My Year in Review: Part 1

2013

At the start of this year myself and some friends decided we’d embrace 2013 as the ‘Year of Doing’ and we set out to accomplish things we’ve always wanted. Some friends moved job, some moved house, some moved country, some got married and some went back to college.

I had spend the 2nd half of 2012 reading and researching wellness concepts, things like juicing, veganism, yoga, crystals and organic beauty and decided there was a hell of a lot of things I wanted to accomplish in 2013. So I decided to put together the following timetable so I’d be able to fit everything in (organisational freak alert!):

Month

Give Up

Take Up

January

Alcohol

Yoga

February

Running

March

Meat and Fish

Reading books

April

Sugar

Meditation

May

Toxic Beauty Products

Getting up early

June

Social media

Meditation: Take 2

July

TV

Journaling

August

Caffeine

Juicing

September

Listening to the ‘Negative DJ’

Hot Yoga

October

Dairy

Embracing my ‘woo woo’ side: Chakra’s, crystals etc.

November

Toxic house cleaner

Clean Water

December

So here’s a very quick run through of how the first few months went:

January

Give Up: Alcohol

General Verdict: When I think back on it this was a very big deal to me at the time. I was unbelievably self conscious about doing this and telling people I was ‘off the booze’, but on reflection no one really cared except me! This was the first time I have denied myself anything for an extended period of time and I have to say, as strange as it sounds, it was actually kind of liberating. I felt so proud of myself for actually sticking to something and I also really enjoyed the non-hungover weekends and additional cha-ching in my purse.

The funny thing is that since this month I have completely reevaluated alcohol altogether and feel 100% times better for it too.

Success: 5/5

yoga3

Take Up: Yoga

General Verdict: I’ve always enjoyed yoga. Whenever I leave a class I feel renewed and refreshed in both body and mind. The only thing is that classes around here are bloody expensive, therefore I’ve never really been able to truly embrace my yogi side (‘hummmmmm…’). That was until I came across Yogaglo online (more about that here). Now I practice yoga in my living room  2/3 times a week and LOVE it. I love how I’m now able to do poses with my body I used to gawf at in amazement.

Success: 5/5

February

running

Take Up: Running

General Verdict: As per this blog post, I used to love running but nothing I could do this month, nothing, turned the hobby back on for me. I tried fun runs, running with friends, running alone, running with music, without music, on treadmills, along the sea but I just didn’t enjoy the activity. I found it boring and even tortuous at times (dramatic much?!). I decided to take this one on the chin and accept that sometimes our passions change and nothing we can do can reignite that flame. Therefore, once this month was finished, my running activity hobbled along for a few weeks before whimpering out of sight, never to be seen again for the rest of the year.

Success: 1/5 (the 1 point is for the 5 KM I ran a handful of Saturday mornings in Marley Park)

March

Give up: Meat and Fish

General Verdict: Like my January  attempt, this was another ‘challenge’ I had built up to be bigger in my head then it actually turned out to be. The problems is I come from a home where a meal isn’t considered to be a ‘proper’ meal unless there’s a piece of meat somewhere on the plate. The other thing is that before this month I didn’t know a whole lot about cooking with lentils or beans and therefore over the course of this month I existed solely on vegetables and salads (and one horrendous attempt to eat home cooked Tofu)… a happy, healthy girl I was not. More on that here.

A funny thing has happened since this month though, I’ve actually gone off the taste of chicken and red meat. I don’t like labels but now I consider myself to be 90% vegetarian. And very happy and healthy while at it! Saying that, if my body wants red meat I’ll adhere to it (and that’s why I gobbled up a rather yummy steak last month!), for me it’s all about doing what my body wants, not dictating to it.

Success: 5/5

Reading

Take Up: Reading

General Verdict: I’ve always enjoyed reading but this was a habit that was pushed aside once I was introduced to the bloody Apple App Store. I loved this month and it’s reignited my love of reading ever since. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some really great books over the course of the year (‘The Husbands Secret’ and ‘Gone Girl’ spring to mind). Myself and my friends have even started a Book Club which encourages us to keep up the reading. Nice work people!

Success: 4/5 (minus 1 for reverting to the iPad when in between books)

sugarlips

April

Give up: Sugar

General Verdict: What an interesting month this was (more on this month here). I’m no nutritionist so I won’t preach too much, but by GOD when I started educating myself on the effects sugar has on our systems and the levels of sugar in our everyday foods (22% RDA in a glass of orange juice?!!) I was gob smacked and a lot of what I’ve learnt this month I hope to never forget.

