Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hampton Court Flower Show

Wow.. it's rather hot out there today

My Mum drove to my house last night and arrived about 9:30pm. We chatted for an hour or so, and then headed to bed as today was Hampton Court Flower Show. We've been to Chelsea for the last 7 years or so and have been to Hampton Court once before, about 4 years ago. I suggested we go this year as I had a lot of holiday to use up and after an amazing day at Chelsea Flower Show in May, we thought Hampton would be just as nice.

I enjoy spending time with my Mum - We both love flowers and gardening so it's nice to share an interest. Also, I feel this is my way of showing her I'm grateful for all the things she did for me, when I was growing up and I know she sacrificed a lot. I think I've mentioned before, but my parents had quite a few daughters - Out of all of us, I was the only one who went to a private school as I passed the 'assisted place' exam and went to a different school to my sisters from the age of 11 to 18. Despite it being an assisted place, there were still fees and despite my parents still being married, my Father refused to pay a penny towards my school fees as he said 'If the local comprehensive was good enough for me, it's good enough for her

Thing is - All the kids who bullied me mercilessly at primary school went to the local comprehensive and by going there, I would have been sentenced to at least another 5 years of utter, utter torture. So my Mother got a job as a cleaner and paid my school fees for the entire 7 years on her own. People always wonder if that created any jealousy between my sisters and I, however we've spoken about it and none of them seem resentful, even though we weren't close growing up, they also knew how badly I was bullied as a child.

So now I'm a 'grown up' and have a successful career, I think it's only right I treat my Mum - So I pay for everything: Tickets, travel, lunch.... She shouldn't have to put her hand in her pocket. I think she likes being spoilt and I like spoiling her :-)

After a pretty decent nights sleep, we got up and headed off - Unfortunately, I forgot to weigh myself :-( I'm a bit annoyed with myself to be honest, as I really wanted to know what I weighed at the end of June. However, looking at this long term, one day really won't make any difference at all, therefore I'm going to do that tomorrow morning and post the results, then! Breakfast was my usual porridge and we set off to Hampton Court by 8:00am..

The traffic.. Dear God, the traffic! Despite thinking we'd be there by 9:30, it took us over 2.5 hours! We didn't get there until about 10:30 and weren't actually at the Flower Show until 11:00. We were thinking of having a sit down, a nice cup of tea and waiting until the gates opened at 10:00, however as it was, we ran to the toilet and then grabbed a bottle of water as the heat was crazy.

The first thing we were struck by, was the fact that all the gardens seemed to be all over the place - some were on the left, some on the right - it was almost as if the trade stands had got the pick of where they wanted to pitch up, and the gardens took second stage. We wandered around for an hour or so, getting really hot and finally stumbled upon the gardens. I have to say, neither of us were that impressed. They seemed to lack vibrancy, energy - they just looked really, well, dull. I don't know if that was just a mismatched expectation, but I could tell my Mother wasn't that impressed either.

Lunch time came and the sun was beating down on us without a cloud in the sky - I'd been rubbing factor 50 into myself all morning so thankfully didn't get burnt. We headed over to the food vans and I was shocked that I couldn't seem to find anything that seemed remotely healthy - Loads of burgers, pulled pork wraps, cakes, sandwiches etc, however nothing, well... healthy? I'd almost given up looking and was going to stick to water and grab something once we were out of the Flower Show, when I found a small stand that sold ready made salads - Hurrah! That will do nicely :-) THEN... I found a van that did healthy wraps, falafels, veggie burgers, so if you are planning on going to Hampton Court - Don't worry, there are a few healthy things there.... You just need to know where to find them :-) 

After a brief sit down and lunch under a lovely tree that provided us with some shade, we headed to the marquees as we thought it would be best to be out of the heat at lunch time. The flowers were stunning, however it was so hot and humid that we could only last a few minutes at a time - I also think that by Thursday, the poor flowers might be suffering somewhat so won't necessarily look their best.

By 1:00pm, both my Mother and I had had enough so we headed out of the Show and back to the car - Unlike the 2.5 hour journey it took to get there, it took a meagre 50 minutes to get back home. We had to open the car doors and wait for at least 5 minutes and the inside of my car was a Greenhouse! It was over 30 degrees - 32.5 degrees to be precise and wow, could we feel it. Thankfully the air con soon reduced the temperature, so we weren't sweating the entire way home. I'm now sat on my sofa, having hoovered my front room, straightened my hair for tomorrow (Interview!) and am watching the Tennis on BBC1. My Mother has headed back home, after a nice cup of tea and a brief sit down. 

Tonight I'll be eating a wild Boar steak with some sweet potato mash and peas - It's been in my freezer for nearly a year and I'm still trying hard to waste less food so am currently going through my freezer and cupboards and seeing what I can find to use up. I'll also be reading through the job description and doing a little bit of 'prep' for my interview tomorrow - Fingers crossed :-)

Monday, 29 June 2015

The comments have started...

'Have you lost weight?'

Is something that some people may wish to hear, however I find it really hard to deal with that question. When I was 19 stone, noone ever said to me 'Have you put on weight?' or pointed out the fact that my trousers were incredibly tight and my shirts were bulging at the front. However when I lose weight, a lot of my family / friends or colleagues will ask me if I've lost weight. As I'm not advertising the fact and noone in real life (apart from my Boyfriend) knows that I'm actively healthy eating and changing my lifestyle, noone really shows any interest in my eating habits UNTIL they notice I'm losing weight.

