In the season finale the girls take on crash diets. Fitty tells us about her ordeal trying to shop for vacation and the two share their tips for having a happy and healthy holiday. Thanks for listening xxx
Some of you might remember that last year I was in Donegal, with my husband and our German Shepherd, Annie. We had an amazing time. So good, in fact, that we booked the same house for the same week this year. I couldn’t wait to get back there. I spent the weeks running up to it day dreaming about all the lovely, long walks we would take, and reminiscing about the bright blue skies we had had. I found myself buying the same wine we had last year, and planning to hit up the same eateries. I was essentially trying to recreate what had been a truly fabulous few days.
I should know better. I should know by now that when you try to recreate an experience it never really works out. It’s like when you have a great meal in a restaurant, and when you go back the chef is out sick and you end up with cold beans on toast! I am so familiar with this recreation disappointment that I normally try to avoid encountering it. However, where Donegal was concerned we decided to take the risk, and I am glad we did.
We loaded up the car, popped the puppy (all 40kgs of her) into the back seat and off we went. With a stop for a bite of lunch, the drive took about 6 hours. We arrived in the early evening and got settled in right away. We sent out for pizza, the same one we’d had last year, naturally, and set about the serious business of relaxing. Annie was so much more chilled out this time. Last year she insisted on walking backwards around the place for the first day or two. There was no moon walking this time and she seemed right at home.
The next day, in much the same fashion as last year, we set out for a long walk along the beach. The humans hit 10,000 steps with ease, and the dog must have clocked up about 50,000! She even had a little tussle with another dog at one stage. When we got back to the house we were all worn out but happy. It’s amazing the restorative effect the sea air can have on the soul. That night, however, we noticed that Annie was limping a little. She had no doubt overdone it, so we resigned ourselves to taking it a little easier.
As it happened, the weather was pretty miserable for the rest of our stay, so were we not anywhere near as active as we had been last year. Initially I was a bit upset about it. This wasn’t the plan. I wanted to whine about how it wasn’t “the same,” but I didn’t. I decided to re-frame it. If I spent all my time thinking about what the trip wasn’t, I would be missing out on what it was. I won’t be getting another break for ages and I didn’t want to waste it, even if it wasn’t going exactly to plan. Just because it wasn’t the same, didn’t mean it couldn’t be great. In the end, it turned out to be just what we needed. A few quiet days away to rest and spend some quality time with our furry baby.
I am sure we all have a tendency to succumb to this way of thinking. Our plan hasn’t worked out exactly as we wanted it to, so it’s all ruined. We get so caught up with chasing the fantasy, that we risk throwing the baby out with the bath water. Sometimes, as Ryan Holiday says in his brilliant book, “The Obstacle is The Way.”
I will give you an example. My sister and I started recording a Podcast a few weeks back. My younger brother is acting as producer, editor and general “making it all happen guy.” None of us have a notion of what we are doing, but when has that ever stopped me! We were pretty happy with how the first few episodes went, but there was an issue with the sound, that we couldn’t quite get to the bottom of. It was really irritating, as it was making the Podcast seem less polished than we wanted. We sat down last week to record and my poor brother’s computer decided to have a complete melt down. No amount of ctrl+alt+delete could persuade it to cooperate.
Eventually we decided to fly up to my sister’s house and get her computer to use instead. Of course her machine didn’t have the software we had been using, and we when tried to install it, we got nowhere. At this stage we were all getting tired and more than a little frustrated. We managed to find different software, downloaded it and praise the seven, it actually worked! What’s more, we didn’t have the issues with the sound anymore.
The problem had been with the software all along, but of course we just assumed it was something we were doing wrong due to our lack of expertise. If we hadn’t had the computer malfunction, we might never have figured it out. What seemed like a complete disaster at the time, ended up being a big help. Proving that good can come from just about any situation if you allow yourself to be open to it. Be well xxx
Last week, my husband and I spent a few days in County Donegal. We took Annie, our German Shepherd with us, and rented a cottage in a remote area called Gweedore. The cottage was very close to vast, unspoiled beaches and I was so looking forward to experiencing the wilderness effect.
The weeks leading up to the trip had been extremely stressful. Work had been nightmarish and between running my nutrition group and trying to get ready to start teaching Zumba, it was all systems go (as usual!) I felt completely exhausted. It was to the point that I went to the doctor for blood tests. I was convinced there must be something wrong with me. Surely it couldn’t be “normal” to be so bloody tired all the time. I was spending all day dragging myself around. Dying to get to bed at night, only to lie there looking at the ceiling instead of being asleep.
