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

Something to show for it

Roughly two days after I was sooooooooo motivated to finally lose some weight, it all went tits up and I had a massive gain. I’d been already been thinking about rejoining my old Slimming World group, even though it was the last thing I wanted to be doing. I realised that although I might not want to do it, I needed to do something. Fortuitously, my consultant sent out a text a few weeks ago saying that group was reopening, but due to Covid we had to book. Since we have to be spaced out, less people can fit in the venue and spots are in short supply.

I didn’t think about it, I just replied back straight away. SIGN ME UP.

I could have written about my intentions at that moment, but I didn’t want to do that then eff it all up. I waited until I had something to show you.

My first week, I got my half stone award. My second week (this week) I got Slimmer of the Week and I have lost a total of 10lbs. I’m ACTUALLY DOING IT! FINALLY!

It’s been a bit of a mind f**k so far to be honest. Again because of Covid, we have to keep our shoes on when we weigh. That first week back was hard because what with the shoes being on along with wearing more clothes (no more weighing in undies for me) and switching to an evening weigh from a morning weigh, the difference between my home scales and the SW scales was astronomical. I know the number doesn’t matter, as long as I see a difference week after week, but it didn’t stop my heart sinking when I saw it.

Still, I pulled myself together and got right into it.

The key is going to be consistency. If I lose 2.5 pounds a week, which has traditionally been my average, then I should be at target by Swingamajig 2022 as planned. I just have to KEEP GOING.

It hasn’t been too hard so far, but since I’m going through a spot of depression all I want to do is sleep. Nothing is bringing me a buzz like the garden did last year, or like I had when I started getting back into painting and drawing. I decided to come off of my anti depressants some months ago, because although I felt just fine in the end I didn’t feel anything else at all (apart from extreme anxiety) and it wasn’t sitting right with me.

I’ve learned some coping mechanisms over the last couple of years, and I think if I really look after myself then I can be happy without pills. It’s just going to take some time to adjust. Don’t get me wrong, they were great for getting by when I needed them, when the alternative was something much, much worse, but I didn’t want to rely on them forever.

I was getting more and more stressed out at work, and I felt if I could just sit and have a good cry it would be a great release. But when I was medicated, the tears wouldn’t come. I couldn’t cry the whole time I was on them. Shortly after I stopped taking them I cried whilst watching Bridgerton, of all things, and it felt wonderful to finally be feeling all the feelings, even the painful ones.

At the moment everything is a little flat again, but I know I’m just in a dip and if I practice some self-care I’ll come out of it again. I haven’t had alcohol since I went back to group and I’m getting moving again. That, along with at last eating some gosh darn vegetables, should do me the world of good. Same as with the diet, I just need to keep going. And getting a bit of extra shut-eye isn’t the worst thing someone who has being working nights for nearly 13 years could do!

The garden has been a bit of a mixed bag. We are having a lot more problems with pests this year, particularly snails, who have eaten the majority of the seedlings/young plants I’ve grown. Some of what they left has been eaten by the sparrows, so I’ve been feeling quite disheartened. Until my brother pointed out it still looks lovely out there. He’s right, it does.

My favourite bits are the area above underneath the apple tree, which looks better every single day (those poppies though!) and my little raised salad bed. The rocket is coming thick and fast now and the lettuce and kale is coming along nicely. It’s one of the few areas I have properly protected so the damn snails can’t get at it.

Next year I’m concentrating on things that are easy to grow and don’t get eaten too much. Simple is best I reckon.

It’s nearly time to begin another working week, and as it happens I’m still doing really well at staying at work and actually earning some wages. Dare I say it, things are actually going ok right now. Ok, I’m off before I jinx it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

This Time Next Year

The weekend just gone I had a rather impressive pity party. I did get some things done – I assembled a new bed, had a rearrange… and left everything else in a bigger state than when I started. I had one of those weekends where I could only bring myself to do the bare minimum. All I really wanted to do was stay in bed, and for the most part, that’s what I did.

On the plus side I read three books. On the downside I am now even heavier than when I decided that this time I was really, really going to get back on my diet. The lies we tell ourselves!

As I was laying awake at 4am (my sleep has also been atrocious) I realised that there’s only one way to get myself out of this funk, and that’s with sheer bloody-minded effort on my part. I’ve got to work my way out of this.

As if he was psychic, a message from a friend popped up while I was reading an ebook on my phone.

‘Is this you?’

It was indeed me. There’s no point showing you the picture, because it was taken in the days before phone cameras were good (although I’m only talking 2012… I feel old!) but I looked hefty. Someone shared it on Facebook and my friend wasn’t entirely sure it was me he was looking at.

Because it was this time in 2012 I really started losing weight properly for the first time, I could say off the top of my head how much I weighed in that picture – 22 stone 4 pounds, my heaviest ever. I remember weighing myself that very morning and looking at the scales in dismay. Although I’m glad to say I never got that heavy ever again, if I don’t take action now I could well end up back there.

I told my friend that right now I weigh a mere two stone less than I did in that picture, and happily he agrees that it looks like there’s a much bigger difference than there actually is. I think it’s because I’m so much more active now than I was back then, I guess I must have more muscle tone. My fitness levels seem to confirm this. The last time I was the weight I am now I was getting seriously out of breath walking in and out of the warehouse at work, but now I can easily hold a conversation as I walk, even when wearing a mask. I suppose things aren’t as bad as I thought they were.

