Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Confrontation... My Achilles' Heel

I hate hate hate confrontation! Unless it's an instant reaction to a situation, I'm useless. I just feel sick at the thought of actively engaging someone in conflict. You'd think that after so many years of martial arts and competitive sparring that I would have faced and conquered this fear. After today's face-off with my ex-roommate I can say... Evidently Not...
I feel physically sick, just weak and light-headed after that nasty exchange.
I would never have seen empathy or the desire to please as being a weakness before, but it seriously hinders success in arguments. I was almost fighting myself as I tried to shrug off his defences and resist taking them on as the truth. I had to keep struggling to remind myself that I was actually in the right, and that he was the one that was being unreasonable.
The background to this incident is a long boring story that I wouldn't inflict on yet another sympathetic ear, but this has become a common theme for me. I think back over the years, to the people who confronted me for my "wrongdoings" and I kick myself for not having the courage to fight my own battles.
I can defend others at a moment's notice, but I seem to think have such little self-regard that I find it impossible to defend myself.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Source of Comfort

My increasingly annoying roommate moved out 2 weeks ago, and I had the apartment to myself at last... Then my brother came to stay with me and ended up staying for a week, so when he left yesterday I was relieved at first, now I could get back to my peaceful solitude. But I miss him. He's a funny guy, in more ways than I could hope to explain and he's become a great brother over the years (we'll remain blissfully ignorant of the childhood years!). Over the last week he was a great friend too.

Let me put this in one simple sentence: I lost a pound in the last week.
I wasn't really trying to lose weight. Not in a conscious sense.. Of course it helped that he was trying varying degrees of Carb-elimination, and was not encouraging any junk food consumption, as most of my friends are likely to do. But I didn't notice their absence.

I didn't crave comfort food.

I felt comforted.

I am only noticing this now since he has left. As I sit down at my desk with a sugar-laden Cappuccino, and feel the familiar cravings setting in, I notice their return, and in doing so I notice their absence.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A bit of perspective...

I've been avoiding blogging for the last few weeks, at first it was because I was in Dubai visiting my sister, but then I returned home and was met with the news that Leo, the man I was seeing back at Christmas, had died in a car accident near our home town.
I'd known him for years but we only got to know each other properly back at Christmas. We only went out for about a month but we spent most of that in each other's pockets! He even came to my friend's wedding with me at the end of December. It didn't work out though, for a number of reasons, and I was just glad that things weren't awkward between us and our mutual friends.
Even though we weren't dating long, you can imagine that this was a major shock for me. I'm still trying to get my head around it to be honest.
At first I was in shock, I didn't accept the truth of it or even cry for over 24 hours after I'd heard the news. Then the floodgates opened and I had 3 days of puffy eyes and almost constant sobbing. I've honestly never cried so much at a funeral before.
It's been about 10 days since the accident, just 7 days since his funeral, and it still feels surreal. Like an elaborate practical joke. It's as if everything has changed, yet sitting here at work it's as if nothing has changed.
It's funny the effect that sudden and tragic deaths can have on the living. I've been cleaning my apartment in almost an obsessive manner, de-cluttering and re-organising incessantly. How silly to think that if I died in the morning I'd regret leaving behind a messy home, but I suppose it's just a feeling of needing to have my stuff in order. I've also been making contact with my friends and family, making sure that they know just how important they are to me, and how much I appreciate their love and support.
It really puts things into perspective. Life's too short to sweat the small stuff.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Messy Middle

I just read Charlotte's post today about Survival of the Weakest. As usual it was a great post, but today this was actually beautifully timed for me. I have to quote this:"I'd much rather hear about those who struggle and fight and earn every inch of what they've got."

Nothing ever comes easy to me (except the speed-reading, coincidence?), so I have no interest in reading about people with all this natural talent. Show me the ugly duckling and the process she endured to become that swan. I read Kelly Holmes' (double Olympic gold-medallist athlete) autobiography and was totally disappointed - she ran, she ran fast, she trained hard, she won. *sigh* What on earth can I learn from that?

Every physical activity I do is a struggle for me. I can disguise that with strength and enthusiasm, but I lack the ease and grace of a "natural" athlete. It doesn't help that my little 18yr old sister also does the same sport as me, and I guess starting at 9yrs instead of 16yrs as I did, gives you a major advantage.

I'm struggling so much with my body shape and image at the moment. I broke down and cried, no actually I sobbed, on the phone to my Mum last night, trying to make sense of the disproportionate amount of suffering a few extra pounds can cause. It doesn't seem fair. I have friends in TKD that see that I have put on a few pounds but they also see weight-gain/loss as I used to see it: a purely physical process, you eat less and train more and the numbers go down. I have friends at work that see me as already being quite slim and try to reassure me that I don't need to lose weight, or that it's natural to gain some in your mid-20s.

Neither of these approaches are helping me. I need to hear about the messy middle. I need someone who understands that the reason I gained this weight, and the reason I am struggling to lose it is that it is not purely a physical process. There is some major emotional crap going on with me at the moment that I am clearly not dealing with too well. I need someone that understands that I need help. Not sympathy or reassurance. Just help.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nobody's Perfect!

Ok, so I was far from perfect yesterday, but I mean, seriously who was I kidding?? Trying to be perfect can only last so long, and I always find that the more focus and attention that I give to a new healthy eating plan, then the less likely it is to succeed. The idea behind trying to be perfect for a week was to instill myself with the foundation of some good habits. And I think I managed that by making a few things feel normal again. Although all it takes is for me to forget my water bottle and suddenly my daily water intake drops to practically zero!

