Friday, November 28, 2008

The best gift of all

After my complaining yesterday and my attempts to unburden emotional and physical baggage, I feel humbled by Charlotte's post today. The human body truly is a magnificient achievement, it's a wondrous form of engineering, with so many uniquely personal attributes for every being on the planet. I'm carrying a few extra pounds of fat, and unfortunately it's stored around my ass and hips, but that couple of additional inches should not negate all the amazing things my body has done, and continues to do for me, and I should be grateful for that.
So I guess my body, like everyone else's, is pretty great, and here's why I'm thankful for it:
1. Flexibility - I'm kind of bendy. Some of it is natural, like the fact that I can lean back into the crab position from standing, and some of it is from TKD and Pilates, like fact that I can almost sit in front splits. I always forget that I'm fairly supple compared to "civilians" until I stretch with a friend at the gym, or with the team before a Tag Rugby game!
2. Photographic Memory - I'm not quite able to merely glance at a page and memorise its entire contents, but I'm not far off it. I used to learn essay questions off by heart the night before my finals when studying Law in University. It felt like cheating because I could turn the pages in my head during the exam!
3. Strong Muscular Physique - This is good and bad! It's a good feeling when I'm benching a decent weight, and I can see my delts and traps pop out with the exertion, but that's bad when you remember I'm a GIRL and it's hard to wear strapless tops when you've got shoulders like a rugby player! :o)
4. Quick Learner - Along with my good memory, I have a good aptitude to adapt to new methods or tasks, (this is starting to sound like my CV!). So thanks to that sense of co-ordination I find I really enjoy classes like Tae-Bo or Power Aerobics that give me a chance to challenge myself.
5. Abs of Steel - Ok, not quite, but I am fortunate to have a fairly flat stomach, with a girly two-pack, and more if I lose any bit of weight. This is all thanks to TKD, though the Pilates has been great in recent months for hitting the lower abs and pelvic floor muscles.
I think that's enough to be grateful for, any more and I might get an ego I can't handle! :o)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks?

Even in Ireland, Thanksgiving is upon us! I managed to avoid the Turkey/Cranberry Sauce/Stuffing Combo in the work canteen today, in favour of the home-cooked meal on offer this evening. I know I should restrain myself, and I know I will eat too much.
I have been eating too much lately. And not exercising enough. My clothes are snug and I'm scared to stand on a weighing scales. I know all the logical solutions to this, but what about the emotional side, how do I stop comfort eating? I think if I knew the answer to this then I'd be extremely popular among my friends, as I know I am not the only one who seeks solace in persistent snacking. Even as I type this I'm thinking of getting something from the vending machine to have with my cup of tea! These are not rational thoughts! I need to be shifting inches, not gaining them!
My dress arrived today, the one from Coast, and as I feared, it clings to my voluptuous hips... It fits perfectly on top, then clings to my ass and thighs bearing more than a passing resemblance to the bottom of an egg timer... I look ridiculous... The party is Saturday week, I don't think I can work miracles, even if I felt inclined to radically cut my calorie intake and actually start training properly! The wedding is at the end of December, not a great time to be hoping to be skinnier, but marginally more achieveable given that there are over 4 weeks to shift the excess baggage.
It's a beautiful dress... I just wish I had my old body back so that I could wear it with pride.
So I am saying this to my chub:
Dear Chub,
Thanks for the memories, for making me appreciate my former figure and making me feel ashamed for ever complaining about what I thought were excessive curves! Thank you for showing me how uncomfortable it can be to be in your own skin, and how that can completely ruin my self-confidence and sense of self-worth. Thank you for encouraging me to be more creative in how I dress, concealing you under artistic layers of clothing. Thanks for giving me something to snuggle up to at night, and thanks for keeping me warm in these cold winter months.
I think I can manage ok on my own now, I'm ready to let you go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Cost of Happiness?

