Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep. 33

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-ep33-momspos-and-breastfeeding/

n this weeks episode Fitty talks about mothers on social media who preach about their miraculous methods and whether or not they are effective, while Fatty talks to us about her experience so far as a new mother and the area of breastfeeding.

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Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep. 32

This week Fitty sits down with Grainne Parker

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-ep32-a-sit-down-with-grainne-parker/

Grainne is a qualified Health & Wellness Coach and Stress Management Practitioner with The Institute of Health Sciences.

She guest lectures for the Institute of Health Sciences.

She has trained in the essential aspects of lifestyle medicine including sleep, good food, exercise and stress management for metabolic disorder, resilience, work life balance and has given many talks and lectures on managing all aspects of these to lead a happy and health life.

She has completed the Harvard Medical School, Lifestyle Medicine, tools for promoting healthy change course.

She is a qualified Heartmath coach – a tool for stress management and resilience building.

She also has a huge passion for food and completed the 3-month professional Cookery Course at Dublin Cookery School. She coaches clients on how to make more healthy choices and her recipe website is a great resource for anyone on a health and fitness journey who needs easy and delicious recipes for all the family

She also coaches junior athletics in her spare time.

She is a co-author of Move Train Nourish

Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep. 31

In this weeks episode, Fitty sits down with Dominic Munnelly;

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-ep31-a-sit-down-with-dominic-munnelly-one-of-irelands-leading-personal-trainers/

Dominic Munnelly is one of Ireland’s leading personal trainers having worked in the business for over 20 years. He has supported many clients on their health and fitness journey advising them on training, nutrition, mobility and wellness and in the process helped people lose weight, get fit and lead a happier and healthier life.

His background is Sports Science had he holds a degree from the University of Sunderland and as well as training clients, he co-owns a gym in Kildare.

Check out Dominic’s book Move, Train, Nourish here:

https://www.easons.com/move-train-nourish-dominic-munnelly-9781848893351

Articles

Can You See Me Now?

“As a child, which parent did you crave love from the most, your mother or your father?”  Easy.  My Father, 100%.  “What did you have to be to get that love?”  I had to be exceptional.  Anyone who has seen Tony Robbins documentary “I am Not Your Guru” will recognise these questions.

I am painfully aware of how much I craved my daddy’s love as a child, and indeed as an adult.  However, it has taken a lot of soul searching and a good smattering of therapy to get to the truth of how deeply this has affected me.  Before I continue, I want to clear something up.  I know my father loves me on an intellectual level.  However, this is not the same thing as feeling it.  Neither is it a substitute for feeling seen or heard.  Recognised or acknowledged.  I ask for your love and patience gentle reader as I attempt to shine a light on my truth as I have come to know it.

In The Beginning:

My parents met as teenagers, and they loved each other in the way you only can when you are that age.  Passionately and irrationally, in very much an “us against the world,” kind of way.  They were still impossibly young when they had me and three years later, my sister.

By the time my mother was 21 she found herself married and raising two children in a country which was in the grips of a recession.  To this day I am in awe of how good a job she did keeping us alive.  We were fed and clothed.  Our mother kept us insulated as best she could.  She was determined to prove that despite her tender years, she could be a great mother, and she was.  She still is.

There wasn’t a huge amount of time for cuddles and kisses in her life.  Having not grown up with them herself, they seemed unimportant.  Dad was different.  He was definitely a hugger, and so, although he probably spent one tenth of the time with us that mom did, it was his lap I coveted.

Achievement, especially academic, was highly praised.  I remember to this day how my father would boast about how his daughter (me) could read the Irish Times by age three.  You would swear I was publishing the thing myself the way he went on about it.  I learned from an early age that excellence would be rewarded.  If I could bring home first the gold stars and later the As, I would (maybe) receive the cherished hugs and praise I so desperately needed.

I learned at age 37, how much this desire for recognition, this need to be seen, has shaped my life.

The Good:

In Tony’s documentary he says that we can’t blame the past for the bad things, without also thanking it for the good.  So here goes.

