Hanging out At The Fitness Centre- Week 1

Total Loss: 6lbs

Total Gains: Energy, Confidence, a new lease of life and there’s probably some muscle somewhere too!

at-the-fitness-centre

It has been exactly one week since I officially began my starter program in At The Fitness Centre, and while I can safely say I am hooked on the endorphin fueled mood enhancement, this week has been an intense rollercoaster, but I genuinely feel for the first time in a long time, like since my original weight loss journey, that I have a realistic routine in place and I am well on the way to my bikini body!

My fitness test last week was a wake-up call, I wasn’t as strong as I used to be, let alone fit and this needed to be sorted- but I love exercise when I do it regularly so that part is fine, for me it’s the food side, but Chris and Anne were incredibly reassuring!

The weigh in was the scary part- Admitting you have a problem is terrifying and entering a gym or fitness program for the first time is something that should be admired, Well Done to anyone who is making a change this January, it’s not easy and you’re doing great!

I have been to so many places that make you feel worse after stepping on the scales, despite you obviously wanting to change, but Anne’s approach was TOTALLY different, I am incredibly body conscious, but Anne instead calmed me down by simply telling me- God you don’t look that weight at all, you’re very narrow, such a simple thing to say but this has had such a lasting effect on me and this encouraging work ethic boosted my confidence before I even lost weight.

Last Thursday I completely overhauled my eating and began a new food diary, re-introducing Naturespharm Green Tea and writing down everything I ate and I was FAB for about three days. I eat normal enough, I try to eat porridge and fruit regularly and avoid eating too much bread. I don’t believe in cutting out treats so I did still have some dark chocolate or a bag of low fat crisps- Everything in moderation, but I cut out the wine!

food-diary

I was very strict with my eating and I enjoyed it for about three days until the hunger pangs set in, but I ignored it and instead of making good choices, like having some potatoes with my dinner instead of just veg, it result in me ending up in the crisp aisle in Lidl which led to a crisp and cracker filled evening of regret.

When I arrived home, I felt disgusted, here I was with this fabulous opportunity to get in shape and I was sabotaging myself, I began researching supplements and vitamins that help in staving off naughty cravings, when my friend simply suggested a little bit of will power and a little bit of mouthwash LOL!

This involved brushing my teeth, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash after I was finished my evening meal, that way I wouldn’t reach for a biscuit and 8 o clock at night!

And so I drew a line under Sunday and prepped my meals for the week, consisting of healthy chicken curry and wholegrain rice and a chicken dinner with a small bit of potatoes, as well as this I introduced 6 almonds for my afternoon snack and started eating avocados as recommended from the guys At The Fitness Centre!

So I actually began eating more! Making small changes here and there and documenting it! I also used the mouthwash technique, but I don’t feel as hungry in the evening so I hardly need the will power!

The workouts consist of weight training, and trust me I feel the burn, I started with a legs session last Friday and my thighs still hurt until the following Tuesday, despite having an arms session in between on the Saturday! But it was a good sore!

The second session was chest and back with a little bit of arms thrown in and I will find out what the third session of the week is this Saturday- post night out! Each session begins with a quick warm up on the cross trainer, which I like as it eases you in nicely before the pain!

The legs sessions surround squats and lunges, each exercise focusing on different parts of the legs for a total workout- You can definitely feel it, I’m like a waddling penguin at the end of each session!

The chest and back sessions mix up free weights and machine use, (I’m no expert- you will have to contact them to find out more).

Yesterday I trained arms, shoulders and back, and I’m not joking it actually hurts to type and I struggled to dress myself this morning but I’m feeling great, I have bundles of energy and I’m in a better mood- long may that continue LOL!

In terms of weight-loss, I had to weigh in yesterday and I get incredibly nervous for weigh-ins, I feel the pressure to perform each week, and while in the majority I had an extremely good week, thoughts of Sundays spiral was still playing on my mind and my own weighing scales broke, so I had no idea what was facing me!

But the guys At The Fitness Centre were so reassuring, they aren’t solely driven by results on the scales, but more so about you and changing your body, it has to be fun!

Thankfully, for my own goals I lost 6lbs this week and half an inch under my bust, a whole inch from my waist and even half an inch off my hips, but I don’t think I’ll ever lose my hips, I was completely ecstatic as my actual goal is to lose 10lbs on the program, so fingers crossed!

