Towards a Better Me: Part 10



‘The Fear’ was still my training mate this week, but I had Denise back this week. ‘Did ya miss me?’, she said as she bounced down to the PT room. ‘Yes, Michelle made me do planks!’, was my reply. The laughter from her indicated she wouldn’t be taking it easy on me.

‘Any more issues since?’,


‘Good, time to take it back up!’

Oh, what I had let myself in for! It was a tough session, and Denise was holding no punches. But Denise had let slip, she had a new beau. The other girl taking part in the training session and I wasted no time in taking the piss and attempting to freak her out. And while it was fun to see her squirm, I was genuinely thrilled for her. Tuesday night was gone in a flash. It was quite a blur. I can only remember one of the bench presses. I couldn’t get over how heavy the 25kg bar felt. I hadn’t used it in the three weeks and it felt so heavy. It took everything to do those bench presses.


Thursday’s morning session was also a blur and quite tough, not helped by the fact that I had missed breakfast. Denise and I had the personal training centre to ourselves. I know I had the bench presses with the 25kg bar but I don’t know what else. Seriously, I really should write these soon as to the day as possible. It’s only been a week like! It was a very good session. I head to work after my shower very pumped and made to the office just on the stroke of nine.


I had my little sister and one of the bitchmittens’ founders, Rhona and her new hubby coming down the weekend and she was currently trying to convince me to go cycling. I haven’t been cycling since last June. My gears are fucked and take absolutely ages to change, which really grinds my gears. (See what I did there! Sorry I know I’m not the funny one.) And on my last bike ride, I only managed about 5km and half way through took my gear frustrations physically out on my bike and kicked the shit out of it! I may have even bent the back wheel, but I cycled back just fine. So finally, I reluctantly agreed to cycling if Pierre could fix my bike. Luckily (or unfortunately), he could and we were able to borrow bikes for Rhona and Cormac from our friends.


I wasn’t expecting much from me and I had told the others they may have to leave my lying on the grass somewhere while they went all the way to Crosshaven. It 15 km, I was thinking I’d be happy with 7km. It was a gorgeous day down in Carrigaline and the Carrigaline – Crosshaven Railway Walk was looking lush and green and full of people walking, running and cycling. We made our way out and everything was going well. Knees were a bit sore but that was about it. I was quite happy to fly past where I had stopped and had a fight with my bike. And I just kept going, I was in the rear but I was easily keeping up with the guys. The lads pushed forward leaving Rhona and I behind as we chatted. Though they didn’t get far. They had pulled over to take in the beautiful scenery.


After a barely of a minute of stoppage and a couple selfies, we were back on the trail to Crosshaven with me and Rhona leading the way. I was in great form, enjoying myself immensely, saying hello to everyone I passed. God only knows what they thought of me. Crazy lady on her purple bike! Before I knew it, we were in Crosshaven. We mused about whether to get a coffee here or head back and get one in Carrigaline to drink at the beach. Beach was the call, so back on the bikes we got and off we went. Unfortunately for me, the gears on bike were stuck in quite a high gear. And I was belting it back in, leaving the others in my dust! Pierre eventually caught up with me and I stopped to let the others catch up. Pierre has a bike computer on his, and clocked me at 28km per hour. Once I caught sight of Ro in the distance off I shot again only stopping at the end of the trail. It took the guts of 45 minutes out and only 1 minute back in. I got a chance to sit down and wait for the others. The gear issue became my undoing once we reached the big hill up to my house. I ended making the climb on foot. It seemed like the longest trek ever! I jumped back on once it had levelled out a bit and then there was only the short ride back to the house where the others were waiting.


All in all, it was very good day. I got to remember why I loved cycling so much. I used to go everywhere on my bike when I was younger. I was quite surprised that I was able to cycle the whole thing and with ease, if you exclude my aching knees and the hill! But when you compare it to how far I got last year, it was a clear indicator of just how much more fit I have become in only three months.


Now if only I could cycle the mini marathon and I be set.


Towards a Better Me: Part 9


The Fear. 

Firstly, my apologies for the lack updates. I had been put on a training ban by my doctor while an investigation into what happened with my face during the 5k took place (my face dropped on one side half way through the race). This meant I had no training and nothing really to blog about for two weeks. And then once back training, I spent a good couple of hours writing my next blog post only for it to go missing. Like I can see it in the recent items but when I click on it, it says it’s not there but there is no sign of it in the trash or any other folders. You are just gonna have to take my word for it that it was an awesome read! Hopefully, this re-write will be at least half as good.