For most of my school life I was an over achiever.  I loved to be praised and commended.  If there was an award to be had or a prize up for grabs I wanted it.  In fact, during the time of greatest disruption in my life, the year we spent living in California, I was awarded with the President’s Award for Academic Excellence.  Fancy huh?

This continued on into my working life.  From my first job in a newsagents to this very day.  I always wanted to excel.  It didn’t matter how high or low the stakes were, I was compelled to win.  I remember my McDonald’s days.  On busy Saturdays the managers, who were just a few years older than I was, would run competitions.  They would challenge us to see who could serve the most customers in an hour.  The prize was usually a chocolate bar.

Of course, I knew this was an irrelevant honour.  I was pretty sure we were being manipulated into trying to clear the queues faster, but I didn’t care.  I had to win.  Every week there would be a similar competition.  Each time I would do my damnedest to take home the chocolate.

As the years passed, chocolate bars were replaced with employee of the month plaques and promotions.   My competitive edge continued to be sharpened.  Recognition was a drug to me.  Without this addiction, I doubt I would have continued to claw my way up the career ladder.  The dopamine hits fueled my ambition.

The Bad:

The downside of wanting to be brilliant at everything you do, is that you get disappointed a lot.  There are many things I have attempted and promptly found out I suck at.  This is, of course, normal.  Very few people are naturally gifted at even one thing, let alone everything they try!

The problem with me is, I don’t have the patience for learning.  I want to go directly to Mayfair.  If I can collect £200 on my way, even better.  Seriously?  What do you mean I have to practice for hours and hours just so I can play Twinkle Twinkle.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  Nobody will celebrate that achievement, not even me.  I will still be in withdrawals.

This has lead to me developing a very bad habit.  I drop things which I don’t immediately perfect.  Which, let’s face it, is most things.  As a child I begged my mother to enroll me in activities.  She would sign me up, pay the fees and buy the accouterments.  Only for me to quit as soon as I realised I wasn’t going to be the best.

As I have gotten older, I have become a little better at sticking with things.  After all, I can’t exactly up and quit every job just because I haven’t mastered it on day one.  It is still struggle though.  I still want to be perfect every time.  I hate failing, finishing last and God forbid having to ask for help.  That dopamine rush still hits me anytime my coach high fives me, or my boss says good job.

The Ugly:

Here we are at the part of the story I really didn’t want to write.  This is the part which makes me experience hot shame when I think of it.  That only means it is the part that most needs to be told.

I cannot deal with being ignored or given the silent treatment.  For most of my life I have only felt I existed when I was being seen by other people.  This has caused me to act in ways that I am not proud of.  It has caused me to allow people to treat me badly.

When I was a teenager, I had a group of girlfriends.  All the other girls seemed to constantly be in relationships.  Although I dated a lot, I always ended up single.  I was desperate to have a boyfriend.  I wanted someone special in my life.  Someone to truly see me.  I suffered many humiliations during those years.  I attempted to make myself as appealing as possible.  Tried to be “low maintenance.”  Not asking for too much.  I am sure that I am not unique in this.  Many young women (and men) have probably had similar experiences.

One of the most crushing examples of this came in my first year of college.  I was attending a City Centre college and there were always social events being organised.  One such event was a traffic light ball.  The idea behind it is that each attendee wears a coloured badge.  Green if you are single any ready to mingle.  Orange if you’re open to meeting someone.  Red if you’re not looking.  Needless to say I was GREEN!!

The night was drawing to a close and I was yet to hook up with anyone.  Disconsolate, I sidled up to the bar to order myself another Smirnoff Ice.  To my complete shock, the barman started chatting to me.  His name was Tony.  He was absolutely gorgeous.  Totally out of my league.  At the end of the night he asked for my number and of course I gave it to him.  He called soon after and we began dating.

