Happy Monday everyone!
As you all know, I went back to Weight Watchers the 2nd January and although the weight loss is quite slow at the minute, it is still going in the right direction! I would be lying if I said that this week was easy, because it wasn't. Getting up on those scales last week to find just a half a pound gone really upset me, so much so that I had a big cry in the middle of the class! If that had of happened to me the previous times that I was in Weight Watchers, I would have just walked out of the class, but this time I don't have time for that, I just have to take each loss and allow it to add up to a great end result!
However, the leader on Wednesday really helped me to not quit. This lovely lady was filling in for my usual leader and she was so kind and I felt like she truly understood how disappointed and upset I was feeling! I didn't feel patronized or pushed to the side, she sat with me and gave me some tips and tricks, she even wrote out a typical day which she would have food wise and gave it to me so I could bring it home and try to follow it. Although I have been extremely good food wise since I rejoined, this leader really encouraged me to go back to basics and even to try new things out which may help my weight loss this week. Although my weigh in isn't until this Wednesday ( and I could be jinxing it), I have found these tips so simple yet so effective! So here are a few things which I have tried out this week for you to also try, whether you are in week1, 2 or 3 of your own journey!
Water, water and more water
OK I know this isn't a new thing, of course water is good for you and it helps weight loss but I am and always have been an absolute disaster when it comes to drinking water. The thing is, I just don't drink enough of it! I always forget about it! Not only is it extremely dangerous to not keep hydrated ( we all know what happened to me in week two of healthy eating - I was dehydrated!) especially when you are exercising, it really helps your weight loss, massively! The leader on Wednesday said that she had a similar week during her journey like mine last week, where she felt like she had a great week but the scales only showed that she was half a pound down and she felt that did not show how hard she worked that week at all! She said the following week she made sure to drink 2 liters a day and then the following week, the scales showed that she was 3 pounds down!
Don't get me wrong, I definitely have not drank 2 liters a day, baby steps people! But I have definitely upped my daily water intake this week. One tip that the leader ( I can't remember her name!!) gave us was to buy the small kids bottles of water around your house/ apartment, i.e one on the stairs, one in the hall, one by the cooker, one by your bed etc., and each time you pass a bottle you have to take a few sips out of it. Yes the bottles are small, but at least you are getting more than you would have done and if you are like me and simply forget to drink water, it reminds you! Another way to remind yourself would be to set a reminder on your phone or if you have a food diary or tracker, write it in your tracker so that when you go to look at it, you will remember to drink it! Baby steps!
Plan a day before
I think for me the hardest part about Weight Watchers and indeed any sort of weight loss plan is the planning and time that is required. You can't leave the house for the day without planning and bringing your lunch with you, otherwise you can forget about it! Of course there are times that you can't bring your own food, I am hardly going to bring a salad to a restaurant, but if there is a day you are meeting someone for lunch you can at least plan the rest of your day around it in advance, making sure you have a low enough day so that your lunch will not effect your day and you will still be on track.
Even if you aren't heading out for food, planning is key! You need to make sure that whatever you are planning on eating that you have all of the ingredients, because if you go to make something and realise you don't have the correct ingredients, that can throw you off track! Planning also helps you when you are having an off day and all you want is to stuff your face with everything but if you have a plan, you are more than likely to stick to it!
On Saturday, we had some friends up for drinks and games, so I decided to make myself some homemade hummus to go with carrots and peppers for a snack. I also made Chicken Kebabs so that when i was getting hungry and I had pizza on for everyone else, I wasn't tempted to eat the pizza! All I had to go was pop the kebabs in the oven and just like that I was satisfied and still on plan! Planning allows you to still have a life, but you are just prepared and able to still stay on track!
take the stairs!
Of course we know that exercise is great for mind, body and soul and of course we know that regular exercise also helps weight loss, however, sometimes things pop up and we can't make it to a class or we simply can't face the gym. Although I encourage people to workout even for 20 minutes as it improves your head, sometimes we can't no matter what we try to do, life can get in the way! Instead, why not just take the stairs to your apartment instead of getting the lift or if you have two bathrooms, why not walk upstairs instead of using the downstairs loo. These may seem like tiny little things, but each extra step you take will help you towards your weekly goal and soon it will all become a habit! By all means if you can, try to workout at least three times a week as taking the stairs is simply not enough however it is something extra that you can do that will definitely help you!
For me I love walking and swimming. I find they both help clear the head and they each work a lot of muscles, however we live in Ireland and sometimes it is hard to motivate yourself to face the hail stones and winds that seems to surround our little island these days, so the leader suggested that if the weather is so bad, why not drive to your local big shopping center and do laps of it! I know it sounds a little crazy, but you are still walking and you can even treat yourself to an americano at the end of it! The bad weather is simply not an excuse to not move! If walking is your preferred form of exercise why not treat yourself to a fit bit or even download an app on your phone which can record the amount of steps you take where you can keep track of each day and this will motivate you to smash your own records!
Swap and experiment!
Healthy eating and weight loss programs can sometimes feel very repetitive and frankly boring. It can be so easy to be fed up and just want to eat a burger! However you have t remember you are doing this for YOU, no one else but for YOU and it is up to you to keep this weight loss journey interesting! Some people find it easy to eat the same things day in and day out but I am not one of those people! I like to try at least one new thing for dinner a week, whether it is the easiest thing on the planet that doesn't really matter, as long as you try something new that is all that matters. There are so many different recipes available out there, sometimes it is just knowing where to look! The weight Watchers books you get in class are very good with giving different ideas and the best part is is that they give you the points value so you don't have to calculate it yourself!