Thankfully the blood tests came back all clear. I am the picture of health, if only I felt it!! The only thing the fatigue could be down to was either a hormonal issue (a change in pill was prescribed to try rule that out,) or stress/burn out. The week of the trip my mouth erupted in cold sores. A sure sign that I was run down. I felt fragile and tearful. I can honestly say, if I had had to last another week in work without a break, I may have had a break down!
Finally, the departure day arrived. Even packing seemed like such an effort. I made the decision to leave my make-up bag and hairdryer at home. I claimed this was a nod to minimalism, but it was more that I couldn’t be bothered trying to sort that out. It was all I could do to throw some clothes in a bag, grab my doggy and hit the road.
No sooner were we on the road, when I felt myself beginning to unwind. A whole wonderful week lay ahead of me with no work, no gym, no housework or responsibilities. Imagine, an entire seven days with no schedule to keep. The thought of it made me giddy, or it would have if I hadn’t been so drained!
We arrived at the cottage just as dusk settled. Stepping out of the car, taking a big stretch after the long drive, I took a deep breath. As air scented with turf fires and sea salt filled my lungs, I began to wonder when was the last time I had done that? When was the last time I had really allowed myself to breathe?
The few days we spent in Donegal were pure bliss. Waking naturally, enjoying a leisurely brunch while planning the day’s adventures. We spent hours tramping the beaches with Annie, watching her running through the surf. Laughing at her jumping into boggy water and seeing her delight at how dirty she was getting. We spent a lovely afternoon in Glen Veagh National Park, wandering and exploring. We walked for hours every day, my FitBit was on overdrive. The evenings were spent just hanging out, watching movies we had already seen, and enjoying not having anywhere to be. I slept better than I had in months.
We drove up to Donegal in the rain, and we drove home in the rain. In between journeys we were blessed with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. We couldn’t have asked for more. The sea air and wild terrain were such a tonic. As the days wore on, I felt like a weight was being lifted off me. I began to feel myself relaxing for the first time in I don’t remember how long. For the first time in ages, I was content just to sit and do nothing.
The best part of the trip, for me, was seeing how much fun Annie was having. As a 35kg German Shepherd, there aren’t too many places we can let her run wild and free. But along the deserted coast lines we were able to do exactly that. It was amazing to see her come to life and embrace her new found freedom. It made me realise that I am not entirely unlike her. I spend all my time restrained and restricted. Adhering to schedules and rules. Just like my puppy, I am beginning to understand that I too need time to be wild and free.
Coming back to reality this week, I have made myself a few promises. Firstly, I have vowed to never go that long without a break again. I have also promised to be more aware of the signs of overload and to take steps to avoid ending up feeling the way I have recently felt. I am committed to exploring more of this beautiful country of ours and to take advantage of the wildernesses on our doorstep.
The trip away has proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered. In the isolation, I was able to find my way back to myself. I love being around people and would consider myself very social. I had forgotten just how important time spent alone and quiet can be. I didn’t even miss my make-up. Be well xxx
Donning my over-sized sunglasses and channeling my inner Audrey, I set off on my “Roman Holiday.” It has been a little over a week since my return. I wanted to get this post out much sooner but, I can honestly say it has taken me this long to even begin to process everything. If I had to describe the city and our trip in general in one word, it would be overwhelming. I don’t mean this in any way negatively, just that there was so much to see and do and eat, that it was impossible to absorb it all as fully as I would have liked.
So, what did we do? I think it’s fair to say we made a good attempt at doing as much sight seeing as we could. We took the sight seeing bus as soon as we arrived. I like to do this whenever I land in a new city. I think it’s a great way to get orientated, with as little chance as possible of getting lost! (We did manage to get lost later that evening, but that is definitely a story for another day.)
Historical Rome was next on the agenda. On our second day we took a tour of the Colosseum, before rambling around the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill. It was amazing. The guided tour was great and I would definitely recommend it, especially if, like me, you’re not an expert on the history. It was difficult not to feel like I was in an Episode of Spartacus as I looked down on what would have been the arena.
We attempted to take the bus back to our hotel after the Colosseum, however it actually deposited us in the middle of the biggest, loudest and most colourful Gay Pride Parade you can imagine. We were awed and disoriented in equal measure. There may have been another navigational issue or two before we reached home.