I was rather upset with having to lay off the training for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to break my stride. As a really lazy person, I was quite nervous about being idle for any period of time. Afraid my bad habits would rear their ugly heads. My doctor had really stressed the need to take it really easy until I got the all clear. Secondly, I was half way through my six week intense kickstarter at the Womens Fitness Gym and I really didn’t like the idea of losing out on any of the weeks. I mean money is a bit tight at the moment and I knew I wouldn’t be in a position at the moment to do another round for the moment. I was going to have to save up for it and I have few other demands at the moment. But worry I should not have. I got on to the gym to explain what happened and they allowed me to suspend the program until I got the all clear. So I only had to worry about reverting to my lazy ways. Eeek!


Eleven hours, three trips to have an MRI, half a meeting with the doctor before I was taken out for the second failed MRI, a lot of miscommunication between the medical staff, one negative pregnancy test, one rushed final consultation and a rather vague explanation was my experience in CUH. At the end of the day, I left really rather frustrated about our health system but with a letter in hand saying I was fit to resume training. The explanation was it is unlikely to have been a Transient Ischemic Attack (or a mini stroke) but it possibly could be the training.


I was prescribed some blood thinners and cholesterol medications to avoid any reoccurrence. I don’t like taking meds and I try to avoid them when I can. The best thing about trying for kids was no more pill. But then there was the PCOS and underactive thyroid and I have proven to be not the best a taking them. My bloods in the previous month had shown good levels for cholesterol, and with all my training surely they could have only have gotten better. So at the behest of my mother, I’m not taking the cholesterol until I speak to my own doctor.


Before the tests, I wasn’t worried about what had happened. But now, I was. The vague explanation had scared me some what. Would happen again? Would it be worse? Why is my neck feeling sore? Did it always twinge like that? I felt like I was overanalysing everything. Could not tell was there actually pain or was I imagining it. My session back with Denise was on a Sunday and the closer I got to it the more “the fear” grew. While on the bike warming –up, I didn’t even notice that I was crushing it at a level I used struggle before. I was so focused internally, am I feeling dizzy? Was this room always spinning? I should leave, just go home. And then there was Denise, “Where the heck have you been?” I sheepishly explained and she responded with, “we’ll take it easy so.” Though I did proudly tell her I did the run in 34 minutes and that earned me a high five.


Even though we scaled it back and took it very easy by comparison of what she normally puts me through. She is doesn’t go easy on you normally but doesn’t kill you either. She’s great for the banter and the giggles, which makes the session seem to fly by. It’s why I keep going back to her. But today, even with her pulling me right back from my previous level of intensity, everything was a struggle. Things I was smashing a couple weeks ago, were a struggle with the light weight. I mean it was easier than my very first but it was one of my worst sessions. I didn’t even make it the whole way through. I had to skip the kettlebell swings, the strain on my back from not doing them correctly was quite severe. (I don’t know what it is I just can’t get the technique right with those.) And the last set, well, that had to be abandoned even though I tried to solider on. Denise was telling me to stop as I had gone all grey. I put down that 5kg plate so fast and ran to the nearest bathroom to say hello to my breakfast. That session couldn’t have gone worse. But I was back in the swing and for me that was the main thing.


My fitness level had clearly taken a big hit, but the fear remained. I didn’t do a single class in the week to come for fear of overdoing it. I had a PT session with Michelle on Wednesday as Denise was off. And that went well-ish though my legs were trembling something terrible and she made me do a plank. I geared up to do my own session on Saturday before my weigh-in, but I missed judged the time and wouldn’t have had enough time and then chickened out to do it after. I was down a pound in the weigh-in but that more muscle wastage rather than actual weight loss. Though Lorraine advised with everything that I had gone through I should consider that a win. She advised me to take it easy and only do a session or class if I really feel up to it.


I did come to the conclusion that running the 5k at the pace I did with the little running training I had done might have been the main factors in what happened. I decided that once my current cycle was up that would try to focus more on the running training and supplement it one or two classes at the gym to shake it up a bit. While finances did play a role in not being in a position to actually do another session, should I have been able to afford it I would still opt for this plan.


While I do need to take care of myself and not push myself way out of my comfort zone, I can’t let “the fear” imped my process. I mustn’t use it to excuse myself from pushing myself and allowing my laziness to slink back in.



Towards A Better Me: Part Three

The Gym!


So Christmas, is over now and it is back to reality this week, back in Ireland, back to work and back on track. This week, I made a big scary step in going to a gym and getting a personal trainer. It is something I have been saying for the past 6 months that I would do but never garnered the courage to actually do it. The friendly receptionist gave me a little tour of the place, showing the different areas in the main building of the gym. I was actually quite excited about it that I even arranged for the first session to be the following day. I was super eager, that was until I got home. Then the excitement ended and the fear began. Oh such fear! Had I bitten off more than I could chew? I mean my fitness level is zero. 1 personal training session, 2 fitness classes a week. As well as going for runs. I’m not gonna be able to do that. Surely! I didn’t get much sleep worrying about what tomorrow would bring. I couldn’t even eat my breakfast I was that nervous. I forced a banana into me and then I donned my gear, left to go for gym. I then left two more times as I forgot my gym bag and then my keys. I forgot my water bottle too, but I was half way to Cork city at that stage. So I was going to have to do without.