Tony seemed so cosmopolitan.  Not only was he working in a nightclub, but he was living in an apartment in town.  I was quickly besotted.  We had been out a few times when we met one day for lunch.  After the meal we went back to the apartment he shared with a few people.  (If memory serves, there were about 6 of them living in a one bedroom flat, maybe not so glamourous after all.)  We spent the afternoon kissing on his bed.  I was in heaven.  I felt like one of the Sex in The City girls.

His roommates began to trickle home and he introduced me to them.   Then said he needed to go get his hair cut and that I should wait in the apartment.  “Okay,” I said.  Time went by and I began to get uncomfortable with his unfriendly roommates.  About 2 hours later, his female roommate took a phone call and excused herself.  When she came back in she looked at me and said “that was Tony, he’s not coming back.  He said you should leave.”

I will never forget the way she looked at me.  “Poor cow,” was written all over her face.  I managed to get out of the flat without bursting into tears, barely.  Throughout the hour long bus journey home, I cried.  Trying to ignore the inquiring glances from strangers.

I wish I could tell you that was the end of the story.  That I managed to retain the last shreds of my dignity, but alas that was not the case.  I called him and text him incessantly.  I needed to hear him tell me why.  How could he just abandon me like that?  How could everything be great one minute and over the next?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  In my quest for “closure.,” I am surprised the poor guy didn’t file for a restraining order.  It was totally over the top.

Many years have passed since Tony’s haircut, but I am not much better at handling these types of situations.  Silence and withdrawal are the most painful things for me to deal with.  They feel like the ultimate betrayal.

My husband is definitely not the shouting type.  When we first started dating, we had disagreements like every couple getting to know each other.  His response was to walk away from the row, clear this head, be rational.  Mine was the total opposite.  The more silent he became, the more I raged.  I would shout, scream, throw things and ultimately do whatever it took to get a reaction.  Whatever it took to be seen.

Here and now:

If I am to be completely honest about it, this need to be seen, to be acknowledged, has been at the root of almost every action I have taken in my life.  It is what drives me to try to be successful in my career.  It is the motivation behind this blog and my podcast.  The need is also what causes me to flirt, dance on bars (literally,) chase after people who have zero interest and a whole host of other unhealthy and destructive behaviours.

For most of my life, I have been like the Emperor’s New Clothes.  Existing only through the eyes of others.  If you see me, and respond to me, no matter how negatively, I am real.  When you ignore me and overlook me, I am not.

There are many reasons I have cited as to explain why I decided to start therapy.  I wanted help with my anxiety.  I wanted to gain clarity on my purpose in life.  A little more confidence would be good.  All of these reasons are valid ones, but they are not the whole truth.

What really drove me to reach out for help, was being exhausted.  Tying so much of my self worth into other people’s opinions of me and actions towards me, was wearing me out.  I was sick of letting other people control whether I had the best day ever, or plunged into despair.  I wanted to feel like I exist, independently.

There have been so many tears.  Sometimes I feel in danger of dissolving as I try to work my way through all of this.  But slowly, I am beginning to feel like it might just be working.  Little by little I am focusing less on others.  I am less reliant on them for validation and acceptance.  As the weeks unfold, I am beginning to see myself.

It is absolutely terrifying.  At times I feel so vulnerable I could throw up.  Like a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis with still wet wings, I am desperately unsure of myself.  One thing I am sure of however, is that what I had been doing before now was not working for me.  I was harming myself in a million tiny ways.  It is time to stop that now.  Time to try something new.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given is “if you keep doing what you’re doing, you keep getting what you’re getting.”  There is great power in those words.  If we don’t like the path we are on, we have the power to change course.  A deviation of a single degree, can have a massive impact on your destination over time.

Be well.  I see you xxx

 

 

 

Articles

Eat Your Cake and Have It!

For many years, I was one of “those people.”  You know the type.  The ones who never taste a bite of birthday cake, because it isn’t Paleo.  Your colleagues who always pass on team lunches, because they are doing Whole 30.  The ones who think their discipline might inspire others, but in fact it makes them uncomfortable.  They sit on the sidelines, sometimes smug, always separate.