Day three, armed with a map, and on foot, we went to see the Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. The fountain is extremely beautiful and undoubtedly a Jewel in the crown of Rome. The experience was only slightly marred by folks attempting to sell us selfie sticks and fidget spinners. If I return to Rome, I will make an early morning pilgrimage back to the fountain to try to avoid the sense of claustrophobia caused by being surrounded by so many people.
The Spanish Steps were a joy to behold and a very up-market shopping district has grown up around them. Definitely worth a look, if that is your thing. I dared not go in, for fear of having my own Pretty Woman experience. As for The Pantheon, it was breath taking, and inside it I found an oasis of tranquility, in an otherwise crazy city. Even the McDonald’s we visited was like an assault on the senses!
Our last day, suitably covered up, we took ourselves off to see the religious sights. In perhaps the most overwhelming day of all, we visited The Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. The day did not get off to the most auspicious start. The area around the Vatican screams tourist trap. You literally cannot walk two feet without someone trying to sell you something. When you enter the Vatican at first, the building very much resembles a tax office. Complete with clinical white walls and disgruntled clerks behind counters. It certainly doesn’t prepare you for the wonder and splendour, which you are about to behold.
In the Vatican we decided to take another guided tour, again I would recommend this, particularly for your first visit. The tour took two hours and we saw so many beautiful things, paintings, sculptures, tapestries and maps. It was quite incredible. By the end of the tour, I almost felt as though my mind was incapable of appreciating any more beauty. I felt completely saturated. Luckily, the tour ended at the coffee shop, which could never be described as beautiful, so we had an opportunity to revive ourselves!
From there, we entered the Sistine Chapel. It was every bit as awe inspiring as you might imagine. Every where you look there is something else to be appreciated. Again, my mind struggled with the task of taking it all in.
The last thing on the agenda for the day, and the trip, was St. Peter’s. Before we went inside, I had the opportunity to climb the 551 steps up to the Cupola. I was able to walk around the outside of the Dome and get the most incredible 360 degree view of the Roman skyline. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the holiday for me.
Not only were the views spectacular, but whenever I get to do something like climb up all those steps, I am presented with a rare opportunity. I get the chance to appreciate my body and all it can do. I am reminded to be thankful for my health and fitness, and granted perspective about the reason why I try to keep fit in general. It is a wonderful and liberating thing that when I encounter such a physical challenge, I don’t have to ask myself “will I be able for this?” That alone is worth all the effort in the gym!
Okay, okay, so I am sure many of you are wondering about the food, and the diet and the damage. Food first. We ate everything! Or at least we tried to. It turns out four days is not enough time to eat all the Italian food we wanted to. However, we made a good attempt at covering all the bases. Dinner was the only proper meal of the day, as breakfasts and lunches were quickly dispatched so as not to interfere with our adventures. Breakfast was the typical continental affair and lunch was mostly sandwiches. Luckily we still managed to get through a reasonable amount of pasta and gelato!
As for the damage, I weighed myself on the morning of departure and again on the morning after I got back. Although I did put on about a kilo, I wasn’t overly worried. I am not a great traveler and usually retain fluid after I fly. As of today I am back to my pre-holiday weight.
So what did I do to limit the holiday damage? I walked! We did in excess of 60,000 steps over the course of the four days. I drank gallons of water. In temperatures over 30 degrees it was needed, and I normally drink a few litres a day anyway. I ate when I wanted and what I wanted for the most part.
I did try to be somewhat sensible though. For example when we had the gelato, I would get at least half of it as yogurt. It is an easy swap and I didn’t feel like I was missing out. We stuck to just having main courses at all dinners except the last one. (On the last night we shared a starter and a dessert.) This wasn’t a conscious calorie counting decision particularly. Dinner was usually late and we were too exhausted by that stage to sit through three courses. A big thing which probably helped, is I didn’t drink as much alcohol as I usually would on vacation. I typically had one drink with dinner and maybe one or two more back in the hotel. Again this wasn’t really a decision. My travel companion is pregnant, so she wasn’t drinking.
Overall, I am very happy with how it all went. Every time I take a few days away from my routine, I tend to get a little panicked, thinking the wheels are going to come off completely. However, each time I do it, and they don’t, I gain a little more confidence. Of course, I would be more “comfortable” keeping to my routine, but what would be the fun in that? After all, if we can’t go away or even take time out to enjoy ourselves, what is the point in any of it? As Audrey herself says
“THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO ENJOY YOUR LIFE
– TO BE HAPPY – IT’S ALL THAT MATTERS.”
Be well xxx