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Why Losing Weight WILL NOT Make You Happy

At the kick off meeting for my Lifestyle Re-Engineering Program last month, I gave a short presentation.  I naturally wanted to outline the program to the participants, but I also wanted to give them a little bit of insight into my own journey.  I have talked about my struggles with my weight on the blog a few times, but I have never really talked about it in public before.  I was standing in a room full of strangers, telling them about where it all began and I was amazed by how emotional I felt.

In that instant I was back there.  All the sadness and feelings of worthlessness came flooding back to me.  It was as raw and as real as if it were yesterday and not five years ago.  I remembered what life was like for me all those years ago.  I was an extremely troubled girl.  I hated my job.  I worked long hours, had a crazy commute and was going to college at night.  All of this left little time for self care, let alone self improvement.  There was no fun in my life and I was really just existing.  To top it all off, I was overweight.  I had no confidence and couldn’t stand looking at myself in the mirror.

In time, I began to lose weight.  I honestly thought this would be the answer to all my problems.  I would tell myself “just lose another five pounds, then you will feel good.”  Those five pounds would shed, and I would feel the same way, so I would convince myself that the next five would definitely do it.  On and on this went.  I continued to drop weight, but I was still miserable.  Even when I was approaching “goal weight” I still struggled with negative self image.  I was terrified that if I took my eye off the ball for a moment, that I would end up back where I started.

I had fallen into a very common trap.  I had treated the symptoms of the problem, without addressing the root cause.  I was, in essence, doing the easy thing.  Counting calories and hitting the gym, while it does take effort, is fairly straight forward.  You have a clear set of parameters to work within, and if you do what you’re supposed to, you will get results.  Easy!  The hard thing, the thing which I was avoiding doing, is to look for the cause of the problem.

What was it that was making me so unhappy, that I did not care what happened to my body?  What had made me give up on myself?  Why had I resigned myself, in my 20s, to a lifetime of feeling undesirable, unsexy and unwanted?  Why did I feel that I didn’t deserve to be happy?  These were the questions I needed to ask myself.  Nobody could do if for me.  There was no YouTube video to show me the steps, no ten minute miracle cure.  It definitely was not going to be easy.

I needed to re-engineer my life.  I set about identifying everything, which was not working for me, and trying to change it.  The first thing I did was quit my job.  I vowed never to stay in a job I hated again.  Life is too short to spend 40 hours a week in a toxic environment.  It took a couple of attempts, but I finally found the right fit.  I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to your overall well-being to be happy in your work.

During this time, I also finished college.  This had a huge impact.  My stress was massively reduced, and I now had time to do the things I enjoyed (if only I could remember what they were!)  I had spent 5 years studying at night and on the weekends, and my single-mindedness had allowed it to become almost all consuming.  I was in suspended animation!  When it was finally over, I spent two months sitting on the couch watching soaps (we will call this recovery.)  I then had to set about rediscovering what it is that makes me happy.

It was at that time when my love of fitness was born.  I needed to escape Coronation Street and the gym was as good a place as any to go.  My workouts became my outlet for a number of years.  I love training, but in hindsight it was probably foolish to put all my eggs in one basket.  Injuries and issues inevitably cropped up, and without something else to put my energy into, I became frustrated.

It is really only in the last year that I feel I am beginning to find balance.  I have rediscovered a too long latent love of reading.  Meditation and mindfulness are of huge importance to me now.  I invest more time and energy in my relationships.  The effect of all of this, is that I am happier now than I have ever been.  The happiness and confidence I have gained allows me to prioritise my health and well being.  In other words, being happy is helping me to maintain my weight, not the other way around.

The process is by no means complete.  I believe we are all on a journey of self discovery that lasts a lifetime.  I definitely do not have all the answers and  I want to continue to learn about myself.  I wasted far too many years being unhappy, I don’t want to let another moment be lost.