Recently, my friend Fíona introduced me to a website called Slimming Eats: www.slimmingeats.com/blog/about. This a a blog page set up by a lady living in Canada, where she shares your recipes which, get this, have the Slimming World and Weight Watchers values for each recipe worked out! I have only tried a handful of recipes but I have looked through her plans and they are very unusual yet very filling and tasty. You can choose whether you want an easy or slightly more difficult recipe, so it is perfect for everyone! A lot of the meals feel like you are having a really bold and fat filled meal when in fact you are right in track!
When you are counting points and tracking everything, sometimes there seems to be no way to have your favourite chocolate bar now and again, right? Well, on Wednesday, the leader informed me that in a pint of unsweetened almond milk there are 2 smart points where as in a pint of semi- skimmed milk are there 11 points!!! And if you are like me and like to have Weetabix and gallons of coffee, you are definitely using those 11 points a day easily! SO for me, it was a no brainer to switch milk this week, and yes there is a difference in the taste, however a week later and I have just gotten used to it! It means I can have a packet of chocolate buttons now and again! Another substitute which I have tried is cauliflower rice. Before you start thinking I have totally lost it, yes of course it isn't normal rice however with chicken and curry sauce, you would hardly know the difference! It is also fab in a stir fry and is very filling! I have also swapped mince for quorn so it means the normally high points dinners such as a lasagna is now relatively low and I can still have a treat during the day!
You know how it is, it is so hard to get up and go for a walk but if you have a friend, sister or a mam who is willing to go with you, it seems ten times easier to face the dark nights and workout right? It is the same for weight loss. I love having my mam doing the same plan because it means we can share recipes and different tricks that we find helpful along the way. It is also great to have the support. Don't get me wrong, Mark is a great support however there is no way he will ever swap rice for cauliflower!! So it is great to have the support from someone who is doing it too and who gets it! Unfortunately, we all don't have someone who is doing it with us, so another way to get your support system is through the classes provided by Slimming World and Weight Watchers. Any other time i went to Weight Watchers I would get weighed and make some excuse as to why I couldn't stay for the class. However this time, I am trying to stay for each class, even when I am not happy with the number on the scales that day. It is a great way to meet new people, hear how everyone is getting on and to know that you are not the only one who is growing through it because weight loss is bloody tough and emotionally draining!! So it is nice to have people around you that understand what you are going through!
So guys, there you have it, there are the five tricks which I have tried to incorporate into my weight journey this week. Of course you don't have to do all five at once, even if you pick two to work on this week and then three next week, these little changes will help to motivate you, to keep you interested and most of all to help you towards your ultimate goal! Fingers crossed the hard work this week has paid off, I will let you all know on Wednesday and if you try any of these tricks let me know how you get on!
I hope you all have a good week and remember to stay positive!
Love as always,
I hope you are all good and that if you made any resolutions or pledges that they are all going well for you so far!
As some of you may know, I rejoined Weight Watchers for the millionth time two weeks ago. As well as going back to Weight Watchers, I also decided to start back exercising too, and straight after my first weigh in I headed to the swimming pool. It was then when I realised just how unfit I was and how much work I have ahead of me.
Many people were quite surprised that I started so soon after Christmas especially as our Christmas was kind of non existent this year as I lost a huge part of my life, my Nana. I think people probably thought I would turn to comfort eating to try to numb the pain, and trust me, the days in between her death and her funeral, I ate more than I ever have, but it didn't numb the pain. If anything, I felt worse after eating all of the junk food. I suppose, it would have been easy enough to put off going back to Weight Watchers at least until the end of January, but for my mam and I, we both decided that enough was enough, that we could no longer go on eating the way we were. In a way, for me personally, I have decided to channel my sadness and pain into something positive; working towards a healthier ( and skinnier) version of myself.
Put the pain and hurt aside, the main reason I want to lose weight is the fact that my wedding is this September, so I can no longer put off the inevitable anymore. I have to do it now, for the wedding, for my health, for the pain I am in regarding my back due to being up two dress sizes, the list of reasons is endless, and at one point in time, the list of excuses was just as long. Not anymore. I am determined to work hard and see results.
Last week, my original plan was to tell you all how my first week went and to explain a bit more about Weight Watchers, however, last week I felt really sick. I had a thumping headache, I had a sick stomach and I felt very weak. I thought at first it was my body reacting to the lack of sugar and chocolate, which to be honest it probably did contribute to how rotten I was feeling, however it turns out I was dehydrated! To be honest I never drink enough water, however when I started exercising I knew I had to drink more water, which I did, it turns out I just wasn't drinking enough. As a result, exercise went totally out the window and I spent most of last week in bed, which sounds a lot nicer than it actually was!
I'm still not a 100% this week, but I am a good bit better than I was. Despite feeling unwell, I was still very good food wise. I still pointed everything, even the chocolate and bread that I ate, it was all still pointed! My weigh in day is usually on a Tuesday however, after having a bit of an up and down week I am going to a weigh in tomorrow instead. Although I pointed this week, I am afraid that the scales won't be in my favour as I wasn't able to exercise. Despite that, I have made a promise to myself that no matter what the scales says that I will take it on the chin and start a fresh new week.