Tonight I went to see my friend in Twickenham and she redid my eyelashes. I'm now in possession of awesome lashes, but also some mango and sticky rice which she kindly gave to me - I went to Thailand last year which was utterly amazing and one of the deserts I had was mango and sticky rice. As my friend is from Hong Kong, she's had the mango desert a number of times and knows where to find it in the UK, so she kindly gave me a portion. I really appreciate her making the effort, however there was part of me thinking 'Argh! More food!' However it's now safely in the freezer and can stay there until I feel like eating it :-) 

Half way through the 'procedure' she commented on my shape and said it looked like I had lost weight. I went for the half-hearted 'Yeah, maybe, can't say I've been weighing myself' comment which didn't deter her from asking me about my eating habits and what I've been up to recently. Thing is, she's incredibly slim - A size 6/8 maybe, so it's not as if she'd want eating habits from someone who is twice her size! It's funny, how some people always want to know what you've been doing to lose weight, as if you're a weight-loss guru or something.

When she had finished, she showed me to her garden and asked my advice on something - It turns out that an injured Magpie had been in her garden for 3 days and she had been feeding it bread and water but it couldn't fly. She asked me what she should do with it and I suggested calling the RSPB - However, when Googling them, it turns out they're just a charity apparently and actually, it's the RSPCA you should call. As she'd kept the bird alive for 3 days, I suggested giving them a ring as birds usually die within 24 hours if they're badly injured and this one was incredibly perky however seemed to have an injured wing, poor thing. 

I also suggested potentially putting it in a box, inside - as there's no guarantee a cat wouldn't come in the garden and eat it, however suggested asking the RSPCA for guidance first. 

I managed to get back home for 8:30pm and my Boyfriend texted me, saying he'd picked up all my 'winnings' from the auction we went to on Saturday. Behold! My amazing new antiques! I appreciate they're not to everyones taste, however I really like gothic stuff and I was thinking of getting the mirror restored and having it in the hallway - Oh, not that I have a hallway at the moment, but in the house we're going to buy next year :-) I also have 2 camphor wood chests at the moment as well, so this one makes 3 - I think I'll put this one inside the other ones, like a set of Russian Dolls.... 

My mum texted me half an hour ago and told me she's on her way down to my house, so we can leave early tomorrow for an incredibly fun day out. I really enjoyed spending the day with her at the Chelsea Flower Show last month, so I'm hoping tomorrow will be just as fun. It's apparently going to be really hot, so I'm going to ensure I've got a lot of water, sun cream and potentially even a hat so I don't get burnt - and most importantly, I'll make sure I have some healthy food at hand so I'm not tempted to eat rubbish. If my Mum wants a cream tea or some cakes, then I'll gladly buy them for her, but I'm going to save 'treats' for when I get a job offer as I think that's a nice thing to celebrate.

Smelling nice and eating healthy

Isn’t it funny how a random act of kindness or thoughtfulness from someone can make such a difference to your day?

Monday is more than 50% over and as I’ve got a days holiday tomorrow, I’m already feeling positive that I can get through the next few days without feeling too stressed. Unfortunately my sleep was quite interrupted last night and when I woke at 4:00am this morning, I found myself going through different work scenarios in my head and imagining conversations with my Boss, where he was telling me I was useless and I was giving him loads of examples about why that wasn’t the case. After getting up at the normal time, I managed to resist the scales saying ‘Stand on me, stand on meeeeee’, so won’t know what I weigh until tomorrow, which is of course, the end of June. I’m hoping I’ve lost some more weight since the last weigh in, but if I haven’t, I still think I’ve done rather well this month.

Getting into work, I ate another pot of Caramel flavoured porridge (Sainsburys – Please stock up on the Golden Syrup ones again!) had a cup of tea, did some more job hunting and then got on with various figures, statistics and other fun things that I had on my ‘to do’ list. Whilst deeply emerged in spreadsheets and pivot tables, one of my colleagues came up and gave me a book to read – I don’t usually talk to him and we don’t really have any kind of work relationship, although we’re always polite to each other. He said he’d read it and thought I might like to read it as well, as it’s very similar to some other books we discussed over 6 months ago. It was a really small thing, but I felt so touched and almost grateful, that in this company, where some people still seem to be ignoring me, others are treating me like a human being.

Another thing that helped me get through the day was the fact that one of my eBay deliveries came today. It’s a small thing, but I’ve found the most amazing smelling body lotion that I just love – However as it’s Molton Brown it means it’s mega expensive, so I tend to buy 2 of the really small bottles as it lasts for ages and I can keep one on my desk and one in my handbag in ‘emergencies’. I don’t know why, but smelling nice really does seem to boost my happiness and smelling of ‘Japanese Orange’ is great. I tend to associate it with ‘Being a grown up’ as it’s quite a sophisticated smell – I can’t really describe it any other way, really, however sticking some on my arms and hands and typing away, smelling myself (oo-er missus!) made me quite happy.

As it’s a Monday, I should have had a meeting with my Boss, however by 1:15 he hadn’t tuned up and I was starving, so I left a post-it note on his desk and headed out to lunch with my lovely work friend and another work colleague who started a few months ago who sits on our bank of desks. We’d arranged to go to Wagamama’s and despite being really hungry, I opted for an incredibly healthy option – The chicken ramen, with 510 calories per portion and only 10g of fat. Lovely work friend suggested we get an outside table as the weather was amazing, so we sat in the sunshine, chatting for nearly an hour, eating some very nice food.