For anyone out there who may be struggling, feeling unhappy or lacking self confidence, I will say this; nothing changes if nothing changes.  The first step in addressing the problem, is to face it head on.  This may be scary and painful, but I promise you it will be worth it.  If your weight is problem for you, then loosing weight is naturally a good thing to do.  However, just be aware that it won’t solve all your problems.  Be well xxx

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Food, Fallacy and Foolishness!

As a society we have become completely spoiled when it comes to food.  We consume it with hedonistic abandon, and treat it with very little respect.  During the last couple of decades, our attitude towards food and eating has become completely skewed.  In short, we take it utterly for granted.

Growing up in Ireland in the 80’s, money was short and people learned to make do with what they had.  A pot of stew supplied four meals (two dinners and two lunches.)  Sunday’s roast was refashioned into casseroles, curries and sandwiches.  Nothing was wasted and nobody ever complained about eating the same meal two nights running.

I am now in the second week of a Lifestyle Coaching program I am running with a company in Dublin.  When we launched the program, I decided I would take part along side them, and “walk the walk,” as it were.  It came to the first weekend, and I was about to set off for my grocery shopping.  In readiness for this, I was standing at the fridge, with a thrash bag in my hand, preparing to throw away all of the uneaten food from the previous week.  To my astonishment, there wasn’t any!   We had eaten pretty much everything.  This is probably the first time EVER that this has happened.

My initial reaction was “oh my God, we nearly ran out of food, I better buy more this week.”  But then it dawned on me, this was the first time I had actually gotten it spot on.  If your fridge resembles Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard come shopping day, you’re doing it right.  If, like me, you end up having to throw away a black bag of food, just so you can fit the new food, you are getting it terribly wrong!  When the realisation of this sank in, I felt both shame and stupidity in equal measure.

So where does this wanton wastefulness stem from?  I certainly wasn’t brought up with it, that is for sure.  I am beginning to think our generation is plagued by the paradox of choice.  So many available options causing us to devalue what we already have.  It is the classic thing of going and buying €200 worth of groceries and then hitting up the McDonald’s drive thru on the way home.  All of the food which was too tempting to leave of the supermarket shelves, instantly obsolete once a “better,” more convenient option has been presented.

Perhaps it is the remnants of our Celtic Tiger hangover, which has completely inverted our value system when it comes to food.  At its most fundamental level, food is fuel.  It powers every function in the human body from respiration to reproduction.  Should it be enjoyable, yes of course it should.  But pleasure is not its only function.  We, as a collective, to have managed to completely separate food from its utility.  We increasingly seem to want to eat purely for pleasure.

Clever corporations have cottoned on to this.  It is impossible to turn on your TV, scroll through your phone or even walk down the street without a barrage of advertising messages assaulting you.  Never before has overly processed, highly palatable, nutrient deficient “food” been so cheap or so readily available.  Fast food outlets churn out obscene amounts of food to us, while we let our fresh produce rot in our fridges.  It is not uncommon for typical families to be eating take out 2-3 nights a week.

We are being fooled into thinking that outsourcing our nutrition is the easy option.  Believe me when I tell you, it ain’t.  I brown bag my lunch every day, and have done for a good few years now.  I have a few tried and tested menu options, which I know will fill me up and fuel my training.  It does not bother me to eat the same few things all the time.  I know what I need to buy each week, I prepare it quickly and I don’t have to think about it.  It’s easy.  If I didn’t bring lunch with me, I would spend the morning wondering what I was going to eat.  I would have to go out to get it, which can be a pain in the ass.  I would create stress worrying if what I was eating was supporting my goals, and I would be spending a fortune.  The complete opposite of easy, if you ask me!

You might ask “do you not get bored eating the same thing?” and truthfully the answer is not really.  Breakfast and lunch, for me, are utility meals.  High quality food, in well constructed meals, designed to get me through the day.  I know only too well that I a have limited supply of both decision making ability and creativity, so I prefer to use these for pleasure meals.  Dinners with my husband and meals out with friends.  Not every morsel we consume needs to be worthy of a death row dinner.