Unfortunately week 2 did not go to plan, however I am still determined to stick to it. So I will fill you in on what the scales says tomorrow! I am going to also put up a list of my top tools that help me throughout my weight watchers journey in the next few days, so if it is something you would be interested in, watch this space! Until then, I hope you all have a very good week and I will talk to you soon.
Love as always,
HI Guys and happy New Year!
Wow I cannot believe that 2018 is finally here!! We may be only a few days into the new year, but I already know in my heart that it is going to be an amazing year as it is the year where Iwill finally marry my best friend, the year I will become Mrs Stafford. It is almost 2 years ago since Mark proposed to me on Valentine's Day, but it only seems like yesterday! When we set the date all anyone could say was that although it seemed like ages away, that it was going to fly in and boy they were right. I can't believe the year is finally here, but to be honest I am so ready for the busy and exciting year ahead, especially after the terrible end I had to 2017, losing my Nana.
I'm not going to go into too much detail about my Nana as it isn't fair on my family, however what I will say is that losing her was the hardest and most devastating thing I have ever had to do. Losing someone is never easy, however losing someone two days before Christmas is absolutely heart breaking, especially when the year of the wedding is finally here, and I know for a fact Nana would have loved to be apart of both the lead up to the wedding and the actual day itself. However, she was sick for a very long time and she is at peace now, although she is not physically here, I know she will always be with me in spirit especially for mine and Mark's big day.
My Nana was the most courageous, kind, honest, funny and beautiful woman, both inside and out, that I have ever met. She taught me a lot, and although I would give anything to spend just one more day with her, I am so grateful for the amazing 24 years I had with her, and I know if she was here she would tell me to stop crying and to get on with it. Well Nana, I can't promise that I won't cry ever again over losing you, however I can promise that I am going to put my all into this year and make you so proud of me. No matter what life threw at you, you never stopped believing in yourself, so I am going to carry your work ethic, your love of life and your spirit with me throughout this year. As you can see, losing Nana has driven me to make 2018 the best year that it can possibly be. Don't get me wrong, I am still absolutely heart broken over her and I will never ever forget her, but the last thing I said to her was that I was going to take care of my family and make her proud, so I am ready to fulfill those promises,
As this year is the the most important year of my life so far with the wedding, I don't want to set myself 100 resolutions that I am not going to be able to keep. However, I have set myself pledges, which in my eyes are attainable and I have already started working on them. My pledges for 2018 are:
To Lose Weight:
This is one that I always say but this year, I have to do it. It is the first thing on my list of pledges because it is the one that I 100% need and want to do. The thing that is pushing me to achieve this year more than other years is of course the wedding. I know no matter what weight or size I am on the day of the wedding that won't matter because I know no matter what, I will look and feel beautiful. However it isn't just about that one day, it's about the lead up to it, the Hen's Party with all of my beautiful friends and family, it's the honeymoon, etc., I just want to be able to look back at photos and think, I looked beautiful, instead of thinking ' wow Emma you really should have lost weight, you are the biggest one in the bridal party!' I don't want that.
Put the wedding aside, I have put on 3 stone since I met Mark, and in 2017 alone I went up not one but TWO dress sizes, TWO!!! Not only am I seeing the difference in my clothes but I feel it everywhere! My chest hurts when I take the stairs and not the lift to the apartment, my back is constantly sore and my legs are the size of tree trunks. I know it sounds like I am self bashing but for once I am being honest with myself and realistic. A lot of my weight gain is connected to my mental health struggles, but if I keep going the way I am it will not just affect my physical health, but my mental health will suffer also. So I am finally in the zone and although I only went back to Weight Watchers this week I feel in control and excited about my weight loss journey. I am #shreddingforthewedding so watch this space!
To spend more time with my loved ones:
After losing my Nana, I have been spending a lot of time with my family and friends and to be honest they are the reason I have been getting through the really difficult days. My nana was very family orientated. She loved Christmas because not only was it an excuse to shower her loved ones with gifts but it was the only time throughout the year that the majority of the family could get together and be in the same room. Since losing Nana, everyone in the family is making a huge effort to spend time together, to be there for one another and to show each other how much we love each other. At the moment I can do that as I am not working like crazy, but when busy season in the tour guiding world comes back around soon, I will be forced to miss certain family occasions and outings with my friends. However, I am determined to put my loved ones first and to be with them as much as I possibly can. Our time on this planet is extremely short, and I want to spend it with the people that are there for me during my lows as well as my highs, I want to share my life with the people that love me no matter what, the people that would do anything for me and lastly the people that I love being around. Even if it's for 20 minutes to catch up or a quick phone call, I want to make as many memories as I can with the people who I love before it's too late.
To work on a happier & Healthier me:
Both inside and out! As you seen with the first pledge, my main thing this year is to lose weight but not only so that I can walk into a shop and fit anything I like on, it's to do with being a healthier and happier version of myself both inside and out, both physically and mentally. My mental health is an absolute roller coaster especially at the minute however, I know from personal experience that I am at my best when I am eating right and regularly exercising, so it seems silly to not to go back to that.
By working towards a healthier me inside and out, I know it will require a lot more work than just eating right and going swimming three times a week. It requires going back to basics regarding the tools that help reduce my anxiety and depression i.e keeping a diary, regularly blogging, using the buddhify app and going to yoga every week. Although I only started going to yoga at the end of the year and to be honest I only got to 3 classes, from the first class I could already feel the benefits of it to my mental health, so I am really looking forward to get fully into it from this Thursday! Your health is your wealth and that definitely includes your mental health and this year I want to be able to enjoy every single minute leading up to and of the wedding, so I made the promise to myself to stay on top of my mental health and to get back on track.
