Something of a Mess

This year I inadvertently took part in ‘No Mow May’. It was a complete accident- I was simply too busy to cut the grass. Or at least, when I did have a spare moment, it was of course raining. I’m not knocking the rain- I didn’t have time to water the plants so I owe anything still being alive out there to the odd shower. The weeds are thriving which I guess is good for the pollinators, but it’s not that easy on the eyes.

That’s kind of a lie actually. I am personally rather partial to the ‘wild’ look but my mother isn’t a fan, and it’s also really hard to find dog poops in the long grass.

Since we currently have a jungle instead of a garden, I’m patiently waiting until it gets late enough in the morning to cut the grass. I could do it now, but at 8am on a bank holiday? I don’t think the neighbours would be impressed. It is the Jubilee weekend in the UK, not that it means much to me. I couldn’t give a rat’s behind about the queen and I don’t get any extra days off work. Yay for working in retail. But I guess I should allow the rest of the street their lie-in. Me, bitter? Never.

In between paragraphs I’ve been popping out into the garden to see what’s new, and I’ve noticed that some of the nasturtiums have sneakily flowered. I haven’t even got around to sticking them in the ground yet but they’re doing just fine on their own.

So, I previously wrote that I was going to start being healthy this Monday, and wonder of wonders, I actually did. It’s a miracle! Before COVID I used to walk into town all the time instead of taking the car, but I haven’t done it since before the outbreak. Until yesterday that is. I’ve been putting it off for no other reason than I feel so bloody self-conscious about my appearance at the moment.

Fitness-wise I was fine. Despite being several stones heavier than the last time I walked that route, I did around five miles with not even a blister to show for it. Including doing my shopping, I was on my feet for just over two hours. Ok, I was also quite a bit out of breath and absolutely BAKING, but I’m happy that I don’t have to start right from the beginning when it comes to getting my old life back. In any case, look at that view. That sky! You don’t get that sitting indoors.

As for food, where I have repeatedly fallen down is that I started listening too much to other people. All the times I’ve been the most successful at losing weight so far, I’ve been following the Slimming World plan. The premise is that you can eat as much as you want of ‘Free Foods’, so you never have to worry about going hungry. The plan states that you should eat until you feel full, but that’s something I never paid much attention to at first. I like big portions, I always have. I like to eat.

It’s right that Slimming World should add a caveat with the Free Foods, because if you start eating everything in sight for the sake of it then you’re obviously not going to lose much weight. Having said that, I definitely took it too much to heart. I remember I’d lost quite a bit of weight already when my consultant asked me what I’d eaten recently. I’d made a crustless quiche, and if I remember rightly I’d used six eggs. She said to me, ‘but you didn’t eat it all, right?’ I did. I ate the whole damn lot, and I lost several pounds that week as it happens. I lost several pounds every week back then.

After that, other things started creeping into the group conversations. I started feeling guilty if my portions were too big or if I ate until I was stuffed, and that made me not only miserable but also, annoyingly, hungry. I see it on social media, too. HOW CAN SLIMMING WORLD WORK IF YOU CAN EAT 10KG OF PASTA AND STILL BE ON PLAN?!?!? Well, you can’t. As in, you can’t eat 10kg of pasta and not explode. That’s how it works.

Previous attempts to ignore the voice telling me to have one less potato or whatever have failed, but I have a whole new supply of determination at the moment. I have been eating very generous meals, and I’ve noticed that I haven’t been getting ridiculous cravings. Long may it continue! Yes, I’m still worried that I won’t lose any weight this week, but I need to see this through. I’m ignoring the doubts, and even if I don’t lose, at least I’m eating some veggies. My heartburn has almost gone, too. It will NOT be missed.

Ok, it’s only been 3 days and I have a long way to go, but I’m three days closer to my goal than I was before.

That’s something.

Hayley x

Something Something Fresh Start Blah Blah Blah

I wasn’t back at Slimming World for long. I started going regularly in 2012 and each session just repeats itself, the same thing over and over and over. The same conversations, the same questions- ‘how do you make your spag bol then Hayley?’

I can’t do it, I’ve reached capacity. I just cannot stand it a moment longer.

I was doing quite well on my own until after all this time avoiding it, I went and caught covid. I’m not going to lie, the worst bit about it was the feeling that it was a moral failing above all else. The young ‘uns from work have been going out at the weekends ever since things reopened without a care in the world or a single symptom. I finally agree to go out ONE TIME and I’m the one that bloody gets it. Typical. Mainly I was just really exhausted for about 8 days, then after that I started feeling normal again. I discovered I had it by taking my routine lateral flow test, then the very next day my sense of taste and smell completely disappeared. It stayed like that for four days, which I was EXTREMELY grateful for, because I know there are instances of it lasting for months, or even permanently. Get vaccinated people! That’s the difference between my mild experience and ending up in hospital on a ventilator.

