A Liebster Award for A Venturing Girl

The lovely Sinead at https://lifeofsinead.wordpress.com/about/ has nominated me for a Liebster Award, which from my limited experience of blogging, seems to be a fun way to get to know each other and answer some rather awkward questions. Thank you Sinead! The rules are as follows:

  1. To link the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions they have asked you
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers (must have less than 200 followers)
  4. Create 11 new questions for your nominees
  5. Notify the nominees by social media or blogs

So, without further ado, here I go!

1. When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

I wanted to be a lawyer. Because I am rather argumentative, think that I am always right and from watching “The Practice” with my parents a lot (even though I probably shouldn’t have been at that age) I thought that that was all that was required.

2. What is your most watched film?

Ooo tough one. I don’t really like to repeat watch things but it’s a toss up between The Lion King and Inception.

3. Where is your favourite place you’ve ever visited?

New York. I love that city. I am going back in September and cannot wait!

4. What was the last book you read?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I am in a bookclub so I read a book a month. It’s great fun and for a group of people getting together because of a shared love of books, we all have differing options which is awesome!

5.Who is your current favourite blogger?

Right now, it’s http://www.emmaslittlekitchen.com/ her recipies are healthy and simple, her blog looks beautiful and she writes in a warm and welcoming way.

6.Cats or Dogs?

Definitely dogs

7. What were your New Years Resolutions, if any, and have you stuck to them?

As I said in my first blog post, my New Year’s Resolutions are to run a 2 hour half marathon and to live a healthier lifestyle. I’m sticking to them but it’s tough.

8. What is something you would change about yourself, if anything?

My addiction to crisps. Especially now that I live in a country with limited access to Tayto.

9. Favourite social media site?

Twitter

10. What is your most prized possession?

My collection of postcards

11. What is something you do every day without fail?

Forget whether I have locked the door as soon as I leave the building!

Now, I nominate the following awesome bloggers:

https://fitnessfresher.wordpress.com/

https://oldsoulwanderlust.wordpress.com/

Ruebi @ http://www.lancashirehotbot.com/

Kate @ https://runcreatexplore.wordpress.com/

Nicole @ https://walkinthesunlight.wordpress.com/

Heather @ https://fitnessandgeekiness.wordpress.com/

Shauna @ https://shaunajb.wordpress.com/

https://snaphappybunny.wordpress.com/

Becca Lyn @ https://pavalleygirl.wordpress.com/

Emily @ https://emilysadventuresinwonderland.wordpress.com/

Kirsty @ https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/69911736/

My questions for you are:

1. What is your favorite food?

2. What did you do last night?

3. If you could be stuck in a lift with anyone, who would it be?

4. What is the most drastic thing that you have ever done with your hair?

5. What was your childhood favorite outfit?

6. What are you going to blog about next?

7. Has there ever been a point/event in your life that you felt defined you?

8. If you could pick any animal to cuddle, what would it be?

9. Where do you go to think?

10. Are you a early bird or a night owl?

11. If you could be anywhere else right now, where would you be?

Enjoy!

Fitness Tutorails and Videos: My Recommendations

I think I have mentioned in previous posts that this blog is about the real and not the ideal. The two can get a little bit confused when you are online. For example, looking at a feed full of photos of people running, walking and biking on stunning snow flecked trails and swimming in lakes lit by the pale winter sun I find myself thinking, wow look at them go! Followed swiftly by; but wait, it’s January. Can this be done in January? While I’m all about positivity and encouragement here in this blog, I am also very much a realist. If you are working 9 to 5 or a shift based job, or are a full time student or even a full time student with a shift based job (as I myself have been) the chances are that you can’t just drop everything and run away to a beautiful scenic trail to exercise in the morning or evenings, no matter how much you want to. If you’re lucky, you could do it at the weekend or on your day off, but you are at the mercy of the weather. You may want to exercise inside, but you mightn’t be able to afford a therapeutic yoga class or even a gym membership. I have been in this position myself and it’s a little bit rubbish. So what do you do?

Now for the positive part!

Well, on Youtube, there are these lovely little things called Exercise Videos and Fitness Tutorials! They are generally well produced and clear, they can be as quick as you need them to be and they are completely free. For a lot of them, you don’t even need equipment. All you need is yourself, a little bit of space and something to protect your knees/elbows from a hard floor.

