2020, Uncategorized

Focus on the positives?

Embrace every single small victory that you have right now. I’m seeing more and more people berating themselves over so many things on various socials.

We are experiencing the weirdest and scariest times of our lives and I too have berated myself more often than not. This is a killer virus that we have never experienced and hopefully one we never experience again. In saying that there are still positives to be found in every single day. I’m still a work in progress from the woman I was. Having not worked since 17th March it’s been a weird experience to say the least. Some days I’m eating well and exercising loads and other days I’m not.

What have I accomplished during lockdown?

  • Every single day I make my bed.
  • I’m reading more.
  • Have downloaded Libby the reading app where I can support my local library even though it’s closed.
  • I’m drinking more water regularly
  • I’m able to spend time with the family I live with.
  • I’m hula hooping more I must get back on this tomorrow 5000 spins is my personal record.
  • I’ve done a plank challenge although as I got to around day 27 at 240 secs I started finding it difficult.
  • I’ve done online workouts.
  • I’ve successfully completed a readathon finishing 5 books during that…
  • I’ve made small progress in my room.
  • I’ve been able to help the family I live with.
  • I’ve been there for those who need me…

Yes it’s the strangest and scariest time of our lives but we are surviving every day. Take every victory. I started my day with a good breakfast and then the heat of the glorious sunshine made me lazy. Saying that I attempted a plank (not a great score) and managed 110 squats it can’t always be full on but little by little we can make changes.

Same goes for blogging I often feel like a pretty rubbish blogger but during May I’ve posted regularly and today I’ve been stumped, I mean I have reviews to finish and old drafts that should see the light of day but I didn’t want to rush anything….if that makes sense. Today I’ve only listened to Nicholas Sparks I’m loving this read although the narration is questionable….

I would love to know your accomplishments???

2019, Blog Tour, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Thirty By Christina Bradley

Today I am pleased to talk about a book that is aptly very me. If you have ever thought our tastes are alike they probably are…I should be posting a review but I haven’t quite finished. Yesterday I left my glasses at my friends so pretty much ruined my reading so.

Better late than never I’m going to tell you a little about Thirty…I’m over that original milestone but I’m still within those years and very much like Bella well in some ways and many of my friends would say I talk extremely badly about myself. I know o can and I have got better but like Bella I could do with a bit more living in the moment.

Blurb: Thirty days till she turns thirty… Just thirty dates to find The One…

Bella Edwards is a hot mess.

Days away from turning thirty, single, struggling to reconcile where she is with where she imagined she’d be by this point in her life, Bella has come to believe her entire future happiness is based on meeting ‘The One’.

After an unfortunate encounter with a fortune teller, where it seems Bella’s single fate is sealed, she hops on a plane from London to New York to seek the wisdom of her best friend who, in turn, presents Bella with a challenge: thirty dates in thirty days before Bella turns thirty.

Challenge accepted, Bella embarks on a crazy road trip across America to San Francisco, with one clear objective: to find ‘The One’ and prove the fortune teller wrong. What ensues is a raucous adventure of dating, love, and – most importantly – self-discovery.

my review will be up as soon as it’s done but be sure to check out the rest of the tour.

2019, New Author to me, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized

Novella Review: Stepping Out By S.J.King

Blurb: WINNER of the Books and the City Choice Award in the #heatseeker short story competition, Stepping Out is a poignant, inspiring short story about acceptance, self-love and finding the courage to be who you really are.

Paula has been practising walking in her new red velvet heels for weeks. So far, she hasn’t made it past her front door.

But tonight is different.

With the help of her sister, a panty-girdle and a little bit of Dutch courage, Paula is stepping out, for the very first time.

Will she find the courage to show her true identity to the world? And if she does, will they accept her?