Was it worth taking the risk? Well, knowing what I know now (ie, I survived and did not kill my family) I’d say… kinda. I had a great time and it was so good to let my hair down after staying in for so long. Drunk me met a bunny and was pretty pleased with the fact.

I’m more relaxed about going out now, but I will be avoiding pubs in future. Besides, I only need one night like that out a year to satisfy my party cravings so I’m good at least until 2022.

Whilst I was infectious I stayed in my room and mostly ate crisps, so as not to have to use the kitchen and risk infecting the family. As you can imagine the weight went back on rather quickly, especially since I barely moved the whole time, exacerbated by the fact I also hurt my ankle and even now it’s still not fully healed. After eating crap for ten days I was excited to eat real food, but that didn’t last long. Not long at all.

Soooooooo, I’m right back where I started, and I’ve just enjoyed a birthday week of delicious eateries. On Sunday my friend took me out for dinner and to see Venom 2 (loved it, by the way) which was a nice way to end the week on a high. But now it’s down to business. This is the last year of my 30’s, and I do not intend to start the next decade feeling like this.

Where I’m now so large I am not enjoying going out for my walks, I just feel insanely self-conscious. Also because of work, during the times of the day I actually have energy for exercise, I don’t feel safe going out. I’d love to walk to work, but a woman was attacked on that route in broad daylight not even that long ago. Yeah, I’ll be giving that a miss.

Instead, I started researching treadmills. If I want to buy one that will take my current weight, then the price jumps IMMENSELY and any kind of portability goes out the window. I found an under-desk treadmill for less than half the price of one that would take me now, so I snapped it up immediately to give me motivation. I was SO CLOSE (6 pounds away) from being able to use it before I caught the ‘rona. So now I am on a mission to get my sh*t together and get using it regularly as soon as I possibly can, especially now the crappy weather is setting in. It’s quiet enough that I can use it at 6 am, straight after work. I plan to be using it by the end of November, fingers crossed, and I shall emerge in the spring like a beautiful butterfly. You heard it here first.

I’m now a Slimming World online member, and I have a good reason to believe that I’m going to be successful this time. SW has taken a lot of stick recently over ‘unlimited’ free foods, which I think is quite undeserved. They do tell you, repeatedly, to eat until you are SATISFIED. There are many things I have an issue with when it comes to any weight loss company, but this isn’t one of them. I think people are determined to misunderstand SW for Tiktok views or to promote their own businesses.

When I first started the Slimming World plan, I concentrated on filling myself up. I didn’t pay a single bit of attention to the stopping part, I just ate what I wanted (within the plan) and I lost consistently week after week. I was eating what some would consider A LOT. When I got nearer my target weight, the losses didn’t slow even though I was eating loads. It just kept coming off! Then I started worrying about portion control and being sensible and it all went out of the window. So, quite frankly, eff portion control. Eff being sensible. I’m going back to that time when I didn’t overthink every GODDAMN MORSEL that went into my mouth and I’m going to hopefully repeat my past successes. And if I don’t? THEN I’ll look at portion control. Honestly though, I don’t think I have to.

I got this experiment underway yesterday. I’ll let you know how the week went on Monday. I have high hopes.

Something that has been going enormously well is my art. There have been ebbs and flows, but every time I feel I’m starting to stagnate a little and I”m not getting anywhere, something just clicks into place.

I AM LOVING IT.

Last week after getting some water-mixable oils for my birthday I painted with oils for the first time in my life, and it was like clouds parted and the angels came down from the heavens… I FOUND MY THING!

Since that moment all I’ve thought about (apart from food) is painting, painting and more painting. This is the first layer of my first ever oil painting. I’ll show you what it looks like again when it’s properly finished.

Already, I am in love.

When I’m more experienced I want to paint a nice big portrait of someone. I’ve been practising painting my sister in acrylic, and although I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere this weekend I finally managed to achieve a decent likeness and get all of the main features in the correct place. The next one will be in oils and will be infinitely better.