Today I still eat the occasional food with refined sugar but I’m now tonnes more aware of what I’m eating and am chuffed to say I haven’t had an evil soft drink since April.

Success: 4/5

meditation

Take Up: Meditation

General Verdict: Gulp. This one ain’t such a rosy story. I really, really struggled with this one. Firstly, I did everything in my power NOT to meditate, meditation- procrastination was the theme of the month. Then, if I did manage to force myself to sit with my eyes closed and a timer set for 10/15 minutes, I found it to be almost physically painful. More on that here.

Success: 1/5 (the ‘one’ is for the amount of YouTube clips and books I read about ‘how to mediate’… I just haven’t actually done it yet!)

September: A month for a fresh start

Boy, oh boy, did I have a good summer- friends weddings, mini city breaks, a week-long holiday in Italy, lots of wine and bread, dinners, nights out and lots and lots of sugar, salt and delicious toxins!

photo (19)

As much as I’ve loved the summer and all the indulgence, it’s left me feeling a bit ‘off’. My skin is back looking rubbish, my energy levels are bottoming out again- I long to be back in bed most days, my brain fog is creeping back, my mood is also defiantly darker and my old tumtum is playing up a fair bit.

I’ve always loved September, for me it brings with it a sense of ‘fresh starts’ – more so than January does. I associate January with being broke, cold and depressed while September for me is the time of new books, shiny new shoes, hikes on crunchy Autumn leaves, hearty meals, routine and new habits. In fact it was this time last year that I first decided to stop just ‘investigating’ wellness and holistic health and actually start living it.

(Basically, last September, after a particularly fun night out with friends I decided to walk the whole way home, a 30 minute walk,  at 2:30 AM, down quiet, deserted streets, all alone –  just so I could get cheese and garlic chips from my local chipper. I know, I know, so dangerous, such a flippen eejit.

I woke up the next morning, with a horrible hangover, eye make up everywhere, the remains of the chips on the coffee table and I decided I had had enough. I decided then and there I didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl no more and gingerly set out to become the person I wanted to be).

bfaa078b7aa0c8e19ad9a6c329ea846c

So, on this note I’ve decided that this September is again going to be my wellness ‘fresh start’. I’m going to go back to:

  • Drinking lemon and hot water each morning
  • Reducing my coffee intake to 1 skinny latté every other day
  • Doing a big veggie/ fruit shop each week so I’m more prepared for the week ahead
  • Eating at least 5 different fruits/ veg a day
  • Dry body brush before my shower everyday (not just at the weekends!)
  • Drinking 2 liters of filtered water a day (…must buy a filter!)
  • Get my body moving for at least 20 minutes every day– more yoga, get out and start walking in my lunch break, using our new gym.
  • Meditate more often (perhaps I’ll start a meditation class?)
  • Consciously work on silencing my ‘ego’ or ‘negative DJ’- she’s getting awfully loud and agressive lately
  • Reduce my reliance on cheese and bread and actively seek out and make new alternatives
  • Drinking either a juice or smoothie everyday
  • Cut out all beer and cocktails, they seem to be making an unwelcome return
  • Reduce my reliance on Facebook and Daily Mail… those bloody sites will be the death of me!!
  • Replace all my supplements which have long run out
  • Buy a vegan cook book and become more confident with vegan recipes
  • Take more time to Skype all my BFF’s living in far off places- I always feel 100% times more connected and grounded after a good old natter!

Yup, I think that is enough to keep me going! Here’s to feeling back fit and healthy by Christmas!

Kidneys: The Neglected Organ?

You’ve had a mental couple of weeks working and socialising and basically burning the candle at both ends. You wake up exhausted and cranky most mornings and can’t operate until you have had 1/2/3 cups of coffee. Work is stressful and a bit too fast paced then you would like. Most evenings you have a strong craving for salty products. There are large dark circles under your eyes, your nails are cracking and your hair is dull and lifeless.

Does this sound like you? Then keep reading cos I think you could do with some info on yer kidneys.

The poor old kidneys, most people have a general understanding of what the liver, lungs and heart do for us and how to look after them but when it come to the kidneys a lot of people don’t even know what they actually do for us, never mind how to take care of them. I for one used to be clueless, I didn’t even realise we had two… true story.

