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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Big Bang and the big sit in!

A couple of years ago I got conned into participating in an event called Hell and Back.  This was a 14k run up and down a mountain in the freezing cold, sometimes carrying a log, or tyres and involved a lot of climbing.  There was a section of the course where I had to climb up two burley men who then flung me over the top of a wall which I was supposed to grab and climb gracefully over.  Needless to say there was nothing graceful about me overshooting the top and falling the ten feet onto a pile of tyres.  Stay with me, this story is going somewhere.  When I hit that pile of tyres and ran to my partner I thought I had reached the end and was delirious with relief. I had not.  I was quickly informed I still had 5k to go.  That is how I feel at the moment about dieting.

Not trying to be melodramatic but I can see the finish line but I’m not even half way there.  I really am being good with regard to food.  I’ve had salads for dinner three times this week.  While I really like salads, I also really like a chipper.  The toughest part of being on a diet is not watching what you eat, its watching what other people eat.  With only a few weeks left I really want to make the two stone.  I know I have miles to go after I finish this challenge but I genuinely think I will continue to do this.  I might not be meeting Karen every week or writing for Magazine + but I have definitely changed how I feel about food.

I obviously have an addictive personality.  This is a problem when you love food so much.  This week I had the opportunity to have a wind down.  This is a rare and exhilarating experience for me.  I’m usually so busy that I don’t have time to scratch myself but this week I had four days to do whatever I felt like doing.  The first day I cleaned my house from top to bottom.  It is now an OCD haven.  My fitbit calculated way over my 10k steps after the scrubfest. 

The second day I did a very stupid thing.  I logged onto Netflix.  First error. There was a recommendation for me to watch a programme called The Big Bang Theory, I clicked in.  Second error.  Two days later, four seasons in I am admitting to myself I have a problem.  While I haven’t eaten anything bad or drank anything that will leave me in a state of inebriation, there is now a Joy shaped dent in the corner of my couch.  I’m also dreaming about being in this show, this is never a good sign.  My fitbit calculated under 10k steps both days.  Don’t worry, I am hanging my head in shame. 


The only solution to this is to place a large full length mirror under the TV and maybe eat dinner naked while looking into the mirror.  I believe this would be a great tool in the war against gaining weight.  I certainly know that if I was to watch myself eating naked in a mirror it would be enough to turn me off my food.  Anyway, when I spoke to Karen this week I explained how I was feeling.  There is no quick fix to losing weight.  She encouraged me and told me I was losing weight the right way, slow and steady and I am on the way to winning this race!

Shebeens, Rap-Offs and Debauchery

So I’m settling back into my routine and am out doing more than my 10,000 steps most days.  I was down the country again, this time it was the lovely Limerick.  Now, I’m not going to lie, I had a ball.  I ended up in a Shebeen called ‘The OutBack’ in the middle of nowhere dancing to the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing and ending up in a Rap off, Dubliner against –not sure what you call a person from Limerick but either way they annihilated me. 

Sometimes, when I am surrounded by people I feel comfortable around I have a tendency to let a little over excited, actually not sometimes, all the time.  I am a very happy lady who loves being around those who love life as much as I do.  That said I should be mature enough to have control over my willpower. I let myself down a bit this week.  I had bread.  I also drank.  Believe me I did hang my head in shame.  I also hung it into a toilet bowl for some time also.  I feel like I got too excited and let go a little too much.  I know we are all entitled to let ourselves go once in a while and in my opinion I had been doing really well, but this week I was bad.   I have a vague recollection of a box of pringles along the way somewhere.

Now I know in the aftermath of the fun and frolics I am probably over thinking all I ate and drink, realistically I probably only had two bad days and five really good days.  But the scales never lie.  While I didn’t gain weight after the debaucherously enjoyable carrying on over the week, I didn’t loose anything either.  That was a kick in the teeth.    I am so used to being down that I was furious that I hadn’t lost a pound.  Not one.  Who’s fault was this.  Mine.