I used my trusty Google photos app to look up other photos of me from that year. I remember I joined Slimming World in the beginning of May that year, and a photo of me from late November shows that I was unrecognisable 6 months later.

That gave me hope that this year is far away from being a write-off. I got my butt out of bed the next day and took Newton for a walk to brush off the cobwebs.

Yesterday another friend messaged me to let me know a band we both like are going to be playing… this time next year. Tickets had just gone on sale and after a moments hesitation, I booked my ticket to Swingamajig 2022.

Swingamajig 2019 (2020 was of course cancelled) was one of the best days I ever had and also the last day I can say I felt truly happy and the world felt vaguely normal. It was also the best I’ve ever felt about myself (I mean, I looked magnificent) and I can’t wait to get back there.

When I was choosing that fabulous dress I couldn’t decide between that one and another one on sale, so I bought both. The other one I still have, and I’m going to slim into it ready for 2022. I had to have a chuckle at how half-cut I look in that picture, but still along way from full-cut (see below!)

365 days to get back into the swing of things (geddit?) then celebrate with an epic evening of shenanigans? I think having this to look forward to is EXACTLY what I need.

After finishing work this morning I got up early, which I try and fail to do every single work day, and went for a 3 mile walk. I intend to go out walking every single day, which is exactly what I used to do. I used to do it and I used to LOVE it. Once home I cut the grass, hung out with Pea then got another few hours sleep. I woke up before my alarm went off AND woke up with more energy than I have done in a good while.

It looks like I chose the right day to get back to it.

The tulips in the garden are now looking absolutely stunning. Since I got the little greenhouse up the garden looks kinda cute and I stopped stressing out about how I hadn’t done enough. Since there’s no guarantee our local climate is suitable enough for the tulips to come back next year, I got my early bird order of more bulbs in, since you get a discount for doing that.

Worst comes to worst, I only have 70 new plants next year. Best case scenario, they all come back and I have HUNDREDS. I’m hoping for the latter!

Hayley x

Vange Well No. 5

Ah, things were going so well. For 10 days. 10 days of being on plan, of feeling in control, before hormones came along and ruined it all. ‘That’ time of the month is always a bitch, but since I’ve been tracking these things using an app (for a few years now) I’ve been as regular as a… regular thing. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was a whole SEVEN DAYS LATE.

This was a problem because the depression, cravings, sore boobies and irritability just build and build until I come on. So I had seven days of feeling extra shit. Yaaaaaaay. I have this thing where I want something tasty to eat but I don’t know what I want, so I go around eating things until I stop getting a craving.

I did lose 9lbs. I found 8 of them again. It wasn’t even worth it (I never did find the tasty thing I was looking for).

So I’ll start again, and hopefully my hormones will go back to being vaguely manageable in future.

I do think I need to go back to my Slimming World group when it reopens on the 18th of May, because I lose weight better when I’m there. The problem is, I’m so sick to death of the whole format. It’s the same conversations week after week and I’m not sure my tired brain can take it. Maybe if I just go every couple of weeks? I guess it’s probably going to be a weigh-and-go situation anyway? Because of COVID? Ah, to hell with it. I’ll give it a go and see how I get on.

I felt so crappy last week I almost called in sick for work, but I got through it. In fact, I haven’t taken any unpaid time off in two months now, something I don’t think I’ve done in the whole 12 years I’ve worked there. A pat on the back for me, please!

I’ve been gardening sporadically, and right now the tulips and the honesty are looking great. I grew the honesty from seed last year because I’ve seen the seed pods on my past travels, but I never knew the flowers looked so good in spring. They don’t do anything until their second year, but it’s worth the wait.

Beautiful, yes? Their Latin name is Lumeria, meaning moon-like, because of the shape of the seed pods. You can eat the leaves, seeds and root, which apparently taste like cabbage, but I’m not testing that out right now because there is a high probability that Newton has done a wee on them.

Update: I just nibbled a leaf and it was unpleasant.

Today I did manage to do a lot of catching up, and the mini greenhouse that has lived in the hall for god knows how long has finally made it into the garden.

All the baby plants were taking over my room, so even though it may still be a bit too cold at night for them I’ve moved them all out into the greenhouse regardless. For next year I’ve decided that I won’t be starting anything off indoors, as it was all becoming a bit much!

Yesterday me and the brother went on a mini adventure. It’s about time we started getting out again, so we went to find something I’ve been meaning to check out for some time now. I stumbled across it when I was bored at work looking at satellite photos of our nearest nature reserve – Vange Well No. 5.

A bit of Googling tells me that the building was built in the 1920’s, to enclose a well (the last of five, who would have guessed) from which bottles of ‘Farmer Cash’s Famous Medicinal Vange Water’ was sold. If you had ever visted Vange, you would know how utterly unsavoury that sounds.

The building could actually still be beautiful, but of course the vandals have been at it. It’s littered with broken glass, old disposable masks, empty plastic bags that no doubt once contained Class A substances… It’s not somewhere you’d take your kids. I took a few snaps, focusing on the less disgusting parts.

Despite the fact that as soon as you step into the woods the first thing you see is a used condom (the woods are notoriously used by doggers, don’t look it up if you don’t know what it is!) it really is a beautiful spot. You see the odd wildflower the other side of the woods, the parts that I usually frequent, but in this part there are swathes of flowers. It’s such a shame that I wouldn’t dare set foot there if I was alone.

I think that’s it for today’s post because all the gardening has left me well and truly done in.

Hopefully by the next post I’ll have even better news – that I’ve managed to lose a few pounds AND keep them off.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x