Category Archives: sometimes wellbeing

Inspiration Over Lunch: Skinny Doll’s Turbulent Journey

It’s not every week I include an interview on my blog. I need to feel inspired and know that the piece I share will instil some confidence and inspiration in you guys otherwise – what’s the point?

I attended an O’Briens event in 2016 where Rachel Allen did a cookery demonstration (read more here). I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia Kinsella, a lady who I had come to know all too well via the blogging world. She’s as inspiring in person and certainly walks her talk as she has transformed her body, her mindset and in turn, her life with her attitude to food and her own self care.

She was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions and provided some intriguing insight into her life and mind.

Tell me all about yourself! Is there something you’d like to share that not many people know?

Oooh what secrets to tell!? I have an irrational fear of spiders having grown up in Australia! They can kill you ya know! I hate coriander. I want to retire to Tasmania and paint by the ocean. I’m a freelance graphic designer living in Dundrum, I’m lucky enough to work for myself which means I can fit blogging into my schedule during the week! I’m an only child and it’s only as I get older I wish I had some siblings. I am bulimic, I have been since I was about 17 but I really believe my issues with food started when I was much younger. My family came to Ireland for a holiday when I was about 6 or 7 and I only ate baked bean sandwiches for two months, so the signs were there. I was bullied when I was younger, but found my feet in university in London. I loved every second of it! It has made me a perpetual student. I’m currently trying to get my degree in counselling (module by module sigh…) so I can give back all the care I received to other people who need it. I’m a people pleaser and it’s hard trying to break that habit. Irish sign language is my second language!

Why did you start your blog?

I had just lost my job and was morbidly obese. I was alone, suffering from depression, and felt like I had no one to turn to. I put on such a happy face to the world that no one really knew how I was feeling and that’s mostly my fault. I hit rock bottom and went to my GP who set me on the healing path. With counselling and medication I was making small steps to feeling ‘normal’ again. One day I just thought to myself, there must be someone else out there, just like me who is struggling and isn’t coping. I needed to find these people and build a community where we could support each other. I know some people say you can’t be a positive happy bunny all the time in life but I sure as hell want to try it. There’s enough negativity in the big bad world that there really is no harm in creating a happy space where you can just put it all out there. I found a weight loss plan that works for me and I decided to document my journey et voila The Skinny Doll was born! I don’t ever plan on being ‘skinny’ it was just the name I picked in the heat of the moment and I went with it, sometimes I regret the name but mostly people get that it’s about me wanting to be happy in my own skin not skinny! I had no idea it would grow into the wonderful community that it has. I still have a lot of weight to lose but I haven’t given up and I think that’s why the blog is such a positive place for people. It’s honest and when I fall into a bag of chips at the weekend I tell the world, people feel normal when you tell them you did it too, no one life is picture perfect and social media can lead us to believe that people live in these perfect houses with perfect skin and perfect lives and the reality is far from that, so I’m all about keeping it real. I like my readers to know they’re not alone. But did we all at least enjoy the chips we fell into?! You’ll just get support and motivation. We’re all human. We fail but we keep going. We don’t give up on ourselves. I love that.

What does success look like for you?

Being happy in my own skin. I really admire all body positivity advocates out there. I would love to feel comfortable just throwing on something and feeling ok about myself but my path through life has instilled a feeling that I’ll never be good enough and I’m constantly working on improving that. My weight loss to date has certainly helped me. It’s not a number on the scales, it’s a feeling… happiness is not reserved for special people. Everyone has regret, people we’ve hurt, people who have hurt us but I’m a firm believer in you get what you deserve and we all deserve happiness as much as the next person. My ultimate goal is to look half decent in a pair of jeans one day! Numbers on social media mean very little to me, but the engagement I have with people online is priceless to me.

What has been your greatest milestone and how did that feel?

Hitting big losses at the scales have been amazing, when I hit my 10 stone loss, I was so happy. I’ve gained a little bit back since then but it’s in my sights so I’m aiming  for that right now! But it’s the NSV (Non Scale Victories) that have made me most proud.  The first time I didn’t have to ask for a belt extension on the plane I sobbed all the way to Gatwick, the poor air hostess thought I was having a meltdown! It wasn’t the fact that the belt actually fit me but thought process behind it. Whenever I went for a flight, the mind games would start as soon as I left the house. Would the air hostess be discreet? Would I get someone loud? It’s incredible how unkind some people can be. Would the person beside me cringe when I had to put the belt on? Would someone stare at me hoping they wouldn’t be stuck beside the fat woman for the whole flight? None of this ever materialised by the way.  I did have a few air hostesses shouting out ‘WHO NEEDS THE BELT EXTENSION?!?’ but to my ears it sounded like ‘WHERE IS THE FATTY?!!? COME ON PUT UP YOUR PAWS!’ but the embarrassment was unreal. Now I don’t have to worry about that. Those two hours aren’t full of anguish and worry now. It’s amazing how our mind works and that’s been a huge learning curve for me.