I had been exercising and watching my food and drink for five of seven days and feel like I was entitled to enjoy myself for a little bit.  But when you have a fun filled couple of days your mind pulls you back and you realise the only person you are fooling is yourself.  I knew as I pranced around that little bar with a glass of Moet in my hand I was going to pay the price.  I could hear my inner voice going “Joy, calm down, there’s no need to be going crazy, put down the Pringle”.  My evil inner voice replied “Ah shut up you ye thick, what harm is a few Pringles going to do”….Well I can now tell you the harm.


When you wake up after drinking all night and eating crap you do not feel human.  You feel like a much less evolved version of the species.  I’ve been so good with regard to the drink lately that I had forgotten the effects of overindulgence.  I spent several hours between the bed, the couch, the sink (because I couldn’t make it to the toilet in time) and back to the couch.  I was so hungover I couldn’t even lift my hand to change the channel on the remote control.  Parents, if you ever want to turn your teens off the drink you should send them over to me after a night on the Raz.  Needless to say I have made the decision, again, to never drink again.  At least until after my final week with Karen.

Fitbits & Feasts

After a long and arduous flight in which a passenger vomited all over the food trollies and spent the entire flight hurling up in front of me I eventually made it home.  I didn’t realise how happy I was until I saw my partner at that arrivals gate with a fresh coffee in hand.  Not an hour had passed before she was talking about dinner and what I would like to eat.  After being extremely good in New York I decided first things first, a bottle of champers was going to be downed and we popped open the Moet.

After a magnificent feast of diet friendly food and overindulging with alcohol I knew that a little slip is allowed and I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it, after all, who goes abroad and loses two pounds.  I was going to start afresh on Tuesday and that is exactly what I did.  My sister had surprised my partner and I with a Fitbit Surge.  This is a little device which works as a watch, merges with your smartphone to collect messages and calls but most importantly is a super duper fitness calculator.  We got up on Tuesday morning and after tracking and comparing our sleep patterns on our new toys, we decided to put them to the test.  Gone was the crappy pedometer I had bought prior to my trip.

The Fitbit gives a person a target of 10,000 steps a day.  You would be surprised at how competitive you become trying to achieve this.  As the week progressed I found myself running around the house trying to get to the 10,000 done.  One of the days I only got to 8,000 and was in a state of frustration for the entire night which made my sleep all crappy (according to my Fitbit).  My diet was going well and I was staying on track all week.  Bringing food with me and making sure I had lots of fruit on hand.

While on my travels during the week I ran into two guys and we got talking about the General Election.  In about 3 minutes we were all talking about dieting.  One of the guys was on Weightwatchers and the other was part of a college medical clinical diet test.  We talked about struggling with weight and foods that we enjoy and what was working for each of us. Never did I think that I could be sitting with two men who were unknown to me and talking comfortably about my weight.  I think that no matter who you are, no matter what gender or size you are, everyone has an opinion on food and weight management.  I know I am losing my weight slowly. I always hope for a higher loss on the scales, I’d be lying if I said I was happy with the one pound downs, but it is down.   


I always assume that people expect me to be down four or five pounds a week but that is unrealistic for me.  My schedule is always so varied and while I have a routine, it’s a routine that wouldn’t suit others.  I’m not a nine to five girl so I can’t  have a nine to five lifestyle.   I have learned that just because two people are on a diet at the same time eating the same food, it doesn’t mean you lose the same weight.  

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Tipping My Hat To Full Time Moms

I have to start this week off by tipping my hat to full time mothers.  How you find the time to wash yourself, let alone eat is beyond me.  I can’t exactly write about food because I can’t actually remember eating. Last weeks column ended with my sister having a C-Section and me being delighted.  While my sister recuperated in hospital I took charge of her four year old daughter Ella, my niece.  Ella is the most well behaved little ‘gringo’ (as I called her) I have ever had the joy (pardon the pun) of being around.

That said, I am worn out.  An average day involved getting up, making sure she was fed. Playing and dancing for a while.  Off to the hospital to visit mom, dad and baby.  Then feeding her again. Some more dancing and singing. Then getting her home for dinner.  Some more playing.  Then came bath time.  Then book time. Then sleep.  By the time she drifted off I was falling around with tiredness.  Every night I was in bed by eight thirty.  I didn’t eat regularly, mostly just picking at what I made Ella.  I didn’t drink much water, just the odd sip from her little travel jug.