In fact, much of my professional life has been spent on these sidelines.  By the time I passed my final accountancy exams, I was already marching towards disordered eating.  I was a sad, lonely girl.  Desperately seeking connection.  Wanting so badly to belong to a tribe.  To be a part of something.  Along came “clean eating.”  Without giving much, if any thought to the ramifications, I decided that this was what I was going to be doing now.

Out the window went refined grains, sugar, most dairy and even sweetcorn.  Not only did this radically impact my diet, it also changed the way I identified myself.  I was no longer someone who ate things like cake and cookies.  I was no longer willing to be spontaneous with food.  I couldn’t afford to wing it.  Everything needed to be tightly controlled.

Before long, I had fallen into the common trap of all or nothing mentality.  I was either eating clean and doing Paleo, or I wasn’t.  There was no room for maneuver.  Absolutely zero flexibility.   It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that this did nothing for my social life.  Instead of finding connection and camaraderie with my growing team, my lifestyle choices only served to isolate me.

I stopped taking coffee breaks, and avoided eating lunch with my peers.  Partly because I was under insane pressure in work, but also because it was tough pretending to be satisfied with yet another salad.  Even when, on the rare occasion I did join the lads for a Friday trip to Subway, I dared not deviate from the plan.  For anyone who might be wondering, eating a salad in Subway, while the guys are tucking in to foot long subs, tastes like misery and despair.

I am not for a second saying that there isn’t merit in following eating plans.  But I have learned the painful lesson that it is important to have at least a degree of flexibility.  If for no other reason than to preserve your sanity.  If 80-90% of your eating is supporting your goals, you can afford to have fun with the remaining portion.

Last year I went through so much upheaval that I was forced to reevaluate everything.  It seemed like nothing was going right.  As hard as I worked to keep everything tightly controlled, it still eventually went to pot.  As difficult as 2018 was, and loathe as I would be to repeat it, it taught me a lot.  Perhaps most importantly, it taught me that even I cannot control everything.

There will be times when work is a nightmare and you are at your desk 16 hours a day.  You will have times when there is conflict in your family and just keeping yourself upright is all you can do.  There will be illnesses and injuries and all sorts of other stuff that will prevent you from getting to the gym.  No amount of neurosis can control for this.  We can however, control how we deal with it.

We have the choice to allow these occasions to derail us.  Or instead we can think of them as part of the process and move on.  Progress is never linear.  If you read the autobiography of anyone you consider to be successful, I can almost guarantee that it wasn’t all plain sailing.  Dealing with adversity and learning to make allowances is what strengthens us.  I am desperately trying to resist using a cliche here.  But it is true, flexible people can bend and sway and are resilient.  Rigid people crack under pressure.

When I came back to work last year after a thankfully brief lay off, I made a decision.  I was going to eat cake.  You see, I now manage a team of ten people.  As important as it is to provide them with supervision and training I feel it is far more crucial that my team feel supported and empowered by me.  I never want my guys to doubt that I am in their corner.  How can I hope to do that, if I won’t even celebrate their milestones with them?

When the birthdays come along, I am the one singing the loudest (and most tunelessly.)  I am first in line to dish out hugs and accept cake.  It seems crazy to me now that I ever didn’t do this.  Since I started here in December, there have been maybe 5 or 6 birthdays.  That’s 6 pieces of cake, or as my brain likes to work it out, less than 2,000 calories.  Over the course of a year or a career, I promise this will make exactly no impact on my overall health goals.

It will, however, allow me precious moments of connectedness with my team.  It will give me an opportunity to show the people reporting to me that I am a human person.  I still don’t eat cake every time I see it.  I don’t ingratiate myself into other teams birthday rituals either.  However, I am beginning to understand that loosening up a tiny bit, will harm me very little, if at all.  Furthermore, it has the power to enrich my life.  Plus, as it turns, I actually really like cake.

