Month: January 2017

Embrace – A Game Changing Film

Hi Everyone,

I decided to do a video for this post because I didn’t think that typed words could do the feelings that I had about this film justice. Please email me if you would be interested in seeing a screening in the Odeon in Portlaoise next month and you can also check out more details about Taryn and the film on her website Body Image Movement.

Bríd

A Proud Day

My little family helping me celebrate an important day

Hi everyone,

I’m currently sitting in my hotel room in the very lovely No.1 Pery Square with a whole 2 hours to myself so I said I better get this blog post typed out before I return to my real life which rarely sees me with 2 minutes uninterrupted! Yesterday I graduated from the University of Limerick with a degree in Exercise & Health Fitness. It was a very proud day for me and my family as I didn’t exactly take the easy route to get to this stage and a lot of people have been invested in getting me this far. I thought it would be nice to write a little about my education journey so far as I get asked a lot by other people, particularly women, if I would recommend doing what I did, which was to leave a permanent, pensionable job to pursue what I am passionate about (and encase it’s not glaringly obvious that would be health and fitness in every sense of the word).

A snap from the lads on my first weekend in college in 2014 

Frankie was 9 weeks old 

In 2013 I left my job in banking. At that stage I had studied part time to certificate level in exercise and health fitness. During the first year post-banking I repeated leaving certificate Irish with Primary School teaching in mind. I sat the exam while 8 months pregnant with Frankie. In September of 2015, when Frankie was 9 weeks old, I returned to UL to do my diploma year and then went on to complete the degree year in 2016.

Put a Plan in Place

My answer to anyone who wants to leave a job or career that they are unhappy in is yes BUT!. I’m not one of those people who will quote a motivational meme like “JUST GO FOR IT!” because that’s not realistic if, like me, you have serious responsibilities. I knew I wanted to leave banking for about 2 years before I could actually leave but, because the recession was tough on us and we had mortgages to pay, I had to be sensible about it. So what I did was put a plan in place and I advise anyone who isn’t yet financially secure enough to take the leap to do this too. It may mean taking on an extra job to help you bring in more money. I always had my fitness business running alongside my permanent job and that really helped.  I started to clear old loans, didn’t take out any new loans, kept the holidays to a minimum and so on so that I put myself in the best possible position to do it. You’re still going to have to work in some capacity if you do have a mortgage but if you can cut down on the excess stuff it will become more realistic.

Parenting & Studying

For any parents out there who would like to go back to study but have small kids again I say yes BUT!. You seriously need to think long and hard about doing it because it is very hard. I can’t lie about that. I went to college part-time which was generally every 2nd weekend for the whole weekend. In addition to going to college I had a lot of coursework to do from home. That meant that even if I had sleepless nights with Frankie I still had to get up and make my brain function either in college or at home the next day. You need to be really sure that you want to put in the work because the going gets really tough at times. Heading off at the weekend and leaving the two lads behind, or even worse when Frankie had been sick the night before, I could easily have thrown in the towel.

Two of my biggest supports, my mother and stepmother

I get comments from other women and mothers constantly about how I manage to juggle so much and the term Superwoman has been used more than once but I’m very, very conscious of other women and particularly mothers measuring themselves against me so it’s important to me that I be very honest about my situation. I am NOT Superwoman. Yes I’m determined and I do work hard but what I do would be impossible if I didn’t have such a strong support network of family and friends. Dermot, my family and his family as well as some of my good friends, have really pulled me through the last 3 years. So if you want to do something like this I strongly urge you to look at the support you have and be sure that you have plenty of good people to turn to because you will need them.

My Education & Fitness Pathway

Some of my NCEF college friends

It was tough but we made it!

For my fitness followers and the people who have been asking me about what fitness courses I have done, all of my pathway to this degree has been through the NCEF, that is the National Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness. They are affiliated with UL and there is a four year pathway to the degree which you can break up and do at different stages. It’s all part-time so perfect if you are working or have a family. I was about to say that in my opinion it’s the best fitness course to do in Ireland but it’s not just my opinion. I know a number of gym managers who insist on job applicants having their qualification through the NCEF. It’s a very professional organisation and that’s important because there are so many dodgy courses out there now.

In terms of a career in fitness I love what I do and have done for the last 10 years. I started off teaching classes in other peoples gyms then set up my own business and was a mobile instructor and personal trainer for a number of years before setting up Fit with Bríd which offers online courses for busy women and has totally exceeded my expectations for it’s success. It’s a tough industry though. You’re up against a lot of gimmicky people who are just trying to make a quick buck and you have to work hard to be heard and respected in all of the noise.