Review: I purchased this on 16th September 2018 and just under a year later I’ve finally read it. The Heat-seeker winners that I’ve read have been fantastic and following Hannah Pearl’s treat I instantly downloaded this one. For one reason or another it’s taken me this long to read this but I truly enjoyed this short read. It’s the perfect tonic in between reads and kept me entertained with a coffee and a biscuit just after my breakfast and in between my lunch whilst at the seaside.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this novel, from the off I worked out it was heavily focused on anxiety but considering the title I was a little naive in what I thought it was about. An extremely well written short that had me on the edge of my seat throughout constantly wanting more and not feeling like I’d been short changed by the novella. I wholeheartedly felt captivated by the thoughts and feelings of someone overcoming these sort of challenges, and how it changes even the smallest of events hence Paula’s night out taking so much effort and preparation.

A truly heartfelt and powerful read of anxiety change and the love of a sister.

2018, Fitness, Me, Off Topic, personal

Change

I had a manager from my O2 at the O2 days who used to say it takes 28 days to form a habit. This speech would regularly come out if there were major changes and especially when he thought we wouldn’t ever be willing to try and get on board. After having a night out with my old pals it got me thinking.

Now I’ve mentioned before and I dare say it will come up again, in April I joined Slimming World and my relationship with food changed. Some of you think I’m not eating properly and that couldn’t be further from the truth if anything I eat more these days it’s just what I’m eating and how I’m making it. That’s the key.

What I’ve noticed threefold is I don’t eat in the same way. I’m more appreciative and my sweet tooth is still there it’s just not as greedy as it once was which is a good thing for my health.

I’ve always been quite an active person but in finding Slimming World I shortly after found Fight Klub and for the first time in a while I felt truly excited. If I can’t make a class I’m grumpy. Recently when I hurt my back I missed two weeks of classes. This week I returned at a lower pace although I don’t think my right shoulder thinks that was the case saying that this morning it’s feeling a lot better but I haven’t reached work yet.

Now I’m a target member I’m not trying to loose any more weight. I’m now trying to find the right balance. I’m still enjoying trying new things and there’s still a number of things I’d love to make. I’m line with that on 12th November I’m embarking on an ETM Exercise To Music course and for the first time in ages I’m truly excited to study once again. I did GCSE PE and I honestly thought i’d have done more with it and now I’m on a whole new journey. This year has been remarkable for me and when opportunity knocks say yes what’s the worst that can happen. There are a few other potentials which I haven’t ruled out either.

I have recently become a Just Strong ambassador, I’m extremely new to this but I’m very much on board for inspiring and empowering women. I have just received my package but as I was out having a cheeky night off I haven’t opened it as yet. I dare say there will be an update on this as I cannot wait to try on my new gear. www.juststrong.com as a thank you to you beauties I am able to share with you my 10% discount code HAYLTHO10 I will be reviewing the top and jogging bottoms that I have purchased. If you have any questions or would like me to try something also get in touch. I’ve seen a few girls modelling the hoodies and I maybe swayed on that as these days are getting colder.

2018, Blogtober, personal, Uncategorized

Life is a Rollercoaster

It isn’t the first and won’t be the last time I name check my favourites classic song for a personal blog entry.

Today is another day where my Blogtober ideas change and change again.

I’m sorry for the late entry on a day where it should have happened hours ago. I’ve had the weekend off which is another novelty and after personal post won on my poll I’ve been toying with what to say and I must admit this wasn’t my original thought.

On Monday I did something to my back at work, and I can’t even pinpoint when or what actually caused it. I’ve been extremely frustrated since then. In joining Slimming World back in April I’ve learnt so much about myself and my habits and routines have changed so much for the better.

In attending a boxfit class my enthusiasm changed dramatically and then I attended a Fight Klub class and that was me well and truly hooked. There is something truly awe inspiring in the feelings that Fight Klub brought out of me. So much so I will be doing an Exercise to Music course in November – I honestly cannot wait. I’m so rating to go which is why this week has well and truly KO’d me. I could never have imagined I’d be going back to college but I do feel like I’ve come full circle in some respects as at school I studied GCSE PE and had thought I would have done more with it.