But more so, I am driven to take on the next week and the week after that until it’s a habit and then a lifestyle!

Contact them here, you’ll thank yourself later!

midweek-motivation

In The Beginning- A Weight Loss Journey

There was dread in the pit of my stomach, a curdling cocktail of nausea and heartburn, from all the festive eating, surfaced in my gut. My hands trembled as I scanned the room, attempting to fill out my membership form.

There was a sea of hopeful individuals, each one cleansing themselves of the cobwebs of the year before, detoxing themselves mind and body of the Christmas treats, each person at the starting line of a new adventure, a new identity. The sea began to form an orderly queue as we approached our leader, as we edged closer to our impending doom, the weighing scales- me, red faced, sweating, cloaked in layers of tshirts and ill-fitting tracksuits, one last feeble attempt to hide any wobble or chub, hair scraped back, for fear of anything adding to the scales. It was like an outer body experience, physically I stood on the scales, yet mentally my person was drowned out by the deafening thuds of my heart beat in my ears, I was 17.6 stone and I wasn’t even 17 yet!

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Before Weight Watchers Christmas 2010

Realizing in 2011, just a month before my 17th birthday that I was indeed closer to 20 stone than 10 stone, I was shocked and disgusted at myself. The car trip home from the weigh in was met with a cascading amount of suffocating silence as I wept, despairing as to how the hell I would even manage to put a dent in that amount of weight!

I cried myself to sleep that night, but not before my dismal attempts at trying to console myself the way I had always done, with two bars of chocolate. That next week in school I felt so isolated and revolting, keeping to myself, both angry and upset at my horrific state, while I was no bigger or smaller than I always was, the numbers that now represented myself were catastrophic and embarrassing for any teenager- and it was all my fault.

Yet despite this I returned to Weight Watchers and lost 13.5lbs in the first three weeks, and slowly but surely the weight began to shift, slowly but surely I began to run and lift weights. I had to be very strict with my food diary, writing everything down and I cut out all bad crappy food- In a year exactly I lost 4.5 stone to arrive at my 18th Birthday party in a size 12 body-con dress, down three dress sizes- I thought I was the absolute shizz!

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After 4.5stone Weight loss 2012

And I wish my journey continued as above, where I maintained my cast iron motivation and determination and I reached my goal weight, but life got in the way, as lame as the excuse sounds, but Leaving Cert exams took precedence, and while I maintained my weight for my Debs, the start of college sent me on a downward spiral which resulted in glandular fever.

Everyday I would come home from college and sleep on the couch and then sleep all night, I was lifeless, energy-less, a shell of my former self. Diet and exercise were a thing of the past and the weight crept on at an alarming rate. Mix this with a bad break up and a broken leg and you’ve got a recipe for weight gain disaster.I then joined a gym, one of Cork’s most expensive fitness plans, with the aim of changing my life- using my summer savings I signed myself up for a grueling 12 week plan which consisted of weight training, which I loved- the nutritionists, however caused me to develop a rather unhealthy relationship with my food.

This company were driven solely by results, tasking me the unrealistic view of losing 4 stone in 12 weeks and dropping 4 dress sizes, when I was only losing a steady 2lbs a week they lost all interest. Berating me for losing 3lbs instead of 5lbs, blaming me for cheating, losing my file and all record of my weigh ins, despite this I did lose 2 stone.

before-vs-now
May 2014 vs January 2015

In September 2016, with a new job, a new adventure I bit the bullet and returned to weight watchers and lost 10lbs before Christmas- but the routine didn’t stick, I was all set for another spiral, another descent into weight gain territory, to never return again. Totally uninterested in weight watchers- I was contacted by Ann, a weight loss savior disguised as a gym owner, she offered me a 4 week health and fitness starter program in return for my blogging- and this is where my new journey with At The Fitness Centre begins- New Year New ME!!!

Based in Mayfield, At The Fitness Centre is home to Chris Mc and Ann, where they offer spin-fit, TRX and personal training sessions from only €30. The 4 week starter program consists of three 30 minute personal training sessions a week, working a different body group each session. Their exercises are weights based- so there’s no running involved, yet- We speed through a 30 minute session, I’m almost upset when it’s over- ALMOST, I have to be careful what I write in case they read this! LOL

They offer weekly weigh-ins and nutrition plans all for only €33/week. I had a consultation last Thursday which caused me to reevaluate my goals for the year- I would actually like to be bikini ready this year for the first time in 22 years!