A colleague of mine snagged her tights this morning and despite using tippex to seal the damage, she was having to walk quite carefully to prevent the ladder from running! I had to take care of a few errands at lunch so while I was in the shopping centre I picked up a pair of tights for her and left them at her desk. I can't believe how nice it felt to do one simple little act of kindness, and the cost of this glorious warm feeling of contentment... about €3... :o)
I've been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow evening, not a common occurrence in Ireland! These are long-standing family friends so of course we will not be attending empty-handed. My mother has already taken care of the "grown-up" gifts of wine etc., so I'm in charge of the offerings for the children, and for once I'm nervous about my choices! It's hard to choose for young girls these days, what's cool one week is passé the next! So I'm hoping that Bratz are still 'in', and if not, that the make-up that comes with the dolls will be satisfactory!
I love Christmas, birthdays, or any other excuses to be generous. I just love giving presents. I love choosing thoughtful, personalised gifts that will truly be appreciated and actually used. I know it's a bit early to be posting about Christmas, but I've already started ordering gifts online to make sure they arrive in time and I'm feeling very festive today indeed!
So is it really a self-less gesture when you personally get so much pleasure from the act of giving?
*Later that evening, full of the joy of doing good deeds, I found a €50 note at the supermarket check-out, left behind by the last customer. The look of astonishment on his face when I returned it was priceless.... I'm going to heaven so I am! :o)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Post Shopping-Splurge Guilt!

It's not exactly buyer's remorse, because I'm glad I made the purchases and I really did need everything I've bought... but I am certainly feeling the guilt in the after-math of my spontaneous decision to buy a lovely new Dell Studio laptop (a blue one!). I've wanted to get a new Windows-based laptop for quite a while. I do love my iBook, but the compatibility issues have been getting me down for a long time, so it will be nice to have a PC for a while, and actually be able to sync my numerous little gadgets for once! So even though I knew I had the money set aside, and even though there were numerous good reasons for me to make this purchase, I still woke up with a sickening feeling that I'd spent too much money, or that I'd made the wrong decision.
I know that all the doubts will disappear once I open the box and see my beautiful new (blue!!) laptop, with all its lovely extras and techie upgrades! I'm not quite gadget head but I do love my electronics!
My other recent purchase was a dress for my work Christmas party. Well, actually I've bought two dresses... :o) The black-tie event is held in a 5 star castle nearby, and my first choice of a full length silvery-white gown from Debenhams is beautiful but has serious bridal undertones! So I ordered a 3/4 length strapless dress (white with red flowers) from Coast, with the justification that I have a wedding to attend at the end of December so clearly this second dress would be used then at least.
I did feel a twinge of guilt as I finalised the purchase of the second dress on the Coast website... I'm just hoping that disappears once I try it on...

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Silver Lining to Every Cloud?

As you may have noticed from the recurring tone of my posts, I can easily allow negative situations to overwhelm and intimidate me, though I do believe that there is a lesson to be learned and essentially a positive outlook to be seen on everything that happens to us, it's just that sometimes it can be hard to see it. With my recent back injury/weight gain and the fears and insecurities accompanying it, I felt far from prepared to train fully in TKD let alone compete in a national competition, but somehow, yesterday, I did.

I'm not proud of my clumsy demonstration of Taekwon-Do, particularly in front of my own students. Having not prepared properly, either mentally or physically, I did not perform to my highest standard. Though I'm kicking myself for not doing things slightly differently in my bouts, I'm far more regretful of not showing my little protégés their instructor's full potential. I forgot things that I've known for years, and made a couple of rookie mistakes, but at the end of the day, I had won 2 Silver Medals for my efforts.

The awards themselves mean nothing to me, in fact I think I may have even left one behind at the competition in our haste to depart! The real "silver lining" for me was the look of awe and respect reflected in my young student's faces. It's easy to forget how much of an effect we have on other people's lives, even those who we do not interact with directly. In fact, one little girl, who I had never met before, came up to me and said: "Miss, you're my favourite black belt!" I nearly cried... :o)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank Wispa It's Friday!