I haven’t attended any classes and I’m extremely frustrated not only for my fitness but for my piece of mind. Exercise is good for the soul and nourishing for the mind. I’ve missed them so much and today I feel like I hit breaking point – I haven’t done too much as wanted to rest and bam the pain seemed to change. I can’t even comprehend another week without my classes – they’re a part of me and I feel so much happier and full of life when I’m putting my body through its paces.

Life sure is a rollercoaster, do what you love and love what you do for as long as you can.

2018, Author Love, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Anita Cassidy talks Habits and Change…

So I’ve been saying for a while that I’m going to host more authors on Hayley Reviews and I have some fabulously inspirational beauties to introduce you to.

This lady is a friend of Hayley Reviews and it’s not the first time she’s guested here, Anita is a truly inspirational woman and her book Appetite helped spur a few changes in my life – which I’m hoping to have more news for you on next week. Watch this space.

So without further ado I give you Anita Cassidy.

I’m in awe of this lady and the way she describes exactly how a lot of us feel in one way or another.

Habits and change

Over the summer I thought a lot about change and the different types of change that goes on in our lives. One of the  reasons I wrote Appetite was to identify how change happens and how it is acceptance of self and habits that leads to change, not the beating of the self with “should’s”. This post is about habits, change and how I worked with two habits of my own, one habit that contributed to my life and one that did not.

Habits are shortcuts to where we think we want to be, as well as things we have created (usually unconsciously) based on patterns we observed or which were acted out on our behalf as we were growing up. Habits can be helpful – making the bed, brushing teeth, eating a piece of fruit a day – or they can be less helpful. Under stress, we often revert to patterns of behaviour that are instantly comforting but can be harmful in the long term.

Conversations around sugar and habits all too often focus on weight or use shaming to try and create change but there is a paradigm shift happening as people increasingly realise that the focus needs to be on the unique, individual experience of what feels better for you – how and when do you feel mostly well in yourself and what habits contribute to that.

The tax on sugary drinks went into effect in April 2018 and, while the short-term effect tends to be an immediate reduction in the amount of drinks bought and consumed, long-term the impact is often less profound than hoped for.

Cost may be a barrier for some – though, as with cigarettes and alcohol, most people make changes to the other things they buy to accommodate a rising cost in items they desire. The main reason why taxes intended to discourage consumption don’t work is because they do not fundamentally change the habits and behaviours that drive that consumption.

The best thing about any habit is that there is only one person who can change it: you. The worst thing about any habit is that there is only one person who can change it: you.

The changing of a habit can be identified in three steps.

1 Identifying there is something you do that you would like to do more, or less often.

2 Fully accepting, without blame or shame or critical self talk, that this is something that you do less of than you would like, or want to do more of

3 Beginning to consciously adapt your behaviour over time.

To illustrate this, I have two stories to share, one about stopping a thing, and one about doing more of a thing.

Diet Coke

When I stopped drinking alcohol in 2014, I started to drink more diet soda. I was drinking usually one or two but often three cans a day. I liked it, it felt like a treat. It felt like a nice thing to have when I was out as well as a reward throughout my day. As I wrote Appetite, I started reading more about sugar and came across evidence about the role that artificial sweeteners play in making you crave sugar later; their role in types of cancer and other diseases was also being made clearer. I felt that anxiety of not wanting to be drinking something like that – but I still liked it. I still wanted and felt like I needed it. And the anxiety made me want to drink even more.

I started to focus more on what it was actually like to drink a Diet Coke: the flat, predictable taste; the fact that unless it was super-cold it tasted kind of chemical; the way that I felt bloated after drinking it. And with the noticing came some new facts about Diet Coke that helped me see it less as a treat and more like something that I THOUGHT was a treat but which actually tasted not so great. I stopped drinking it. And, three years later, have not touched a diet drink since.

Writing

I discovered National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2012 and, that November, I wrote my first ever book. 50,000 words, most of which were garbled nonsense, and the remains of which are still hidden in a yellow plastic bag like the discarded remnants of a long-forgotten crime scene. I wrote another 50,000-word story in 2013. Again, only in November. I was blogging in between at this point but only a few hundred words most weeks and all non-fiction.