By the time I’m 40, apart from looking fabulous, I will also be selling my artwork. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but getting into a routine of painting regularly and being vulnerable enough to share my work… this is something very new for me. New but amazing. Working through a painting when it looks crap is also of massive importance. If I’m ever famous enough, one day someone will do an infrared scan of the layers beneath the painting above and see the monstrosities hidden there. It’s no lie-in the first layer it looks like my poor sister’s left eye is falling off of her face.

Pushing through that discomfort was a game changer. In fact, I recommend everyone go do that right now. You won’t regret it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Overwhelm

I’ve been trying to write a blog post for a while but up until today that blank page has been a bit too intimidating. I haven’t known what to fill it with. I still don’t to be honest, but I figured it would be best to just get something out there. I feel like if I don’t make start now, even a half-arsed one, then I never will.

Everything’s a little bit overwhelming right now, and some have a theory as to why that might be. Can you believe it’s been over a year since the first UK lockdown? Some people reckon that the anniversary of the corona shit hitting the fan might be what’s making us all feel a little bit crappier than usual, but let’s face it, there are plenty of contenders for that these days.

Lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, and I’m not even feeling overly scared about it. I’m concerned of course – life going back to some semblance of normality is inevitably going to mean more cases, but the data for the vaccine looks good. It’s working! Although life isn’t going back to how it was pre-2020 any time soon, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. So why do I feel so meh?

I think it’s because I got so excited about what I could achieve last year. I had such grand plans for the house and garden, and now 2021 is here and it’s time to get started with those plans, I realised I don’t have the time or the energy. When I was furloughed it felt like I could do anything, but after being off work all that time I forgot that I’m usually there for such a huge portion of my life. I’m not a miracle worker. I need sleep to function, and as it happens, I need lots of it. I’m not a failure if I can’t manage to do all the things in one weekend.

I feel guilty that I won’t be building the shed I envisioned. That I haven’t put up the greenhouse. That I haven’t turned the garden into an oasis. But… who do I have to feel guilty to? No one, that’s who! I put so much pressure on myself that I managed to turn something I love into a monkey on my back. That is SO ME.

So over the last few days, I just got out into the garden with no particular agenda. No to-do list, the only plan was to get out there and see what I felt like doing.

Last year I planted so many bulbs, but when planting time came, again I was feeling a bit pants so my only goal was to get them in the ground so they didn’t rot. I didn’t think much about where I was putting them so they don’t have the impact that 300 bulbs could’ve had. However, by some happy accidents, it’s not all bad.

The area under the apple tree is my favourite by far. I have literally no memory of ordering any anemones, but they are the absolute star of the show. The bright purples, reds, and pinks are bringing me joy every time I look out into the garden, and they seem absolutely impervious to slugs and other pests. I’ll definitely be planting more of those for next year. They also happen to be cheap which is handy.

The bulbs in the rest of the garden are too spread out, but I’ll be remedying that next year. Probably. Unless I get sad.

Another thing that’s getting to me is my weight. When I wasn’t going out, not thinking about my appearance was easy. I had never been so comfortable in my own skin. My size just didn’t matter to me at all. But when I went back out into the world I realised that I simply cannot let go of the dream of being slim again.

It’s weirdly 20 degrees celcius out there right now, and although the decent weather is just a blip and typical British springtime will be returning in a couple of days, it’s made me think about how uncomfortable I’ll be at work if I carry on as I am. I’ve already gone through a winter of freezing my bits off as I can’t get adequate cold weather clothing to fit me.

I was doing ok until I reached the point of not being able to stand my own reflection any more, which has only happened over the last couple of weeks but still. Not ideal.

Something has to change.

I’ve been trying to quietly made positive changes over the last month, but every attempt has ended in failure. Therefore I’m going back to the old standby of writing about it here and hopefully staying on track for more than five minutes.

I’m trying not to dwell too much on weights and sizes, but the fact remains I’ve regained such a lot of weight. Since the end of 2018 I have gained a rather impressive seven stone. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s putting on the pounds. I am an expert.

Today met up for a walk and a coffee with my sister and Newton, since that is legal now, which has made me realise how much I need to start getting out regularly again. My size has meant that I’ve avoided leaving the house if I can, which HAS TO STOP!

Besides, if I hadn’t gone out then I wouldn’t have seen sunbathing terrapins in the park. It’s not every day you see that, right?!

I need to make diet and exercise my priority again, but no matter what I choose to do, be it gardening, art, exercise, I always feel guilt over the thing I’m not doing. Which is so stupid, since I’m an adult and it’s up to me what I do in my spare time.

Sigh. I suppose I’d better crack on with it and not think too much. I’m sure once I start making progress I’ll perk up!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x