A New Normal

Waking up is becoming less of an ordeal. I remember when I was a kid and everything was up in the air (parents divorcing, moving houses, that kind of stuff) I’d wake up each day with an instant feeling of unease. It takes a while to talk yourself out of it – you tell yourself that you’re safe, get grounded again and carry on.

As I get used to this new version of what normal life is, the unease is slowly dissipating. Still though, nothing remains simple.

My anchor at the moment is still Slimming World. When all this started I lost my appetite, and although it’s coming back in full force I just cannot let myself slip this time. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. I’ve imagined the moment where I eat something purely for comfort, and then I imagine… what next? It only works when there is an unlimited supply of food, and I can’t just jump into the car and pop to the 24 hour Tesco.

There’s only one possible outcome – I’ll end up feeling worse than I did to begin with either through guilt, or because I can’t get enough junk food to keep the high going. Or both, come to think of it.

As it is, food and diet is how I organise my day. Getting up is always nice because there’s the first coffee of the day. If I have them in (luckily I managed to get some with last week’s shopping) I start with a ‘posh’ coffee- a Nescafé coconut milk latte that comes in a sachet and is only 3 Syns.

I have a Syn-free lunch around 3 or 4pm, then dinner is as late as I can manage and whatever’s in the fridge that is going out of date first. Dinner is always big and satisfying, which helps me sleep through the night.

It’s working out pretty well so far. Then on a weekly basis we have the Slimming World virtual online group, which is run through Zoom. I enjoy this so much that I attend one on a Monday night and one on a Tuesday night.

Official weigh in is now Tuesday morning, and this week I’ve stayed the same. I’m not even overly disappointed, because the fact is I’ve barely moved for two weeks and I’ve had really good losses up until now – much better than I imagined I would. It stands to reason that I couldn’t keep that pace going.

Activity however is something that I really must start working into my day, for so many reasons. Aside from the positive impact exercise brings to physical and mental health, I’ve found that if I don’t move my creativity also disappears.

Yesterday I did some hula hooping, some kettlebell workouts and some walking around the kitchen/living room, and as I did I found I had the urge to paint. So I did!

It’s just a little start, but it’s more than I’ve felt like doing for a while. I also feel less inclined to rush. When it comes to arts and crafts I definitely tend to hurry towards the end result. This is because while it’s in process I think it’s crap and I find it hard to sit with that feeling while I’m doing it. So I’m experimenting with just slowing down and letting things develop as they will. It’s harder than it sounds.

I’ve given a lot of thought to exercise, and I’ve realised that I must make the most of being allowed out for one walk a day. After speaking to some Slimming World people yesterday I’ve been given advice as to the best times of day to do things, because I’ve seen through Facebook friends that all my usual haunts have been absolutely rammed with people since lockdown was implemented. I have to keep the risk as low as possible.

Tomorrow, I’m going to get up super early and go out during sunrise. Hopefully not many others will be out and I can see if it’s a feasible way to carry out my daily stroll. I’ve gone through different routes in my head to identify places where it’s impossible to be 2m away from someone passing in the opposite direction and have adjusted the route accordingly. Since I stopped working, I’ve been burning over 1000 calories a day less, and I can feel myself getting lazier and lazier. I really must work on getting a new routine going. After all, I’ve got 11 more weeks of this. Minimum.

I feel like I owe it to the other people who are out there putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe and fed to make the most of my privileged situation. So that’s what I’ll do. I’m not taking a single thing for granted.

Now I’m officially poor I really have to stop spending money, but as one last treat I bought a couple of Kindle books to use for trying to identify wild flowers and trees. I got sidetracked when looking for specific things and ended up just browsing through thousands and thousands of entries, but now I’m desperate to find out what one thing is because it’s driving me NUTS.

I was in two minds whether to write about this, because I didn’t want to admit defeat, but if you know what this is PLEASE let me know because it has eluded me so far. I think it’s from a tree or was growing around a tree, but I can’t get back to the spot to investigate further for the time being. I can’t find it online, on any plant/tree ID apps or in any of my books. When I took the photos it was just because it was pretty, I didn’t give a second thought as to what it was. It’s become something of a mission! I bet it’s something really bloody obvious. I literally spent an entire day, A WHOLE 10 HOURS, trying to find it to no avail. Still, it passed the time!