Taking all of the hard stuff into account I would still really encourage anyone who is unhappy in their current situation to do their best to change it. It is so worth it. Life really is too short to not be living the best one you possibly can. My plan is to continue my studies later this year, most likely in education. I’m a learner and am starting to realise that I will possibly spend most of my life learning new things even though when I’m in the middle of a college year I SWEAR that I’m done this time. I’ve received a lot of lovely messages of support from people through social media over the course of my studies so far and I really appreciate every one of them. I hope you find this post helpful and if you have any questions at all either about studying in general or a career in fitness just give me a shout. You can email me or you can contact me through Facebook or Instagram.

Bríd

 

Post-Pregnancy Plan Final Post

Hi Everyone,

I finished Week 6 of my Post-Pregnancy Plan on the 23rd of December but due to the madness of Christmas and Frankie having the chicken pox for the first week of the New Year I’m only getting to sit down and do a proper post about it today (Jan 9th!). Since I finished the plan it has been launched and is now available to join along with my 6-week Online Slim-down which I’ve started myself this week. I’m helping a fabulous group of women to improve their health and fitness and I’d love for more of you to join us. For more details about both courses head over here.

Always room for Christmas Eve treats

My babies in their Christmas finery

The Results

Week 1 vs Week 6

 Week 1 StartWeek 6 End
Arm9.5"9.5"
Boobs35"35"
Waist29"28"
Bellybutton32"30"
Hips / Bum36.5"37"
Thigh20.5"20"

Considering I took on this challenge two weeks after Jodie was born when we were still in the midst of sleepless mayhem I’m delighted with my results. It was also during the build up to Christmas so there was plenty of temptation in my way!

As I explained in my blog post from Week 1 I hadn’t a lot of excess body fat to lose after I had her owing to the fact that I kept up a good level of exercise and ate a fairly balanced diet throughout my pregnancy. I did have a good bit around my stomach and lower back though and I’ve definitely lost a lot of it from there. I have a bit to go but I had been warned by other mothers that it’s a little slower to go off this area the second time around. I’m confident that I’ll be rid of it after a few more weeks though.

What I was mostly concerned with was improving my posture and increasing my strength and I’m delighted with the progress I’ve made in this area. My core muscles are so much stronger and I’m starting to see definition in my stomach muscles similar to what it was pre-pregnancy. The core exercises in the plan start off very gently as obviously the muscles can be quite weak post-pregnancy but after week 3 they get a bit tougher and that’s when I really started to notice things improving.

One of my main aims was to build up my bum again as it goes really flat after pregnancy. I’ve seen a big improvement (and am delighted to see an increase in the measurement here, not a decrease!) and will definitely continue to work on it.

While it’s not an area of the body most people would be too bothered about my upper back and shoulders were a big concern to me. They come under serious pressure when holding baby to feed. I had a shoulder injury after having Frankie and it began to niggle again this time but between the strengthening exercise, the post-workout stretches and some muscle therapy I’ve managed to stay pain free for the most part.

The Exercise

In the beginning I found it hard to get used to the slower pace of the workouts as I’m used to pushing myself but I was conscious that my body wasn’t ready to be pushed too hard and so it was exactly what was needed. Each week as the pace increased I looked forward to the extra challenge. In the first two weeks I walked a lot with the double buggy as well as doing the workout videos but when the weather turned bad I was so glad to have the videos to do at home while Frankie was in TV land.

The Meal Plans

A typical tastey dinner   

Snacks at the ready

Once I stayed organised with the meal plans I was fine. I would do my Tesco online shopping on a Wednesday eve, have it delivered Friday morning and then do some food preparation on Sunday for the next week. The only week it didn’t go well was when we were all sick with coughs and colds. I had to just wing it that week but it was fine and doesn’t seem to have made a huge difference. There’s plenty of wiggle room built in to the plan anyway. I also found that because I was in the early days of breastfeeding I had to add in extra snacks some days and particularly at night but again that’s something I advise as part of the plan as every woman’s body is different.

The Support

Our private Facebook support group to stay connected and motivated 

Those who join the plan are invited to join a private Facebook support group. Obviously I didn’t have this element myself but I got so much lovely support and feedback from people on Snapchat that it felt like I did. I snapped if I was working out and also a lot of my meals and snacks and got so many snaps from other new mothers and women in general telling me that I was inspiring them to get up and go or make changes to their diet.

Like I said in the beginning I was really glad that I got to trial this plan before it went out to the general public. There were one or two things in the meal plan that I changed because when it came to making them I realised that they were too complicated and that if I hadn’t time to do them then others wouldn’t either. I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made and I’m delighted that I’m going to be able to help lots of other new mothers and busy women in general reach their goals in 2017.

Thanks for reading,

Bríd