For 37 years I was an all or nothing girl.  Like any muscle that hasn’t been stretched in a while, flexibility is hard won.  I am still learning to be less rigid and have a long way to go.  I do know one thing for certain, I don’t want to spend another moment on the sidelines of life.  Happy birthday and be well xxx

 

 

Articles

Sister Sister

You have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Hardly surprising.  I was just three when mom brought you home.  For 34 years you have been the one constant.  As kids, you were my shadow.  Even though I bemoaned you “breathing on me.”  As we grew up, we fought like cat and dog, but we always made up.  There were times when I screamed that I hated you.  Times when we drove each other to tears.  We certainly haven’t always agreed.  But I always knew you would be in my corner when push came to shove.

For much of the time growing up, it was just us two.  Our mother described us as chalk and cheese.  Totally dissimilar in every way.  However, whether we were jumping on the bed, planning our future business empire or trying to figure out how to get out of trouble, we were always in it together.  I thought of you as an extension of myself.  I figured I knew you inside and out.  How wrong I was.

Eight months ago we went for our routine manicures.  Afterwards, you sat me down in your living room and told me you were going to have a baby.  To be strictly accurate, you gifted me a mug with the word Auntie on it, and watched as I struggled to connect the dots.  I couldn’t process it.  I had always known you would have kids someday and I had no doubt you would be an incredible mother but, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.  My baby sister was having a baby.

In the weeks and months that followed, I watched you embark on an amazing adventure.  It was an absolute privilege to be allowed to be on the periphery as your life was changing in such a profound way.  At each stage of your pregnancy you were presented with new challenges.  It was a strange dichotomy.  One half of me wanted to be able to do it for you.  To take the pain and uncertainty away, even for a little while.  The other half was blown away by how strong and capable you were.  How unflinching.  To put it simply, I was in awe.

Don’t get me wrong, we still had a few sharp words and disagreements.  It’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime after all.  But it was wonderful to see you so full of passion and purpose as the new life grew inside you.

In time we found out that you would be having a baby girl.  That was the icing on the cake for me.  (At last I would have an outlet for my Hello Kitty obsession.)  Of course, you knew I wouldn’t have minded either way.  I really just wanted you both safe and healthy.  However, I appreciate you thinking pink none the less.

As your due date approached, we were all full of anxiety.  I still couldn’t really believe that you would actually be having a baby soon.  We all eagerly awaited your daughter’s arrival, and if our impatience made you feel pressurised, I am truly sorry.  With everything you were going through, you never flaked on our project and as much as it must have been a giant hassle you kept me in the loop every step of the way.

I made the decision long ago not to have children of my own.  I almost feel like there was an unspoken agreement between us.  You unselfishly allowed me to be as involved as I could be.  Knowing it would be the closest thing to a baby of my own.  I will be forever grateful to you for that.  Even when you went into labour, you went out of your way to keep me in the loop.  I needn’t have worried about being the last to know.

When at last Amelia was born, she changed all our lives forever.  I was given the privilege of being among the very first to meet her.  I would not be surprised if I am being referred to as Arwen the usurper in some circles.  As I held her the first time, I felt such as rush of love for her.  So much love can only be accommodated by growing a new heart.  I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for you.

Your daughter is incredible.  Perfect in every way and strong like her mother.  It’s amazing to watch her little personality begin to come through.  No words will ever be able to describe how proud I am of you and of her.  Our little tribe has a new member.  My dearest wish for her is that she always feels as loved as she is.

Be well xxx

Podcast

Fitty & Fatty Ep. 28

This week we had Child Internet Safety Expert, Martin Coughlin in the studio with us, chatting about the ways to keep your kids secure online.  We talked about cyber bullying, revenge porn, identify theft, MOMO and a whole lot more.  Tune in xxx

https://fittyandfatty.podbean.com/e/fitty-and-fatty-ep28-safety-online-with-martin-coughlan/

Young Girl In Bedroom Worried By Bullying Text Message

Articles

Don’t Forget to Breathe!