I'm in a retro mood today, after hearing they're releasing the Best of The Den on DVD! Now that means nothing to anybody outside of Ireland, but The Den was the main source of humour on Irish television for most of the 90s! In keeping with the retro theme, a friend of mine gave me a Wispa bar today! I always find it hard to decline edible gifts, particularly for fear of offending the gracious giver, but there was no way I was declining a Wispa bar! Another Irish treat I'm sure, Cadbury's only recently brought it back due to popular demand. After a brief glance at the nutritional information, I decided to allow myself this treat. It's Friday after all! :o)

Have a great weekend everyone! I'm heading down to the south of Ireland for the weekend to visit my family so I'm sure I'll end up blogging again at some point!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Whoa Girl!!

Yesterday was quite a varied day for me in terms exercise; a spontaneous 30 minute walk at lunchtime with a friend from work, 45 minutes of TKD patterns practice at the gym after work, followed by an Intermediate Pilates class which left my "core" rather warm! It's quite a difficult thing to do, letting myself go for a walk, or spending a whole hour stretching and doing core work instead of kicking pads and doing footwork drills at TKD class. I don't think I would even have considered taking up Pilates if it wasn't for my back problems, even though I do enjoy it I just wouldn't have thought I had the time with TKD every evening. But now it's helping my back so much that it's not a case of trying to find time for it, it's simply a matter of committing to the classes and regularly attending - no excuses allowed!

Similarly with the walking, in the past I would either have gone for a run, or just not gone at all. I never saw the value in walking, but again, since my back problems, I've realised that low-impact cardio like brisk walking really helps to loosen out my lower back/hips. My ego is unrelenting though, I still feel like I should have a sign on my back saying "I'm actually fit, I can run I swear!" as though walking is a sign of weakness!

How sad is it that it takes extreme pain before I finally listen to my body and slow down?! And how oddly contradictory that by doing less strenuous exercise, I am enabling my body to achieve more!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What happens when you're disorganised?

Absolutely anything and everything! I went to bed late, half-heartedly intending on going to the gym this morning. Somehow my motivation wanes when it's founded in a desire to take advantage of my gym access as much as possible! I woke up all nice and warm. snuggled up to my pillow, and gave myself 10 more mins... Then another 5... *yawn*... maybe just 2 more....
Finally got up, located gym gear, shower stuff, an outfit for work, my headphones and my ipod, no wait where's my ipod?! No time to look for it now. Out the door, felt the icy air and hoped, no prayed that the windscreen of my car wouldn't be frozen over... No such luck. Gear bag down, up the stairs to my apartment again, filling the kettle to defrost my poor frozen car. Minutes ticking by I finally am in the car, windscreen clear, gear bag ready, and I realise that without my ipod I'm really wasting my time going to the gym. At this stage I only have time for less than 30 mins of a workout so I accept defeat and vow to go this evening straight after work.
I thought music was a workout aid! When did I become so reliant on it to perform? I think there's a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that my ipod is like my invisibility cloak. When I am pumping the tunes into my ears I am blissfully unaware of the stares I'm attracting for my unusual TKD training moves. It helps me get into the zone, or at least helps me fake till I can tune everything out myself. Are iPods/personal music players that integral to everybody else?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back on course

I haven't yet resolved anything or even spoken to "D", but I've certainly calmed down in the aftermath of that unexpected conflict. I've even managed to find a bright side in all of it - I don't have to worry about that website any more! It's not my responsibility now! Yay! It's strange to look at the site and notice new updates that I haven't added, but at the same time it felt SO nice to walk into my sitting room yesterday morning and not see that frustrating laptop there! I swear, that machine is unbelievably slow and frustrating to use. Particularly compared to my ibook! I would regularly have to practice breathing techniques in an effort to restrain urges to fling it off the balcony (no I'm not an impatient person!!).
Anyway, after a couple of tangential posts, and injury related training breaks, I seem to be back on course (no pun intended!). Though I'm not pain-free, I'm now actually able to complete a TKD class with minimal whingeing! That's pretty good for me! :o) My diet is going well too, with the assistance of Healthy Week in work, where they've provided nutritional yet yummy breakfasts - I had a plate of fruit, bowl of cereal and a smoothie today. Yum yum yum!
My newest worry (I could never be worry-free!) is regarding the gym at work. With all the recent cut-backs there are concerns about enforcing the separation between employees and contractors for fear the latter could claim equality *gasp*, and go on to then claim redundancy! I'm sure there are viable economic reasons for not wanting to give long-term contract employees a lump sum, but I'm not really going to get into that, I'm just disgusted because it looks like we won't be allowed to use the gym any more...
I find discrimination and segregation sickening, I'm not happy to accept a second-class citizen status. But more importantly, I'm not happy to lose my little gym space. It's so perfect, the 6 sq. metres with mirrors are ideal for my TKD work! As if it wasn't bad enough that I'm losing my friends, the parties and the free lunches, they've added this now as well. I think recession depression is more far-reaching than I'd imagined. Q. What could be worse than losing your job? A. Losing the reasons for working there in the first place. :o(