I shall never again take for granted the joy of being able to get up and prepare myself a breakfast.  Then saunter around preparing myself a chilled drink that I am able to carry around all day and drink at my leisure.  Not to mention the leisurely stroll around the supermarket being able to choose what I like and when I want it.  All you women who hold down jobs and raise children are my heros.  I honestly do not know how you do it.  I barely had time to use the lavatory.

When Kim and the baby got home after four days things got hilarious.  My sisters hormones were all over the place.  The house resembled that of the display window at Mothercare and no amount of cleaning made the place look tidy.  Then the baby refused to take the boob so I had to drive her to get a breast pump. This was hilarious.  The massive selection of pumps made my head spin.  The electric one she had was too hard on the nipples.  There was one I tried to convince her to buy that had too bottles which you strapped to your boobs, the photo had a topless woman working in the office.  Kim declined. 

We settled on a normal pump which when you pumped real hard made your nipples look like coctail sausages. This was enough to make me thank the lord for not blessing me with children.  My partner and I have been unfortunate in the past and experienced the loss that comes with miscarriage.  While we would have jumped at the chance of having children and I know we would have made great parents I have come to realise that there are pros and cons to having children. 


My sister is one of those women who was just made for mothering.  I am the fun Aunt that sings and dances and is always there to lend a hand but I would be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to getting back to my routine.  I’m writing this while waiting to board my plane to return to Ireland.  I left Kim, Ella and Charlotte all crying for different reasons and as I type this at the boarding gate at JFK with tears in my eyes I cannot wait to see my wife.

Flying, Fun and New Family

I few to New York early this week to be present for the birth of my newest Niece.  Flying for me , even when I’m with someone, is somewhere between gouging your own eyeball out with a pipe cleaner and having a catheter inserted.  Flying alone is more like throwing yourself into a lava pit knowing you’re never going to return.  My partner decided to let me spend some quality time with my family and abandoned me.  I bordered the plane and took position right at the front so I could eyeball the stewardess for signs of eminent death then downed a Xanax.  She obviously picked up on my nervous disposition and was super kind and came over to me after take off to check that i wasn’t going to go full on, bat shit crazy.

I wasn’t too worried about the food on the plane because lets face it, there’s not that much off it.  If I am honest, it wouldn’t fill a gap in your tooth.  So I had the weird potato and solitary lump of diced beef and didn’t think much off it.  For the majority of the flight I spent it huddled in my seat with the seat belt nearly cutting off my circulation with a blanket wrapped around my entire body following the air hostesses with my eyes.  We flew into a 200km head wind making the flight super long and overly bumpy.  Eventually we landed and the greeting i received from my four year old niece Ella was enough to bring my bat shit craziness back to normal and near to tears.

My sister, aware of my desire to lose the weight had prepared a slimming world turkey chili. This was delicious.  Normally when I arrive we either head straight out for some holiday grub and overload on the booze and don’t think of the consequences.  This trip is totally different.  We sat and chatted and the first couple of days were catching up and bonding with Ella.  We went out for lunch to the local diner and I ordered a salad with dressing on the side.  The night before my sister was due to go into hospital we ordered take out.  I ordered sushi and sashimi was was able to enjoy my food without feeling guilty.

The following day we all went off to the hospital to be there for the birth of the newest edition to the family.  Maternity hospitals in the USA are totally different to ours.  When we arrived we all were walked to a private room beside the delivery suite and had access to couches and a TV.  There was no limit to the number of guests that were allowed in with us.  We were a loud and happy bunch.  My brother in laws family were lovely.  The girls were eager to find out all about my diet and what was involved and then ran off and brought some fruit back for me ‘cause they were all nibbling on muffins and candy.