The last few weeks has given me a real opportunity to evaluate my own food behaviours.  I have had some exposure to the homeless crisis in our Capital and wasted food really bothers me.  However, I honestly believe that unless we revert to the old ways, we will keep on filling up those black bags.  Unless we begin again to appreciate food and all that it does for our health and well being, we will keep allowing ourselves to be sold to.  Big corporations do not care about our goals.  It is up to us to be the gatekeepers of our own refrigerators.  Be well xxx

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s Another Year?

On the 27th of January, this blog celebrated its first birthday.  In the crazy haze that was January, it was nice to see the little notification popping up to remind me that 365 days had passed since I started talking to you guys.  In the very beginning, I knew very little about blogging, (and I am sure some would argue I still don’t!)  I didn’t have a “brand” or a “message.”  All I really had was a desire to reach out to people.  I wanted to try to give people the type of advice, I wish I could give my younger self.

You see, I am not a health guru, or an expert of any kind.  All I really am is a girl, who has made a lot of mistakes, but who has tried to learn from each one of them.  One year ago, I knew I had a lot to say, but I had no idea how to go about it.  Somehow, amongst the anxiety and impostor syndrome, I managed to hear a small voice say “just start!”  So I did.  Not knowing where it would lead, and not even daring to hope it might come to anything, I sat and put pen to paper for the first time.

In the last year, between the blog and the YouTube site, I have put out almost 100 posts.  I never could have imagined starting out that this could be possible.  It has made me think about just how many other things in life are like this.  It has reminded me how all great journeys begin with a single step.

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If you have a goal in life, whether it is fitness related, career related or even family related, the best advice I can give you, is just start.  Even if you are unsure of what the first step should be, just try something.  If it turns out to be the wrong thing, at least you have ruled it out as an option, and you will be closer to finding the right thing.  So often in life, we succumb to paralysis by analysis.  Constantly weighing up options and wringing our hands, but never actually doing anything about it.

I mentioned in a previous post, that we have been getting some work done in the house recently.  Nothing too major, just some decorating and minor repairs.  This has caused me huge turmoil.  I spent months, if not years, trying to figure out which order to do the jobs in.  Would it be better to get the shower in the en suite fixed before or after re-flooring the bedroom?  Should we start the painting in the kitchen or the living room?  I drove myself crazy trying to come up with the optimal plan, and meanwhile, nothing got done.

Eventually, when I began realising how pointless this all was, I decided to just do something, ANYTHING!!  I told myself to just start.  If it turns out to be a mistake painting the walls before putting down the floors, oh well.  At least I will have learned something.

I can’t tell you how many times over the last year I have questioned myself.  I have wondered if I am good enough.  I have fretted about whether or not I can make a difference to people.  I have told myself that nobody is interested in what I have to say and just to give up.  Without fail, in these moments of doubt, the universe has reached out to me.  Either through the encouragement of a friend, or the kind words from a stranger.  In just such a moment, I came across Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech

Neil is a fantastic author and orator, and his advice is, that when we face these times of darkness and despair, we should “make good art.”  This spoke to me on so many levels, but at the most fundamental level it told me to keep going.  It said to me, you have taken the first step, and the hardest, so just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Even if you don’t know where your destination is, move forward, and be confident that you will recognise it when you get there.

I truly believe that in life, any meaningful change brings with it a certain amount of pain.  Whether you are trying to get promoted in work, or drop a dress size for your wedding, there will be times when you will wonder if it is really worth it.  When motivation abandons you, let momentum take over.  Just keep going and you will eventually get there.  Sometimes it is only in looking back, that we appreciate how far we have come.  Be well xxx

 

 

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Less is More

“The average American has 300,000 items in their home and $16,000 in credit card debt,” according to a recent post by The Minimalists.  I will admit, I was a little incredulous when I read this, until I realised I had over 30 items in my handbag alone (this includes my purse, but not its contents.)  In my last post, I touched on how I am currently going through a decluttering phase.  I am trying to eliminate all the “stuff” from my home, head and life.  I want to leave only the things which Ms. Kondo would say, “spark joy.”  In other words, if I don’t either use it, or consider it to be beautiful, it has got to go.