I baked Mocha Muffins last night. They were ok, then I made a Coffee Buttercream Icing, and they became satisfactory.

I'm nowhere near as proud of them as I am of the Chocolate Layer Cake I had made the night before. (You can see now where the temptation crept into my diet recently!!)

Despite all this decadent chocolate baking, I'm still eating high-nutrition food, and trying to take more inspiration from Sagan on her recent experiment. Last night I was in a rush to get some food together (all that baking does take time I guess!), and I just threw half an avocado onto some cooked quinoa and sprinkled soy sauce on top! Super quick snack, but absolutely delicious!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TTBP: Day 8.. of a Week-long Trial!

I was just commenting on Sagan's blog when I realised I am on Day 8 of Trying To Be Perfect, ie. the week is over... Hmm.. It can't have been too hard if I didn't notice when it finished...Well, I suppose that may be due to the fact that I kind of blew that Perfection attempt when I went out clubbing over the weekend!! But I've really enjoyed this experiment, and even just the idea of adhering to the standards of a person that I would aspire to be.
So I'm not giving up today, I'm still going to try and stick to the rules I set down for myself last week, I'm actually going to try and keep this going for the month. I've incorporated some nice little habits for myself over the last few days, although I do need to find a way to get my sugar cravings under control. Might be turning to Sagan's experiment next for some help with that!

Monday, March 9, 2009

TTBP: Day 7 - Evaluating Progress

So I was doing great this weekend, right up until I wrote that last post I was eating well and hadn't succumbed to the temptation of the sugar cravings. I find Saturdays are the hardest day to stick with my good intentions, there's something about that 6th day of the week that feels like I've done enough hard work at being good and now I deserve a treat! So I think I'll make sure to have my cheat meal on Saturdays in future. Anyway, I was doing well and even though I decided to go up to Galway to visit my brother for a night out, I didn't have any junk food or even any excess food at all really! We did manage to eat a whole pack of Ryvitas between the two of us though! Definitely hit my dietary fibre requirements for the weekend!!

So is it a failure that I drank 1 beer, 2 vodkas & a baby guinness (it's a shot of tia maria and topped with bailey's to look like a little pint of guinness, very yummy...)??!!

I think that the fact I didn't give in to hangover cravings, nor did I feel that desperate "oh i've failed now i may as well just go nuts..." feeling is a good thing. It's almost a success. I really did have a great night with my brother, I had lots of fun on the dance floor and stayed up till the early hours of the morning talking about what we want to do with our lives! And overall, despite the alcohol buzzing through my system, I stayed calm. It was really nice to feel like that! I just drank my berocca, took a solpadeine, and carried on with my nutritional good intentions!

I still have today to get through in this 7 Days of Trying To Be Perfect, so I'll give a full recap tomorrow morning. I'm really glad I tried to do this though, success or not, I feel better for it.

I didn't weigh myself this morning, I'm trying to wait until Wednesday, my newly appointed weigh-in day, but my tummy feels super flat and I'm still feeling focused on my healthy eating. Still feeling calm and optimistic. Long may it last...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

TTBP: Day 5...

I went to a Yoga class this morning, a nice reason to get up early on a Saturday! It had been nearly 2 years since I'd done such a class but the Pilates I've been doing obviously complements it nicely because I was well able to keep up with the more experienced members of the class (not that I was comparing myself or anything... *ahem*). I left with that lovely centered feeling of being present in my body, that rare sensation of physical awareness from head to toe, similar to that experienced after a thorough massage. Mmm... lovely indeed... :o)

This week of Perfection is still going really well for me, although I admit I got hit with a couple of sugar pangs last night, and then I felt immensely hungry after that yoga class this morning and took ages to satisfy my ravenous appetite, but I'm calm again now. My de-cluttering is going well, along with my training and nutrition. We did lots of punching and kicking drills in TKD last night, perfect for letting go of unwanted aggression and frustration! My weight was down again today ( I know I shouldn't be weighing myself daily, it's just nice to see the numbers going down for once!!)

Ok, off to cook myself a super-healthy dinner and then I'll think about the potential activities for this evening....

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Trying to Be Perfect: Day 4

Well it's Day 4 of attempting to achieve Perfection and it's actually going really well! My water intake has majorly increased, not quite hitting a steady 2 litres a day but not far off it especially when you count the herbal teas I drink. My low-carb and no-sugar plan is going nicely, I turned down a gourmet chocolate dessert when I visited my Mum, and even went to the cinema the other night and refrained from eating a gigantic tub of popcorn! That's normally the sole reason I'd choose to see a movie on the big-screen!! (Oh and it was the Shopaholic movie I went to see in case you're interested, such a chick flick but some good giggles in it too!)

I even made time last night to clear out my bedroom, filling 2 garbage bags with junk and old clothes that I really shouldn't wear again! I love de-cluttering, it's such a cleansing feeling.

AND I'm down a couple of pounds.. well 4 to be precise.. woo hoo... :o) This isn't the result of 4 days work though, that's more likely to have been a lb a week for the last month of high-protein and low-carb nutrition. I'm only about 4 more from my genuinely happy weight and I haven't even really felt like I've been putting much effort in so far.

This is the first time I've tried to lose weight by going low-carb and high-protein, and it's working really well for me. I'm never too hungry, I'm eating tons of food that I love, and cooking is really easy when it's just meat & veg! It's required a bit of forethought in terms of my work day but it's not much hassle especially in terms of the benefits, eg. the handful of frozen berries I bring to work every morning as a natural sweet addition to my oatmeal, yum!!

