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!)

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Passive v’s Active Relaxation

Inspirational15

I have a dirty little secret which I’m feeling strong enough to tell you about… I love, and I mean LOVE, trashy reality TV. The more dramatic, immoral and outlandish the better. I consider a night in front of the Kardashians, ‘The Real Housewives’ and if I’m lucky, an episode or two of ‘Geordie Shore’ to be pure heaven.

Trash tv

For years I used to think that watching TV was considered to be a way of relaxing and have only recently admitted to myself that after I gorge on TV I never feel in anyway relaxed.  Then I came across this lovely piece on ‘Self Care’ by Kris Carr and I started to realise that there’s a difference between Passive and Active relaxation and it all started to make sense…

The Science Bit

Taking it back for a moment to why we need to relax – basically throughout the day our bodies react to stressful situations by releasing the ‘fight or flight’ stress hormone Cortisol.

It’s called this as back in the day this would give us that extra rush of energy and clarity needed to allow us to, say, leg it from a hungry looking Sabre Tooth Tiger. However, today stressful situations come in so many shapes and sizes- traffic, queues, deadlines, presentations, technology crashing at inopportune times, cold calling… (Gaaah, I’m stressing myself out even thinking about it all!) which our body treats like Mr Sabre Tooth and sends constant shots of Cortisol around our system.

saber-tooth-cat

While small, well timed shots of Cortisol can be lifesaving, it isn’t good to have it sloshing around our system 24/7 as over time it adds pressure to our adrenals, hinders our immune system, negatively effects our digestion and messes with our delicate hormones.

It turns out that some people’s systems are better at reacting to the release of Cortisol then others, these magic people can counteract a stressful day by engaging in passive relaxation methods (e.g. TV watching) and feel great afterwards, while others (me!) need ‘active relaxation’ to counteract the effects and stabilise their system.

Active Relaxation

I know ‘active relaxation’ sounds a bit like an oxymoron but it’s referring to relaxation which you actually have to be engaged in, like a yoga class, taking 30 minutes to unwind in a hot bath, meditating, concentrating on deep breathing, going for a walk- whatever it is that makes you feel zen afterwards. For me it doesn’t involve sticking on the box, slumping on the couch and watching trash TV while checking my iphone/ ipad every 60 seconds, I end up feeling more hyped up after that then beforehand!

Therefore when I’ve had a stressful day I’m now trying (trying being the operative word here!) to set aside some ‘active relaxation’ time by getting on my yoga mat, going for a walk or doing a Chakra Cleans (Ha! How ‘woo woo’ does that sound?! I’ll tell you more about it another time!) and stabilise my system… before I get stuck into that bottle of wine and Kardashian reruns!!  😉

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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).

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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!

My Social Media Blackout

social-media-profiles

Before I go any further I just want to give you a little taster to what my Social Media addiction looked like — warning: this ain’t going to be pretty. I was the person who checked either Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram (or all 3 on a really bad day) the minute I woke up, I was the person who would check Facebook if I had to wait for even a moment, be it in a line, waiting on someone to arrive, in traffic (totally illegal I know!), while I ate, while I watched TV, while I was supposed to be working, while I was supposed to be working out, and then again, ‘just in case’ before going asleep. There just did not seem to be any designated ‘Facebook time’, it was a flippen free for all!

So, before I graduated and became one of those people who need to check their Facebook account while in meetings or while practicing Yoga I decided to quit, to press the ‘reset button’ on my addiction and remind myself how ludicrous it is to crave seeing that little red digit

social media The Year of Doing: June’s Verdict

I expected this would be a painful and lonely month, however the funny thing was that once I deactivated my Facebook account, deleted my Twitter and Instagram Apps from my phone and ipad I felt a sudden surge of calm and release rush over me. I felt relieved to have ‘opted out’ of the constant contact and stimulation.

I found myself using life’s pauses, whether it was in traffic, waiting on a lunch order, waiting on the kettle to boil to actually take stock of my surroundings, check in with myself and generally just let my brain have free reign and just be (deep or what?!).

vintage-social-networking

A surprising aside of this experiment was that meditation was a lot easier than it used to be. My brain just seemed to be more accepting of alone time, not quieter (never quieter), but calmer.

However I definitely missed the human interaction that comes from Facebook and found myself sending pointless texts and emails to people just to have some kind of contact with friends I don’t physically see too often, you know, just to make sure they are still alive and that something momentous hadn’t happened to them which I didn’t know about!

In conclusion, as of this afternoon I’ve reactivated my Social Media accounts, but I’ve deleted all ‘notifications’ and aim to use it sparingly and (hopefully) not get sucked back in… fingers crossed!

My Wellness Cloud Bookshelf- Part 1

Books

I thought I would give you a lil lookie at the books I feel are guiding me on this here Wellness Journey on the off chance you will be inspired to pick one of them up.

Eat Pray Love: This is a funny one, I remember reading it a few years ago and only really enjoying or actually bothering to read the first section, where the author is prancing around Italy eating and drinking all she can get her hands on. I then kind of skipped over the section when she was in India on the 5 month long Ashram visit, feeling that I didn’t quite understand what she was discussing and then pretty much totally left out the last section on her trip to Bali, Indonesia and her search for God.