To throw myself into the blog:
As I mentioned above, blogging more is something I have promised myself for 2018. Again, this is something I say every year but blogging helps me to express myself, to let out my anxiety and feelings in a way that I could never do talking to someone and last but not least, it helps so many people too. I say it every year but I truly mean it this time as I have this fire in my belly regarding the blog that I haven't felt in a very long time, I truly believe that the event sparked my love and passion for the blog again. I want to make a difference in our small island. I want to show people that life is worth living, I want to spread positivity and help defeat negativity and most of all I want to provide a platform where people can go to and find help and direction when they feel there is no way out for them. I want to share more of who I am and my life with you guys, the good but more importantly the bad because I want to show people that you can get through anything as long as you have hope because after all #holdonthepainends.
To be true to myself:
This pledge may be last on the list but it is certainly not the least important one. I am and always have been a people pleaser. I have always wanted people to like me, and I would go to extreme lengths in order to please them and to 'fit in', so much so I have tried to change who I am in order to please others. It is physically and mentally exhausting and it often ends up with me beings used, upset and lonely. Anyone who you feel you have to change for is not worth your time and effort, sadly I have discovered that the hard way but it is true. Why should you change who you are? In the words of Dr. Seuss " Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." I have had enough of trying to make everyone happy and putting my own feelings and happiness aside, so this year is the year that I stick to my guns and be happy, proud and confident in my own skin.
So guys there you have it, my first blog post of 2018 and certainly not my last. The year has started with deep sadness but I am going to try and challenge that emotion into these pledges above! It is not too late to set your own pledges, remember pick things that you want to achieve, that you are passionate about and that will be achievable for you.
Happy New Year guys and talk soon!
Happy Tuesday! I hope your week is going well and that you're enjoying the amazing weather, long may it last! I can't give out about working too much when my office is the great outdoors, well that's while the rain holds off of course!
About a month ago I wrote about how bad my anxiety has been lately and how I am trying to cut down on the amount of alcohol I drink as well as certain drinks also. There were a few reasons why I decided to do this however the main one being that my anxiety recently has been extremely bad, at times unbearable and if you have been following me for a while you will know that I am on anti- depressants, something which alcohol shouldn't be mixed with.
So, I suppose the question is ... how have I been getting on? I haven't cut out alcohol all together because as I said in the last post in this section, I like having a drink with family and friends on my days off, however I have simply changed my drinking habits while trying what drinks I can handle and which doesn't suit my medication. It might sound a bit over the top, "changing my drinking habits", but it's exactly what I've done. I've cut down on drinking at home, also on the amount I drink when I'm out and I've switched the drinking to get absolutely drunk for sipping over a pint while I'm out having a nice meal. For some people, these might seem like silly things or normal things to do, however these small changes have made huge positive changes to my life.
Once again I don't have a drinking problem, I just feel like there is such an emphasis on drinking and especially crazy drinking in this country, so much so that sometimes it's easy to get caught up in it. It was when I experienced multiple black out during a night out that I realised I needed to break these bad habits.
One drink I decided to try to cut down on was wine as over the past 3 months I've noticed for days after I have drank wine that I would feel extremely low, anxious and insecure, three things which I work so hard every single day to try not to feel or at least suffer from them. I have noticed a huge difference in my moods since I have ditched wine, it is unbelievable! Instead I have found one or two drinks that I can enjoy without reeling into a bad place the following day. I am enjoying remembering my nights out and not blacking out. However, the first few nights out were quite tough, not because I wasn't drinking loads but because I was the only one sober, which at the beginning did cause major anxiety on the actual night out, but slowly I'm adjusting to it and actually enjoying it!
As I've said before I'm not totally cutting out drink but I am definitely going to try to keep on doing what I have been in recent weeks because I am, for the first time in a long long long time, really enjoying my nights out without worrying about blacking out or feeling low for days after. I'm also enjoying the energy I'm feeling for the week following a night out, because when I blacked out before, my anxiety for the days that followed would be through the roof and as a result I would be really tired and have no energy to do anything, because for me, anxiety can really leave me feeling drained, sounds dramatic but honestly it makes me feel like I haven't slept in days and, ironically, can result in sleepless night.
So guys that's a quick update on how I'm getting on. As always, I'm NOT a doctor or professional and I know you shouldn't be drinking any alcohol while on medication so I am 100% NOT promoting mixing alcohol with medication. However, as always, I aim to be 150% honest with you guys, these are my personal choices and experiences, and I share them with you all in case you are going through something similar!
I will keep you guys posted! The next few weeks are extremely busy and will be slightly challenging to not slip into bad habits, so I will let you know how I get on and if I notice any more changes to my energy, mood and overall mental well being!
Love as always,
Hi Everyone and happy Wednesday!
I hope your week is going well, for most of you it is a short week so the weekend is very close, however for the rest of us it's a normal week of work ahead, but sure look the Easter bunny is nearly here! We can stuff our faces in chocolate soon! For many people, the long weekend also means nights out, house parties and a lot of drink! Although this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I will be swapping the glasses of wine for bottles of WKD!