This week, I decided to try a few out. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me post about feeling like a bit of an idiot trying to keep up with a video. To be honest, I went a bit hard trying to get as much out of them as possible and ended up flailing about my yoga mat and making some pretty strange noises at some points! Luckily I had the house to myself (and the blinds down)….

So before you jump straight into the wonderful world of Youtube tutorials, I have compiled a little list of Dos and Don’ts to help you get the most out of an exercise video:

 Do:

  •  Watch the video before you start your work out. Even if it’s just a quick scroll through, this will give you an idea of what to expect and whether this video will meet your requirements whether that’s cardio, toning etc. You can also look out for parts of the routine that may focus on areas where you may have an injury or weakness. For example, my hip is still tender since I fell the other week (I’ll never let that one go, will I?), so I have been avoiding any floor work that involves lying down on that side until it is completely healed.
  • Know what you need. Are you looking to try out your new weights/exercise ball? Do you want to do something with no equipment involved? How much time do you have? There are so many tutorials online there is one to suit every need that you might have, but choose a video that is going to give you what you are looking for. It can be pretty disheartening to start into a great video with a really motivating instructor, only to realise that you don’t have the equipment required to complete the workout. Easily solved: just include what you are looking for in your Youtube search (for example, mine was: exercise video no equipment 10 minute)
  • Give yourself plenty of space. I’m 5 ft. 9 inches tall and when I am doing something for the first time, I am not the most coordinated. Make sure that the couch and the coffee table are out of the way before you get going and don’t risk injury and annoyance by banging off the furniture!

Don’t:

  • Try to do everything within the given time. Whether you are trying a video for the first time or not, take your time. It’s more important to get the exercise right than to do it within 8 minutes. You are risking injury and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness if you push too hard to keep up with the instructor. If it’s going too fast, just drop the pace. 5 slow measured reps will be of more benefit to you than 10 rushed and awkward ones!
  • Lose Heart . As you can tell by their bodies, the instructors on these videos are at peak physical fitness. They have also been trained to do, or have come up with the exercises that they are showing you, so of course they can rattle them out perfectly! If you fall on your face during a planking exercise (as I have did) don’t let it get to you, just slow down and try again

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Glasgow it’s due to be pretty miserable this weekend, perfect weather to give a fitness tutorial a try. Here are some of my recommendations.

1. Laura London: 

I have been using Laura’s ab video since the summer of 2013 and do a lot of her exercises at the gym. Personally, I like a friendly instructor and Laura’s home video’s are perfect for someone like me who wants a bit of encouragement. She will work you hard but she keeps things simple and I find, very effective. She has a full Youtube channel and has a workout for every body part. This one comes highly recommended from me:

10 Minute Ab Workout with Laura London Fitness

2. Popsugar – Anna Renderer:

I tried this cardio workout for the first time this week. It’s a straight forward, no equipment workout that covers the whole body. The instructor Anna is bright and motivating, plus with the two other girls in the video, it felt more like a fitness class (which is something that I like). This workout is tough and I did break a sweat. I found the planking exercises the toughest but they are something that I need to work on so I will be going back to this video again! Plus Anna does a warm up with you at the start which I think is really important.

Fitsugar 10 Minute No Equipment Home Workout, Full Body Exercise Class

3. Fitness Blender

If you prefer a less personal approach, Fitness Blender is the one. The workouts are straightforward with simple coaching instructions which allow you to put some music on in the background if you prefer. I tried the 8 minute abs workout this week and my stomach felt rock hard afterwards. Again, it’s tough, but you will get results if you stick with it!

Fitness Blender 8 Minute Ab Workout

If you decide to give these a try I wish you the best of luck and I hope that this post has been of some help! Also, if you are a blogger who creates fitness tutorials, send me links I would love to try and also share them!

I will be out running this weekend and back to my evening runs during the week too. January is almost over and the mornings and evenings are getting brighter already, yipee!

Oh Butter!

After the great fall of Wednesday (bruise update: it’s green and there is a face in it) the weather in my part of the world (Glasgow, Scotland) got steadily colder and winder and then the snow came.