I have had two training sessions so far, legs and chest and back- my legs are still suffering…I’ll weigh in Thursday and I’m hoping for good results, while I have only just started, their work ethic and their friendliness has made me think that this is the beginning of a long, suffering gym relationship!

I will update you all on Thursday good or bad- pray for me!!

Barbara X

Confusion Causing College Drop Out Rate not Students

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Times Breakdown of Drop Out Rate

 

I read an article in the Times yesterday whereby they attempted to blame students for the large drop out rates, associating College with a snob value, meaning that nowadays teenagers just go to college, simply because it is the next thing they should do, regardless of aptitude. And while I can concur, that there are students out there that simply should not have gone into another stream of academia, I fully believe both colleges and the CAO have to take the majority of the responsibility.

I remember the first day of college when lecturers enquired as to our reasoning for choosing Electrical Engineering, I had some insightful phrase learned off to impress my peers as engineering had been my first CAO choice, I soon realised that this wasn’t true of my other classmates. The majority of direct entry students were there, mainly because it had been the only course they were accepted into regardless of aptitude or interest.

It was at that moment I realised that points system had no bearings on intelligence or exam performance but solely on popularity, I completed all higher level subjects through Irish for my Leaving Cert and received a slightly higher than average 505 points and while I have no fear of someone mistaking my IQ for that of Stephen Hawking, people were still shocked that my first CAO choice was only 315 points.

They thought I was underachieving, settling on a mediocre course, in reality they had no idea. Electrical Engineering is mathematics and physics, translated into different module titles to confuse naïve freshers and its points should reflect this! Electrical Engineering is not for the faint hearted and this is not the students fault, especially when the 2016 level 7 points for Electrical Engineering are a dismal 260, substantially lower than arts.

But the points system is not only to blame, I had a relative idea of Electrical Engineering in terms of career possibilities, from my Dad, also an Electrical Engineer, but I still had no idea what the day to day course work would resemble. A natural worrier I was a little panicked having not taken physics for my Leaving Cert I wanted to meet a member of the engineering faculty to discuss course content and prior learning, this thirst for knowledge, however, was sadly met with; I’m sorry I’m too busy!

The UCC Open Day for Electrical Engineering consisted mostly of the lecturer telling us how an Engineering degree is remarkably better than any other degree because “You will be an Engineer”! I had the points to take on Electrical Engineering in UCC, but to this day I still have no idea what their engineering course could have involved, so how would any prospective first year know?

And while the open day talk at the IT I attended was immensely better and more insightful, it still totally revolved around career prospects and growth and the course content was totally disregarded. Students, at an open day generally couldn’t care less about the future or their career, for most of them it is still so far away in their mind, at the end of their degrees.

The amount of people in my first year, my friends who never made it to second year was overwhelming, they couldn’t keep up with the assessment layout, the content, the level of maths and physics and the intense workload and this was not their fault, they had no idea what they were entering into and unfortunately, unless you know someone who did the exact same course as you, it is challenging to gain any exact information!

I was the type of student who did my research prior to engineering, but nonetheless each module was a complete surprise as the module descriptor and the actual module application differed greatly.

I can only speak from my experience in Electrical Engineering, but students should be told immediately, if they want a college experience they shouldn’t choose engineering, the timetable is crammed and leaves little room for Monday Club and other nights out. But if they are someone who has a keen interest in applied maths, physics, logic and problem solving then they are in the right place.

IT’s and Universities need to be more transparent about what their courses are offering, outside of career options, to attract the right students. While there will always be those student who progress to college, only for something to do, I believe  that once students are fully aware of the type of course or modules that they will be doing, it could counteract the large drop out rates.

Education and knowledge share is key, but that needs to start even before the CAO courses are selected, once the student has entered college life it is too late.

8 Essentials every successful woman carries in her handbag…

 

“I think most of us, while we may look at the cute little purses, our lives don’t fit a cute little purse. Our lives fit something that is in between a purse and a briefcase, and that’s what I carry.” Claire McCaskill, US Senator.