If you have been following the blog for a while, you will know that I am on anti- depressants and have been for about 4, almost 5 years. Although I have been on my current tablet (the name of which I can never ever remember!) for over a year now, I have been on many different ones since I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. One of the reasons why my medication has changed over the years is because finding the correct medication for each individual is a very long and difficult process. In can take weeks even months for your body to adjust to medication, therefore it takes just as long, if not a little bit longer, to see the true effects of the tablets. If one doesn't work then you move on to the next one ( which is all recommended by your GP) and continue the elimination process.
However the one thing that all anti-depressants have in common is that you are not to drink alcohol while on the medication, which many of you know, is something I struggle with greatly. This sounds like I have a drinking problem, like I can't function without one, that is definitely not the case. However on a Saturday night, I like to meet with friends and family, head to boomers, have a few drinks and dance the feet off myself. It's not everyone's cup of tea, and that's ok but it is how I like to relax. However, as you may have guessed, often it isn't just a few drinks, something (like many 23 year olds) I have one or two too many and that's when the fun stops.
While on the various medications, I have had nights where I was drinking and I was ok afterwards, but then I have also had nights that I get extremely drunk , black out and for days after I am extremely anxious. Of course sometimes it is my own fault because I have drank way too much however about 7 times out of 10, I have barely drank and these seem to be when I am effected the most and it is the worst feeling in the world. I's like something just comes over me, I become extremely drunk and almost unable to function. The next morning is always the worst because I can never remember anything which is terrifying.
Although this isn't just a recent thing, it used to happen once every 4 night's out. However recently, it is happening almost every time I drink especially when I drink wine, prosecco, lots of cocktails etc. I wouldn't necessarily drink bottles of wine, some nights I would drink 3 or 4 glasses and others I would drink twice as much, but it doesn't matter how much I drink, the outcome is still the same.
At first I had no idea why it was happening more and more now, however the last time I had a black out it completely clicked why it's happening every time I'm out. As you guys know, recently I have started a new job however I had the interview at the start of the year so I knew it was happening for a while. I made the decision to start taking my medication correctly i.e every single day. Don't get me wrong, I never stopped taking it or missed a day on purpose, I'm just a disaster at remembering to take it. However about a month ago, I decided to work harder at taking it, because I wanted to give myself my best chance to be well for my new journey. Although this particular medication has been in my body for a good while now, it is crazy the different that taking it every day as opposed to 4 days a week makes.
I know you are all probably thinking "ah just not drink!" and you are all probably right, but in the past when I have not drank on a night out my anxiety is really bad and I really can't relax. I am aware of everything and everyone that's going on around me, as a result everyone else's drunken antics freak me out, it sounds so stupid but it's how I feel. So I have decided to stay clear of wine based drinks and I have decided to stick to lighter drinks as well as reduce the amount I drink. I'm also going to try to not drink on every night out, because I know it is probably in my head that I feel worse when everyone around me is a little tipsy, baby steps!
So for the next few times that I'm out I'm going to take it easy when and see how and what drinks affect me, as well as opting for a coffee instead of a glass of vino now and again! I will keep you all updated on what happens. I am not saying that it is safe or ok to drink while on medication because it really isn't. Some are effected more/ worse than others so please please PLEASE consult your GP before doing so! I'm just sharing my experiences with you all because the way I have felt the past few nights out absolutely terrified me, sending me almost 5 steps backwards, so in a bid to help you guys and to stop you from going backwards too, I'm going to be as honest with you as I possibly can be!
I hope this helps in some way and please remember these are just my thoughts and experiences, everyone is different!
Love as always,
I hope you're all well, that you enjoyed the long weekend and that the hangover's weren't too bad on Monday Morning!
Last week was a very VERY big week for me! The course which I am doing as part as a volunteer in the new Visitor Centre in Clondalkin, finished up last week. It has been a long few weeks however I really enjoyed the course and I have learned so much! On top of that, I finished up in the Little Museum of Dublin last Thursday as I have been offered a job with the amazing and fun Viking Splash Crew (ARRRRRGHHHHHH - that's my best viking roar, it needs a bit of work!). So all in all it was a very big week for me.
Those of you who have been following be from the very beginning of this blog journey, or at least for the past year, will know that I fell into tour guiding about 14 months ago through a CE Scheme. I was on the Illness Benefit as a result of my depression and anxiety. I had to leave work, it was all too much for me. However, after taking time off work to attend counselling and to try to work through my mental health issues, I soon felt it was time to go back to work, however I was advised to ease myself into it. That's how I ended up working in a place that I absolutely love as well as finally finding a career that I really enjoy, that I thrive from and that, to be honest, I am good at.
Not many people regard the Tourism Industry, in particular tour guiding, as a career. It's no one's fault, but it's the truth. When I was in my final two years of secondary school, the dreaded CAO was all the teachers and guidance counselors could talk about. "What do you want to be? What college do you want to go to? How many points do you need for that?" It got me thinking about what I wanted to do. My future career changed by every lunch time, one minute I wanted to be a teacher, the next a journalist, however the one option which stuck with me slightly longer than any of the others was to work in the Hospitality and Tourism industry.
The only reason why it even was an option for me or how I thought of it was because of my dad. Growing up he always spoke about how much he always wanted to get into the tourism industry, however things were different then. He never ever pushed the idea in my head, however growing up I always was the first one to opt for a day of sight seeing and I was always the last one to want to leave a tourist attraction.
However when it was my turn to meet up with the guidance counselors and discuss what I wanted to do, my little tourism bubble was quickly burst, and I was handed leaflets and books on teaching. I don't remember the exact reasons why they didn't see it as an option, however I do remember at one point it being mentioned that I would have too many points for one particular course I was interested in! Is there such thing as having too many points in your leaving cert?? Have you ever heard such nonsense??