Winning the Best Health and Wellbeing awards was amazing last year, it’s nice to think that your peers rate you highly enough. I’ve been a finalist for the last 7 years and a judge every year too so it’s nice for the hard work to get recognised. I love the Irish Blog awards, it’s opened my eyes to so many amazing people documenting their lives online. It’s a fab little community to be a part of.

What has been your greatest milestone and how did that feel?

Hitting big losses at the scales have been amazing, when I hit my 10 stone loss I was so happy. I’ve gained a little bit back since then but it’s in my sights so I’m aiming for that right now! But it’s the NSV (Non Scale Victories) that have made me most proud… the first time I didn’t have to ask for a belt extension on the plane I sobbed all the way to Gatwick, the poor air hostess thought I was having a meltdown! It wasn’t the fact that the belt actually fit me but thought process behind it. Whenever I went for a flight, the mind games would start as soon as I left the house. Would the air hostess be discreet? Would I get someone shouty? It’s incredible how unkind some people can be. Would the person beside me cringe when I had to put the belt on? Would someone stare at me hoping they wouldn’t be stuck beside the fat woman for the whole flight? None of this ever materialised by the way, I did have a few air hostesses shouting out ‘WHO NEEDS THE BELT EXTENSION?!?’ but to my ears it sounded like ‘WHERE IS THE FATTY?!!? COME ON PUT UP YOUR PAWS!’ but the embarrassment was unreal. Now I don’t have to worry about that. Those two hours aren’t full of anguish and worry now. It’s amazing how our mind works and that’s been a huge learning curve for me.

Winning the Best Health and Wellbeing awards was amazing last year, it’s nice to think that your peers rate you highly enough. I’ve been a finalist for the last 7 years and a judge every year too so it’s nice for the hard work to get recognised. I love the Irish Blog awards, it’s opened my eyes to so many amazing people documenting their lives online. It’s a fab little community to be a part of.

Do you ever feel under motivated? If so, how do you find your motivation?

All the time! Staying motivated is the key for me. When I’m feeling positive and my mental health is good, I feel like I’m getting there. When I lose my mojo, I lose belief in myself and that’s why the blog helps so much. I can just say I’m having a bad week and people rally around and make you feel like you CAN do it! Because we all can!  I love all the positivity on Instagram too. Seeing people document their journey makes you realise just how far you’ve come and how much you can really achieve. I do a monthly photo challenge and the tips and support from followers from all over the world is incredible. Whilst some are having breakfast in Australia, other’s are having dinner in NYC and chatting about the pros and cons of cauliflower rice! It’s just brilliant! Better than any celebrity tv show!

Where do you see your blog going?

I don’t have any final destination for it, I honestly never expected it to become as successful as it has! I love just watching it grow organically, I spend so much time interacting with my readers and that’s what makes it for me. I shall continue to blog whilst I’m on this journey and it’s got its bumps in the road but it’s truly a labour of love to be honest. Losing a lot of weight can be daunting and it’s a lonely process, finding people on line who are on the same journey is such a relief, I have so many wonderful messages from people who tell me they have a lot of weight to lose and a blog post has inspired them to take the first step to join a class… or to try out a recipe… when you know that there’s someone going through the same process that you are, it’s a good feeling to just feel like you can support them because you’ve been there. I just want to keep spreading the MOJO and get happy with who I am and hopefully bring a lot of people along with me for the ride! Obviously I’d love to be able to blog full time, and once the euromillions comes through I’ll be doing just that on my own island with a pool boy for company!

To learn more about Olivia aka The Skinny Doll, visit the her website here.

What Is Hygge And How Can You Get Some?

The Danish concept of Hygge is a relatively new one for me. I was gifted a book about it in 2016 and it left storage late 2017 to be studied by yours truly. The irony is that I wanted to curl up with a book and take some chill time and that’s part of what Hygge is about. This time was to be cosy, in front of the fire and with a hot cup of tea – enjoying the simple things in life, cultivating the most from my environment and being cosy.