Getting back to the office, my Boss was at his desk and said he wanted to push our meeting back until Thursday – Not a problem at all! That gives me more time to get things done and means I don’t have to talk to him about stuff until after my interview on Wednesday. He then left the office at 2:30pm for a 7 hour ‘private meeting’ with the woman I suspect him of sleeping with, so it meant he wasn’t sitting next to me, making me nervous either :-)

I’m leaving the office now as I’m off to see my friend and get my eyelashes sorted – for the first two weeks they looked awesome and I was hardly ‘moulting’ at all. Unfortunately in the last week, loads of them have fallen out and now I look like I’ve got a few spiders hidden in my eyelids, with their long spindly legs poking out. It’s another thing that makes me feel good about myself and I think it really makes a difference to my appearance. I should get back by 8:30-9:00pm which is quite late to cook, so I’m going to default to my pita bread, houmous and a pepper for dinner. It’s almost as if my lunch and dinner have flipped places today…

Tomorrow is the end of June, so stayed tuned for the all important photo of my scales – Fingers crossed the number will be a good one! 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Do you do something you love?

Today has been fantastic

I've mentioned my career before - I work in I.T and have known since the age of 9 that that's what I wanted to do in life. I remember the exact day, when I was at school and the teacher told me that one of the boys in my class (who couldn't make the robotic turtle with a pen, draw a square) could have twice as long on the computer as me 'As he was a boy'. I said to myself, 'I WILL work with computers when I'm a grown up' and put every effort into making that dream happen. My Mother was incredibly supportive and found a BBC Basic computer at a local jumble sale and I used to sit at the kitchen table, writing code - 10, 20, 30, IF THEN GOTO 10... I was ecstatic when, after 1.5 hours, I successfully drew a graphic of a stick man, bouncing a ball.

From then - Everything was focussed towards working in I.T. My GCSE's included I.T, my A levels included Computing - My BSc and PhD were both in Computer Science and I managed to secure a graduate position in one of the 'Big 4' as an I.T. Consultant. It's something I don't regret and I know I'm quite unusual to have realised what I wanted to do at such a young age.

So today was brilliant as my gastric band friend (who also works in I.T.) and I paid a visit to Bletchley Park - Home of the code breakers and of course, the incredibly famous Alan Turing and the Enigma machine. I went once before on my 30th birthday and still believe it was the best Birthday I've had as an adult. It felt so 'right', being in a place that was filled with technology and computers - seeing a whole room of BBC Basics - The computer that started my lifelong affair with the I.T. industry, was just magic.

Breakfast was porridge - Although unfortunately Sainsburys seemed to have suffered a 'Golden Syrup porridge shortage' so I had no option but to buy a few pots of the Caramel one instead. They're OK, but not my favourite taste! I didn't know what the food situation would be at Bletchley, so I also brought some strawberries and a Bakewell tart nakd bar for emergencies. I drove the 40 minutes to my friends house, then we switched cars and she drove us the rest of the way. We made really good time and arrived just after 10:30 - The weather was pretty dire to be honest (lots of rain), so there weren't a lot of people and we managed to buy our tickets straight away without much queuing.

After a quick cup of tea, we started wandering round and reading about the efforts of the brave men and women in the second world war. It's incredibly humbling to read about the conditions that some of the people worked under to help win the war - working in rooms with no natural light or ventilation and standing for hours. Once again, it puts things slightly more into perspective and despite my back hurting after walking around for a few hours, I didn't really think I had cause to complain. 

Bletchley has changed a lot in the last few years. There's a lot more interaction with things and a lot more information to take in. After 'Block C' - the block all visitors head towards and buy tickets, my friend and I wandered to Block B, to see the Bombe machine and learn all about Alan Turing - an absolutely incredible man who unfortunately was too advanced for the period he lived in and as such, was treated appallingly due to his sexual preferences. All of the staff were incredibly friendly and even though I've read about the Enigma machine, been to Bletchley more than once and watched a number of documentaries, the maths behind it still evades me! 

Lunchtime came, and my friend and I decided to head to the cafe to grab some lunch - We both opted for a jacket potato and out of all the usual potato toppings, I opted for baked beans as didn't really fancy cheese, tuna, chicken tikka etc. Thankfully the rain had stopped so we sat outside and chatted whilst noshing on our food - You'll note on the photograph that my potato came with some butter, however I didn't use it. Whilst butter tastes nice, the beans were enough and the whole thing was filling. It was really nice talking to my friend as we had a bit of a 'bonding moment', where she told me she's been much more open with me about her gastric band and feelings as she feels she trusts me and I, in turn, told her about how I felt like a failure due to not getting a job offer this week and how I get really anxious before interview and still feel so scared.

She said she felt the same - and that it's normal. It's odd, as she's made so many changes in her life in the last 2 years (split from her Husband, got a new job, had gastric bypass surgery, lost loads of weight, moved house....) and just appears so 'together' and so 'switched on', that it was oddly reassuring to hear that she sometimes feels like me - a bit worried, not necessarily confident about life. She's an awesome friend, I guess sometimes I don't tell people how worried I am about things and it's nice to feel close to people who feel the same way sometimes.

We did some more wandering before heading over to the National Museum of Computing which was again, amazing as it housed 'Colossus' and some of the very early computers. Despite having to pay additional money to get in (£7.50 per person) we spent over an hour walking around and learning about the early computers, before deciding to call it a day at just after 4pm. If you're thinking about going - GO! Just make sure you put a whole day aside, as there's just so much to take in, it's crazy.

The drive back was uneventful, until I switched cars at my friends house and continued the journey home. Unfortunately, after 15+ years of driving, I can now say that I've hit a pheasant :-( It was dithering at the side of the road and decided to fly across my windscreen as it saw my car coming. It hit my windscreen with a massive 'smack' and as I looked in my rear view mirror, saw lots of fluffy feathers on the road. I couldn't stop as there were cars behind me, and I was doing 50 MPH. 

I feel so guilty at the moment - I would never intentionally hurt any animal or bird and whilst it's not my fault, I hate the idea that I've killed something, or worse, there's a bird in pain thanks to me. There's nothing anyone can do, I know that pheasants seem to want to be run over as they seem to wait until there's a car coming, then charge - but even so, it's just a bit crap.