Most of this discarding has been relatively easy.  I am experiencing a mixture of amusement and horror as I discover how much of a hoarder I truly am.  Little did I know just how many possibly used, possibly unused batteries there actually were in my home.  Some of it, however, has been more challenging.  I find myself reluctant to let go of certain things.  There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to this.  For example, I have a particular item under my bed.  It was a gift, a number of years ago, and it has never been used.  In truth, I am not sure if I have ever taken it out of its box.  There is no rational reason for me to hang onto this.  I can only assume it is my fondness for the giver that is preventing me from parting with it.  As well as this, it is something that I asked for, and so I feel guilty for having had the person waste their money on me.

For these challenging items, which I just can’t bring myself to part with straight away, I have exercised a stay of execution.  I am giving myself 3 months, and if, in that time, I still haven’t found a use for them, they are going, end of story.

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Let’s face it, January is a pretty lean month for most people.  Excessive spending over the festive period and a longer than usual wait for pay day leaves most of us feeling strapped.  This financial pressure, coupled with the impending dread of the credit card bill landing on the mat, can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.  I am no different from anyone else in this, and I can assure you, I have been counting down the days until my salary hits the bank, and I can start spending again!

Wait, what?  As the first couple of weeks of January trickle by, it is slowly dawning on me, that decluttering and throwing stuff away is only half the story.  Unless I stop actually buying said stuff, I am never going to achieve the state of Zen-like minimalism I crave.  Like the poor old Americans, my bank account drains and my house overflows.  I have caught myself in a vicious cycle of constantly spending money I don’t have, on things I don’t need, and never having a penny to do the things I actually want to do.  It’s insanity.

So, what is to be done about it?  I have decided to go on a spending ban.  I will not spend money on anything unnecessary.  Defining unnecessary took a bit of doing, but for me it looked a little like this.  No more buying clothes, period!  I have wardrobes overflowing with garments.  Just last week I took a black bag of rubbish out of my socks and tights drawer alone, so let’s face it, I am covered in that department.  No more buying books, until I have caught up with the ones already on my bookshelf. (Books are definitely an impulse buy for me, and one click ordering on Amazon really doesn’t help!)  No more buying a coffee on my way to have coffee.  Grocery shopping will be done with a list, so hopefully no more gluts of canned goods.  You get the picture.

I have also gone through my monthly direct debits and cancelled everything I could get away with.  For example, I was paying separately for roadside assistance with AA, even though I get it as part of my car insurance.  Why?  Because I am crazy, clearly.  Next to go were my Patreon subscriptions.  Sorry guys, but until I get my finances in order, I need it more than you do.  All these tiny micro transactions don’t seem like much in isolation, but they must be adding up, because come the end of the month, I always end up wishing I had the money back in my account.

To help me avoid retail therapy while at work, I have unsubscribed from all emails trying to sell to me.  I have unfollowed anything on social media, which may lure me back to my old ways.  I have never been a great shopper anyway, so this just gives me an excuse to stay away from the centres entirely, which suits me fine.

Don’t misunderstand me.  This is not about being penny pinching or miserly.  It’s not about squirreling away all the pennies either particularly.  For me, it is just about being less wasteful.  It’s about redefining the word “need.”  (As in, yes, while I might like a new Fossil bag, I definitely don’t need it!)  It is about recognising that I work damn hard for my money, and being a little bit more mindful about how I dispose of it.

I have lost count of the number of times recently I have heard people say that they need a bigger house, or more space, or more storage.  The truth is we don’t need any of that.  We don’t need more space to fill up with even more crap.  What we need is less consumerism.  Less time spent constantly coveting the latest and greatest of everything.  Less expectation that the new, shiny thing will make us happy.  Because, I promise you, it won’t.