I began to see that writing made me feel good and I wanted to do more of it. As I approached January 2014, I resolved to write every day and so, to help me do this, I signed up to the ‘100k in 100 Days’ challenge on Facebook, a group that supports people in writing approximately 1,000 words a day every day for 100 days. Doing that helped me to develop a positive habit of writing every day which I have mostly continued since and which has seen me write and finish one novel, write another as well as a few other shorter drafts, and countless blog posts and other pieces in the last four years. While there were times when it was hard, the positive feedback loop of writing most days and feeling better in myself was a powerful one, and helped sustain the habit over the difficult periods. It took me a while a to allow myself breaks…

What these examples hopefully show is that change can be sudden or gradual but it always begins with ACCEPTANCE of the thing that you are doing.

We shouldn’t say: Oh, I’m drinking three Diet Cokes a day and they might give me cancer but I’m addicted and I can’t stop…  Or, I am not writing more than a few months a year and I am never going to get anywhere. This is where most of us struggle – the story we tell ourselves is that where we are now is fixed state of affairs. We judge and dislike ourselves for the way we are currently behaving, and this self-criticising (hating, even) is what gets in the way of change happening.

So, any change starts with acceptance and can be supported by a few other things. Accountability can help with new habits such as exercise or writing/learning a new skill.  It can be helpful to have someone to share successes, plateaus and frustration with – ‘Yay, this makes a difference’, ‘Meh – I feel kind of in the middle’ or ‘Boo, I am finding this hard this week.’

Understanding the benefits of doing/not doing is key too. Why do you want to do/not do something? Write down the reasons, and revisit them while you build the habit. Be your own cheerleader!

Most of us lead complex and also quite unpredictable lives, so flexibility is important but so is not letting too long pass without fulfilling the new, positive habit. The negative feedback of ‘I’ve missed a week or two of xx and I feel less good…’ can be a helpful reinforcement of the benefits of doing something, but equally it can make getting back into it harder. You will figure out your own benchmarks and guidelines. For me, if I don’t exercise for three weeks I really find it hard to get back to. If I don’t write for a week or so, I do feel it impact on my well-being and ability to cope. These are the guidelines that work for me and you can feel and figure out your own as you go along.

If you want to make conscious changes to any of your own habits and are looking for support, get in touch: connect@anitacassidy.uk

Anita talks change

Anita talks sugar

Appetite review

Blog Tour

2018, Fitness, Off Topic, personal, Uncategorized

If in doubt Fight it out….

I had a number of options for blog posts today and I never expected it to be this. I also never expected it to be this late in the evening. I promise no complaining and bookish goodness tomorrow. I have some gorgeous guest posts that I cannot wait to share with you.

I had a fabulous holiday and considering I was only by the seaside the weather was pretty good, and it was great to spend time with my family including my four week old niece and nephew alongside their big sister. I’d hit my Slimming World target on the Monday before I left and I expected there to be some changes. I hadn’t been a complete pig but the scales upset me last night. I don’t think it helped that I’d had a strange work day and since returning from holiday I’ve had an awful sore throat cue me feeling extremely sorry for myself.

Today I have had a good and organised food day. I’m starting to cough up crap (sorry tmi) and I’ve just finished an awesome Fight Klub class. This class has me well and truly addicted, I’m hooked and I hate missing it. I’ve even got to the point I’m now changing my plans to fit in another session tomorrow. In that hour I let out some aggression and hopefully sweated out this awful bug that I feel I have.

This is the definition of Fight Klub that is stated on the group I attend in Bexleyheath and Falconwood.

FIGHT KLUB® is the boxing and martial arts inspired workout scene sweeping the nation! Using FIGHT KLUB®’s uniquely designed punch bag, the workout is formed of structured combinations of authentic boxing, kick boxing and Thai boxing moves. Suitable for ALL levels of fitness and set to Drum & Bass and House music, the workout hits all major muscle groups in the upper and lower body. Participants benefit from improvements in cardiovascular endurance, core strength, weight loss and muscle tone.