Hopefully you’re all staying safe and adjusting to life as it is now.

Take care,

Hayley x

Unsettled

I didn’t do anything creative with my block of clay after all. When I began my self-isolation last Tuesday, the advice for the time was for everyone in the household to stay home for 14 days. That has now changed. Because I was the first to develop a cough, as of today I can now leave the house. Well, to a certain extent.

Since I found this out, which was on Saturday I think, I just haven’t been able to settle enough to do much at all. On the one hand, I’m really looking forward to going back to work and seeing the faces of some of my bestest friends. But I don’t think there’s any such thing as a straightforward feeling these days. Apart from looking forward to seeing people, I also feel immense guilt because there are others who won’t see another face for who even knows how long.

Above all else though, there’s fear. Fear of what I might pick up at work and bring back home to my family. Just quitting my job of 11 years has seriously crossed my mind, and I feel disgusted with myself that I’m not brave enough to tell work to stick it. Even if we were dealing with food I’d be ok with going in, but it seems like absolute madness to be dealing with curtains and toasters and microwaves at a time like this. Am I risking the lives of others so people can still get their lawnmowers?

Somehow, incredibly, I am classed as a key worker. When it was announced yesterday that the UK is now taking measures to keep people indoors I was relieved. Until I saw the list of exceptions that is, now I am just as scared as ever.

I don’t think these measures are enough. The trains are still packed. I work in just one warehouse of 500 people that’s still allowed to operate. Imagine how many more there must be throughout the UK. How can this be right?

I’m in work tonight, and I will speak to my manager about perhaps doing a reduced work week, which the company are considering. I figure, the less I’m in contact with other people, the less risk I pose to my family. It’s some sort of middle ground I guess. I’ll worry about the loss of earnings some other time.

ANYWAY, I have been able to find little bits of joy in my days. My sister had to bring her car over yesterday as a mobile mechanic needed to do some urgent work to it on our driveway.

I didn’t see her at all (social distancing people!) but Newton was in the garden so I stuck my head out of the window to say hello. He looked at me quizzically for a moment then carried on with some very important sniffing business, but it was lovely to see him all the same.

Then next door’s dog came out, and wanted to get in on the action. I don’t think this doggo was impressed though. I got a few woofs telling me to go back inside.

Then later on there was my first virtual Slimming World group, and do you know what? I loved it. I got my laptop out and got it functioning (I hadn’t even turned it on for over a year) and got to see the faces of my old fellow group members.

It’s not even about the weight loss. For me it’s something solid that I can focus on and look forward to every week, when everything else is going tits up all around me. Some people don’t have home scales, so they are just focusing on non-scale victories. Of course we have reduced control over what food is available right now as well, and we’re just concentrating on making the best of it. I highly recommend it!

Despite barely moving over the last week, I still managed to lose 1.5 pounds. My goal for March was to get back into the 15 stone bracket, and now I’m 15 stone 6 pounds and there’s one more weigh in left this month.

I’m glad I didn’t get any ‘treats’ with our last online shop, because I know I would have found it hard to resist. As it is I find myself in a situation where I’m saving my last tin of beans for a ‘special occasion’. Blimey, life has become so strange!

That’s it for me for today then. Thanks for reading, and in the words of Jerry Springer, take care of yourselves and each other.

Hayley x

Five Years

It’s been a bit longer than I intended between blog posts. While things have been quite wonderful, I’ve also had a bit of writer’s block. Things have really shifted for me over the last couple of weeks, however on the face of things not much has really happened. It’s hard to put into words.

Last week I really started getting my energy back. Whilst my medication makes me pretty much unconscious as soon as I take it, when I am awake, I’m really awake. I hadn’t realised how much of a monumental effort it was taking me just to exist until things started getting better.