The weekends are always a killer as far as my eating & exercise regimes go, but I'm hoping that 2 hours of yoga tomorrow morning will help to keep me focused on my pursuit for perfection...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"The Limits Are In Your Mind"

I attended a motivational talk today at work given by Hannah Shields, the first Northern Irish woman to summit Mt. Everest. She was an impressive woman, with a list of unbelievable achievements on her CV in addition to this historic feat, and an excellent public speaker too! She started with the above-quoted statement: The Limits Are In Your Mind.

This is so true. I feel it on a daily basis, how I constrict and restrict myself based on my own perception of how things should be. Instead of simply having the confidence to just be.

Here is a very simple example for you: It's 5pm, I'm at work, and I'm feeling hunger pangs. I have to go teach 2 classes at 5.30, then train in my own class until 9.30, so food would be very welcome right now. I have a tupperware container of protein-packed chilli in the fridge here, but I'm afraid to go get it. Afraid of my boss seeing me take an unauthorised break. Afraid of people seeing me eat and thinking that I'm indulging in a greedy splurge. Afraid of simply drawing unnecessary attention to myself.

This is ridiculous.

Time is ticking away and I am letting fear of other people's perceptions cause me additional hassle on top of an already busy evening.

No more limits. I need to eat.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

One Week of Perfection

Yet another one of Charlotte's posts has got me thinking. This experiment concerns people's perceptions of Perfection, and committing to attaining such a high standard for a minimum time, ideally a month but more realistically the goal is a week. One week, 7 days, of adhering to strict rule which ideally would already be part of everyday life, but hopefully would form a habit after the set time frame.

The more that I thought about my rules for being perfect, the more I realised how simple my requirements were. Tasks like using mouthwash, tidying away my TKD gear, drinking 2 litres of water, and going to bed early enough to get 8 hours sleep didn't seem so intimidating when I'd written them down. In fact, they're all very achievable. If only I would direct my attention to them on a regular basis!
Plans for Perfection

* Drink 2 litres of water every day
* Get 8 hours of sleep every night
* Eat a nutritious, high-protein, low-carb lunch
* Cook a nutritious, high-protein, carb-free dinner (my morning porridge is exempt!)
* Bring healthy snacks to work to stave off afternoon cravings
* Attend TKD training Mon-Fri
* Go running at least once at the weekend
* Stretch/Do physio exercises Every Day (!!)
* Eat NO junk food/refined sugars etc. (it's only a week right.... :(

I also have some non-nutritional/fitness plans:

* No unnecessary spending whatsoever (strict budget due to saving for college!)
* Thoroughly remove make up and cleanse & moisturise before bed

oh and my mum would love this one...

* Tidy my room and keep it tidy!

Yesterday was a major fail of a day. I made a Banoffee Pie yesterday for a friend's birthday, so not only did I have a slice of the calorific diet-busting dessert, I also didn't have time to eat my healthy nutritious lunch and ended up eating breakfast cereal instead! The sugar crash I experienced later in the evening meant I was too drained to cook my protein-rich dinner, instead eating an apple and a bowl of steamed garden peas.. (yes, I know, an odd choice!) So when I came home from training I was so hungry, and yet even weaker, so I ate a bowl of porridge but the demons in me added milk & sugar instead of the normal water & berries! Overall still a nutritional day but far far far from perfect.

So today is a new day. I have already drank one cup of peppermint tea and my 600ml water bottle is full and ready to be emptied at least once!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dough! :o)

I forgot to take photos of the pancakes I made last night! Silly me! In my defence I was cooking myself a healthy protein-rich dinner, baking coconut macaroons AND flipping pancakes, all at once! How's that for multi-tasking?!
I am seriously loving this baking buzz, I'm finding it really cathartic. I might just need to be careful with how much of the results I consume.... they do taste good though... dang I'm talented! Haha :o)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm still here....

Apologies for my recent absence, I'm still around though, I promise! :o)

I've been training regularly enough, and eating fairly healthily, thanks to the tips from ABS. But I'm trying not to take it too seriously, because I have re-discovered my love of baking! In the last few weeks I've made heart-shaped Cupcakes (iced with buttercream & sugar paste icing!), a 2 tiered Carrot Cake, and loaf of Banana Bread! I know these aren't exactly appropriate topics for a Fitness Blog, but I never said I would stick to entirely healthy topics... :o)
Today is Pancake Tuesday, I made my batter last night, can't wait to get home and cook up a stack of pretty crepes! I might even post a photo tomorrow if there's no objections! :o)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm not an expert but I knows what I likes....

And protein shakes & bars do not make my list of Likes! Dry, powdery, familiarly gag-inducing chocolate-esque flavours... Yuck!
Is it wrong that I am thinking longingly of my tinned salmon snack stored in my work refrigerator, while I am choking down a Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar... It can't be the chocolate, or the peanut butter, because those are some of my favourite foods. By process of elimination I am clearly not a fan of fake protein.
Admittedly I have not tried an exhaustive list of products. Merely 3 brands in total I think. It just worried me that they all tasted so similarly disgusting. I tried the shake with water. I tried stirring some powder into my porridge, and I've tried a couple of different bars. All scarily similar in flavour. All gross.
Odd as it may be, I'd rather reach for a tin of John West than suffer through another Maxi-Proto-Concoction...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thank Crunches It's Friday!

