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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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!

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!

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

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’.

A (lunch) break from the norm

Dalkey

I tore myself away from my desk this lunchtime and went out to Dalkey to pick up some dandelion tea and a fun filled pitta (falafel and spinach) from Select Stores. Jeeze, the outside world is so much better then eating a limp sambo at my desk any day! 🙂

My Issues With ‘Deserving’ Relaxation

‘We’re all so busy, with our jobs, social lives, families etc. we deserve some ‘down time’ once in a while, we have earned time to look after our exhausted body and mind…’

multitasking

That’s the generic opening line a ‘relaxing’ blog post is supposed to take. What I can’t understand is why we have to ‘justify’ relaxation, at some point very recently society changed and now we suddenly need to ‘deserve’ quiet, down time, we need to have ‘earned’ that early night in bed or long bath.

Why is this?! How did we get so conditioned that only when we have worn ourselves out, run our bodies and minds into the ground will we then ‘warrant’ a massage and some chilling out time? Why do we feel guilty telling someone that we are going to get a pedicure or spend the evening chilling in front of re-runs of Modern Family on TV?!

Are we not precious enough to put self-care time at the top of our priorities?

Here’s an idea, how about tonight you priorities yourself for a change, not because you ‘deserve’ it or have ‘earned’ it but because you  darn well want it?! Go on, fill a bath, get a good book and just enjoy soaking, or go for a long walk with a friend, or watch a fun movie on the couch in your PJ’s with a hot cup of something?! Sounds good doesn’t it? The key is not to feel guilty about it, just enjoy how your body feels relaxing and switching off and then start scheduling this time in for yourself on a regular basis.

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