In 2018, it’s fair to say that we, as a human race have lots going on. There’s technology, busy work days, friends, family and so much more. Those are just the basics not including gym and studies for some. How often do we get to truly enjoy the simple things in life?

Hygge promotes a cosy and warm lifestyle based on Danish culture. It is derived from the word ‘ wellbeing’ which is Norwegian. Some also refer to it as the art of practicing intimacy. It can be alone or with friends and can compose of a variety of activities or lack thereof. The idea is that there is warmth, togetherness and an appreciation of the simple things in life – back to basics, as my mother would say.

Which brings me to what Hygge is not. It is not spending hours on the phone, social media or Netflix. Nor is it getting tipsy on a bottle of wine while slaving over your laptop.

There are loads of ways to bring Hygge into the home.

Number one is to declutter. A house must be lived in but filling it with items that are unused and unloved makes for poor energy and at times, negative energy. Things are distracting and can take away from achieving Hygge. What do you currently have in your home that you don’t use or love?

Taking comfort in the home is number two. How much comfort do you feel in your home? What could add to that comfort? For me, it’s blankets, having the fire on when it’s cold, candles and relaxing scents.

Being aware of what room is for what and sticking to it creates clear boundaries in the home. I don’t eat in my bedroom, I prefer to not have a television in my bedroom (and probably never will) and the kitchen is for eating with some work at the kitchen table. The living room is where I spend the most waking hours so I find it affects my energy the most. What do your rooms mean to you?

What are the simple things that make you happy? What gives you a sense of belonging? Hygge can be something as simple as sitting on the porch with a lemonade on a hot Summer’s day or visiting a friend after work for a cup of tea. It’s about connection and belonging to others as much as the self.

The feelings of Hygger we can feel certainly explain why Danes (the creators of Hygge) are amongst the happiest people in the world. No matter what nation or culture we stem from, it’s something that we can encompass in our day to day lives.

Other simple pleasures that work for me (to experience Hygge) are sitting and catching up with my boyfriend after work (minus technology), spending time with a friend having a walk or hike and crafting with my loved ones.

Have a think about it. What could Hygge mean to you? What elements of Hygge do you think you could add to your life?

Share your thoughts below.

Dealing With Your Inner Critic Right Now

Some give it a name, others tend to pretend it isn’t there. Meanwhile, I prefer to be constantly aware. If you don’t acknowledge what’s happening, how can you deal with it? We all look for support. This can be from family, friends or work colleagues. How about ourselves?

Sarah Doyle recently launched a book called ‘Be your own best friend’. This short interactive journal encourages self-love and acceptance. It involves focusing on self-support rather than self-deprecation. Activities in the book encourage celebrating wins and successes and what seems like, combatting the inner critic.

In the book, ‘The inner game of tennis’, author Timothy Galwey addresses the relationship with the self. Internally, there’s a voice that we engage with and which influences who we are, what we do and most significantly, how we view ourselves. They say that mastering the relationship with the self is the most relevant of all. If you don’t love yourself, how do you expect someone else to love you?

That niggle that pops up when you’re exercising and thinking, I’ll quit. That’s the inner critic. The one that tells you you’re not good enough when you so clearly are, that’s the inner critic. When there are positives about yourself and your performance in any given situation and yet, there’s a voice from inside picking out the negatives – yes, that’s him/her again. They say that your own thoughts are what influence your life so why put up with the negative ones?

When flicking that proverbial negative angel off your shoulder, here are some ways that can help you get on track and feeling more positives overall.

*Don’t hate on it. Just like scrubbing a sore wound won’t make it better, neither will berating your inner critic. Be sound, understanding and have a gentle influence on it. Start by sharing three successes with yourself if a negative thought pops up.

*Remember where you started. Things change and maybe you’ve come a long way. There are going to be days where we’re harder on ourselves than others. Give yourself a break every now and then!

*Be aware – this all comes from you. No matter what, you have the power. If you’re not happy with your internal thoughts, then change them. That starts with loving yourself and celebrating your successes. After that, it’s about acceptance. Here’s my list of books that might be helpful.

*Use physical reminders. Stick up quotes around your apartment, listen to the relevant Podcasts (Try Model Health Show or Oprah) and journal. It could be a blank book or a specific self-focused journal. In any event, recording your thoughts and positives in a particular place will help encourage your self love and acceptance.

Support yourself first.