I hurt all over! My body aches in places I didn't even know I had! After a week of tough TKD classes and a competitive Pilates Class, I'm stiff and sore, and not keen on moving! It's good pain though, so I'm not complaining. Much. :o) I'm just trying to hydrate lots and ease my poor muscles out of fatigue. I'm also looking into a Yoga Class for tomorrow afternoon, just the thought of it is helping me to relax! I just have one more training session to get through this evening, and then I know I can rest well, having earned the right to 8 (maybe even 9!) hours sleep... Mmmm.... Can't wait!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Two For the Price of one!

It's rare that I post more than once in a day, in fact I think this could be a first!
Well I've just signed up with ABS, the "product" behind the new Social Network I joined recently. I admit I am sceptical. I'm not normally a fan of prescribed Plans, they reek too much of fads or diets to be honest but this is something that's been put together by a friend of mine in Taekwon-Do, and a lot of it fits in with what I already know about my own sense of nutrition and training. And from flicking through the ebooks, it looks like a lot of hard work, which hopefully is a sign that it's not a faddy gimmick. My Coach has already signed up to it thus giving it a silent yet powerful thumbs up. So I'm going to give it a go.
I downloaded the eBooks today and from what I can make of it so far, it all ties in with the general Fitosphere principles - eat fewer starchy carbs, eat more fresh produce, drink lots of water, do strength training regularly (3-5 sessions per week), interval cardio sessions instead of endurance. All makes good sense.
I'm not considering myself to be officially started, seeing as I haven't read the eBooks, nor have I done necessary grocery shopping, but I have started implementing a few ideas already. Like having Baked Chicken Fillet & Roasted Root Vegetables for lunch, and sprinkling ground flaxseeds in my yoghurt. There's a lot of material provided though, so I just need to find a way to print a couple of 100 pages at work, then I'll get back to you with a proper review!

Art Imitating Life

Today's Dilbert was quite poignant:

Though I didn't go so far as to lose my head, yesterday was very tough and I definitely felt frustration that would have induced self-harming. In my case that means excessive sugar/calories and thankfully I kept my 'explosion' to a minimal dose of one Cappuccino with a sachet of white sugar, which just left me a little bit wired for the afternoon.

It saddens me that my response to feeling trapped in a frustrating situation is to lash out at myself. I had no real need for caffeine or sugar, I was simply acting out and the only recipient of that anger was myself. This is such a familiar theme, whether it's choosing to skip training or eat excessively calorific foods, sometimes I can feel the self-harming rage underlying it.

In line with Charlotte's February Experiment I tried to meditate last night, to help settle all these feelings of tension and frustration. To try and just be still. It's far more difficult than I'd remembered from my last attempts. Either that or I still had residual caffeine traces sending my imagination into overdrive! I just couldn't relax, my mind was racing, from recounting my day to planning holidays, from thoughts of ex-boyfriends to potential future ex-boyfriends! More than anything I just felt frustrated with myself.
More meditation is definitely needed. I think it can only benefit me, if even just to allow myself some Me Time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Waiting to Explode!

I'm feeling a hell of a lot of pent-up frustration at the moment. So much so that I feel like I'm going to spontaneously combust! I'm just too impatient for my own good! I've made these choices about leaving my job and going back to school, and about eating healthily and training hard. It all sounds good. It's all helping to make me feel good. So why do I feel so frustrated??!?!
This is typical me: I make decisions, then I expect to see and feel the results straight away.
This is exactly why I think I need to join in with Charlotte's experiment this month. I need to learn how to just 'Be'.
I can't live my life wishing I could fast forward it. Regardless of how trapped I feel in my current state of existence. I have to experience every minute/hour/day, if even for the morbid reason that hypothetically it could be my last! (I said hypothetically, I'm not terminally ill or anything!)
Yes I think meditation, and yoga, could be the answer here...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Social Networks...

With a hectic timetable including work, training and teaching it's easy to let weeks go by without meeting up with some of my close friends. Which is why all these social networks seemed like a great idea - Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, you're only ever a click away from 100s of 'Friends'. I have an FB account, recently found Twitter through Chris Illuminati and of course I already have this blog, yet I've just joined another one of these networks - My Athletic Body System - and I'm starting to wonder if I might have gone too far.
Am I becoming Anti-Social through my overuse of Social Networks?!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Back to Business

After the excessively emotional post yesterday I'm back on track with a much more macho topic today: Protein.

Be it shakes/bars/natural sources, I'm totally clueless. Every now and then I decide I'm going to figure out the mystery of the amino acids and I ask all the right people all the right questions. I just don't know how to integrate it into my normal diet. In fact that's how I originally stumbled upon the Fitosphere blogs and became a blogger myself - from asking Mizfit for help on protein shakes!
After a couple of light-headed nights post-training and even experiencing shakiness in my hands this morning I think I'm finally realising I need to get my nutrition in order to assist with recovery from these tough sessions. I have a gigantic tub of Maximuscle Promax Diet at home just waiting to be added to water/milk/ice/whatever takes your fancy, and apparently Holland & Barrett have some tasty protein bars which I may just pick up at lunch time.

How do I stop this from being just a fad and actually implement it properly into my diet??

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Complete Tangent

On a completely different note from all my previous topics this is a seriously girly post. (I'm warning you now in case you thought that 'tangent' meant that just once I might write something funny!) This is a post about.... wait for it..... feelings.... Yes. That's right. Not the 'Oh I really don't feel like training today' kind, or the 'I feel so fat today' kind. Just girly, emotional, soppy, uncontrollable feelings...