It's been snowing so much here that people had their sledges out
At Linn Park, Glasgow: It’s been snowing so much here that people had their sledges out

As a temperately mannered and weathered Irish girl, I don’t really “do” snow, but the snow did come and I did cower. I kept the healthy eating up with lots of kale and my newly discovered super vegetable of choice: beetroot. Unfortunately though, in the absence of my running in the dark partner (my boyfriend,Chris, was down in England this week for work), a sore hip and the inclement footpaths; my runs this week were a big, fat zero. So when Saturday dawned, bright and cold, a run was the only thing on my mind. I was itching to get out. But I also wanted to give myself something extra, given the cold weather. So I decided to try something that I have been quite curious about for some time: Buttered Coffee.

Butter, some dark chocolate (I prefer Green and Blacks) melted and mixed in with some steaming hot coffee. Yum- meee!
Butter, some dark chocolate (I prefer Green and Blacks) melted and mixed in with some steaming hot coffee. Yum- meee!

Buttered Coffee is, well, coffee with butter in it. The caffeine and fat together give you an energy boost for excising and also stave of hunger. I gave this one a go, but the idea of gloops of butter fat floating at the top of my coffee mug did not appeal to me very much, so I decided to mix it with some dark chocolate. A bit decadent I know, but it did heat me up, gave me a good boost. It also tasted delicious! I would not recommend this for every day, no matter what the blogs and internet articles are saying, I’m still not convinced that butter in  your coffee every morning is going to have fantastic long term benefits. I also don’t think that this is a sufficient replacement for breakfast and personally try to avoid caffeine where I can. But as a little treat, for those days when you know it’s going to be tough out there a nice cup of coffee with butter and a little hint of dark chocolate is a  winner for me.

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My run in Linn Park afterwards was beautiful. It’s a mucky and hilly trail but I was running alongside the river the whole time and could see people out sledging on the snowy hills on the opposite bank. In weather like this, I am avoiding footpaths where there is a chance of slipping on ice and the leafy, soil trails that you find in parks and hike routes are ideal as ice will not settle there. Granted, my runners are filthy, but I got a good three mile run in with plenty of undulations for endurance and recovery.

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In muck and snow…
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Trail at Linn Park

Be Careful, It’s Bad Out There!

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The damage after the great fall

Today, I fell.

Not on a hike or an icy running track; no, I fell right in the middle of George Square at the heart of Glasgow City centre, in front of a queue of traffic and  a lot of people. Some of them were probably people I work with.

The rain was bucketing down and I was rushing to get to my train. I got off the bus that brings me from work to the city centre and went, as I do everyday, to cross the road.

Then, right in the middle, looking everywhere but where I am going, my foot slips right from under me and I fall sideways (the road has a slight incline) right onto my hip. There was no stumbling around like a baby foal in this fall. It was 100% splat on the ground. Right in front of the cars patiently waiting for the lights to go green. I scrambled back up as quickly as I could and responded to people asking if I was okay (worst thing to be asked. Ever.) A bit too jovially with: OH YEAH FINE HAHAHAHA , JUST A BIT EMBARRASSED HAHA.
While speeding away from them.

As you can see, I’ve done a bit of damage. My hip is quite swollen and sore. But as with most situations where I find myself in some embarrassing position, I could definitely see the funny side. The whole way to the train station, I had to fight to suppress my giggles at how ridiculous it must have looked and pondered how big the wet patch on my arse was.

Moral of the story: it’s still winter time and you’re still human, watch where your going and don’t ruin your resolutions by injuring yourself.

And never forget, the more mortifying the situation, the more hilarious it will be. So have a good laugh at yourself when these things happen.
There’s a funny side to every situation.

This one in particular!

2 Years on – Where I’m Coming From

You may have been reading my last couple of posts and thought to yourself, who is this person and why is she so bothered about being a healthier? What the big deal about running a half marathon in 2 hours? In this post, I talk a little bit about what has gotten me to this point and will hopefully give some insight into who I am and where I am coming from.

I’ll put my hands up and say that I haven’t always been the healthiest person. I dabbled sports at school, luckily enjoy the gym which has gotten me through my late teens and university. Growing up in Dublin with an Irish mammy, I have always been fond of the butterier things in life and of course, the food carnage that ensues after a night’s drinking. Other than knowing the basics I never really had much of a passion for fitness.