Every woman owns a bag, it’s a bag not a purse, big enough to keep our lives organized, large enough to conceal all our secrets. They reflect our personalities from chic and minimalist to flamingo pink and leopard print. Strong and durable, a little like the owner herself.

And yet the handbag is not the most accessory, it is but the case holding all the vital items inside, essential to a successful woman’s everyday life. Here are our top 8 things successful women need in their handbags.

  1. Accessories and gadgets for your smartphone

Staying connected is key and professional women always have their smartphone or tablet in hand for readily available access to their emails and important contacts. A standard charger will do little for the woman who is always on the go and losing battery life, loses connection which can cost you money in this day and age. A portable charger is a must for every handbag!

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H&M Portable Charger in Rose Gold

 

2. Notebook/ Diary

While some people may create lists on their phones and use their Outlook account to manage their schedule, a good notebook and diary allows you to jot down ideas, activities throughout your day and other important lists with just the click of a pen. Whether its a work to-do list, a phone number or simply the shopping list, a notebook or diary is the quickest way to keep everything organized.

3.  Healthy Snack

A balanced diet and brain fuel is vital for optimum performance. Vitamin rich food like fruit and nuts are ideal for focus and concentration, and dried fruits are ideal in the afternoons to help in avoiding that 3pm slump!

However, the single most important item in every successful woman’s handbag should be her water bottle, hydration counteracts fatigue and keeps appetite regular, to keep strong and healthy. We should drink up to half our body weight in water for proper concentration and superior work performance.

 

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Bobble Water Bottle

4. Gym Membership

In the most typical New Year, New Me fashion I signed up for a months worth of swimming in the gym closest to my job in the attempts of a making exercise a staple in my day. I now swim each day before work which appears to be improving productivity and reducing the stress before it even appears.

gym-membership

A good workout is filled with overwhelming benefits and releases endorphins, all while gaining strength and stamina to withstand anything the world can throw at you- prepare for world domination!

5. A good pair of flats!

While I have personally given up on my high heels, I reserve them for special occasions and car to bar outings, it doesn’t mean you have to!

Just carry a pair of flats in your handbag for a quick change, and just because their flat doesn’t mean they don’t have to be stylish!

 

6. Power Lipstick

Studies have shown that women should wear a bolder colour in presentations and meetings compared to their usual everyday look, to appear more confident. Regardless of the rest of your makeup, a quick swipe of good lipstick and you look put together in seconds.

Just make sure to pick a color that compliments your skin tone to make sure you look healthy and chic!

Red is my favourite pick for power lipstick; fair and medium complexions should pick a blue based red and embrace the pale, whereas olive and deeper complexions should choose a rusty, burgundy or berry tinted red.

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Chanel Rouge

7. USB Flash Drive

Keeping a flash drive on your keys allows you to check and back up important documents at all times. A life saver when traveling and giving presentations out of office.

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MAC Lipstick Memory Stick

8. Card Holder

Gone are the day where we could fit all our cards in our purses, from our gym membership cards, to our bus passes and even to our coffee loyalty cards, modern women are inundated with various important cards and keeping them safe in a separate compartment is paramount to quick and easy access. A cardholder is for the woman who has everything!

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New Season Givenchy Cardholder

Do you carry any of these in your handbag- what are your essentials?

 

Why I am giving up Beauty Blogging

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There are an estimated 31 million bloggers in the world; full time professionals, entrepreneurs, hobbyists and part time professionals. However, only 2% of this group are successfully monetizing their sites, and while I am an engineer it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that the probability of success in this industry is pretty dismal. And while I never created a blog with the intention of making money or to take on blogging full time it is still disheartening to see the current state of the saturated blogging market.

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I am an amateur blogger, attempting to share my views, tips and tricks on all things beauty related and when I created the blog in 2015 it was still a relatively new concept. Fast forward to January 2017 and the blogging boom is well and truly upon us, and I feel like there’s a change to come, 2016 came with the end of the term “blogger”, with those with blogs referring to themselves as influencers rather than bloggers, but how can you have a blog without a blogger? Short answer being, you can’t!

Scanning through my Instagram I struggle to find a fresh, original post- everyone is either copying each other or simply stealing posts with no credit acknowledged. There are too many beauty bloggers and not enough new content, there isn’t enough products and cosmetics in the world for a new aspect.