Then it came, the nursery rhyme that played out over the hospital sound system every time a baby is born and we knew it was ours.  We all went running like lunatics through to where the baby is brought for washing and weighing and saw her, for the first time.  We all eyeballed the Nurse with venom as she scrubbed little Charlotte from head to toe then jabbed her with a big needle.  Ella nearly lost her reason but then she was swaddled and brought to the window  where we all bawled and hugged and went off to celebrate.  I lost a pound this week.  In my opinion an excellent achievement considering the excitement.

Week 10 - Down The Country and Water in Your Ear

This was one busy week.  I spent the majority of it down the country.  For those of you that don’t know where down the country is, for a Dubliner it is anywhere that is outside of Dublin.  North, South, East or West, it doesn’t matter, if you leave via any of the motorways, it is down the country.  For anyone who’s not a Dub I was both down south and then west.

When you spend a few days living out of a bag it is very hard to consistently eat out and avoid consuming foods that contain bad fats and carbs.  Even ordering a salad can be dangerous, if you’re careless you can end up with a delicious salad that probably contains the same amount of calories as a fresh cod and chips. A chicken Caesar, if the chicken is fried and is dripping with bacon and dressing is carnage for a calorie counter.  If I’m at home I always boil the chicken, grill the rindless bacon, loose the croutons and have a light dressing on the side.. there is no parmesan and I can eat guilt free.  You don’t have that luxury if you’re eating out.   

By day two on the road I was getting a little ‘pissed offed’ to say the least.  Not wanting to offend someone I won’t go into too much detail but when you’re confused over whether you have been served chicken or pork you know things have hit a bit of a low.  So it was off to the local shop to purchase a bag of lettuce, some cherry tomatoes and a cold packet of chicken.  As I sat in my room eating off a paper plate I started to dream about the simple joys that a pizza might bring but fought the urge and headed to the pool instead.

As I swam length after length, surrounded by nothing but the sound of the water I started to forget about food and knew that I had made the right decision.  That was until I realised that my left ear was full of water that no amount of leaning to the side or ear buds was going to remove it.  Now some might think that the sound of the ocean in your ear might be soothing and that I drifted off into a peaceful slumber, but you would be wrong.  At five in the morning I was sitting googling about how to remove trapped water from your ear.

I came across a post about pouring more water into your ear, leaving it for about ten seconds, give your head a shake and hay presto, out it should flow.  I had my doubts but at about five forty five I decided I would try this witchcraft and grabbed a bottle of water and poured it into my waterlogged ear.  For approximately two seconds I was terrified, at second three I poured.  At second four I heard a pop and fear set in.  As I lay with my head tilted over the edge of the sink terrified that when I stood up I was facing a burst ear drum I contemplated just staying there until someone found me but I mustered the courage to stand up and low and behold the water flowed out of my ear and down my neck bringing with it the trapped water.


As I climbed back into bed I said a quiet thank you to the Brazilian guy that recommended it on the google machine.

Week 9 - What a Kaki Fruit

It turns out that staying off the drink agrees with me.  I was down two pounds this week.  This could be down to the amount of running around I am doing too.  I’ve been so busy with jobs that haven’t had time to scratch myself.  I spent most of my time trying to wedge food into me whenever and where ever I could.  Life is tough when you are trying to get into the printers before closing, flying to get your favourite shoes heeled as you lost one heal to a cobble in Dublin Castle.

I didn’t do anything of note this week only work and eat and work and eat.  I did find time to buy a pedometer.  A pedometer to those of you that don’t know is a little device you wear that counts your steps and your calorie burn over the course of the day.  It’s mad, there was me thinking I am walking miles every day when in fact I am jumping out of the car, walking ten yards, then jumping in again.  This made me realise how little moving I do during the day if I am not consciously exercising.

The setting up of the pedometer was a little difficult to say the least.  After you input all your personal data you have to walk a hundred steps so the little device can calculate the length of your stride and pace your walking.  I apparently must walk like some sort of one legged hobbit as the device couldn’t determine how long my stride was. So after 4 X 100 steps it managed to read my steps and it was all systems go.