Dinner tonight was a marinated BBQ chicken breast with rosemary roasted new potatoes from my Riverford box and steamed carrots and peas. Absolutely delicious and now I'm incredibly full, sat on my Sofa, writing this blog and watching the Antiques Roadshow - I know, I know... old before my time :-)

It's been a lovely weekend with my Boyfriend and my friend and I'm focussing on the memories of the last two days to get me through next week at work.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

I'm famous!!!!

So in the grand scheme of things, I'm saying 'famous', however I guess it's all about context :-)

I buy two magazines a month and have been buying the same magazines for over 3 years. I've got my BBC Good Food Magazine which is great for telling me when the latest food festivals are, what interesting food is out there to try and giving me some really interesting new recipes to try - However, the magazine doesn't focus on healthy food. There may be an article or a few pages devoted to low fat / low calorie / low carb recipes / gluten free recipes etc, however it's not a regular thing and whilst all recipes give you the calorie content, fat content and all the other usual contents, if you're trying to eat healthy, it's not the best magazine to support your goals.

I also get the 'Healthy Good Food Magazine'- half the size of the BBC Good Food magazine and not as much content, however it's purely focussed on eating healthy so every recipe you read about, is good for you and not laden in fat or calories. I like both magazines and tend to rip out any that I want to try and put them in my 'owl folder' - a massive lever-arch binder that has a picture of an owl on it (Classy, I know). Last month, when my magazines were delivered, I tweeted 'My new Healthy Good Food Guide has arrived!' - This month, when my magazine was delivered, I started reading it and... I'm in print! Wow! Check it out! :-) Form an orderly queue for autographs.....

Today has been pretty awesome. Firstly, My boyfriend and I went to an antiques auction which unfortunately meant we needed to get up at 7:00am - This was quite painful for me as I haven't been sleeping well recently, however the prospect of adding to my already crowded house was impetus enough to get up, have a shower and reacquaint myself with another kipper for breakfast. Mr Kipper shared the plate with some scrambled egg (made from the last egg I had left in the box) Whilst small, it was enough to keep me going for a while, healthy and also made a change from the last 5 days worth of porridge.

After we got to the auction and had a look round, I was rather disappointed. Nothing stood out and shouted 'Buy me! it doesn't matter that you've already got 5 Oak coffers in your two bedroom house, you *need* me as well'. That being said, I did find a golden mirror that looks pretty gothic and a small camphor wood chest which I thought might make friends with the two camphor wood chests I've already got in my house, so I did an absent bid and we headed off to another auction house before gong back home to grab some lunch.

In my vegetable box this week, Riverford had kindly given me broad beans. I haven't eaten broad beans in years and don't think I've ever cooked them before. When I first saw them, I was flummoxed as to what I could use them in, however Riverford had thoughtfully provided a few suggestions on a recipe card - One of them being 'broad bean dip'. I decided this was a good idea as it seemed like a different type of houmous and as we know.... I love houmous :-) It was really easy to make as well:

1. Grab loads of broad beans.
2. Shell aforesaid bean into a saucepan
3. Boil for approx 4 minutes.
4. Stick in colander and cool with cold water.
5. They'll look all wrinkly, so it's easy to pop them out of their harder, lighter green shell.
6. Once you've shelled them all. Place into blender.
7. Add a squirt of lemon juice, some cumin, some salt and one clove of garlic
8. Add some half fat creme fraiche to make it taste a bit richer and blend!

Done :-) 

I have to say, I thought I did rather well for a first attempt. After eating the lot of it, my mouth did taste quite strongly of garlic, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as I wasn't planning on going clubbing and kissing anyone! 

We headed off to Malborough for yet more antiques shops and after we'd wandered round them, we headed back home, at which point, I get an email from the auction house telling me that I'd won everything I'd bin on! Hurrah - God knows where I'm going to put things, however I'm sure I'll find a space and when I've got them back to my house, I'll take photos and proudly display them on my blog :-) 

Once we got home, we watched an episode of 'Kevin McCloud's escape to the wild' or as my Boyfriend likes to call him 'K-Dog' (If you've never read about the Grand Designs drinking game, you should Google it, it's really amusing) A bit of 'chill time' was really welcome before we embarked on the mammoth task of dinner - I say 'mammoth task', my dinner was incredibly easy to make as I'd decided I'd make sashimi.

If you have a COSTCO near you and like salmon - Go and investigate! My boyfriend found a 1Kg salmon for under £13 and the quality was stunning. I grabbed some from one end and cut it into strips, whilst frying a small top side steak I found reduced from Marks and Sepencers. I love my steak blue, so it took me approximately 3 minutes of effort to cook. Most effort came with making the sushi rice, which to be fair, just needed to be boiled for 12 minutes and then left with the lid on for 45 minutes and hey presto... Dinner was ready.

As it's been such a beautiful day, I suggested we eat dinner in my garden, sitting on a blanket. My boyfriend had cooked the rest of the salmon and as he's doing his Atkin-esque diet, decided to just eat that on its own with some salad cream. It looked nice, but for me, that type of eating wouldn't be sustainable and therefore we were very happy to help each other in the kitchen, but stick to our own meal plans.

It's been a lovely, lovely day and we're now going to head out for a quiet drink at a lovely pub and enjoy the nice weather. 

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, 26 June 2015

I really, really want chocolate

I don't think I've had such bad cravings for ages

Tonight has been a really nice night. After surviving work, I drove my lovely work colleague round to a mutual friends house and we spent the evening catching up, feeding the donkeys that live in the field next to her house, stroking her cats, eating food and watching 'interesting' things on TV. 