I literally cannot imagine life without this class, so much so I’ve even started thinking about becoming a trainer. Not that I think I’m anywhere near as awesome as Maxine and Sarah are. So through some crap stuff this week I have found my strength and determination thanks to friends, family and Fight Klub. If in doubt fight it out. HOW MANY??

https://ravingklubbers.com

2018, Me, Off Topic, Uncategorized, update

My Fitness Journey….

Hey welcome to Hayley Reviews, today I am going away from bookishness and talking about me.

In my younger years I was one of those girls who people said could eat anything and wouldn’t put on weight that soon changed. I’ve never minded fruit but I can honestly say I rarely smashed my five a day. As for vegetables – as a child I had a best mate whose mum would serve up all sorts of veg and expect you to eat it whether you liked it or not. To this day I blame her for Brussel Sprouts – I did try them again quite recently and I can honestly say I can live without them.

If at the beginning of this year you had said to me that I would one be trying to actually cook rather than throwing something in the oven and two that I would willingly want broccoli, spinach and cauliflower with my dinner I would have laughed in your face. Now I’m upset if I run out of spinach or Broccoli or if Sainsbury’s don’t have Butternut Squaffles in stock.

They do say your taste buds change every seven years and they really do. I have such a sweet tooth yet it’s been curbed quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong I still love a hot choc and I’m still impartial to chocolates just not to the excess I would have before. I have also learnt that a lot of the time it was merely through boredom or because it was there. In working in such a busy environment where there are often lots of people around it was often easier to just snack on crap. Fast forward to August 2018 and the thought of some of the things I would have gauged on makes me feel physically sick.

On 16th April 2018 I joined Slimming World – a number of people asked me why and a number of people also said I shouldn’t have. Having seen a number of friends do well from Slimming World I thought what the hell. What do I have to lose. In joining I took one look at the plan and was instantly thinking what am I going to eat. Natasha my consultant was super helpful- she told me not to focus on what I wouldn’t eat and to look at what I would. My first week was a little strange and I somehow managed to put together some odd meals. In that week I managed to lose 3lb but I hadn’t had much speed food.

What is speed food? I hear you say. These are fruit and vegetables that help speed up your metabolism – quite quickly I found a flow that I could enjoy. With my breakfast I often have Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries and Blueberries which are all speedy fruits and with meals it’s often Mushrooms, Carrots, Spinach, Butternut Squash and Broccoli to name a few. Before Slimming World I ate Carrots and Mushrooms but the other vegetables I hadn’t tried in a long time.

On 13th August 2018 I hit my target weight – this was a very good Monday for me, I had said to myself as I got closer that I wanted to be at target before my family holiday to the seaside and I made it. As you know I’m away as we speak and I’ve had a sketchy food week but I have had some fruit and Weetabix on a few mornings and some semi Slimming World friendly stuff. In town I found a gorgeous Mushroom Risotto which if possible I would love to sample again before we leave – it hasn’t happened so far.

I know there are Slimming World recipes for this so this will be happening when I return home.

Alongside my food and my walking I started attending a number of fitness classes. I have been doing Zumba on/off for years and I still really enjoy it. I managed to get a few free passes to some Boxfit classes. I did Boxfit on Blackheath common and then I found Fight Klub. That’s another thing I wouldn’t have thought a boxing based fitness class would be my thing but I love it and when I miss it, I’m seriously annoyed. Last week I managed to fit in two sessions which I was also meant to do the week before but due to trainer sickness that didn’t happen.