If I get up in the morning and spend the day drawing I literally don’t move.  Sometimes five or six hours will pass before I realise that I need to pee, or more importantly, eat.   I think this is where I use to fall down.  It was so easy to just pick up a jambon or packet of crisps.  Now, I will pick up fruit if I get peckish.  I have started to get real adventurous; I find that a walk through the Lidl or Aldi fruit section is becoming the highlight of my day.  I found a little piece of fruit called a Kaki. 

Now I know what you are thinking “I bet it tastes quite Kaki too”.  But you would be wrong.  Kaki is a yellow fruit that looks like a squashed yellow pepper.  It has no core and tastes sweet like a pear but not as sweet as an apple.  The texture is nice and you can eat it exactly like an apple.  You should definitely try these.  Not being a fan of apples I now live on them. 

There is also a Papaya, a larger fruit, yellow/orange in colour and goes a little green when ripe.  This ,when you open it is full of seeds.  Do not taste these, they are “Kaki”.  You scoop out the seeds and then eat the ‘meat’ as it’s called.  These are not as delicious as the Kaki but are tasty enough.  Now to passion fruit.  These are delicious, but don’t eat these if you are looking for sustenance, these wouldn’t fill a gap in your tooth let alone your tummy, but they are real tasty.


I’ll tell you something that happened that definitely wasn’t Kaki.  My niece Lucy had to do a writing assignment.    She modelled her essay on one of my little Magazine + pieces and low and behold got great praise from her teacher on her honest essay.  This made me feel delighted and proud that I am influencing a young mind. Now I’m off to Lidl to buy some more Kaki.

Week 8 - What am I doing!

Well guys, a lot of you are asking “what is it you are doing exactly?”, “How does it work?” and “what are you aloud to eat?” The answer to the latter is simple, I can eat whatever I choose to eat.  The choices I make are my own and I am responsible for the good and the bad that enters my body.  In relation to what it is I am doing, this is it in a nutshell.  Once a week I attend at Karen Prendergast’s Transform4Life Clinic in Harolds Cross, Dublin.  There is also a clinic in Cahir, Tipperary.  The time I choose to come is up to me.  It’s a very private place and I can honestly say I have never ran into anyone on my way in or out, so for those of you who are a bit shy, this is totally for you.

When I first started, I sat with Karen for nearly two hours.  She took a detailed record of everything I had eaten and drank that week.  Karen is all about swapping good habits for bad.  She tailors a food plan to every individual taking into account the foods you enjoy eating.  There are no shakes, pills or food substitutes.  It’s basically a one on one meeting which after a while feels like a natter with a friend.  Karen states that It’s not realistic to expect anyone to stop enjoying their life, so a night out or a takeaway has to be part of the plan.  I just haven’t had a take away since I have started, but as you all know I have had plenty of nights out to make up for it.

Now for the question I am asked a lot “how much does it cost?”  A six week in depth personalised weight loss programme is €250.  A twelve week programme is €450.  I personally think it’s a small price to lose weight.  I don’t really enjoy the whole group experience.  I get put off by the fear of being up a couple of pounds.  I can honestly say that I now have a different relationship with food.  I was at my sister in laws 40th on Saturday, there were platters of sausages, wings (which are my favourite), chips and dippers going around and I didn’t have one.  It wasn’t even all that hard.  I just decided in my head that it wasn’t worth all the hard work I have been putting in. 


Now there was a speed wobble when the big giant vodka bottle shaped chocolate biscuit cake came out but I gathered myself together, took a deep intake of breath and realised that smell is half the taste and politely said no thanks.  Ah who am I kidding, I stood drooling over it for about five minutes debating with my own conscience whether or not I should have a secret affair with a slice of the sweetly scented goddess but in the end my conscience won and I turned my back on it.  

Thank god I did because when I hit the scales on Monday I wasn’t down a pound.  Initially I was devastated and wanted to run out to the nearest deli and grab a jambon and a sausage roll but after some motivational words from Karen I walked out, unpeeled a mandarin and realised if this had happened at one of the many group meetings I used to go to I probably would have fallen off the wagon, but thanks to Karen I was just going to get back in the saddle and start all over again.