I know I have said that I don’t believe in resolutions, and so I will be calling this my “less is more” challenge.  I am not promising not to spend money at all.  I am currently trying to redecorate my spare bedroom, so there will need to be money spent on that.  But, I am going to make a concerted effort not to waste any money.  Alcohol and take outs are also in the unnecessary category for now, which will only serve to improve my health in the long run, so win win!

I will keep you updated on my progress over the coming weeks, and encourage you all to take the New Year as an opportunity to examine your own habits and see if there are changes you would like to make.  Be well xxx

 

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Seasonal Sabotage!

The time to Eat, Drink and be Merry is just about upon us.  This is the time of year when we get to relax and enjoy spending time with family and friends.  A time when the diet relaxes and the training tends to wind down.  I think it is important to have this time as a psychological break.  A season of feast and plenty, before getting right back on it in the New Year.  But, how can we manage to avoid ruining an entire year’s hard work, while still having fun?  How can we avoid feeling like we are missing out, without ending up with a stocking full of regret?  This is probably the tenth Christmas I have spent in  “weight management” mode, so I have learned a few things to help me over the years.

Firstly, be realistic:  There is very little point in promising yourself that this year you absolutely WILL NOT over indulge.  Swearing to yourself that not one Quality Street will cross your lips and the Christmas Dinner will consist only of meat and veg.  In my experience, trying to be overly restrictive in the run up to Christmas only leads to me end up diving head first into a trifle and reaching for the stretchy pants.  I have found that a far better strategy is to decide, ahead of time, which of the Christmas treats I absolutely must have.  I then allow myself to have these and actively avoid the rest.  For me, this is the turkey and ham sandwich on Christmas night, made by my super sister, I look forward to it all year.  You can keep the dessert, but if I don’t get my sandwich, did Christmas even happen?

Beware of the Bargains:  Growing up, the tin of sweets at Christmas was a really big deal.  It was the only time of year you could get them.  They would be bought ahead of time, but on pain of death, we were never allowed to open them until Christmas Eve.  Since I have moved out, I never bother buying them.  Between work and our family homes, there is more than enough junk floating around to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.  This year, however, I began to wonder if this was a little churlish.  Was I a complete Grinch to not even have a single sweet in the house.  I thought to myself I will pick up one tin, sure what harm?  I went to the supermarket and saw they were 3 for €15!  Wow, what a bargain!!  In the space of about 4 seconds, I had gone from not buying any, to buying 3 whole tins.  Luckily, I came to my senses and abandoned my purchase.

I will never forget a leader in Weight Watchers talking about buy one get one free tins of Pringles.  She said when she looked at it all she saw was “44 points for the price of 22.”  It really isn’t a good deal if you end up eating more than you intended to and feeling bad about it.  Don’t let the marketers draw you in to ruining your progress.

Let work days be “normal” days:  I will admit that routine is an absolute saviour of mine.  Automating as many decisions about food as I can has made maintaining my weight so much easier than relying on will power alone.  Every work day I have the same breakfast, and one of 2-3 different homemade lunches.  I don’t deviate from this just because it is December.  It helps me a lot to feel like at least some parts of my diet can be consistent regardless of the season.  If I were to abandon this for the month, I know I would feel completely out of control.

Offices are a minefield for the diet conscious at the best of times, and Christmas is the worst.  Across the country mince pies and selection boxes are being passed around with abandon.  My advice, and something I have always had to do, is just give it a wide berth.  I would always prefer to indulge in sweets and treats consciously.  Sitting at home relaxing with a nice cuppa and the fur babies.  Not while on a conference call and trying to get a balance sheet worked out.

Practice the one bite rule:  If you take a bite of something, (especially if it’s calorie laden) and you don’t really love it, stop eating it.  If you take a slice of grannies fruit cake and it’s as dry as the Mojave desert, proclaim it delicious and yourself still full from dinner, and leave it alone.  Calories are too precious to be wasted on things which don’t make you make yummy noises.