I'm not going to get into the details now, but to cut a long story short, I applied for what my teachers and counselors thought was best for me, and after one year in a university ( in a course I hated), I made the decision to leave. The amount of people and "friends" who judged me on this decision was unbelievable, and I bet you that if you asked them their opinion today they would still say it was the wrong decision. What I did next was what I should have done when I was 17 about to leave school, I listened to my heart. As cheesy as it sounds, that's all I did. I knew it was what I should have done and when I sat down with my mam and dad to discuss my options, the first thing they said was "well you are very good with people, you are a great listener and you love to talk, so let's try it.". Although my mental health provided a slight bump in the road, I have since then never ever looked back or regretted that decision, in fact I listen to my instincts and my gut even more so now, I have learned to trust myself.
Although I have had an amazing 14 months in the museum and I balled like a baby last Thursday, I know it is time to move on. I have learned quite a lot in such a short space of time but I need a new challenge, and what is more challenging then delivering a tour while shouting " ROAR AT THE COFFEE CELTS!!!!" while trying to drown out the noise of the busy traffic? Since I started in the museum, I knew that I wanted to join the crazy Viking Crew, so I went after it and earlier this year I was offered the job! Although I am excited for the next chapter, I have by no means reached my final destination on my career path. I have a plan which will require a lot more studying, hard work and determination but become a viking is the first step to this plan. Considering this time last year I was afraid of my own shadow and didn't like talking to anyone, I would say I have made some progress, what you reckon?
My whole point is this: no matter what your age, your current situation, your current job, your previous studies etc., if you want something and you know you will be good at it well then go and get it. The only thing that is stopping you from achieving your dreams and goals, is you. Don't let what other people think and say get in your head. There was a time when I would ignore my feelings and dreams just to make someone else happy, when all it did was make me unhappy. You don't have to be a professor or a nurse or a scientist to have a career, although all of those things are amazing, each person is different and I believe as long as you are working hard, earning a living and benefiting from your work personally, well then that's a career and a win win!
So that's where I am at the minute! Listen to yourself, don't let anyone burst your bubble and remember believe in yourself!
Love as always,
Happy Tuesday everyone!
So answer this honestly, did you have breakfast this morning? Known as the most important meal of the day, breakfast is one that I know many people around me avoid as they would rather an extra five minutes in bed than having breakfast especially as the cold and dark mornings are slowly creeping back in.
Previously, I have spoken before about how your diet can actually help boost your mood and help fight depression. So with these two facts in mind, it would be silly to not insure that you have breakfast every morning with foods that are proven to help your mental health!
Here are some options for a quick and easy to do breakfast with foods that will help improve your mental health and in turn start your day off in the right way!
1.Porridge with chopped Walnuts!
A year ago my mam stood in the middle of our kitchen chopping up some walnuts while literally singing "these are good for ya!", I thought she was gone mad (even more than usual!) It turns out that she is right. It has been proved that eating walnuts everyday can help reduce stress levels and fight against depression as they contain zinc, folic acid and omega 3 oils which are powerful mood boosters as they increase serotonin levels.
I'm not a fan of the taste of walnuts on their own as a snack so I add them into my porridge in the morning, to add flavour to them and to fill me for longer in the mornings. Not only is porridge a great food for the winter mornings, it is very quick and easy to prepare in the mornings so there is no excuse to skip breakfast before you leave the house! To top all of this off, porridge has also been found to fight depression as it contains vitamins B3/B6.
Add some flavour: I easily get fed up of eating the same things day after day, so I often add some cinnamon, honey or maple syrup, just a tiny pinch/drop, to add some flavours!
2. Fruit on the go!
When we think of a fruit salad we think of the nice warm summer months. However, the benefit's of fruit for mental health cannot be denied! Due to the wide variety of fruits available to us, there are so many different health benefits from including fruit into your diet not just regarding mental health. According to mentalhealthy.co.uk , fruits such as strawberries, bananas, kiwi, oranges, raisins, blackberries, contain magnesium will help prevent anxiety.
With this in mind, to help reduce your anxiety from the minute you wake up despite your busy morning before work, you could have a fruit smoothie including some of the above fruit with yoghurt to thicken your smoothie up, or if you are using public transport on your way to college or work, you could use an empty container and fill it up with chopped up fruit so you can nibble on your journey to work. Another way to include fruit int your breakfast if you find it too cold to have a fruit salad in the morning is by adding blackberries to your porridge.
3. Not just your average slice of toast!
Sometimes all we have time for is a quick slice or two of toast on the go while we are running for the bus! However, why not which your flora butter for an avocado? Avocado over the past few years have been recognised as a super food due to the amazing nutritional content in avocados which help fight many different illnesses. Due to it's high mineral content, avocados are known to also help our mental health, so why not spread some avocado on your wholemeal bread and if you like sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of your avocado spread to even add to your super food breakfast and sesame seeds are also known to help fight depression!
So there are three types of breakfasts full of nutrients that will help fight depression, reduce and anxiety and start your day off just right! No matter what I am having for breakfast however, I do like to also have a chamomile tea with it as this helps relax me and I am giving myself the best chance possible for the day ahead! So why not try one of these breakfast ideas along with a chamomile tea and let me know how you get on!