Monday, November 10, 2008

Calm After the Storm

As my predecessor in the role of webmaster, one of the Instructors (let's call him D) had been far too involved since the beginning. Tensions were increasing as my IT issues worsened, as this clearly "proved" my incompetence. It all culminated on Saturday night when we were supposed to be meeting to resolve the problem with the web-editing software and in fact he had decided he was taking the laptop. The whole encounter was extremely aggressive, unnecessarily so, and it has left me drained. I'm proud of the fact that I stayed clear and level-headed in heat of the argument and did not allow him to bully me or distract me with bullsh*t, but the entire experience was emotionally charged and has left me with a distinctly nauseating after taste.
I hate conflict and confrontation, particularly when there is no need for it. He could have simply explained himself to begin with, there was no need for him to treat me like a naughty toddler who didn't deserve their new toy, and that was certainly how he made me feel. I am left now with a distinct feeling of aggrieved injustice, frantically trying to think of a way for him to learn his lesson. This being a sporting association we do have Ethics & Discipline Committees, but I'm not sure that an incident such as this would warrant that route, though it might shock him into some form of reflection if he thought he had sufficiently crossed the line. Or I might just be further provoking a bullying beast.

Friday, November 7, 2008


There are many wonderful, and not-so-wonderful, aspects to being a control freak. I usually do things quite well, and I use that term generally because I do attempt nearly everything. If it's something that's physically possible for me to do, then I hate to achieve less than 95% (well, nobody's perfect!). People know they can rely on me to get a job done, and they know it will be done to a high standard. They also know that despite my best efforts to be a team player, I'm itching to take charge and implement my ideas and generally just tidy things up a bit, so it doesn't necessary help me to make friends!

I am very much aware that my need to maintain control over everything, and sometimes everyone, is extremely neurotic, and by meeting my need to be involved in everything I am simply attempting to silence my inner voices with their fearful chant - "They're doing it wrong! Fix it! Help them!!" It's not like I'm trying to take over just to rub my proficiency in other people's faces. That's just a bonus. :o)

The major downside to being a control freak, with its inherent perfectionist streak, is what happens when a mistake is made? When something goes wrong?! Even when it's through no fault of my own, the fact that it reflects on me is traumatic. I experienced that last night, and I think the best term for it is simply a Meltdown. I think that's the best way to describe my wailing down the phone to my TKD Instructor at 1am because somehow the updates that I made to the website not only refused to save, but the home page is now blank!! I nearly crapped myself when I saw it. This is the most public job I could be doing and I've just wiped the website home page. F*ck.

Now, regardless of the fact that this is clearly a computer error, and there was nothing I could do to prevent it happening, other than simply refusing to turn the thing on! Despite the fact that no-one should blame me for this, in fact they should apologise for giving me a crappy laptop to work with, with out of date web-editing software that crashes every 5 minutes! None of this matters, because my ego was the one crashing last night. I couldn't handle the fact that everyone who clicked on the site would know it was my job to maintain it, and would think I had messed it up.

All of this emotional turmoil has a terrible knock-on effect: An hour of crying results in extremely puffy eyes which no amount of eye make-up can mask and I couldn't get to bed till well after 1am, hence was unable to wake early enough for am gym session; and the associated guilt should ensue. But I'm not going to let it.