What has surprised me….I’m now a target member- I’ve missed a weigh in week as I’m away but I’m intrigued to see how I fair. As I have relaxed a little this week I have been shocked at the changes. Back in April/May time I purchased this…

On the Friday night before we left home I decided my working week was done and my me time had started so I would sample this. I had two quite small glasses and found it super super sweet. I also realised that I can’t drink normal coke – I asked for a vodka and Diet Coke and was given a normal coke and yet again it was too sweet. I’m pleased to report my love of an Irish coffee and of fudge still stands but once again my body will tell me when I have had too much. I’m also noticing a difference to how I feel when I’ve eaten fatty foods.

The picture on the left was taken at a book event with friends on 30th April so two weeks into my SW journey and the pic on the right was taken in July around the World Cup. I’ve also had a number of non scale victories in the fact I need pretty much a new wardrobe and the stuff that used to be tight now fits.

Thank you to those who took part in my poll yesterday, meaning I actually finished writing this piece.

What would you like to see tomorrow? Book Review, Author Guest Post, or something different. You guys get first refusal on what tomorrow holds.

2018, Author Love, ebook, novella, Review, Uncategorized

Book Review: Random Acts Of Kindness Part Four – New Adventures

Blurb: Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart…

Summer is drawing to a close as Huntley Manor is due to have its grand re-opening. Abbie is determined to save the hotel from closure but she has to remember her own career too… As she and Thomas grow ever closer, will she end up making Littlewood her home for good? Or will she set up her own PR company back in London…?

Eszter has to decide whether it is time to go back to Hungary… But what has she got to return to? She has no career to speak of, and their home is filled with painful memories of her beloved husband. But can a new job, a new home and a surprise new dog convince Eszter and Zoe to stay?

Louise wants to tell Alex how she feels but decides she needs to show him after pushing him away for so long. Will a grand gesture be enough to show him she won’t run away this time?

As the town of Littlewood comes together to help Huntley Manor, we’ll find out if kindness really does have the power to save the day….

Packed full of love and kindness, this heart-warming story will reaffirm your faith in humanity!

Review: Now it goes without saying I have been waiting for the final part of this story since I finished reading part three back in April. Although I must admit I was also worrying about saying goodbye to Littlewood and its residents.

I did think I would have devoured this a lot quicker than I did but I am going to blame work, my fitness sessions and the fact I was blooming scared to say goodbye to the gang.

The town and characters that Victoria has created instantly had an impact on me. Being kind is definitely something we should all do more of. I have started to make these changes in being kinder to myself although I am still very much a work in progress my mindset is changing for the better. I just wished I had a place like Brew, to head to whenever I needed that little pick me up and reminder that being kind to yourself and others really does make a difference in a world full of such sadness. The kindness board really has made me think and I loved how Victoria wove it into certain aspects of the story especially with Louise. I wont be adding any spoilers here but that note melted me. There are aspects to Louise and her wariness that I can see in me, and maybe I just need to up the kindness stakes in being kinder to myself and the rest will fall into place, when I least expect it.

In part four the story comes together and loose ends are tied up for the three main ladies Louise, Abbie and Eszter. They all have life-changing and affirming decisions and what I will say is their journey truly is beautiful. At the beginning of the Summer these ladies really didn’t know just how much they needed one another. I love that it ends in a way where Victoria could and I truly hope that she does return to Littlewood and its residents as everyone could do with a little bit of kindness in each and every day.

If you are looking for a read that will not only let you truly escape the trials and tribulations of everyday life, it will also have you asking yourself thought provoking on how you can be kinder in general and to yourself, then Random Acts of Kindness is definitely for you. You will not regret it, you will be sad to see it end but you will be left with tears of joy and genuine smiles.

This serial truly inspired me and I loved all of the leading ladies for different reasons. Sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct and sometimes you have to choose the wrong path to see the right one. I’m not done with kindness, I need more of this in my day to day. It’s not always easy with the rollercoaster that is life but if we all make a concious effort we can start little by little.

If there are any truly kind books that I should be adding to that ever growing TBR list feel free to let me know below. If you want to chat about this serial some more also do get in touch.

