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!)

Great Big Wellness Geek

Geek

Today Mr Amazon Delivery Guy confirmed something I didn’t even realise I was dreading – confirmation that I’ve officially become a ‘Great Big Wellness Geek’ (GBWG for short)… and I’m not quite sure what to think of it.

Basically Mr Delivery Guy brought with him my coveted BPA Free 2 liter water bottle, the one that was as cheap as chips (€12 including postage and package!!) the one I got from these guys at New Wave Enviro Products, the bottle I wrote about here and have been only dying to receive.

Here’s a pic of him (the BPA bottle, not the Delivery Guy you ninny!)

BPA Free Bottle

Isn’t he a cutie?!

The strange thing was that when it was delivered to my office I was too embarrassed to take it out of it’s box and have a good old ‘New Delivery Inspection’ (like I used to in days of yorn when my delivers included Dermalogica products).  You see half my office already thinks I’m mental – what with the green juices I do be sup’ing, the homemade green lunches, the herbal Nettle and Green teas I have stationed beside their Nescafe and Barry’s Tea and the floral pouch of supplements I have on my desk (I deservingly get a guffaw of laughter every time I take a spray of my Vitamin D!!) so I think I just felt this BPA bottle went that step too far for what I’m ready for just now.

Basically I’ve decided there’s a few stages involved in Wellness:

GBWG Stage 1: This is the stage where you’re toying with becoming a GBWG. It’s a stage where you Google ‘cleanses’, ‘effects of sugar’, ‘benefits of raw food’, tentatively replace your beauty products with natural ones, drink a green smoothie once a month (and only get through half cos you think it tastes like grass) but generally go with the flow and keep your beliefs and preferences under wraps.

GBWG Stage 2: Then there’s the next stage, the one where you start requesting veggie options when eating out (instead of not wanting to rock the boat), actively count the number of fresh fruit and veg you’ve eaten each day and panic if it’s less then 4 and have a freaker if someone sprays Antiperspirant Deodorant near you in a confined space (‘agghhhh my poor lungs’!!).

The thing is I feel like I might just have pushed through into Stage 2… and I’m not yet sure how I feel about becoming that person.

We all find ourselves a bit cringy at times right?!

(There is a Stage 3 but I’m not even going there today)

Well anyways I know what Oprah (does anyone else have a mental block on how to spell that woman’s name?! My first attempt is always Opera!) and her cronies would say…

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And other fabulously motivating (but oddly irritating) phrases. But sometimes it all gets a bit much and you’re just a bit daunted about being out on your own, and basically you just aren’t bloody well ready for being at GBWG Stage 2.
Who knew an Amazon delivery could invoke such emotions eh?! 😉

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!

Juice Detox: Day 5- Finished!

day5-1

Awhoohoo! Today is my last day of the 5 Day Juice Detox!

I’d just like to take a mo to reiterate the reasons why I did this 5 Day Juice Detox:

  • I did it to detox my body from all processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and dairy.
  • I did it to give my digestion the time to process and clean out any toxins which might be residing in the deepest darkest parts of my gut and intestines.
  • I also did it to provide a nutritious boost to all my cells and organs with the help of daily spirulina and wheatgrass shots and mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables washed down with liters of filtered water.

I mean if that’s not good for you someone is going to have to take me aside, sit me down and give me a thorough lesson on what’s healthy!

It was once explained to me that when you’re on a detox (or that 5:2 day diet I’ve heard so much about) your system doesn’t have to spend it’s entire time trying to digest and convert the dodgy food we’re ingesting, so it can get involved in other worthwhile activities elsewhere in the body, like cleaning up your skin or improving your immune system or repairing your neglected liver.

Also while on the detox I made an extra special effort to incorporate 40/60 minutes of exercise into my daily routine and also to be in bed, with my light off by 11 PM every night.  As they say…

Feed your cells and your cells will feed you.

juicelife

So how am I feeling? Generally OK. In all honesty this week was hard, it was my first attempt at any extended detox and I don’t think I realised the level of preparation and dedication it would involve. We must have been shopping, washing, chopping, juicing, blending and cleaning up for about 2 hours a day, every day! I’m glad I did this in a quieter week or otherwise I feel I would have fallen off the band wagon.