Somehow I managed to stay on top of things as far as work goes (although I have lost a significant amount of money in unpaid leave in order to not lose the plot entirely) and have had a good enough performance to hit my targets and stay out of trouble.

But now… I’m actually smashing it! Last week I was top driver on the department. Everything is just kind of flowing, and it feels good having a spring in my step again as I jump (not quite literally) on and off of the forklift truck a hundred or so times a shift.

When I had to transfer stock over by hand to an empty pallet, I’d inwardly groan if I saw that it was particularly heavy. Now when I see I’ve got to haul a load of 20kg boxes, I’m glad for the opportunity to flex my muscles. It feels good to feel good to move, if that makes sense.

I feel like I’ve spent most of the year so far horizontal, which probably isn’t far from the truth. During February I barely moved at all in fact. Now I’m coming out of hibernation.

On Monday I walked into town for the first time since I don’t even remember when. Apart from to exercise, I had one single other objective- to pick up a free paper from Wilkinson’s. I use them to line Pea’s cage and catch the poops you see. Of course that is the one thing I came home without. Typical.

I did however see some lovely signs of spring, even if it was a grey old day.

The next day Newton came out on a nice long walk with me. It’s the first time we’ve been out walking together, just the two of us, and it was lovely to have a furry companion. He had a great time too, even if he was thoroughly disappointed that I wouldn’t let him eat goose poo. He loves the stuff. He was also not impressed that I wouldn’t let him eat used chewing gum, poop from other dogs and a jelly baby. It’s a hard life, being a dog.

After that my medication got adjusted, so although I’ve maintained my energy levels for work, I’m absolutely zonked as soon as I get in. I’m not worried though- I know there will just be a short adjustment period and I’ll have a good balance going again.

It does feel as if I’m entering a new season of life now. Five years ago, I’d just got my first DSLR and was starting to venture outdoors in search of things to photograph. I made a lot of headway in those five years. I figured out what I really like doing. I started to tackle my weight. I started to get a life.

In recent years I let myself get distracted and wasn’t really thinking about my future. It’s not surprising, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. Since leaving school, it’s been a case of ‘this will do’ in an absence of knowing what I really wanted my life to look like. All this time I’ve just been getting by.

So, five years later, and I’m finally starting to think about what I’d like my next five years to look like. I’ve always been terrible with money, and over the years I’ve said countless times that this is the moment I get on top of things once and for all. But it’s really happening! Last month I stayed within my means for the first time in living memory, without having to play catch up at all. I tracked all of my outgoings and I spent £500 on food, £200 of which was on takeaways, and nearly £400 on non-essentials. Before you start thinking I’m minted, I’m not. I just had extra money that month from working over the Christmas period.

Since pay day at the end of February however, I have spend zero pounds on takeaways. My non-essential spending currently stands at about 20 quid. I have a couple of really short months coming up, because of the unpaid leave, but even then I can still live within my means. Just about. When I’m back earning my full wage, I can start to pay off all of my credit, put aside some savings for the first time ever, and stop buying things to distract myself when I’m feeling bad.

That’s the key word. Distraction. It’s at the root of all my troubles – my weight, my finances, my relationships. Everything I’ve done in my life so far has been focused on making myself feel better for the next five minutes, without a thought for the effect my choices would have on the next five years.

That changes now though, and do you know what? I’m thoroughly excited. The single spanner in the works is that I’m currently freaking out about coronavirus and envisaging something akin to the Walking Dead in my near future. Hayley’s anxious brain is braced for the entire breakdown of society, or, you know, being dead. But positive Hayley is preparing for the future where everything turns out ok. What will be will be.

So, my spending has improved. I’m not engaged in any destructive relationships. How about food then? As it happens, I’ve been smashing the weight loss too with another 3.5 pounds off this week, plus Slimmer of the Week.

I’ve also been super organised. Everything is clean and tidy, and I have grand yet frugal redecorating plans which will be carried out over the course of the year.

Yep, everything is pretty damn good. It’s nice to be able to say that.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

So Fresh

I’ve had this WordPress account since 2012, and various different blogging projects have come and gone. Last year I rather fancily upgraded to a premium account, but this year I’m being sensible (ish) with money, so the premium has to go.