I would consider myself to be quite a tough chick. Well I've been training in a martial art for over 10 years, so I would hope that the conditioning would have taken some effect by now! In my club, I'm one of the boys. I'm used to being punched, kicked and verbally abused, and I give as good as I get.

I spend so much time with men in this platonic setting that when it comes to the romantic side, I feel like I totally know my way around. I'm confident being a single woman. In fact after 7 years with the same guy I have cherished my single status for the last 3 years. Although I recently removed it from my Facebook page as the smell of success it initially emitted was starting to reek of desperation...

I've dated a few times of course, but nothing serious. There seems to always be a couple of potential suitors, but none able to maintain my attention for more than a few consecutive weeks. I like being unattached. I like my freedom. It's almost become a running joke between myself and the TKD boys that I'm at the stage where I could break up with a guy before he even asks me on a date!

So, armed with all of this bravado and self-confidence when it comes to the male species, I pitied my girl friends with their man troubles. I couldn't understand why they would go completely nuts as soon as they started dating someone, obsessing over when they would contact them and what they would say, analysing and over-analysing to the point of absurdity. I kept trying to assure them that such behaviour was merely a form of self-torture, just leave the boys alone and they'll come to you!

And so, just like my pride over my easily maintained slim figure, it came to a huge fall...

Because last year, I met someone I liked. I reeeally liked.

I knew he was wrong for me. I knew we were totally wrong for each other. But I wanted him. Baaaaad. I tried to do all the same cool things I'd done in the past that had worked so well. But I couldn't. I lost control of my senses. I wanted to be in contact with him every minute of the day. I wanted to know what he was doing, who he was with, and why he wasn't doing those things with me. It didn't help that we worked together and had the opportunity to stay in contact all day long if we so wished. If HE so wished. He kept pulling away, and I was naturally drawn more and more to him.

It only lasted 4 short weeks, but when I ended it I felt like I'd just gone from heaven to hell and was now stuck in a form of purgatory. I had the moral high-ground, I had walked away from an negative one-sided relationship. I had done the right thing. So why did I still crave him so badly.... It was like he was a big slice of gooey home-made chocolate fudge cake (with freshly whipped cream on the side), I just wanted one more bite...

That was 7 months ago. He's now dating someone else. I've dated other people. And I still know he's wrong for me. But I still have flickers of those cravings. All it takes is for me to smell his aftershave, or catch his eye at work, and my stomach goes wobbly. This defies all logic. Mentally, logically, rationally, I'm over him. I know it's not Him I want. But what do I do with the feelings?

The Good Kind Of Tired

My TKD class tonight was so tough I thought I was going to faint afterwards! I felt light-headed and slightly nauseous as I drove home with shaking hands. My muscles were weak with fatigue and sweat clung every inch of my skin. I jumped straight in the shower and it felt soooo good!!

I am sitting up with my laptop when I really should be asleep but I just had to share this feeling. It's lovely! :o)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If Guinea Pigs Could Read....

... then I'd use them instead of you. Unfortunately (as far as I know!), they can't. So all you wonderful Bloggers out there will have to help me with this. It's my Personal Statement for my Masters' Application.

To put it succinctly, the purpose of the statement is;

"Why I want to do this course & What I think it will do for my Career"

In Shivers' terms the answer is;

"Cos I want to, and it better do something!"

But of course, it's supposed to be an A4 page, not just half a sentence. So here is why, in 400 words or less, I want to do a Masters in e-Law:*

"Having graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Civil Law in 2003 I have researched my postgraduate options thoroughly over the past five years and continuously find myself drawn to the Masters Degree in e-Law provided at UCC. Though the choices for legal graduates are varied from the laws of African Tribes to those regulating the Medical profession, it is the study of law and its relation to Information Technology that entices me to return to my alma mater.

In light of the development of modern society all things electronic are the way of the future. How the law relates to infractions of this nature will certainly challenge those who endeavour to apply and enforce it. Crimes such as illegal downloads, fraudulent online transactions and identity theft cross international borders creating numerous questions and legal quandaries at a time when technology is evolving faster than the legislature can be written.

In undertaking this Masters' Degree I hope to answer some of these questions and gain a greater insight into the legalities of all interactions and transactions of an electronic nature. I believe that the study of e-Law would be of considerable personal interest particularly due to the wide relevance it has on everyday life. Even in my current role within the aviation industry the issues of data protection and privacy are matters of utmost regard, as increasing amounts of information are stored online or in the easily portable form of a laptop computer.

Based upon its progressive approach to the use of online materials and the creation of the Cork Online Law Review and IRLII, as well as a time-honoured tradition for legal education, I believe that UCC would provide the best forum for the provision of this qualification. Bearing in mind my undergraduate experience at this university I have no doubt that the course ahead of me will both challenge and motivate me towards academic success.

I would hope that this qualification would open doors for me to work within this newly-formed and developing area of the law. I believe the diverse nature of this postgraduate degree programme would allow for me to explore these aspects of the law with regards to my goal of career advancement. Whether further professional qualifications would be require I have not yet decided, but it is something I would be open to partaking provided the career at the end was as progressive as the course I would have studied."

Constructive criticism would be much appreciated.

Thanking you!

*Thanks to Charlotte's comments, I've already edited this slightly.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Psychological Games

I woke up with a headache, presumable caused more by excessive sleep (11hours!!) than by the 2 glasses of red wine preceding it! The sun was shining down on the lake outside my bedroom window, and despite my groggy head, I felt calm and content. After a few productive hours of housework, I pulled on my sweats and asics, and hit the road for the second time in as many days.