I'm not taking responsibility for this mess. I'm not going to let it bother me. I'm going to have an extremely productive day at work and then go to TKD tonight. And maybe hit some people. :o)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recession Depression

I've just found out that my company are making serious cut-backs, starting with the frivolous expenditure like our lavish Christmas party being cancelled. (It's normally held in a 5 star castle, yes we like to be posh so we do!), but nothing cuts a budget like dropping head-count. :o( It looks like my job is safe for the time being, with the extremely fortuitous timing of my contract renewal, unfortunately my friends were not so lucky. Already 3 of my close friends have been given their notice, and it looks likely that at least 2 more will follow after them. There's talks of moving to Australia and Dubai, and plans for cancelling house purchases, and it has me thinking:
If I was made redundant in the morning, what would I do?
Well, after the initial sobbing and crying, I think I'd go back to school and do that Masters I've had my eye on for a while now. But could I really drop everything to do with the TKD Club, after all I teach 4 classes a week, and train with another 2, could I really walk away from it all? It's starting to look like I need a genuine plan, and this is no longer idle fantasy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Photos as promised!

I wasn't sure if I'd show faces in the photos but they just looked ridiculous when I tried to crop them more! I hope the boys don't mind/find out that I've published pics of them on my blog! Oh and please excuse the Zoolander attempts in the first photo, we're such wannabe models!! :o)
Oh and yes, I am sucking my tummy in for the first pic, I've unwittingly let the pudge hang out for the second! Like I said earlier though, I still felt pretty, even though I was fairly self-conscious for the day!

Back in the gym!

Fueled by your words of support yesterday and a little nudge from my coach last night, I dragged myself out of bed this morning and went to the gym! I didn't go crazy, just did about 15 mins on the treadmill followed by 25 mins of weights/core work so the work out itself was nothing impressive, I'm just pleased that I was able to motivate myself to go. I think I need to draw up a new schedule for my training which includes TKD classes, my own personal TKD training, and my own Strength/Cardio training and ideally some yoga/pilates classes too. I work well when I have a plan. Unfortunately as a direct corollary to that I work very badly when there is no plan!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Silly Me!

I was so distracted by Lean November that I totally forgot to post about my Halloween! I'll have to add a photo later because I did something quite daring - I went to a costume party dressed as Princess Jasmine from Aladdin... yes, that's right, I showed my stomach in public! I've always been lucky in that I usually had a really narrow waist and my abs would show through easily, so even with all the recent weight gain and my ballooning ass & hips, my stomach is still reasonably flat. I still wasn't sure I'd be able to pull off the costume but it fit quite nicely in the end, and maybe bright pink works for me cos I felt quite pretty!
Photos to follow later...

Lean November Weigh In

Every year my company do a healthy month program called Lean November, no prizes for guessing when it's on! It's a group effort to get fit and lose weight before the gluttony of December sets in. The canteen serves leaner options, and pedometers and walking maps are provided for interested participants, and there is a general united effort towards making healthier choices. These are all rather enjoyable and innocuous aspects of the program, the scary part is the weigh in... There are 3 teams that weigh in at the start of the month and then again at the end of the month and the team with the most weight loss wins some lovely bottles of wine. I enjoyed participating in this last year, even though my team was not victorious, it was still fun. I lost about 3lbs and promptly put it on (and more besides!) over the month of December!
This year, however, you would have to drag me kicking and screaming onto that scales! It's hard enough for me to handle my weight gain without having to actually see the figures and then have to reveal the number to a colleague, regardless of her vow of secrecy. I do need to lose weight though, it's getting beyond ridiculous, even my 'fat' clothes are starting to feel snug! It's such a vicious circle - I feel fat so I don't feel comfortable doing Taekwon-Do and I have to work twice as hard just to motivate myself to train! I feel fat and it makes me want to eat!! And it doesn't help that my back still twinges regularly enough to cause me to hold back when training. I wish I was 100%, I want to really be able to throw myself into my training and feel that overwhelming exhaustion from really giving it my all. I need to ignore the fat feelings for now. I need to take care of my back. And I need to find a way to break through this invisible barrier and out of this vicious circle. I can do this.