This presents a problem, because I’ll lose out on storage and I’ve blogged a lot of photographs. They simply won’t fit when I get downgraded. So I decided to wipe the slate clean and start completely over.

This comes at an opportune time, because I’m doing other kinds of starting over too.

I took a complete break from Slimming World for a few weeks, and to be quite honest, spent a lot of time curled up in bed in the fetal position. It hasn’t been a great.

Last year was really tough, with lots of changes and lots of challenges. But when everything eventually calmed down, I realised there was still something seriously wrong. I didn’t have any destructive romantic interest in my life. My family was healthy. I had a roof over my head, enough money to live comfortably, friends I could talk to and rely on. Yet I felt worse than ever. How could that be?

I spent way too long looking for some elusive thing I could change in my life, in the belief that when I found it, everything else would magically fall into place.

I thought if I could find the exact right time to go to sleep and the exact right time to wake up, it would fix everything. If I could find the exact right things to eat, everything would be ok. If I exercised for the optimum amount of days per week, I’d be happy again.

Unsurprisingly, none of it helped. When I realised I could barely force myself to leave my bed and it became a battle to get through a single night at work, I figured it was time to see the doctor.

I was prescribed antidepressants, which take 2-3 weeks to build up in your system and start to making a difference. It’s now day 13, and right on cue, I can feel the darkness lifting.

While they were kicking in (they also make you feel worse before they make you feel better) I curled up under my duvet at every available opportunity and obsessed. My brain was telling me that the pills wouldn’t work, that there was no hope. It didn’t help that every time I had a reasonably good day, it was followed by a really bad one. I had to keep reminding myself, over and over, to just hang in there, to just keep going. I read to distract myself, and have demolished seven books so far this month. That’s a new personal record.

Then just like that, an ok day was followed by another one, then another one.

Until now, every time I made an attempt at anything, be it weight loss, getting my spending under control, exercise, keeping my room tidy… I’d have overwhelming thoughts of there being no point to it all, that I’d just fail anyway. It was all so tiring.

I knew deep down that it was nonsense, that I can do anything I put my mind to, but the depression wouldn’t let me hold those thoughts in my mind. It pushed everything positive right out of me.

Since I now have space in my brain for good things, last night I got my butt back to Slimming World. I rejoined a closer group, which is just around the corner from me. I stopped going there originally because it’s on a Tuesday and I have to work after, but I’ve realised with proper planning I can get a nice nap in before work and it should work out ok. I’ve actually learned how to clear my mind and relax myself enough to get to sleep quickly, which is a massive bonus.

As it happens, I’m the heaviest I’ve been since May 2017. Yet it’s not a complete disaster.

I got my mum to take a fresh ‘before’ picture of me, to go on this freshest of new posts along with this fresh new start. Looking at it now, I’ve been in complete denial at how much weight I’ve put on. I haven’t properly seen myself in months, yet here it is, clear as day.

I am quite pleased that I managed to squeeze into one of my favourite outfits, because I really didn’t think I’d manage to get it on at all. Thankfully we did not have to call the fire brigade to cut me out of it again, but it was a close call.

I hunted down some pictures that I thought I had deleted from May last year. Rather than being utterly dismayed at the difference, I am for once more excited and focused to get back to that point than I am disappointed and angry at myself.

I visited my sister on Monday and got her to take yet another comparison shot, but this time I wasn’t the main focus. Whilst I certainly am bigger in the second photo than I am in the first one (taken last October) the change is not quite as dramatic as in young Newton.

Look at how handsome and grown up he is!

I did manage to get out on one river walk with my little brother, between storms that is, and although it wasn’t the most inspiring of walks ever we are definitely going back later on in the year. We are going to hire a boat, and hopefully not drown. I bet the area will be transformed with a bit of sunshine.

Once the wind has died down and I can be reasonably certain that my woodland walks are not going to result in a tree falling on my head, I’ll start increasing my exercise again, too. Better days are undoubtedly just around the corner.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x