It's not a long route, at 3.5 miles it's just enough to challenge me yet still allow for achieving a respectable time. It's also not necessarily a picturesque route, seeing as it simply follows the road up and down a few hills. But I like it. It gives me manageable targets - I'll just go as far as that next little hill.... or that big tree... It feels less intimidating that way. Especially since I don't feel like a runner. I still feel like a newbie. I think I always will. (That probably says more about me and my sense of self than I could even hope to articulate!)

As I huffed and puffed along my run, with Britney blaring in my ears, I drifted off into fantasy land, as is my routine when I am engaged in a montonous form of cardio. Up until last summer, I would have envisaged glory of a Taekwon-Do nature, imagining finals of major tournaments and thinking of tactics I would use to overcome my opponents. For the last 6 months however, in my unsettled state of mind and reticence to train in TKD, I had been using other forms of mental motivation. First it was images of the 7km race, trying to picture the route and the finish line, with the target finish time on my HRM. Then I was using Perfect Body imagery, trying to imagine a Leaner Me as the goal. It wasn't a very successful form of distraction.

Today, I found myself initially picturing a Fitter, More-Toned Self, but this quickly morphed into another Taekwon-Do scene, where I was weighing in for a competition, but in a healthy (albeit far more muscular) state! Then I was imagining preparing for the ring, facing a familiar opponent, working through my footwork and tactics. Using the uphill sections of the route to trigger feelings of fatigue and tired legs, I pushed myself through the psychological barriers, and challenged myself to beat my 'opponent', and my time. It worked. I felt the thrill of adrenaline coursing through my veins, my legs becoming lighter and my pace increasing as I mentally fought to claim the Gold. It felt good to be back.

The obstacles I have faced over the last 6 months have been entirely self-created. The weight problems, the loss of a sense of self, the feelings of detachment and displacement were all under my control. And yet no amount of telling me that would have helped. This was a process I needed to endure. And survive. It saddens me to think that I felt so lost and yet I knew the way all along.

This blog, and those of you who read/comment on it, have helped me to understand the mental turmoil that I have subjected myself to. Thanks for listening.

Here's to a better and brighter 2009!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Out of Body Experience

I was sitting in the pub tonight, with Towelie and some of her colleagues, marking her last day in her job - her with vodka & diet coke, me with a pint of Miwadi (diluted orange squash) and I had a bit of an epiphany. I just felt like going training. I had this strange flash-back. A memory of sorts. A sense of a former self. I looked at my watch, it was only 8pm. The Senior TKD Class was at 8.30. If I hurried, I'd make it. I turned to Towelie, apologised sincerely, picked up my handbag, and left.

I just walked out.

I did something that the Old Me would have done. Except it didn't feel like 'Old Me', I just felt like 'Me'. Normal.

Or as normal as I can be anyway!

I raced home (within legal speed limits of course *ahem*), got my gear, and arrived at class just in time to shock everyone with my appearance. Ok, I hadn't been at the Friday night session since October, so their surprise was understandable! But it felt totally 'normal' for me.

I trained hard, my heart pounding and faint feelings of nausea, and it all felt so familiar. As I worked through the standard kicking drills, and performed the technical movements, I felt so comfortable yet I simultaneously felt odd. Almost felt chills down my spine. As I thought back over the last 6 months, how I've felt so unlike my usual self, and wondered, if this all feels ok now, then where the hell have I been?? How did this happen?

More, importantly, how do I stay this way, and stop it happening again?

I don't have the answers. But, and apologies for sounding corny;

I have hope. And for now, that's good enough.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Breaking Point

For want of a more eloquent description, I'm having an "Aaarghhh!!!" Day. I feel ready to explode! Literally! My dress is too tight. My favourite work dress, that I am wearing today, is pulling across the chest and is restrictive around my thighs. The dress that I bought in H&M in London during the summer, and fell in love with straight away. The dress I wear when I need a pick-me-up because it makes my waist look teeny-tiny. And now it looks misshapen on my body. The 'Me' of 6 months ago would not have been seen in public in a dress this close to potentially being ill-fitting. Old Me would look at women in clothes too small for them (the ones with muffin-tops etc.) and wonder why did they not just buy a size bigger. And now I know why. Because they're not supposed to be this size!!

It didn't start out this way. I was a UK6 through my teens, then a UK8 going into University, and UK10 leaving! I've fluctuated between 8 and 10 over the last few years, depending on the time of the sporting seasons, and now I am sitting at my desk, in a UK10 dress, and I can't breathe properly. I think I have finally reached breaking point.

I have a problem.

It's not going to fix itself. I feel like an addict that's been trying to wean myself off a harmful substance. It's not working. I need to go cold turkey. I can have a little bit of willpower, or flexible rules, or treats every now and then. Because "now and then" becomes Now. And Then More.

I used to smugly smirk to myself when people would complain about weight loss being "SOooo hard". Clearly, I thought, they just don't have my strength and willpower. I was so sure of myself. I never thought I'd become just like every other woman complaining about their figure. I thought I was different. So confident in my ability to avoid all temptations and train multiple times a day, I never saw the possiblity that my willpower could be finite.

Even over the last 6 months, as I've seen my curves develop, and hips expand, I was still sure that at some point, I'd reach a point where my willpower would kick back in of its own accord and I'd find myself rejecting sugary treats and choosing to wake an hour early to fit in some cardio. It's not going to happen though. Not by itself.