When I was a little girl, maybe 7 or 8, Santa Claus brought me a Sony Walkman.  It was the late 80’s and every kid wanted to emulate Marty McFly.  The portable cassette player was the must have accessory.  To accompany it, my grandmother bought me the “Get in Shape Girl” fitness program.  I have no idea why.  Looking back, I suspect the Book Club might have had something to do with it.  Regardless of her rationale, I loved it.  It made me so happy to play the cassette and jump around my bedroom like an Olivia Newton John wanna be.

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I remember that while I was feeling the burn, the recorded instructor would give me ques.  She would urge me to “keep smiling,” and “don’t forget to breathe.”  I distinctly recall thinking to myself, even at that young age, how utterly ridiculous this was.  As if you could forget to breathe!

Throughout my life, in my attempts to get in shape, I have encounter numerous fitness instructors.  Many of whom have extolled the same advice about breathing.  Every time, I shrugged it off.  Surely it is just something they are trained to say?  Similar to how they like counting to eight all the time.  But lately, my attitude is changing.

A few months ago, I started working with a counsellor.  (I will talk more about that, when I am further along the path.)  In my very first session with her, she said something incredible.  I was talking about my issues and what I am hoping to get out of going to therapy.  She listened intently.  When I was finished speaking, she said “do you know that you hold your breath when you are deep in thought?”  I had no idea.

Since she said that to me, I have noticed myself doing it more and more.  Every time I concentrate on anything.  Whether that is work, or a game of solitaire.  I hold my breath so tightly that when I eventually do let it go, I feel like I have an elephant sitting on my chest.

My therapist also asked me a question that I am only beginning to understand the answer to.  She said “what is going on between your mind and your body, that your brain can override the most basic biological function.”  This has raised so many other questions for me.  I have begun to try to understand how my mind and body have become so utterly disconnected.  What work will need to be done to restore synchronicity?

The main reason I decided to go to therapy in the first place, was because I had been having anxiety attacks with increasing regularity.  I have always been an anxious person.  However, since things started to go wrong with my work life, it had been getting out of control.  Every time I had a quiet moment, thoughts would start racing through my mind.  Before long, I would begin to experience the familiar tightness in my chest.  The feeling of not being able to draw a complete breath.

I am wondering now if I was inducing this state by forgetting to breathe while I was trying to organise my thoughts.  Could I have been doing it to myself?  Since I have become aware that I do this and have caught myself in the act lots of time, I have not had a single attack.  There must be something to it.

Those of you who have been following the blog will know that I have been practicing meditation for a while now.  I use the Headspace app, and honestly, without it I would be an even bigger basket case!  No matter what pack I am working on, whether the focus is on stress or sleep, the narrator Andy always comes back to the breath.  He reminds us that the breath is what anchors us.  Frightening then to think how far we can drift off course, when the breath is not there to guide us.

When we listen to our breath and become tuned in to it, it can tell us a lot about what is going on in the body.  Our blood pressure and heart rate are difficult to monitor on an ongoing basis.  However, the breath is one indicator we do have of our physiological state.  If we can but hear it.

There is great power in the breath.  If you want to see this for yourself, the next time you are in pain, or you are struggling in the gym, try to actively breathe through it.  Imagine yourself breathing in calm and tranquility and breathing out pain.  It really does work.  Whenever my IBS flairs up and my colon goes into spasm, I employ this technique .  It is the ONLY thing that gives me any relief.  There’s a reason why labouring women are coached so much about breathing.

The weird thing about breathing is, your body knows what to do.  It knows how to breathe.  It is only when the brain gets involved that things get screwed up.

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As I continue my journey towards a healthier, happier self, I am beginning to make a realisation.   Unless I can master my breath, it is all for nought.  Until I get to the stage when inhaling and exhaling come as readily as nature intended, I will never be able to harness my true power.

It’s going to take more than a few therapy sessions to unlearn 37 years of behaviour, but I am determined to try.  Even as I write this, I have noticed my breathing stop completely on more than one occasion.

My fitness journey is not unique.  There have been and will continue to be peaks a valleys.  Times of progress and times of frustration.  Breathing, however, is something that apart from conscious awareness, will take little effort and is bound to yield great rewards.  Be well and don’t forget to breathe xxx