Physically though I felt fine, actually I’d go as far to say I felt great. No bloating, no detox headaches and pains which I’d heard so much about, no stomach upsets or discomfort.

TMI possibly, but I did notice an alarming lack of poop over the week, probably due to the fact there wasn’t a lot of roughage or fiber going through me- that was an effect I didn’t quite enjoy.

I also slept like a baby all week (actually why is that even a saying?! From what I hear baby’s sleep terribly and are awake every couple of hours looking to be feed or something?!).

Oh and today during my ‘Work Lift Mirror Check’* I was surprised to notice all the little bumpy, pimply clogged looking pores on my face were looking a lot better, not perfect mind, but much improved – bar a whopper ‘3rd eye’ spot which has erupted overnight, but then that makes sense as it’s in the ‘detox’ part of my face (more on face mapping here).

*’Work Lift Mirror Check’: The lighting in our work lift is horrendous and shows up every imperfection on your skin. So, naturally, whenever I’m alone in the lift I torture myself by examining the quality of my skin in it.

Did I lose weight? As I’ve mentioned previously I wasn’t doing this to lose weight but then again I was happy to note that my skinny jeans slid on a lot easier this morning.

What was the total bill of the 5 days? About €100 for all the veg, fruit and supplements.

Would I recommend it? Hummmmm, let me put it this way, it’s not something I would rush to do again. I just found it very unnatural denying myself food and solids but I do think that the couple of days did my system the world of good. I think in future I’ll just integrate fresh fruit and veg juices into my daily routine.

Now, where’s that cheese sambo! 😉

Juice Detox: Day 3

day3

Today I was so happy to graduate on to different types of juices- as they say ‘variety is the spice of life’ (well no, it turns out ginger is the spice of life- it was so great waking up to a carrot and ginger juice this morning!). The afternoon juice was also very much welcomed as it was a kind of ‘juice- thie’ (see what I did there?! Juice + Smoothie?!… Sorry the lack of food is effecting my sense of humour) with a blended banana and live probiotic yoghurt thrown in at the end. DElish!

I’m not going to keep you long today, as I need to go get some work done, but if you ever decide to try a juice detox I just wanted to give you these prep tips:

1. I recommend having a few bowls out when making your juices. As per the pic, 2 for the chopped fruit and veg for our AM juices (chopped so it can be easily slid down the tube into the juicer) and then one for all the rubbishy bits. It just makes everything a lot neater and more efficient.

Juice2. If you are making the juices the night before make sure you have lots of appropriate sized glass jars and lids to store them in overnight. When fillings the jars you need to fill them right up to the very tip as the more oxygen in the jar the more they are oxygenated which reduces the digestive enzymes in the juices.

3. Listen to Jason Vale’s motivational clips each day on the App. Granted his manner and over enthusiasm is annoying, but he actually talks a lot of sense and gives you a kick of motivation when it’s really needed.

Day 3 Verdict: A bit of juice variety has pulled me back from the brink!

Juice Detox: Day 2

day2

How did day two go? Today made me question a couple of things, mainly my relationship with food. You see the funny thing with this Detox is that you aren’t really hungry as the juices are actually filling and provide you with all the nutrients you need but I’m just experiencing this empty feeling. Like I feel l have nothing to look forward in the day- no yummy cheesy lunch, nothing to plan and look forward to for dinner, no homemade flapjacks to veg on the couch with. My tummy feels bored and lonely. Which is stupid as I have lots of fun things going on in my life but it’s just funny realising the emphasis I place on food and it’s significance in my day.

Myself and the fella decided we feel like we’ve broken up with food and we’re going through the after effects of a breakup. Not a nasty breakup where you feel physical pain and cry yourself to sleep, but more of a you- were- dating- for- a- couple- of- weeks- and- they- were- fun- to- have- around kind of feeling.

I keep thinking of food and the good times we had together and what I’d do with food if I could get my hands on it again… those kinds of feelings.