Love as always,
I am not a doctor or a nutritionist so the above post is based on my own experiences and research so consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
Hi guys and happy Friday!
As you know, I stopped drinking for a few weeks and since then I have been trying to not drink as much as I previously did. Although I don't need to have a drink all of the time, I think the idea of having a drink can help you relax and make you feel like you are having a bit of a treat. So instead of sticking to the boring diet coke which I drink day in day out, I have found four soft drinks that feel like you are having a well deserved drink (just without the taste of alcohol), all not too high in calories and the best part is that they are all under €3.50 individually!!
1. The Fake - Tail:
First up is this bottle of Sparkling Orange & Mango. It's from the Spirit of Summer range in Marks & Spencers. There are a few different flavours to chose from, however this is the only one I have tasted so far.
This will be my non- alcoholic version of a cocktail, it is slightly fizzy but easy to drink and makes you forget that there is no vodka in the mix. Not only does it taste good, it's only 315 calories for the whole bottle and costs just €3
16 c2. Make me a Cosmo!
This drink is different to any of the other alternatives to alcohol that I have tried, the reason being is that it is extremely cheap at €0.89 cents so I doubt many people would think of it as a treat or a night out drink. So what separates it from any other lemonade?
The cherry flavour gives it a real kick however it isn't something that you would great a lot of as it is very sweet, therefore making it a good substitute for a vodka and cranberry! The best part about it is, is that it only has 16 calories for a 250ml glass!
3. Pop the Champagne!!
These two are definitely my favourite's from Marks & Spencers. Their Sparkling Juice Range is their equivalent to non- alcoholic wine. There is a wide range of flavours to choose from, these are the only two I have tried so far, Apple & Cranberry and the Apple, Mango & Passion Fruit flavours.
I have to say the Apple, Mango & Passion Fruit one is definitely my favourite one. It is extremely refreshing especially when really cold, perfect for a summer evening and best of all when you open it it sounds like you are popping a very expensive bottle of real Champagne. Both of these bottles were €3.50 each and in a full bottle of the Apple, Mango & Passion Fruit one there is 390 calories. This means you can feel like you are having a treat without the hangover!
So there you go guys, if you are having an alcohol free night in but fancy something a little bit different these are my top picks from Marks & Spencers without breaking the bank or being too high in calories!
Love as always,
Hi guys and happy Wednesday!!
I hope you are all having a good week!! As promised here is an update on how ditching the alcohol for soft drinks is going!
The past two Sunday's I have woken up hangover free, and I have to say it has been a really nice change. Usually when a Sunday comes around, I am absolutely exhausted from both the week and from the night before, between that and the 4 or 5 vodkas (more like 6 or 7) from the night before, sleep is all that I am able for on a Sunday. So it is nice to have more energy than usual and to actually do things on a Sunday and not waste a day!
So apart from the physical results due to swapping a glass of vino for a glass of diet coke, have I noticed any other changes in the past two weeks? To be honest, from Tuesday to Friday the first week I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster ! All it would take was for someone to say hi to me and the gate to a flood of tears would just crash open and all I was left with was a tear stained shirt. When asked what was wrong, why I was so down and why I was so anxious, I couldn't answer, I had no answer, there was simply no straight forward answer. That Thursday I was on edge all day. Every few minutes anxiety would take over, I would have huge tense pains in my chest, making me feel as if there was no oxygen left, as if I couldn't breathe. Once I had control of my breathe again, my head was racing from one thing to another and I just couldn't focus or relax.
A similar feeling rolled onto to Friday and my head exploded on Saturday. I couldn't shake off these low emotions nor could I understand why I was so anxious and down. It was only on Saturday night, when I was all snuggled up in my pjs and sipping on my non- alcoholic sparkling wine, that I realised why I was all over the place. Although it was a week since I drank, I started crashing from the hangover on Tuesday and this is when the effects of the drink started to hit me. From then on the effects were stronger, paranoia was a permanent resident in my brain for a few days and it wasn't until Sunday that the effects completely wore off and I was feeling unusually ok. I reckon the lack of drink the first week mean't that both my mind and body were able to experience the complete effects of alcohol, that there was no "re- bound" so that I was able to hit the low that is natural after a big night of drinking followed by a natural level of happiness, peace and relaxation which was not triggered or forced by a few pints on a night out a week later to hide the fact that I was still feeling the effects of the week before.
The second week, both myself and Mark noticed a huge difference in my mood. It wasn't that I was much happier but my moods weren't as up and down as they usually are , they were more stable, I seemed more relaxed and I was able to control my emotions and tempers ten times better than any other week. I slept much better and I had even more energy than the first week being drink free! I also noticed that little things that would usually bother me or that would usually make me snap haven't bothered me in the slightest the past week and a half, and it has been so nice to not flip at every little thing and to feel a lot more at ease every day.
For two weeks I stayed completely sober, however Sunday evening I was out with friends and there is only so much of non - alcoholic Erdinger you can possibly drink, it is definitely not my favourite alternative to alcoholic drinks, but sadly it was the only one available on Sunday! So I decided to have two bottles of Smirnoff Ice on Sunday night as they don't have a huge volume of alcohol in them. Usually, Smirnoff Ice has no effect on me at all but I have to say, whether it was due to tiredness or hunger, I could actually feel the effects of those two drinks and I really didn't like it. The next night, I was out for dinner with work and I had a glass and a half of wine with my dinner, once again, I didn't feel good drinking it and the next day my head was quite sore. Although I was only off alcohol for two weeks, those two weeks really showed me how much of an effect alcohol can have on our bodies. It also showed me that what is usually the norms for us, our bodies and minds adapt quite quickly and having what would usually be two small drinks would be the equivalent of having a full bottle of wine!