I went in and I was met by the same girl who had gone through the registration with me the evening previous. She brought into the changing rooms and showed me the exercise bike and told me to do a small warm while I waited for my trainer. I put my stuff in the locker went to the bathroom for the sixth time in an hour. Then I went out and got on the bike and started. It was seated bike rather than a standard bike and I was not a fan of it. It felt very awkward and unusual. But I didn’t want to look silly moving from one bike to another. I felt very self-conscious of myself. All the women in the gym (it’s a women only gym btw) were all very fit looking, not like me at all. I was suddenly very aware of how awkward and chubby I was. Then I heard one of the male trainers talking to some that I could not see “come girls, let’s get started”. From the tone and conversation, this obviously wasn’t their first time here. And then they came into sight. These girls were like me. And with that I didn’t feel out of place anymore. Once my trainer, Denise came over and we starting working through the workout, I so focused on what I was doing and the chats with her. I was barely aware of anyone else.


In the after haze, I cannot quite remember exactly what we did. There was at least 8 different routine each done in pairs repeated twice in reps of 10 to 15. My trainer was very good. She was very good at pushing me past my comfort zone but also knowing when to give me a rest, to switch it up to a different part of my body. The last two exercises were very tough and I know damn well that if I didn’t have her coaching me, I wouldn’t have done them. I wanted to give up. My shoulders were burning. Each rep I did took slower and slower and the rest between each grew longer. But I did them, all of them. It was a huge achievement and I was so so proud of myself.


I then had a brief program instruction for when I am in the gym but not with my trainer. He went through all the equipment, got me to try out each one and drew up a exercise plan for me. Then it was on to the nutritionist and my first weigh in. The scales weighed me a lot less than those at home (Whoop! Good start!) The nutritionist then gave me a diet plan suited for my PCOS and under active thyroid. When I eat food, my blood sugars spike unnecessarily and that what causes all the trouble (or so I understand, I could be completely messing it up). So the diet plan is aimed at trying to maintain a steady level by eating certain food at certain times of the day. That means nothing sugary! Which if you know me or any of the Nolan family, you would be well aware of our infamous sweet tooth.


That evening and the following day I was so sore and stiff. I went to meet up with my friend for a walk as my trainer had advised me to keep active and go do something little to stop the muscles seizing up. She did warn me the first 10 mins would be torture but to push through and it would be fine. We went for a 4 km walk, which was more like a crawl. It felt like the longest 4km of my life! Everything hurt, my knees most of all. I managed to try a do a bit of a jog but I barely did 200 metres. My friend Monika was hurting too from doing a hike the day before. So we were sisters in pain. And the chats made it worthwhile.


It will get easier, won’t it?



Weight: 13 St 0.7 lbs

Max Distance ran: 0.20km

Overall feeling: Sore, oh so sore. But feeling focus and determined. Hardly got in any running but did take a big leap with the going to gym.




Give weights a chance

So it’s the start to a new beginning everybody! And most people get a little urge to try something new. For some people it’s baking, others it’s the Danish art of Hygge. And for a lot it’s getting fit, getting active. But what to do? Run? Taking up a spinning class? Hopscotch? Well I’m here to make the case for weightlifting… Ahem *clears throat*


1. You learn a new skill

It’s not like it’s insanely difficult to lift free weights. But it is more difficult than say the weights machines or using a treadmill which are controlled for you. With free weights you have to learn to control your body and learn the various techniques needed to lift the weight without damaging yourself. Each weight position has it’s own technique and they are easy to pick up (the technique not the weight ba-dum-dum-jssh). There are loads of tutorials online and many helpful gym people and personal trainers willing to give you a quick sesh.


2. It’s therapeutic!

It’s hard to explain but the people who have done weights will agree that it’s really good for the soul. It’s slow but tough and really allows you to push yourself without getting all sweaty and nasty. It’s been proven that if you raise your heart rate you can reverse damage to the brain caused by stressful events. What’s not to love! When you are finished you are stiff and sleepy but in a good way. I like to do weights in the evening, come home put on a big sweater, eat a big dinner and lie on the couch. I feel so good after it!


3. It’s good for your body

Weights are awesome for the body. They can make you strong, make you lean, make you buff. The tone you like nothing else AAAAND more muscle mass means a higher metabolism which means? MOOOOORE FOOOD! I know many worry about just getting burly. I know I did. But it all depends on the weight you lift and how often you lift them. I am not one to get into what people should be lifting, that’s for the experts. So ask. Tell them what you’re looking for and they will give you a programme that suits you. A programme for your body and your life.