But my life has changed since I stopped the restrictions. I've gained a social circle and regular dates with friends, usually revolving around food in some way, shape or form. The Old Me would have avoided all of this. Would have preferred to go training rather than subject herself to unnecessary temptation. The workplace is a minefield of boxes of chocolates, home-baking and vending machines. Old Me would have easily said No, and felt ostracised for following the courage of her convictions. New Me likes fitting in. Likes doing the same things as the other girls. Likes missing training to have tea and biscuits with a girl friend. Likes missing training to meet an old school-friend for dinner. Likes having a semblance of Being Normal.

Can I balance the two? Or do I have to choose between the paths of a


* versus *


Something has to give.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Feeling the Ripples

It's so easy for me to become bogged down in my own problems, and contrastingly simple to get caught up in my own excitement at happier times, and often I don't see the ripple effect of my actions. This weekend I felt, saw, facilitated, co-ordinated and generally just experienced, the ripple effect of my decision to go back to school. And it felt so good.

It was intended to be a weekend at home with my Mum and sisters, a chance for me to reflect over my recent revelations, and an opportunity to let thoughts settle before I approached the application process for this Masters' degree. Instead it resulted in an open discussion with contributions from all the members of my family, of how they are all experiencing various forms of inconvenience, and general unhappiness, with their current living situation. And now, in light of that, how they're all going to change it. I felt honoured.

It was heart-warming to simply be there and experience such honest communication from my mother and sisters, especially as I was truly happy for them. They were just so appreciative of my help and support, I was actually in danger of becoming sickeningly-saint-like! I genuinely felt so full of love and consideration for each of their predicaments that I wanted to help them work through it all. Of course it's easier to be happy for people when you are already in a good place, and right now, I'm in a good place. So I'm sending out waves of it wherever I can.

Hope you feel some of the ripples too.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Patience. Or my lack thereof...

I am very impatient. I really do not like waiting for anything or anyone. Ever. People are often surprised by my own lack of punctuality, considering my strong views on the subject, but I'd always rather be the slightly late person than the one left waiting. I'm not proud of that but my friends are used to it at this stage!

I like to plan things. Well anything and everything to be honest. I love writing lists and spreadsheets for my food and exercise, or budgets to see where my money's going, or even just lists for tasks that I need to do that day. I just like to have a visual of how things are going to progress.

These are not necessarily problematic characteristics. It often means that I am extremely efficient at tasks that I need to achieve. The problem arises when I make a plan that will take more than a couple of hours to come to fruition…

Over the last few days I've come to the conclusion that this year might just be the one where I get to go back to University full-time and do my Masters Degree. I finished my Undergraduate Degree over 5 years ago, and have been contemplating this course since it's creation just over 3 years ago. I've read the course prospectus a hundred times, I've asked the lecturers and successful business men who work in that area of expertise, and the course is highly recommended. I've checked my finances, and calculated how much I should/can save between now and September, and it all seems viable.

From a career perspective, I'm not challenged in the role I'm in, and with the current economic downturn it looks unlikely that there is any room for my progression within this company. All the numerous positive attributes which drew me to this position have been slowly whittled away, leaving me with the challenge of maintaining my interest in even being present for 8 hours a day. It's a draining experience. One which I'd gladly end sooner rather than later. But not without the prospect of improving my situation, such as could be provided by adding this qualification to my list of accomplishments...

From a personal perspective, it would require me to move nearly a 100 miles away. To the city nearest to my family. This is a major bonus. My niece already gets giddy merely at the prospect of my visiting for a weekend, so this would probably cause dangerous levels of excitement for her! And for me too. I have a lot of love for that little cutie.

Also on the personal aspect, and potentially another major bonus, this would mean a move away from my Taekwon-Do club, and of course the Instructor. The ex-boyfriend. Although the relationship ended almost 3 years ago, it still feels like this would be my first major steps on my own. He held my hand through my final year in High School, and emotionally supported me through my Undergraduate Degree. This could be my chance to try and re-live those experiences, this time without the stabilisers...

This course is something I've wanted to do for a long time, and finally it feels like it's going to fit nicely in to where my life is already going. So now I just need to wait until the end of the summer...


Like I said...

I'm not good at waiting.

I get bored way too easily.

And then I want to eat. Lots.

This is a recurring problem for me.

All suggestions would be gratefully received...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Blast from the Past!

I've emailed my former-gym-buddy Towelie to join me tonight for a session that used to be a weekly routine of ours. My bubbly blonde best mate is so named because she insisted on using a towel on her delicate shoulders when we used the squat rack! Plus we like South Park. Yes we're sad. We've been friends for years, but haven't trained together since she upped and moved to the country! :( Anyway, we used to meet up once or twice a week to work out at the local University gym. It's a top-notch facility, where some of Ireland's Elite Athletes train. It took us many months to feel worthy. :)
We would do our cardio first to time our weights to coincide with my rugby-player-mate Mog. At first he was mortified going to the gym with 2 (occasionally-giggly) girls but got over it when his mates all wanted to know how he got such lovely gym companions (aww....). Due to our horrific allergy to treadmills, we used to go to this great aerobics class that's become an institution in the place. It's extremely popular, taking up nearly 2 basketball courts, mostly due to the Instructor and his amazing kookiness, oh and the music is brilliant! We'd do the class, which lasts an hour, then go upstairs and hit the weights for an hour or so. That was where Mog would join us, and I swear I got fitter just from lifting his weights on and off the racks!