Remember that Christmas is ONE DAY:  I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people saying that there is “no point trying to be good in December!”  This simply is not true.  When you think about it, it is one day, one dinner and maybe a party or two.  When you consider that on average in December, we will eat over 100 meals, it puts the big one into a little perspective.  There is only so much damage you can do in a day (even if you do my trifle dive) a whole month ,on the other hand, is a completely different story.  If you make a decision to abandon all your good habits in December, you can expect to have a significant backslide with your results.  If you make this decision, accept that it is a decision and own it.  Christmas did not do it to you!

Move on:  Whatever happens over Christmas, it’s not the end of the world.  Even if you eat and drink far more than you had intended and if the scales calls you out on it, it’s not terminal.  Win, lose or draw this silly season, allow yourself to move on.  The worst thing we can do is fall into the familiar negative feedback loop of self loathing.  When 2017 comes in, be mentally ready to attack it, not wasting energy worrying about what you ate last year.

Lastly, enjoy:  I for one am so ready for the break at Christmas.  Having a few days away from work, watching old movies in my pj’s sounds like just what the doctor ordered.  This is the time of year to catch up with friends and family and relax.  Reflect on the year just gone and get ready for the one to come.  However you will be spending this holiday season, enjoy it, for it comes but once a year.  Be well xxx

 

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Family Fortune

I have spent a lot of time on the blog lately talking about how manic life can be.  Work, college and other commitments seem to be all consuming these days.  I haven’t been getting to the gym, I haven’t been writing much or even reading much.  Cooking, which is normally a great source of joy, has become just about fueling my body for the next day’s battle.  In the act of just putting one foot in front of the other, I feel like I am losing myself.  Even my dreams are filled with exam anxiety!!

In the midst of all this, I had almost forgotten that I had planned a weekend away.  The plan was for myself, my mother, sister and aunt to go to visit an uncle of mine in Limerick.  We had arranged to drive down Friday evening together and return home on Sunday afternoon.  With everything that had been going on, the trip had almost slipped my mind and it was only a few days before we were due to head off when I remembered it.

Of course, conflict immediately set in.  Work was really crazy, with budgets due that week.  I was exhausted, stressed and probably not going to be great company.  Add to this, I really should have been doing college work.  My dissertation deadline is only 3 weeks out and there is an exam to look forward to after that.  I really couldn’t afford the time away.  BUT, I genuinely wanted to go.  I don’t get to see my uncle often enough and I love getting to hang out with these women.

I went back and forth with it all week.  Weighing up the pros and cons of going versus staying.  In the end, my fear of missing out teamed up with my hatred of breaking commitments to help me to decide to go.  I decided, however, not to join them on Friday (aka. budget day) but to follow them down on my own on Saturday instead.

I can honestly say, it was a great decision.  Sitting in the restaurant on Saturday night, I was acutely aware of the positive effect it was having on me.  I could feel my spirit and soul refreshed.  It is amazing how at a time when I feel like everyone wants a piece of me, I could find four people to just sit and be with.  That feeling has been resonating with me a lot this week.  Perhaps, when we feel the most like we are losing ourselves, it is the time when we most need our loved ones to anchor us.  It’s a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by the people who know you best and love you regardless of your struggle.

Growing up, I always remember wanting to make my family proud, my parents in particular.  I wanted to have some great and lofty achievement to showcase and for them to be able to say “look what Arwen did!”  I wanted to feel that pride and reluctant as I am to admit it, it has probably influenced a lot of decisions I have made in my life.  I was always convinced that by doing the next thing, or by winning the next prize , I would somehow feel “good enough.”

It has taken me a lot of years and more than a little heart ache to come to the realisation, that if you are lucky, with your family, it is not the achievements that will make them the most proud.  They love you and will be proud of the person you are.  They will seek out your company, even if you feel like you have nothing to offer.  They will rejoice in your happiness and stand beside you on your darkest day.  To them, as lost and scared and sorrowful as you may feel, you will always be enough.