Those two days have shown me that I 100% prefer when I am not drinking, and the past two weeks have also proved that I don't need drink to have a good time, in fact I am more myself when I am not drinking. I like actually remembering each night and not panicking the next day. I like being able to get up the next day and not waste a day and most of all I like feeling relaxed and happy! Of course I am not saying I will never drink again but last night for instance I had the option of a glass of vino or a glass of a apple and passion fruit sparkling juice, and lets just say I am happy I chose the sparkling juice! I think I will definitely be drinking less wine and a lot more sparkling juice at least for the next while, I want to give my mind a chance to be happy and to be able to relax and not be over paranoid.
For the next few weeks I have a lot of concerts, parties etc., which usually means a mad night on the drink, so I am going to keep you posted, keep an eye on my mood over the next few weeks and I will let you know how if I still manage to swap most of my what would usually be a drunk night out for a sober one!!
Despite the heading, this is not a weather report!! Although I would love nothing more than to have glorious sunshine and the rain to live somewhere else for the next two months, I somehow can't see that happening in Ireland! Sure a girl can dream!!
I have decided to try to not drink alcohol for the next month, 31 days to be exact!! I started on Sunday (although I was hungover so I don't know if the alcohol had technically left my system by then), making today day 4. Despite that sentence making me sound like I drink 24/7, I only drink once or twice a week, mainly at the weekend leaving me to stay in bed and waste every Sunday. So as I only drink a few times a week if not just once a week why decide to not drink for a month and why am I sharing it with you guys?
There is not just one answer, in fact there are many reasons why I decided to stick to the diet coke and soda water on nights out for four weeks. The main two reasons are both health related. The first is my physical health. As I have said many times before I have never been happy with my look in particular my weight. I have never been particularly slim and the scales has never really gone below double figures. It is no secret that I struggle greatly with my weight. Don't get me wrong, there are times I eat rings around myself and there are days were all I do is binge eat on anything I can get my hands on whether it be chocolate, crackers, crisps, pasta, bread you name it I eat my body weight in it. However on the most part I eat healthy food in fact I actually enjoy healthy eating and lately I have fallen in love with some of the Health shops because I love finding new healthy treats to have and new things to put into meals etc.
So what is the problem? Every single week I lose weight from Monday to Thursday and then come the weekend I could be eating healthy Friday and Saturday but then drink on Saturday night and between drink, eating burgers and the next day I always put back on the weight I lost the previous days with sometimes an added pound or so! It is getting to the point where my back aches at the start of each week due to the excess weight, that nothing fits me and that I get upset on nights out about my weight, not to mention the following day when photos are uploaded and I look like a beached whale who has managed to eat the equivalent of her friends standing beside her! I know I am sick of listening to myself complain so I don't know how my family, friends and you guys are putting up with me, something has to give!
This losing and putting back on weight leads me to the second reason why I am ditching the Cosmopolitans for a month for the Shirley Temples. The excess weight and constant disappointment on the scales is having a negative impact on how I think about and see myself. It is really getting me down and it is certainly not helping my mental health. As we all known, alcohol is a depressant in itself so of course it is going to have a negative impact on our minds and cause us to feel a little bit more down the days that follow the night out, but it has gotten to the point where it is just a vicious circle every single week.
For Example, I go out nearly every Saturday night. I usually go out with the intentions not to drink or if I am no shots, no excess drinking and I have all intentions to not drink spirits as they are my worst enemy. What happens? All of the above!! I know it is my own fault there is no denying that, however the fact that there is a huge emphasis on drinking at the weekend and that fun and alcohol go hand in hand doesn't help either!! There have been a handful of times where I have gone out sober where I have had nothing but anxiety and drunken friends surrounding me. That is no one's fault as everyone is entitled to spend their night whatever way they wish, but it just seems like either way I don't help myself or my situation.
So why do I think I will be able to stick to a drink free month? I don't think I definitely will, it is just something I am trying mainly as a little experiment. It sounds weird but I know deep deep down that alcohol is not a good mix for me at all. Whether we are talking about my weight, my health, my mind, my anxiety it doesn't help anything and it certainly doesn't help me achieve the list of these I really want to achieve. I think in society, there is a huge emphasis on binge drinking, drinking to become drunk! How do I know? Because I have one to many times drank to become drunk. There is a perception that in order to enjoy your night you have to be completely twisted. I am not saying I will never be drunk in my life ever again but what I am saying is that I am starting to realise that it is this binge drinking, drinking to a point where you don't remember much the next day, that does nothing but creates paranoia, anxiety, sad thoughts, negative energy and in general makes me feel so low that all I want to do is crawl into bed and not come back out. When it is happening every single week so much so that I know Tuesday's are when I begin to feel the effects of the previous weekend in my moods and thoughts, that is a huge problem, one that i really don't need.
So, I have decided to keep a note of how I feel each week, to ,monitor my moods, see if there is a change and to see if not having drink every week helps my mental health, and if so to what extent. So I will keep you all updated and I will let you know if I do manage to have an alcohol free month and how my moods are!
Love as always,
Welcome to the Lifestyle Section!
This is where I share parts of lifestyle which I feel help or hinder my mental health.