Quick run through: The kidneys are two small organs in your lower back under your adrenal glands. Their functions include:

  • Filtering waste out of the blood
  • Regulating the body’s salt, potassium and acid content
  • Removing of drugs from the body
  • Balancing the body’s fluids
  • Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure
  • Controlling the production of red blood cells

See they are useful little fellas after all?! (not sure why, but they are male in my mind)

The past 10/ 20 years have seen a massive increase in people suffering from kidney disease, the need for dialysis and kidney transplants due to kidney failure. The reasons for this is closely linked to the skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes. In fact dialysis centres are becoming so normal in the US they are popping up in shopping malls like a Starbucks…

davita_dialysis-large

The other scary thing is that many people who have kidney disease don’t even know they have it. Therefore it’s important to recognise the signs your kidneys are under additional pressure and help them out.

So what can I do to help my kidneys?

  1. Eat more magnesium-rich, hydrating foods, e.g. Raw almond butter/ Dark, leafy greens, e.g. kale/ Spirulina- I’m going to do a blog on this superfood shortly/ Brown Rice/ Avocado
  2. Be informed: the next time you’re doing a shop have a read of the ingredients, especially the salt content of products before buying. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you but deli meats, pre made soups and most sauces are laden with salt.
  3. Regularly eat the following ‘kidney booster’ foods: red grapes/ cranberries/ apples/ garlic/ red peppers.
  4. Try and eat your 5 fruit and veg- everyday! This takes preparation and forward planning. I try to do a big veggie shop twice a week so I don’t go without when things are busy.
  5. Quit smoking: Duh…
  6. Find a type of exercise you find fun and get moving!
  7. Prevent kidney infections by drinking lots of water and staying away from those terrible ‘ Feminine Hygiene Sprays’.

2013, The Year of Doing- January

2013

2013 has been christened the ‘The Year of Doing’ by myself and my friends. Its the year to stop talking about doing things and actually do them.  To get the ball rolling I’ve broken the things I want to try ‘give up’ and things I’ve always wanted to ‘take up’ into different monthly experiments! Each one will last for the month before I report back on how it went. This is my review of how my first month went…

Give Up: Booze

Christmas tried to kill me.

Each year, as the clock strikes 12 on November 30th something inside me just seems to say, ‘rightyo folks, lets go bleedin mental!’ My diary fills up with boozy sessions 3/4/ 5 nights a week and by Christmas Eve I’m exhausted and don’t want to eat or drink another thing, which is obviously ridiculous as the coming week is where the real ‘magic’ happens. Anyway, this January I decided I’d actually stick to my January detox attempt (last year’s one was broken in the 2nd week in a spectacular all day drinking session…)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it was not easy. My weakest points came after work each Friday evening and stayed with me until I ran screaming to bed for some release in sleep! I also found socialising difficult, not the actual ‘being sociable’ bit- I found that grand, but I found it difficult to actually tell people I wasn’t drinking/ going ‘out out’. I felt both embarrassed and guilty. I felt embarrassed at having to put my hands up and admitting I’m going against the ‘norm’.  I also felt guilty because when I’m not adhering to the ‘norm’ I realise I feel as though I’m not being a good friend.

However the plus sides definitely won out. Each morning I woke up bright and bushy tailed, full of plans, excitement and energy. I also really, really like the productivity that comes with no hangovers, the list of tasks I completed in the month of January where amazing. Oh and the money saved was great 🙂

Verdict: Well worth the 31 days. I love red wine and the banter that comes with a couple of cocktails so I’m not going to keep this one up long-term, but it definitely was a massive eye opener into many aspects of my life including my reactions and emotions associated to not drinking. It gave me plenty of food for thought.

Take Up- Yoga

yoga1

I’ve always loved yoga and have been practicing on and off since my college days, but living in Recessionary Ireland I find it hard to justify spending €15 on a class 2/3 times a week. Therefore I was only delra to come across Yogaglo . It’s a website that allows you to join pre-recorded yoga classes with world renowned yoga teachers (filmed in a yoga studio in Santa Monica). It’s free for the 1st 2 weeks and then works out at €13 a month. Thanks to Yogaglow (I swear I’m not on their sales team!!) I’ve been practicing 2/3 times a week and am delighted to report increased stretchiness, strength and a close to perfect bridge pose!

Each to their own, but for me Yoga is the best exercise on the planet. When I’m finished an hour’s Vinyasa Flow class I’m everything from relaxed, energised, motivated and centred to pumped and generally feelin great!

Verdict: Flippen love yoga and will continue to do it at any chance I get for as long as possible!

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