So, my advice to anyone who feels like life is taking over is this;  Make time for the people who know you best.  Hang out with people who don’t expect or demand anything from you.  Be with people, who want nothing other than your time.  I promise, it will do you good xxx

 

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My Own Worst Enemy!

I have always been the type of person who liked to keep busy.  Invariably working on some project or other and constantly focusing on the next thing.  I get bored easily and finding stimulation definitely helps keep me out of trouble.  Every so often, however, I find myself completely over committed and stressed.  Every time this happens, I promise myself never again.  I swear I will avoid taking too much on, and I even manage to convince myself that next time it will be different.  However, despite these vows, within a few months, I end up overloaded again and my old pal anxiety comes to pay a visit.

At the moment, I am certainly in an overloaded phase.  Work is getting busy, with budgets, year end and audits all on the horizon.  All of these things will be firsts for me in this job, so they don’t come without an element of uncertainty.  I have just started a new course of cookery workshops, which will be keeping me busy too.  In addition to this, I am doing a diploma course through work, for which a dissertation and exam are looming in the coming weeks.  Add to this the usual activities of writing, YouTubing, training, meal prep etc. and it all begins to feel a little overwhelming!

I know I am not alone in this.  Many of us constantly feel like we have way too many plates spinning and the anxiety that comes with it can be crippling.  Did you ever feel like you have so much to do, that you actually don’t want to do anything?  That’s where I am at right now.  I just want to pull the duvet over my head and emerge in the New Year, when all this stress will be behind me.  Of course, that’s not a solution (unfortunately!)  Luckily for me, this situation has an end date.  My exam is at the end of November, and win, lose or draw, once that is behind me, I know I will have a little more breathing space.

The course, as useful as it has been, feels very much like the proverbial straw.  So, why did I ever agree to it?  I had been asking myself that question a lot.  As much to help me avoid ending up in this predicament again as anything else.  Because, let’s face it, anxiety dreams about the Leaving Cert are something I can live without!  The answer to this question came to me in a book I read recently.  It is the latest from Ryan Holiday, Ego is The Enemy.  In this book, which I highly recommend, Ryan talks about how our ego can truly be our undoing.

The part that really struck a chord with me, talks about how when something is offered to us, like this course for instance, our ego will drown out our sensible mind.  I was flattered to be asked to do the course.  I am not terribly long in the company and I was delighted to be considered for it.  This definitely formed a large part of my decision making process.  As well as this, I concerned myself with how it would look, and what it would say about me if I turned down the opportunity.  Would my bosses think I didn’t want to progress?  Would I appear ungrateful and insolent?  Would it go against me when I tried to pursue other opportunities?  These were the questions I asked myself, when I should, in fact, have been looking at the other commitments I have.  I should have asked myself “do you really have the time to give this the effort it deserves?”

I honestly believe that had I read Ryan’s book six months earlier, I may not be in the situation I now find myself in.  In future, I am determined to let my rational mind make my decisions for me, and not allow my ego to get me in too deep.  One thing that I have learned through the years, is that you can pretty much endure anything for a short time.  I know by Christmas this will be all behind me and I know I have the fortitude to gut it out till then.  Life has a pretty steep learning curve, but I am hoping that this particular lesson will stick!

I love my job, and I enjoy all of my other projects immensely.  The last few weeks though, the pressure of being over committed has threatened to take the good out of it.  I never want to end up feeling like my life is a series of chores.  So, I am determined to pick my battles more wisely in future.  It is okay to say no.  I cannot be all things to all men, and as much as that fact irritates me, I will just have to accept it!

For any of the rest of you, who may be feeling like your plate is a little on the full side, be careful about what else you put onto it.  More importantly, be careful what you allow others to put onto it.  We have to be our own gate keepers.  If we let too many thing pile on top of us, we really do become our own worst enemy!

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