It wasn't as warm as it was during the day, so sadly we couldn't really sit outside, however after a nice cup of tea and hearing how our friends new job was going, we headed outside to say hello to the field of donkeys that live next to our friends house. Our friends house is AMAZING - It's just her and it's the most beautiful 3 bedroomed house in a very 'posh' courtyard with a huge garden that backs onto fields and just has the most amazing views. She rents it, and I think I recall her saying it was about £1,800 a month rent which is a lot more than I pay for a 2 bedroomed house in a slightly different area, however she loves living there and the landlord allows her to have 4 cats, 3 of which I was able to stroke tonight :-)

She put some spicy potato wedges in the oven and opened all the lentil and houmous crisps. I tried my best to eat as slow as I could, however I still think I ate too much - In the grand scheme of things, it's not exactly the crime of the century but even when eating the crisps and spicy wedges, my brain was telling me, 'This isn't good for you'. Thing is, I should be able to eat crisps and wedges every so often and not feel guilty, but I did.... And as such, I don't think I was focussing on my friends and what they were saying as I was getting really worked up over what I was eating.

After eating a LOT of the crisps and wedges, I managed to stop myself from eating more, but it took a lot of willpower - especially as I wasn't stuffed and could have eaten more. It sounds like my friend loves her new job and it was nice hearing about how happy she was - especially as I used to manage her and in January this year, I was told by my Boss I had to dismiss not only her, but another 3 people within my teams as we were 'refocussing on other business areas' (translation: Noone was really monitoring cash flow and the company was in a really bad position and it was getting to the stage we wouldn't be able to pay wages....).

We then watched some interesting programs about bad tattoos and STI's caught by people who had drunken one night stands, before I drove my work friend home. 

I was half way back to my house, when I had a massive urge to drive to Tescos and buy a huge bar of chocolate - I don't know why, it was as if my brain was saying 'You've eaten unhealthy food today, you may as well continue'. I can't explain it, it was so strong and I had what could only be described as an internal argument with my head.

'You should be allowed to eat chocolate if you want, it's not as if you've been eating it for the past few weeks'
'But I am not hungry'
'However you have a desire to eat chocolate and as long as it's not all the time, it's fine'
'If I eat chocolate, I'm not going to lose as much weight and I want to see a lower number when I next step on the scales'
'But one bar of chocolate won't hurt in the long run'
'Maybe I'll buy a small bar'
'Why not just buy a big bar? You don't have to eat it all'
'There's no way I can stop half way through eating a big bar of chocolate'
'Then just buy a big bar'
'No.. as I don't want to feel guilty tomorrow'

And that's how it ended. 

I'm now back at home, with no chocolate, still wanting chocolate but as I've changed into my Pyjamas, I don't think there's any danger about going out and getting any. I have no idea why I currently have such a massive craving for it - I'm half way through my menstrual cycle, according to 'My days' app on my phone, I ovulated yesterday so I don't have PMT or anything like that and I'm not feeling overly emotional. It's almost as if my body just wants something really sweet.

On the one hand, I feel really proud of the fact I've not 'given in', however on the other hand, I'm worried that I'm not being realistic. Eating a small bar of chocolate shouldn't make me feel so guilty or anxious, it should be something I can do and just chill out about. I wouldn't bat an eyelid if someone was eating chocolate, so why can't I do it? Why does it have to be 'all or nothing?'

I'm going to drink my cherry Pepsi Max, watching South Park and head to bed at a reasonable time. I'm also going to reflect on why I feel so anxious and have such inner turmoil about 'bad food'. I shouldn't be looking at food as either 'bad' or 'good' and as I want this to be a lifestyle change, certain foods shouldn't be off limits. 

Never forget the positives

When things are stressful..... Keep on going.

I think most people are relieved that it’s Friday, however I’m so relieved it’s untrue.

Sitting at work, feeling like a leper each day is really getting to me and whilst I know I should think ‘Every day you’re paying me is one day closer to buying a house with my boyfriend’ and  ‘At least I have a job’, it’s so hard to actually pretend you’re happy when you hate every minute of it. In the last 5 years, I’ve always been so busy I’ve never noticed the time, I’ve never thought ‘Only 2 more hours until I’m at home’, yet at the moment I’m glancing at the clock every 10 minutes and calculating how long it is until I can leave for the day.

However, I know that this will change and I need to hold onto that fact. Rather than writing another 3 paragraphs about how awful work is, I won’t. I want to remind myself of what’s good in my life and why I’m not the incompetent, horrible person that I’m feeling people are thinking I am, at work.

1. I’ve got amazing friends – My friends have been amazing. They’ve sent me postcards, they’ve sent me texts, they’ve sent me funny Facebook messages and are all really supportive. I feel a lot less alone than I would if I was going through this on my own.

2. I’ve got amazing sisters – My sisters are all brilliant. I spoke to one of them yesterday on the phone and she said it was a shame I failed the interview on Wednesday, however ‘it’s all good practice and you’ll find something soon’

3. I’ve got the worlds best Boyfriend – Well, I think I do :-) He’s been absolutely fantastic in listening to me and saying I’m awesome. It’s really nice to hear someone telling you that you’re a good person and that you do a good job at work.

4. I’ve got an awesome CV – I’m only 33 and I’ve got a LOT of experience in my area.

5. I’ve got 1 face to face interview confirmed, another face to face interview to be scheduled and I’ve just had a phone call from another recruiter about another job – This is all really positive!

6. My healthy eating is going really well – Despite all of the stuff that’s going on in my life, I’m still managing to eat healthily. This is the first time I’ve EVER done this in my entire life.

7. I’ve got a great weekend planned with my boyfriend and my friend – we’re off to an antiques auction and then I’ve got a really fun day out planned with my friend and I’m looking forward to catching up with her.