Well it's been many (many) months since I attended this Aerobics class, and even more months since Towelie and I sweated it out in the same place, so I am really looking forward to tonight! Training with a buddy makes it so much more fun than going it alone, and I've been so jealous of Charlotte and all her gym-buddy stories that it feels really nice to have plans to meet mine tonight, even if it is just for One Night Only!

Oh I love it when a plan comes together!!! :o)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Information Overload!

Ok, no more hiding from the outside world, my muscles are stiff and sore, and finally it's for a good reason. I'm back. Not that I was ever gone far in the first place, it's just that when I'm not happy with my training performance I become a Reader more than a Blogger. Well I managed to get off my ass and go for a run/jog/walk yesterday, so I feel worthy of putting my proverbial pen to paper in this wannabe-fitness blog!

My thought of going for a run seemed like a great idea at 8am on Sunday morning as drifted in and out of sleep, wondering where I'd last seen my fancy Polar heart rate monitor. Hours later I felt increasingly discouraged by the sound of wind and rain against my bedroom window and dismissed my earlier plan as being nonsensical. After more hours of indecision I found myself lacing up my asics and putting iPod earphones in my ears and then somehow running along my my old 4.85mile route with ease, well at first anyway. I ran the first couple of miles, slowed to a jog for the next bit, then brisk-walked & jogged the rest of the way home. It took about 55 mins in total, so a nice relaxed pace, which left me energised and guilt-free for the day. How easy it is to forget how good it feels to exercise without pressure, no fear of making a bad time or of not burning enough calories, or not spending enough time in a fat-burning zone, just exercising cos it feels nice.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, about my life's direction or lack thereof. I've been thinking about moving to a city for a while to experience a different pace, I've also been thinking of going back to school to get my Masters. Going for that run yesterday was a great opportunity to try and Not Think of all of that, to just let it settle and see how it feels. For years I've thought about making these exact changes to my life, but in the past it was borne out of fear and an attempt to escape my living situation at the time, be it a relationship or a state of depression, it simply was not the answer to the problems I was experiencing. As I took stock of my life over the weekend, I realised that for once I might actually be in a position to make certain changes, for the right reasons. I want to live in a city like London if only for the life experience of it, and similarly I want to do my Masters because the subjects interest me. I'm actually ok with taking a major break from Taekwon-Do to do all of this, because after a few de-motivated months of half-hearted training, I think I might need a break regardless of my life choices.

Ok, those are all just musings, apologies for my rambling! I had originally intended on simply responding to ChrisIlluminati's Tag last month, so I guess I'd better squeeze that in here too! In this game, Bloggers are asked to share seven things readers might not know about them, then direct readers to seven other blogs that he/she thinks would be interesting. So here goes:

1. I am half-Indian, half-Irish, born in Malaysia but raised in Ireland. Makes for a lengthy yet interesting answer to the seemingly innocuous question "where are you from?".

2. I am one of six (yes 6!) children, my two older sisters are half-Chinese from my Mum's first marriage, and there are 4 of us on the half-Indian side, making for very colourful family reunions!

3. I love languages, having been educated at a Gaelscoil (Gaelic-speaking school) for a number of years as a child, I have an affinity for learning new languages. I speak a bit of French and Italian, and I attempt to speak Polish as much as possible (which is increasing in the last few years with the influx of Polish people in Ireland, yay!)

4. Leading on from education, and perhaps explaining why I didn't spend all of my primary school years in that Gaelscoil, I was home-schooled for 5 years as a child. Having been skipped up 2 grades at the age of 4, my Mum decided to train in Montessori and kept myself and my brother home to learn at our own pace. (I used it as an opportunity to read every book within my reach at the local library!)

5. I speed-read at an embarrassing rate. I say it's embarrassing because I do get very self-conscious when people notice. I often re-read a page a number of times and try to guess how long it would take a normal person to read it but even then I still get it wrong and people are shocked at my speed. (I just had a thought that maybe I shouldn't have bothered bullet-pointing this list if I'm going to convolute every sentence...) Anyway...

6. I spent a summer in Hawaii the year I finished University. Well Maui to be precise. I used my student visa to work as a waitress, learn to surf, get a tan and live an idyllic life for 3 months. I still miss it... *sigh*....

7. Everyone knows how involved I am in Taekwon-Do, between training and teaching, but few realise that a major part of the reason I started was because I fancied the instructor! We ended up dating, and stayed going out for nearly 7 years in total, with me ending the relationship before my 23rd birthday, thus leaving me entirely unprepared for the dating game! This may explain why I am so easily excited when a new man comes in to my life, I think I just regress to my 16 year old self and can't suppress the girlish giggles!
Not sure if any of that was interesting, but I'm fairly sure it was information I hadn't really written about before.
Now for the blogs I'd recommend, and this wasn't as easy as I'd imagined! But here are some sites that I find inspiring:

Ah... it's nice to be back.... :o)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

I have been on a brief blogging hiatus over the Christmas period, mostly because my hands were busy stuffing food into my mouth and thus unable to type! :o) I hope you all had a wonderful festive season, perhaps with less of the over-indulgence than I allowed myself! I also hope that wherever you are, the January blues are not hitting you as badly as I seem to be experiencing this year. The post-Christmas depression is usually a fairly sad sight but this year I think the weight gain has made the post-binge guilt all the more difficult to bear. Rather than continue to wallow in self-pity, I'm trying to be positive about this New Year. What do I want to achieve? What would make me happy? I think I need some changes in my life. I just need to figure out what those should be.