Growth and reach is no longer down to talent or aesthetically pleasing photos and content, but rather money and Facebook ad subscriptions. I am currently studying an MSc in Business and Marketing, where I am learning about digital sales and marketing and I apply the knowledge to my blog in the desperate attempt to reinvigorate its presence only to see a minimal reach and a steady decline in followers. It’s now rigged to suit those with big pockets and large endorsements.

In the last week I have seen two highly influential, and in my opinion, hugely successful bloggers simply leave the industry, and while perhaps it could be down to unrelated issues, I am concerned that the integrity of bloggers will only be questioned more and more and beauty blogging will die as a result.

There is a discontinuity coming to the market and I am branching out as a result, I don’t want to have to steal ideas from other bloggers who work incredibly hard to create content, or simply be one more Facebook page blagging about the same makeup range. It isn’t fair on the other bloggers, instead I want to reach out to a previously untouched customer- I want to be proactive and disrupt the market, and to do that I am putting an end to my beauty blog once and for all!

blogging-meme

Confessions of a College Graduate

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.

Some of you may not know this about me, but I am a recent Electrical Engineering graduate, I even managed a 1.1 in a level 8 degree!

Some of may also be unaware that I have never desired nor wished to be an engineer.

My engineering degree capped off the most taxing four years of my life, it signalled my lack of social development and the omission of that so-called college experience.

I will always remember my induction day at my local institute of technology, that tumultuous moment when the student leader named out our class list, the sickening nodules that formed together in the pit of my stomach as I willed the senior student to call out one more name that would mean I was no longer alone amidst the sea of boys, but alas no such name was mentioned, no such solace arrived and on my first day of a new adventure I realised that I was the only girl in my year!

The ugly truth that no one tells you about engineering is that girls should do it, it is a course perfectly suited to our over analytical  young adult mind-sets and attention to finite detail, but seldom girls ever choose it and why would they? Because unfortunately the overly male orientated world of engineering hasn’t changed or vastly improved in the last thirty years and undoubtedly won’t in the next.

Throughout my degree I was the only one asked in my course why I chose Electrical Engineering, I was the one whose possible sanity was questioned, I was the one stared at like an other world alien as I was a girl who had chosen this course. The men however, their decisions were never questioned, as if they had obviously chosen a logical college course that would root a smooth and rewarding career path, I on the other-hand was an unnerving enigma.

I chose engineering because it was logical, 2012 was a difficult time, in the peak of recession there was a job drought and a future decision for an 18-year-old was an obnoxious task during leaving cert year, so I took my first adult breath and made a decision that would stay with me forever, I am good at maths, I am going to be an engineer.

This was not the answer I told lecturers and my peers, I simply informed them that my dad was an electrical engineer and that relaxed them, they could compute this, that made sense to them. The only girls they had ever met in engineering were following in familial footsteps as god forbid a girl could make up her own mind.

Life is difficult in minority, I quickly realised guys find it awkward when you’re the only girl, it irritated them, it resulted in me eating lunch alone. At first the canteen wasn’t so daunting sitting at a lunch table alone, you could pretend you were meeting someone or that you were too busy studying and happy to be alone with your thoughts, but that novelty soon wore off and I retreated back to the engineering department and spent my time isolated, hiding from the world, defeated and embarrassed.

I began to excel academically from the excess time spent on assignments, that no one noticed that my social skills were depleting at such an intense rapid rate that towards the end of my second year of college, I struggled to maintain eye contact with others. My ability to converse with others was diminishing and small talk was a thing of the past. No one noticed that eight-hour college days past without someone so much as looking in my direction, let alone speaking to me.

And yet despite everything, I owe my whole self to Electrical Engineering. If I had done a different course I may not have gotten a retail part-time job, where I discovered the sheer love I had for makeup, blogging and in turn marketing. Had I ended up in any other situation my life would’ve amounted to numerous different possibilities, none of which leading me to where I am now, to a Masters that challenges me daily but sparks my appetite for learning and to an internship that is everything I could have ever asked for.

Engineering broke me, my heart and my spirit but it triggered a series of catalytic occurences that caused me to flourish into a person with the strength and resilience to tackle any challenge and any opportunity.

To Electrical Engineering and CIT, you have made me everything I am today.

Remember that everything that is happening around you, good or bad, is in some way conspiring to help you.
Debasish Mridha