8.I’m in good health – After my wisdom tooth operation in January, I’ve not really had any aches or pains as such. Once my job issues are sorted, life should be a lot better and I won’t have anything to worry about.

I know there are many more reasons, but those are the main ones for me at the moment. Additionally, throughout all the crap, my lovely vegan work friend is being amazing as per usual and no matter how much stress I get, she’s always there to go to lunch with and make a cup of tea with me, which I really appreciate.

So far my eating today has been pretty normal – Porridge for breakfast and I brought the other half of the pot of houmous in from home, as well as another pepper, pita bread and tomatoes. Tonight, my lovely work friend and I are going to a mutual friends house (she also used to work with us) and will hopefully sit out in her garden and have a couple of hours of catching up and ‘goss’. Apparently our mutual friend has brought chips as well as other vegan food, which is really kind of her, however when I read the sentence ‘I’ve also bought chips’ in a message, I started to panic a little bit. Not eaten since lunch time? Hungry by 6pm? Nice hot chips being offered to me? MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF WILLPOWER REQUIRED.

I have decided to be a bit smart and at lunch time, lovely work friend and I headed out into the sunshine and whilst she bought lunch and some nibbles for tonight, I decided I’d buy a ‘raw brownie’ to eat at 3pm, so I shouldn’t be too hungry by the time we reach our friends house and therefore I shouldn’t overeat as I’m really hungry. After getting food, we went and sat out in the local park which was really, really nice – not only because we weren’t in the office, but the sun was shining, the flowers looked beautiful and all my work issues seemed so small in comparison to ‘the rest of the world’. Having eaten the brownie, I have to say, it was ‘OK’, but nowhere near as good as the Bakewell Tart nakd bars, so I still remain a convert :-)

Thankfully the afternoon hasn’t gone too badly today and with less than 1.5 hours to go, I’m going to head off to a meeting  and hope it lasts for ages so I can walk out into the glorious sunshine and enjoy a couple of really awesome days.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Don't take the piss

My Emotions are up and down like a rollercoaster and it doesn't look like it's going to stop any time soon.

After the rather fraught day yesterday and the fact I didn't get offered the job, I managed to sleep slightly better and got up at my usual time of 7:15. I had a missed delivery from Royal Mail last week and didn't really have time to collect it before this morning, so headed over to the Post Office to pick up my parcel before heading to work - The oddest thing has been happening recently and I don't know if I'm just more sensitive to it or not, but it seems like a lot more men are opening doors for me and being generally, well... more nice. 

When I was heading to the Post Office, this bloke got to the door a good 5 seconds before me and rather than going in, he held it open and gestured for me to go before him. I'll say right here and now, I'm a feminist - I believe in equality between men and women and I'm more than capable of opening doors. However, I'm also a human being and as such, didn't want to offend him or be rude, so smiled and said 'Thank you ever so much' and went through - he was trying to be nice, so why say anything else? This seems to be happening more and more recently and I don't know if it's because I've been straightening my hair more and the sight of long, blonde hair is changing peoples actions, or is it because I'm losing weight? It will be interesting to see if it continues to happen...

My parcel was a rather nice black jumper from eBay, so I'm looking forward to wearing that in a months time - It fits perfectly at the moment and is really flattering.  Hopefully it won't be too big at Christmas time  :-) I headed into work with half the box of Bakewell Tart nakd bars that got delivered yesterday as my vegan work friend also really likes them and we agreed to split the box. Rather than just dump them on her desk, I thought I'd make a rather pretty 'heart shape' which she seemed to appreciate when she got into the office.

Work was rather boring until lunch time, then I decided I'd head home and work from home this afternoon as I had a telephone interview at 1:00pm. I grabbed some lunch from Marks and Spencers (my usual pita bread, houmous etc) and as soon as I got home, fired up my laptop and continued to work until 1:00pm. 

I've not worked from home in about 2 months and even though it's perfectly acceptable, I don't want to appear to take the piss. I also thought that as I had a telephone interview, it wasn't fair to go over my lunch hour by much as despite how horrible the company is at the moment, they are paying me to do a job and work for them. Equally, all the job interviews I've had to date - I've taken holiday. I've not 'been ill', I've never lied about where I was or what I was doing and more importantly, I still have my integrity. Work is crap, I hate it and I feel sick every day I have to go in - However I refuse to stoop to a low level of not working when I'm supposed to work as that's just, well... wrong?

The similarities between not taking the piss at work and not taking the piss when healthy eating has been the thought that's been dominating me for the past few hours. You know what's good for you, you know what's bad for you - You know if you eat 5 chocolate bars and crisps in a day, the chances of you losing weight is fairly slim. However, that's absolutely fine - Unless you're moaning to others about 'Why aren't you losing weight?' I've had it with ex work colleagues - They tell me they're on a diet, decide to go on a 'juice cleanse' or a have 10 slim fast shakes lined up on their desk and make a big song and dance about what they're doing. Then an email goes round about 'Birthday Cake in the kitchen' or 'Leftover Pizza to go to a good home' and they're the first ones literally running to grab a large slice. 

I used to be like this to a degree - Not regarding birthday cake at work, but in regards to kidding myself about what I was eating. I'd be dieting all day and then at night I'd eat a big bar of chocolate knowing that it was bad for me, but still stepping on the scales the next day believing there was still a small hope I may have lost weight. Oddly enough, I never did. 

I am not taking the piss when it comes to my work and I'm not taking the piss when it comes to my body - I'm still eating healthy food 3 times a day and it's working. I'm losing weight at a sensible rate. Looking to the future, I want to keep my integrity on both - Hopefully for all of my life. 

... Oh, and I think I aced another telephone interview - He said it would be 'disappointing' if I didn't come and work for him, so I'll wait and see on that one! 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

How to overcome failure?