I already have Eva Woods How to be Happy – which I have heard good things about so I am hoping to bump that up my list. Very shortly I will be devouring Miranda Dickinson’s latest I was meant to buddy read that one but life got in the way. She is another author who lets me escape and who also inspires. I also have Derren Brown’s Happy which I am sure will be enlightening, but I am looking forward to what suggestions you give me.

2018, Author Love, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Anita Cassidy talks Change

Happy Tuesday all, today I am pleased to welcome back Anita Cassidy to Hayley Reviews. Anita joined me recently to discuss Sugar if you somehow missed that post you can read it Here.

As I mentioned before I really enjoyed Appetite and it made me think I more about me and my relationships with myself and with food. I also stated before my situation is nothing like David, Naomi or Matthew but it sure did give me food for thought.

I’m not usually this open online having suffered at the cruel hand of trolls in the past. I have been meaning to post this piece from Anita on Change for a while now but having recently started Slimming World I thought I would have a little milestone to report so I changed it. Ha more fool me my body wasn’t liking deadlines. So today is a brand new day a new start and I’m not letting this beat me. I have changed a lot in a short space of time and I’m loving the fact I’m giving more a go and also making much better choices. My moods and my skin having improved for the better and that for me is a small step in the right direction. Right I’m going to stop babbling just in case you haven’t read Appetite here’s my Review to tempt you.

Snap Out of It

It was on reading yet another piece of exceptional but bleak journalism about the impact of chocolate production on the environment that I realised just how little these types of articles actually effect the change that they seek to inspire.

No one needs skinny, white middle-class journalists telling them what they should and should not be eating, or doing. Few people ever made a permanent positive change based on being hectored or made to feel bad by someone they have never met, and will never meet. And, all too often, our response to these articles is to feel guilty and ashamed but helpless, and then to retreat into exactly the kind of actions and behaviours that the article was trying to stop.

As a skinny, white, very aware of her privilege and privileges writer myself, I realised that what I had to do was write a story with no telling, only showing. Just a showing of how I see certain things and my own experiences of these feelings and issues.

What I hope my novel Appetite does is show us how we all too often are, while offering no judgment. But, more than that, through David I tried to show how we could be, if only we were able to see ourselves clearly. If we are able to look unflinchingly at who and where we are: to accept that and then to see that acceptance is the key mechanism that creates permanent change.

I never meant the portrayal of Snap Out of It (a name very much inspired by the Arctic Monkeys album AM that I listened to while writing the novel) to be funny or dismissive of the efforts of community groups and activism. It was meant to highlight that some activism can be misguided, and that the assumptions of all groups and individuals need to be examined and questioned before action is taken… The key concept of ‘first do no harm’ is surely a fine place to start.

It was also meant to highlight that, ultimately, we have to wake up for, and by, ourselves. There really is no genuine will on behalf of the structures around us – big food, big pharma, big media, big and local government – to truly address the issues. They control our environment but, as Frank Gerbode says, ‘the mind is the first environment’, and we are in control of that more than we know, more than it suits anyone for us to know. We can become aware of the influences that have played a part in shaping us, our view of the world and ourselves, and we can make different choices.

The damage caused by processed food and drink production pollution (from the plastics found in our seas to the damage done to land by chemical run-off and transportation) can be undone from the bottom up with a change in how each of us acts and chooses. Rather than ask what we can do about the pollution, we could ask ourselves, and each other, what need does that can, bottle, bar or packet serve; what felt pain does it temporarily assuage?

For me, what changed my habits (and you can read more about my complex and difficult relationship with sugar and chocolate when I post it next month) was fully witnessing my past, truly seeing the dark and beautiful truth of my self as I am now and learning, slowly and gradually, to feel rather than feed my feelings.

It is hard. David, Naomi and Matthew show us just how hard and, in truth, it is never going to stop being hard. But we can do it together. Together we can snap out of it.

Further Reading

Frank Gerbode: http://tira.info/research_pub/art/first-environment.html

Susan Nieman, Why Grow Up?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/27/obesity-childhood-trauma-sugar-tax