat, because I’m currently obsessed with mustard. I have quite a collection going on now – this is just a small sample. The Christmas hats have of course been packed away until December but if I remember rightly I now have enough to wear a different one every day of the week (and then some).

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While we’re on the subject of cold I decided this year to keep the garden birds fed over the winter, but this is proving to be quite difficult. The sparrows have been going absolutely bananas for the seeds and they have been getting through around two whole feeders’ worth a day. Unfortunately the greedy gits are going to have to wait till payday before I can get any more.

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Even though I haven’t been able to run again I did still increase my Body Magic last week with a walk around my favourite park, among other things. Although it was freezing (literally in places, including the lake) it was beautifully sunny until the very end of the walk.

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Since I haven’t had a weekend (I have a four-day one coming up though, phew), there’s not much to tell you about apart from weigh in yesterday.

I lost 4.5 pounds! 

For a very small moment of time I had the audacity to be disappointed with that, as normally when I’m back on plan after a blowout I can lose more. Then I reminded myself of how big my appetite was during the week and how I managed to eat quite frankly a huge quantity of food and still get that kind of loss. It’s a win.

Thankfully my appetite has now returned to normal, so I could get on with enjoying group and feeling positive. Unfortunately my usual consultant Amanda was poorly (boo) but on the plus side it meant our group was covered by the awesome Ryan (yay!)

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If there’s ever any doubt in your mind whether your consultant genuinely cares about your journey, then just look at what Amanda and Ryan (@amanda_sw_leighonsea and @southendslimmer on Instagram) did yesterday. Ryan was in Norwich but as soon as he found out he was needed he made the TWO HOUR journey to Essex, including 45 minutes stuck in traffic, to make sure our group still ran. Amanda, despite feeling really ill and despite the fact she isn’t local to our group, braved rush hour to meet up with the social team (also awesome) to hand over everything needed to make sure group could go ahead.

That’s what I call above and beyond.

Group was an especially inspirational one with people sharing really personal things about how far they’ve come and how differently they feel now. After struggling for the last couple of months having a full seven days on plan and seeing everyone yesterday has made me feel like I can do anything again.

Anything also includes having a decent sleep, so it’s off to bed for me before I begin my 8th shift in a row. On the plus side after tonight, I only have two more to go!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The First

Yesterday was fantastic, and just what I needed to give me the motivation for yet another fresh start. I wasn’t on plan, but I just had the nicest and most relaxing day I’ve had in a long, long time.

I started off the day by getting creative. One of my bestest friends announced on Saturday that he’d proposed to his girlfriend (a truly lovely lady) and that she’d said YES. So I experimented with my watercolours and knocked them up a nice engagement card.

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I am so happy with how it turned out. I did a little five minute sketch of my sister’s bird, Petrie, being a borb (a round bird) and made a cover for a journal I’m working on. I’m trying not to be too precious about anything and just do it purely for enjoyment. It worked – I was having a great time.

In the evening Steve and I went to the cinema together for the first time ever, to see Stan & Ollie, and it was one of those rare occasions where I’ve seen a film and not had a single criticism. To top it all off, when I got home I had an early night and slept for a magnificent eleven-and-a-half hours. I needed that so badly.

I’ve decided that the last two weeks don’t count and that today (the 14th) is my official start of the year. So happy new year to me!

In the spirit of openness I will tell you that over the last two weeks (I last weighed in New Year’s Eve) I have gained 5 lbs. It’s half as bad as I thought it would be actually.

What came before doesn’t matter though, what matters is what I do now.

This morning training officially restarted with a run, and again it went better than I expected. The first two miles were a similar pace to what I was doing before my knee went wrong which was a nice surprise, and I only had to stop because my upper thighs were protesting. I probably could have pushed myself harder but I wanted to avoid an injury on my very first run of the year.

The next two miles were very slow indeed, but only because I had company.

A Labrador joined me on my walk, and whereas usually an owner turns up eventually this one was apparently owner-less. I waited around for a bit and soon saw a lady with three dogs who was not the owner. She was very snippy with me for not having ‘my dog’ on a lead, because she couldn’t control her largest dog which was, ahem, not on a lead. I didn’t press the issue though and took my new friend back in the direction he came from.

I kept him with me for a while but all of sudden he just bolted and there was nothing I could do to hold on to him. I don’t think he’s fully grown yet but wow, he was strong! It turns out with his super-duper dog hearing he heard something I didn’t – his owner calling him.

I soon learned that he’s a rescue dog named Barney, whose favourite pastime is running away when his owner’s children leave the garden gate open. He was so friendly, but his owner told me he will make a run for it at every opportunity. I wished them both good luck and continued my walk, making the most of the slower pace by taking a few snaps and getting proof that there was a tiny bit of blue sky, even if it didn’t last.

This evening I had group with my lovely Slimming World buddies. Me being me I totally forgot that January is a busy time in group so it was a nice surprise to see so many people there. I left with a 12-week journal in hand and tons of motivation for the week ahead.

I’m ending this weekend feeling like I’m finally getting somewhere. It’s going to be a good week people, I can feel it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x