Staying positive is so hard at the moment - I feel so exposed

I had a lovely night with my Boyfriend last night. Dinner was mackerel and vegetables sent to me from my weekly Riverford vegetable box - Quite honestly, I can't say I was overly keen on the 'lightly smoked mackerel' from Marks and Spencers as it tasted an awful lot like a kipper and having kippers with vegetables is just, well, weird as they're a breakfast food, surely? I don't think I'll be doing that again, however it was certainly very healthy.  After dinner we went for a quick drink at a local pub - It was lovely sitting out in the sun next to a river and watching all the ducks waddle around, looking for 'stray chips' that people fed them.  We then headed back to mine - He's my rock at the moment as I was telling him how my appraisal went with my Boss and just burst into tears. 

After another restless night, I got up early and headed into London for my interview or more correctly 'interviews' as I had 6 in one day - 4 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. I arrived in plenty of time and the first two only lasted 30 minutes each. I thought, I was doing OK, that I had answered all the questions well and seemed to have developed a rapport with the people interviewing me. Unfortunately, after the first two, the HR guy came in and politely said that they didn't think I was technical enough so they were not going to continue the process. It was said in a really nice way and at the time I was all smiles and politeness as I shook his hand and headed out to the lift, however as I descended to the ground floor, I started feeling sick and shaky.

It was only 11:00am when I left, so I headed back to the tube and subsequently, the train station and grabbed some sushi for lunch before heading back home on the train. I phoned my boyfriend who was saying all the right things, however I still felt really rejected. I also had this really clear vision in my head of a door slamming shut, a metaphor, I assume, for the fact that I now have less options of how to leave my current company. 

How does one cope with rejection? What are the best coping mechanisms? I guess if I'm honest, I'm not used to failure and it hurts - I've been really successful in academia, and my career to date. At the moment, it feels like I'm hated by everyone at work and thought to be incompetent and can't get another job as noone believes I'm any good. 

On the other hand, I've passed various interviews, my successes at work are still successes and I wouldn't have been able to last 5 years in my current company unless I was good at what I do. I need to keep repeating this to myself and hold on a few more days until the next opportunity (next Wednesday I have a different face to face interview) presents itself to me. 

I need to keep the following things in mind:

  • Failure is a natural part of life, - Everyone, EVERYONE in the world fails at some time or another. It's not nice, but it's natural.
  • It's my responsibility - That's not me beating myself up for it, but I failed at the interview because I didn't have the right skill set. But I do have a skill set, and a damn good one at that!
  • Treat it as a learning experience - I got 3 face to face interviews as experience and I did a technical test (and did better than I thought!) This will hold me in better stead, next time
  • This is only temporary - 'This too shall pass'. I'm feeling bad now, but in 1 month, 2 months down the line, I'll have a new job and won't feel upset.
I'm now sat at home, having eaten my lunch, the washing is on.. and I've got over 4 hours until I need to leave the house and see my friend, so I'm going to use the time wisely. I'll do some more job hunting... I'll clean out another cupboard of clothes and put the bins out and I'll write a shopping list for Saturday. I'll also eat one of the many Bakewell Tart nakd bars that were delivered to my house today - My vegan friend got me hooked on them but the Bakewell tart ones are selling out so fast in Sainsburys, the shelf is usually empty - so I decided to bulk buy and we're going to split a whole box of them tomorrow :-) They really taste like bakewell tart but are healthy and not baked (My friend refers to them as 'Vegan crack')

I need to keep going, take one day at a time and believe in myself. I am not a bad person and I don't deserve to be treated like crap at work. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

I stepped on the scales again

At least my headache seems to be going

After a really nice night with my work friend where we made Vegan sushi, watched the last episode of Geordie Shore and the first 3 episodes of ‘Judge Geordie’ – where Viki Patterson (from Geordie Shore) goes around the UK, helping people by ‘judging’ their relationship problems (We loved it), I headed up to bed and tried to sleep. Unfortunately I slept really badly and kept waking, worrying about the fact I had my annual appraisal today with my Boss at lunch time.

I think I got about 2 hours sleep last night and when I finally managed to get to sleep – my alarm woke me up. Getting up, I had this massive sense of panic and felt completely useless about everything – my life, my job, my healthy eating… I even started worrying that my boyfriend was going to leave me. It’s not a normal feeling, but it felt so intense. I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t useless and decided to step onto the scales and see if my continued healthy eating had paid off.

The figure was lower and I felt a massive sense of relief – I’m not useless, I can do things right. However I then felt cross with myself as I’m depending on a plastic and metal calculator with batteries to provide some of my self worth. After putting my jeans on, I noticed I had to pull them up more, they appeared looser and when looking at myself in the mirror, I definitely think I’ve lost some of my ‘fat rolls’ around my waist. Wow. 93.9Kg. That’s 6Kg or 13.2 lbs – that’s so close to a stone and I’ve still got another week to go to achieve my desire weight loss target.

Getting into work, I did my normal routine – Porridge with blueberries with a nice cup of tea, job hunting online and replying to any emails that any of the overseas offices had sent overnight. The morning went quite slowly, although I was constantly aware of the time. It reached 12:00 and I started to feel sick, at 12:30, my Boss said ‘Right, appraisal time?’ and so it started….

Considering how I’d imagined it in my head for months, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought, however it wasn’t good. My 2 major failures are within 2 departments and whilst I can do good things, do exceptional work, support other areas – my failures outshadow any good things. One of my departments will be taken away from me so I can focus on the others (I have lots… I don’t think this is a good thing, more a curse) and my Boss needs to see results quickly. He wasn’t as horrible as he was a few months ago, when he sat me down on the 31st March and said ‘I needed to reconsider my position at the company’, but he wasn’t happy with my performance….