Then last month, after my month long struggle with meditation this book kind of fell off my bookshelf and I thought I’d give it another shot.

The universe works in really funny ways because this time around I kind of skipped through the first section as I wasn’t overly interested in all the food descriptions from Italy and found her tales of the Ashram, meditation, Gurus, shaktipat and the elusive tiny blue dot of energy to be absolutely fascinating. So much so that it reignited a new found passion and understanding of meditation in me and now I practice it twice a day (for only 10 minutes at a time but it’s still better than nothing!). I also love the way Elizabeth Gilbert writes, I found myself rereading whole paragraphs as her descriptions and imagery is so beautiful and profound.

The Power Of Now: Ehhhhh I have no idea why this book is even in the photo. I tried to read this a few times but each time I try to I can’t seem to get past chapter 2. It’s by the hugely famous Eckhart Tolle and he guides the reader through a journey to celebrate and live in the now instead of always reliving the past or planning the future (but you probably got that from the title!). I just found it to be a bit too ‘out there’ for me at the moment but I know I will get there some day.

Spirit Junkie: This is another one I bought months ago and again didn’t really connect with it initially. Then about 2 months ago I was sick from work and suddenly I was hit with the urge to read it. I ended up gobbling the majority of it up in one day!

This book introduces us to the ‘ego’ (or as I call it our ‘negative DJ’s’) that asshole who sits in our head and spends their time telling us how silly/ ugly/ useless/ unimportant/ unloved/ unpopular/ fat/ spotty/ stupid we are or reminds us of past failures and shows us scary images of us in the future.

This book helps the reader shine a light on this ‘Negative DJ’ and gives you the tools to deal with them in a positive and constructive way.

I really enjoyed Gabrielle’s book and now feel I have the knowledge and power to recognise when my ‘Negative DJ’ is talking and how to quieten her down.

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In summary I think when it comes to these types of books there’s no point in pushing yourself into reading them, if you are supposed to read them it will be an easy and enjoyable experience, if not, it won’t. Simples. Without wanting to sound too ‘new agey’ I’d recommend having a look around the spiritual/ self help sections of your book shop and library and seeing if anything in particular ‘talks’ to you as that’s the book for you in this moment in time.

Meditation: A Work In Progress

meditation

This is a review of how the 4th month of my ‘The Year of Doing’ went…

Take Up- Meditation

I’ve attempted meditation in the past, I’ve been on a couple of meditation courses where I mainly spent the meditation time thinking of what insightful yet humorous thing I was going to say when the facilitator asked the group for feedback. My brain just does not want to stop and if it does it goes, ‘Oh look at that, I just stopped there for a mil second!’.

So, it’s safe to say I was dreading this month’s challenge and I’m sorry to say I failed, I failed sooo badly.

Look, I know all the benefits that supposedly come from regular meditation:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves sleep
  • Makes your brain stronger and helps you concentrate better
  • Reduces stress and tension
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased energy

But it’s so bloody boring!!!

When I sit down to meditate this is what happens:

Eimear: OK now Brain we are going to sit here for 20 minutes, just me and you and think of nothing. You hear me? Nothing.

Brain: Ha, yeah right.

Eimear: Don’t be cheeky. Right let’s get started. OK, right, I’m relaxing my body, from my toes right up to my scalp. Mmmmmmm I’m all relaxed and tingly. Now I’m concentrating on my breathing- in and out, in and out.

Brain: Silence

Eimear: In and out, in and out.

Brain: This is going pretty well.

Eimear: In and out, in and out.

Brain: Maybe I’m actually a meditation genius and I can hold classes and write books about meditation and travel the word teaching people how to meditate. Oh and then I’ll probably be invited on Oprah’s Soul Sundays and talk about how great and easy meditation is. Oh crap… What would I wear?

Eimear: Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Breath in and out. Concentrating on the breath

Brain: Oh ‘Revenge’ is on tonight, yusssss.

Brain: Hummmm, what’s in the fridge? Eggs, mushrooms, spinach- maybe an omelette for dinner?

Brain: My back’s a bit sore from all this ‘sitting up straight’ malarkey-  I’ve such bad posture.

Brain: I need to book that hair appointment

Brain: Silence

Brain:  I wonder which member of One Direction will turn out to be gay?

Eimear: Excuse me?! We. are. trying. to. meditate!! My GOD. OK, concentrating on the breath.

Brain: Silence

Eimear: Silence

Brain: Probably that Zane fella.

Eimear: For fucks sake, right that’s it. This is over, you are USLESS.

Brain: Yippee, let’s go have that omelette.

See?! I end up exhausted and warn out.

But- I will not be beat! I’ve decided from now on, instead of trying to tear myself away from some activity to go and meditate, I’ll just slot meditation into an activity I’m already doing, like when I drink my morning cup of hot water and lemon I try to concentrate on the moment or each time I finish a Yogaglo class I’ll take 10/15 at the end to try and meditate. As they say practice makes perfect and I feel I need this.

Change takes time

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