4. It’s good for your brain

Yup! You heard right, lifting weights twice a week or more is good for the auld cranium. This discovery is fairly recent and not enough research has been made yet but earlier test groups are proving positive. Weightlifting is helping to decrease shrinkage and tattering of white matter in the brain. This helps to fight both memory loss and possibly even mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Happy days! Just think of how preventative weightlifting could be if you started now. The brain needs exercise to you know.


5. You gain some serious gym confidence

Without sounding to horrible, most people can just walk into a gym and jump on an elliptical machine or a bike. But you often see people wary of the weights corner (in my gym, women are outnumbered 5 to 1). You don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t want to seem like an idiot so you avoid and sometimes feel like the gyms not for you. But I beg you, get stuck in. Make mistakes, learn from them and get confident because as soon as you know your way around the weights section you feel like you fucking own the place! When I started, I followed my husband round like a little puppy, uncertain of everything. Watching the two other women frankly kicking ass and making me swoon. But week after week I learned and Cormac started sending me for weights and benches. Soon enough, I was going without prompt. I knew what to do! And I am telling you it felt awesome!


6. It’s genuinely fun

Lads, no seriously. Believe me, if you currently spend all your time huffing and puffing and panting into a wet mess during cardio then you are gonna love weights. It’s actually fun. Well power cleans aren’t, they still suck balls but the rest is good I assure you. It’s just a great switch up! It’ll feel like a rest day (sort of). You’re not overly sweaty, or out of breath and you don’t want to cry or puke. It’s even better when you do it with a buddy. You can push each other AAAAND have the chats while your working hard. Have you ever tried to have the chats on a bike machine? Not fun…


So. Have I convinced you to give weights a chance? I started properly about 5 months ago and it has become one of my favourite sessions of the week. If you’re looking to try something new this January, why not join a gym and give the weights room a try. Or maybe join a local weight/cardio class. Or maybe even start with tins of beans in your living room, if you feel you’re not quite there yet.


But do give it a go… it could be the start of something beautiful.


Prisoner to my weight…

I’m tired. Tired of wanting to be thinner, tired of training and then feeling like I can’t have that big hunk of Toblerone, tired of counting calories, watching everything I eat, pouring litres of water into me, trying to eat less carbs, more protein, no sugar! Tired of being bombarded with weightloss stories, “best 5 tips for busting belly fat” bullshit and articles on people who now lift weights and are looking better than ever. And I’m tired of wanting to read them. Tired of trying to find an answer to my weightloss plateau, tired of not seeing results, tired of being told that ergs don’t actually help weightloss but still having to go on them, tired of reading articles on my metabolic rate and under-eating, over-eating, training at the wrong time of the day, not having enough good fats. Tired of macros!

Tired of punishing myself for not being smaller. Tired of looking at my friends and wondering how I’m not their size, we do the same training, we eat the same food. It’s their fucking height, woman! Tired of having to remind myself that I still look good. Tired of not feeling like an athlete because I don’t look like an athlete. Tired of having unsweetened tea and not having a biscuit at 3pm. Tired of counting my steps everyday to make sure I take enough, regardless of my actual training. Tired of hearing about a new diet, a new book, a new way of thinking. Tired of detoxes, juice cleanses. Tired of “resetting” my body, my metabolism, my anything! Tired of making smoothies that look like pond scum (though they do taste alright!)

Tired of cutting calories more and more, tired of not being able to enjoy my food. Tired of being controlled by numbers; kilos, inches, minutes. Tired of being afraid I won’t fit into my clothes, fit into my wedding dress. Tired of watching the scales yo-yo and not understanding why, grand if I binged but what if i didn’t, what if I was good as gold! Tired of working out what I can eat tomorrow to stay on calorie target. Tired of hearing “fail to prepare and prepare to fail.” Tired of feeling lazy, tired of feeling weak, tired of feeling judged if I do and judged if I don’t.

You are fed this notion that being thinner will make you happy. And it’s true… for awhile. But then you start to feel normal and new flaws emerge, new insecurities, new problems. I don’t think I need to “reset my body” I think I need to reset my mind, shut my negative thoughts down, their exhausting! I just want to live my life, be with the people I love, enjoy the food I like and be part of the sport I adore. I want to eat and train, not diet and exercise. I want to understand and truly believe in my heart that my body is stronger, fitter and healthier than it ever has been before. I don’t want to be a prisoner to my weight anymore, I thought I broke free from those shackles a long time ago.

But I haven’t.

Every woman I know is on a diet, cutting back, training more, “being good”. And I’m so tired of it. Where is the self love, where is the body positivity? Food is not taboo, food is not the enemy. Your mind is. Yes, be healthy. Yes, be fit. And course eat well. But I can’t hate my body anymore.

I’m just too tired.

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