Outcome: I’m not sacked.
Outcome: I feel really demotivated

I didn’t leave the meeting until after 1:30pm, so was really hungry for lunch. I headed into town straight away to clear my head and managed to effectively ‘sleep walk’ to Marks and Spencers to pick some things up. I actually think it’s a really positive thing that my default lunch options are healthy choices, even if they are a bit boring day after day.

Back in the office, I had more recruiter calls and I’ve now got another face to face interview set up for next Wednesday. I’ve also got another telephone interview so things seem to be moving in the right direction. Unlike things for my ‘Drama’ friend who sent me messages and screenshots of her conversation with one of the men off OK Cupid, berating the fact they were replying to her with one word answers… STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE, DRAMA FRIEND!

Tonight, I’ve got my counselling session and then I’m seeing my boyfriend and cooking myself a really nice dinner of ‘lightly smoked mackerel’, new potatoes and steamed vegetables. I don’t think I’ve ever done mackerel before, however it was reduced to £2 in Marks and Spencers so I thought I’d try it and also use up some of the vegetables that were delivered in my vegetable box last Friday. I’m then going to ‘prep’ for my SIX INTERVIEWS tomorrow in London – They start at 09:30 and finish at 16:00. I think I’m going to be knackered!

Mantra: I’m not sacked, I can still pay the bills and I WILL be leaving the company soon…. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Now I know....

So that's what's been going on behind my back at work.....

I’ve spent most of today in a very anxious state as I had my scheduled meeting with my Boss today. After sleeping quite well, I woke at 5:45 and found it virtually impossible to get back to sleep as I was running through work related things in my head and working out how many hours I had until I had to be in a room with him. Despite my head being full of worry, I managed to remember my breakfast (porridge and blueberries) and my lunch, which was the last portion of my healthy moussaka, hiding in my fridge.

Work was quite busy in the morning and kept my brain focussed on other things – As my lovely work colleague had arranged lunch with someone else, I decided I’d stay in the office and work through my lunch break, eating at my desk. I don’t really like doing this on a normal basis, however for some reason felt quite vulnerable and didn’t want to walk to town on my own. This was compounded by the fact that the weather was pretty dire and whilst I had an umbrella, I used the torrential downpour as an excuse to stay indoors.

My meeting happened at 1:00, as per usual and after 30 minutes of discussing updates, my Boss said ‘As it’s your appraisal tomorrow, I thought we could discuss what’s going to happen with the company and where you want to go with your role’…… You know when you’ve gone over and over and over something in your head and feared the worst? I honestly think I’ve gone over the scenario so many times, I was totally calm. Long story short – There are a lot of structural changes happening in the company and people are getting promoted and things are changing. This means that my role doesn’t really ‘fit’ in anywhere… and due to people ‘losing a lot of confidence in me’ apparently, it will be ‘doubly hard’, to sort things out…..

The conclusion? There isn’t one at the moment – My Boss wants to know if I’m ‘up for the challenge’ which, of course, I have to say I am (as I don’t have another job offer on the table yet), however it was quite upsetting to hear critical feedback when he wasn’t able to give me examples. Oddly though, I’m not as upset as I thought I would be as 1. I don’t believe he’s conducted himself in a very good manner (all the meetings with my teams, not inviting me etc…) and 2. If you’re not able to give examples, how can you be expected to actually believe the feedback is true?

Additionally, if this is ‘all’ that’s going to happen – e.g. someone else get promoted and the structure change, it also means that I don’t have to get a job offer straight away as I can coast for a few weeks until I get a firm one, that I won’t be sacked and that I will be able to pay the bills. I guess we’ll see tomorrow if anything else happens at my appraisal, however as I’ve got a final interview on Wednesday, and hopefully one on Thursday, I’m really hoping I can resign by the end of this week (Wow.. that’s kinda cool, really).

Another thing that’s on my mind at the moment is that today marks the 3 year anniversary of my cat being put to sleep. He was a rescue Persian who I adopted when he was 5. Sadly he was incredibly mistreated and the rescue center were appalling. When I adopted him, he had fleas, ear mites, a perforated ear drum, an eye ulcer, chronic cystitis and ringworm. The Rescue center refused to help with the bills and despite me being a student, I paid everything – which over the first 18 months of his life cost me £4,000. The next 8 years of my life were filled with a cat who was incredibly ‘screwed up’, who would urinate everywhere (even on you) and who sadly, never was able to get rid of his ringworm, despite being shaved and washed multiple times.

Despite him being the worlds most evil cat who honestly nearly drove me to distraction and cost me thousands, I loved him to bits and don’t regret a second of it. Unfortunately he got thinner and thinner and thinner and I realised he wasn’t happy so made the decision to have him put to sleep (based on the vets opinion that he looked like he was getting to the point of kidney failure). I still can’t write about what happened on the last day as it still brings tears to my eyes, but I can honestly say it was the hardest decision and most upsetting day of my life to date – not even my relatives dying has come close to the pain I felt. I was very lucky that my Boyfriend was there to support me and I know that he loved him too, even though he didn’t know him for as long. Three years today – I still miss you Bailey.

In the next hour, I’m going to be heading home with my lovely work friend, where we will make vegan sushi and watch the last episode of ‘Geordie Shore’ before launching into a marathon of the new series of ‘Love Island’, which I’m told is absolute tripe and really bad – Perfect for us :-) I’m looking forward to getting out of the office and hopefully getting rid of my headache that’s been dogging me for the past few hours. I’ll continue to healthy eat tonight, but am feeling quite vulnerable and really like the idea of just getting a hug from my boyfriend who I’m sadly not seeing until tomorrow.