Other than that today I felt a little bit ‘light’, like I could fall over or fly away, just not grounded and secure. Also by the end of the day I was feeling a bit blue and sorry for myself. Hopefully tomorrow’s new juices put me in a better frame of mind.

What were the juices like? Today’s juices were exactly the same as the previous day, which was pretty boring and maybe where all the above feelings came from.

What was your energy levels like? OK although I did feel slightly less motivated at work then usual. Again we found time and energy to go for an evening walk (which helps to keep us out of the house and away from the fridge!). I also slept like a rock which was nice (they are known to sleep even sounder then logs).

Day 2 Verdict: I miss you Food but Juice is good for me, and to me, so I’m going to keep going.

Juice Master Detox: Day One

jason vale

I realise I’m a month delayed starting Jason Vales Summer Juice Detox, but better late than never eh?

Myself and my boyfriend have decided to try the 5 day Detox (as the 7 day just isn’t feasible at the mo), his aim is to lose a few pounds and mine is to flush out my insides- they’ve gotten a bit murky looking over the summer.

We did a massive shopping hall in Aldi on Sunday and bought the Wheatgrass powder in The Hopsack, everything came to a rather affordable €30 (but then we did have the Spirulina at home and were only buying the 1-3 day stuff), and so I very skeptically and gingerly started my first juice detox…

day-one

 

Day 1, I have to admit that I was presently surprised…

  • What do you need? A juicer (here’s my baby), a shed load of fruit and veg, some super-foods to add to the drinks, a blender and either the 7lbs in 7 Days book (I picked mine up from the local library) or the App.
  • How many juices do you have a day? You are supposed to have 5 juices a day but today we only had 4 as we were stuffed after our ‘dinner’ juice (seriously! OK we were also a little ‘juiced out of it’ and couldn’t face making another one)
  • What did the juices taste like? They were all actually really yummy. I’m OK with green, kale filled smoothies and juices at this stage, but I was still pleasantly surprised to find these juices include lots of pineapples and apples in them so that masks the taste of most of the veggies.
  • Where they difficult to make? Nope, time consuming sure but not difficult. We made all the AM smoothie the night before in a bit of a production line which definitely helped speed up proceedings.
  • Can you drink anything other then the juices? You are allowed all the water/ herbal teas you want. Just nothing caffeinated- so my Green Tea and morning Lattee was out 😦
  • How did you feel? Surprisingly OK. I had a sudden and all consuming hunger pang at about 16:30 when in work but by the time I got home and drank my ‘dinner’ juice it had subsided. I also wasn’t as tired and cranky as I normally get when hungry (h-angry as it’s known round here). We even found time and energy to go for an evening walk- which is unusual for us. Then to top it all off, I slept like a log last night (and as we all know, logs sleep super deep). One thing, I did notice that I had this kind of woolly jumper effect on my teeth and a kind of gross coating on my tongue all day (apparently that’s a recognised side effect of the Detox) mingin but bearable.

Day 1 verdict: Generally fine- bar the woolly teeth.

woolly jumper

Orange Peel

orange-peels-1

My dimply, bumpy, orange peely, cellulite is my greatest shame. I’ve tried all the ‘passive’ recommended solutions, I no longer drink fizzy drinks, I dry skin brush most days, I drink a 2 liter bottle of water everyday and I’ve massively reduced my caffeine intake. I’m sad to report seeing only a slight improvement and still having a cellulitey bottytot.

Wellness isn’t just about healthy eating, meditation and green smoothies- it’s also about having a healthy, fit body and being happy in your own skin.

That’s why I’ve decided enough is enough and it’s time to call in the big boys- the killer squats- and tackle this dimply mess once and for all!

I’ve come across the below Facebook link, which sets a ‘100 Squats a Day Challenge’ for the month of April (if you haven’t guessed already, I love a good challenge!!).

https://www.facebook.com/100SquatsaDay

It recommends breaking the squats into 20 reps and starting of with 2/3 sets at a time and thereby splitting the 100 squats out across the day. The great thing about squats is, when done right, they not only tone your backside but also stomach and entire lower body.

I’m going to do it for the month of April and will hopefully see a great improvement come May… who’s with me?!

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