Two years ago, I started running. I signed up for my first 10k in January 2013. It was the Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon, which takes place during the June bank holiday. So I had 6 months to train. And I couldn’t run for 2 minutes. For some people that isn’t even a joke.

And I am one of those people.

Me, after running the Flora Women's Mini Marathon in June 2013
Me, after running the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon in June 2013

Why did I sign up for the mini marathon? I had never run before, I wasn’t particularly unfit (or I didn’t think I was until I tried to run for 2 minutes!) or unhappy with the way I looked. The reason I signed up for the Mini Marathon was because, honestly, I wanted to achieve something that year. Just one thing. As you may have read in my earlier post, I quite like to set goals for myself. In this instance, I had finished up at Uni the September before, I was working in the same part time job that I had been doing for the past 3 years all the way through college. I was desperately looking for other work, any work at all that would give me the means to move out of my parents house and eventually get to do what I really wanted, which was to travel to New York on a graduate visa (I fell in love with the place when I was there while travelling around the states in 2010). But by January 2013, that opportunity was slipping away. And I wasn’t getting any interviews. It is hard when you are literally calling and emailing agencies everyday. When you are constantly on recruitment websites and you don’t ever hear anything back. You go to an interview and you don’t get the job because you’re a lovely girl but they are looking for someone with more experience. And no one will give you a chance to prove yourself.

It is an all too familiar tale for a lot of people and it is not a nice place to be. I felt stuck. I felt like nothing that I’d have done up till that point mattered because it doesn’t fit in with this employers’ view of what I should be. So I wanted to do something for myself. I quite liked exercise, but couldn’t afford a gym at that time so I figured, why not? Entering a mini marathon would (hopefully) give me the motivation to keep at it, and running is free so what have I got to lose?

I entered the mini marathon that January. I went on a trip to Scotland in February and met my now boyfriend. It was slow progress but I managed a 5k run in March. I visited Scotland again in April. In May, still with no job on the horizon, I decided it was time to make a big change, I was going to leave Ireland. I ran the mini marathon on a scorching hot bank holiday in June. At the risk of sounding like that saddest person ever (if I don’t already), I nearly cried when I crossed the finish line. I was so proud.

I ran a 5 mile race in August and then, in my wisdom, I signed up for my first half marathon (13 miles) in August. I moved to Scotland on September 8th. I got a job 1 week later. 1 month later I ran the Great Scottish Run Glasgow half marathon.

My 1st Half Marathon Result
My 1st Half Marathon Result

The next year saw me run another 2 half marathons (well, one 15 mile race and the Great Scottish Run again) and a return to the Women’s Mini Marathon. Almost a year to the day since I started, I was promoted at work and what I had hoped would be a job to get me through has become the beginning of a career.

Waiting patiently to run the Balmoral 15 mile trail race, the furthest distance I have run so far
Waiting patiently to run the Balmoral 15 mile trail race, the furthest distance I have run so far

I miss my family and friends at home of course, but I have also met some friends for life here and honestly I’m just happy. The truth is, that I believe that pushing myself physically in terms of fitness, has also made me push myself in every other area of my life. It’s not that I had never made a change or done anything worthwhile before I started running, I just found that those major changes like moving away and starting off a new job, meeting new people in another country, all felt in some ways more manageable because I felt like I was making small achievements alongside that with my running. That gave me a lot of confidence. Fitness and my fitness achievements (however small) have become a passion for me. I will always struggle with some of my lesser passions – crisps and lie ins to name just two, and I have probably given in to them a bit more in the last while than I should have.

But I find, and I hope that you find this too, whatever your goal is, that once you start having little victories, even when you fail at something, you have the confidence to go back and try again. Because you know that you have the determination to get there in the end.

My parents were waiting for me when I finished the Flora Women's Mini Marathon for the second time. I'm looking forward to returning for the 2015 race, it's become a bit of a tradition with my friends and I!
My parents were waiting for me when I finished the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon for the second time in 2014. I’m looking forward to returning for the 2015 race, it’s become a bit of a tradition with me and my friends!