As 2016 comes to a close, we’re all busy making lists of resolutions… but what if you were to make just one change? ELAINE DUGGAN asks the women of Cork — from nutritionists, to entrepreneurs, educators and fitness practitioners — what that change would be
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE FEELINGS
“IF getting healthier, fitter and taking better care of yourself is top of your resolutions for 2017, you need to change your mind. Literally. A mindset shift away from expressing your health goals in quantitative terms such as “lose 10 pounds, drop a dress size” to a different way of expressing what you want, a way that focuses on feelings instead of numbers of questionable value.
“How do you want to feel in 2017? Some possibilities might be content, at peace around food, free of negative self-talk and feeling empowered to prioritize self-care.
“Take some time to allow yourself to feel how transformative it will be to experience these feelings in your life. Let the power of the feelings be your source of motivation that keeps you on a healthy track making empowered choices around food and lifestyle throughout 2017.”
(Miriam Byrne, Women’s Nutrition)
ENJOY A HEALTHY BALANCE
“If I were to advocate one change people could make for 2017, it would be to live a healthy balance. Don’t be influenced by social media and marketing to live a life of extreme dieting, fitness, indulgence or laziness. We can be brainwashed by too much information that we see online.
“If we all just take it back to basics and eat a healthy balanced diet, drink lots of water, eat that piece of cake, have that glass of wine and not over-think every decision we make, we will live a much healthier lifestyle. Get outdoors. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If the gym isn’t for you then do something that is for you. Be good to yourself and, more importantly, be good to other people.”
(Aimie Musgrave, Crunch Food Company)
“No more ‘push notifications’! Email, instant chat, social media, the list goes on. They have a habit of running your day for you and, no matter how hard you try to keep up, you can’t. I find they distract me, resulting in six half done tasks rather than three completed ones. In turn, this leads to an increased heart rate and a strong desire for Pinot Grigio before 5pm.
“So ‘push notifications’ are no more for the new year. I don’t know how they crept up on me but I’m taking back the control in January.”
(Ann-Marie, General Manager at Nova Broadband, www.novabroadband.ie)
ENJOY SOME ME TIME
“Having made many resolutions over the years, most of which rarely get beyond the end of January, this question is making me think of things a lot earlier. (Usually done on New Year’s Eve).
“What one thing would make a difference in my life: not to over-schedule and to include some me time in that schedule!
“I tend to pack my list every day, so I hardly reach the end. Which means that you often finish the day without a sense of completion.
“Some me time would be a major change, and one that would allow me to more appreciate my family, work and blessings. It would be a great achievement if me time actually made it onto my list.”
(Vivienne Mac Sweeney, Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa.)
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY MORE
“More self-care/ listening to our bodies more. Why? Because for me working as a nutritionist I find there is so much stress and anxiety out there and with so many people sick in the hospitals and waiting for beds and various consultant appointments, etc.
“People feel so stressed and keep believing they have to rush a lot of the time, so if people just stopped for a while and started looking after themselves more, they would want to be healthy and empowered to eat good nutritious foods and have a good balanced lifestyle.
“So when you are ready to start listening to your body and start slowing down, you can feed your body healthy foods and drinks, get sufficient sleep and exercise and think happy thoughts and your body will heal itself and you are then ready to help other people too.
“‘I return my body to optimal healthy by giving my body what it needs on every level — says Louis Hay’.”
(Mary Carmody, Nutritionist)
EAT LESS SUGAR
“ALL carbohydrates are converted to a sugar once eaten. Starch, like in white bread, potatoes and pasta, etc, is broken down to glucose, whereas the sugars in fruit and table sugar are broken down to fructose and glucose.
“‘Healthy sugars’ like fruit, whole grain cereal, homemade brown bread, agave or honey are still recognised as sugar by your body, just like white bread, pasta or a bar of chocolate. This is because a sugar is a sugar.
“Any excess sugar not burned as energy, is simply converted to fat and stored around your organs and waist.
“Another-down side of a high-sugar diet is that it is highly addictive. Sugar has an endorphin releasing effect. We eat sugar and feel great (we have more energy, we feel less tired) but as soon as the sugar wears off, we’re low and grumpy again, needing another sugar ‘high’ to balance our mood again.
“So I would advise cutting out as many of these different sources of sugar as possible for weight loss and increased wellness.
“However, it’s very important to replace these foods with “good” fats, the delicious and satiating fats traditionally avoided by followers of the Food Pyramid, otherwise you’ll just be hungry all of the time.”
(Rosaleen, Run with Ros.)
“Do not procrastinate, epecially when it comes to your health and having things checked out? Do not be afraid to ask for help/support rather than worrying quietly about something. Many things can be dealt with when addressed on time.
“Imagine from time to time that you have not too much longer to live (morbid though that might be) and ask yourself would you be doing what you are doing now if that were the case and what is that you would do if you thought you have not too much longer to live. Then just do that thing(s) in 2017. Do not procrastinate, carpe diem.”
(Dr Jean Van Sinderen-Law Associate Vice President of Development, Development and Alumni Office at UCC.)
TAKE A BREATH
“I’ve been practicing, studying, teaching and loving yoga for the last 10 years and it’s the simplest thing that has made the most profound difference to everything I do, I am.
“The breath..…if I was to advocate one change that could help make life easier, more fun more relaxed, it would be to notice the pauses in life, to slow down, to take a breath or even three, to allow the exhale to be slow long and mindful.
“It’s a powerful tool for instantly dropping us into the present moment; it’s our connection between body and mind.
“When I slow down, it allows me to be myself, to be more considerate, to keep track of what is important and support my relationships and my heartfelt aspirations.
“‘No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.’ William Blake.”
(Deirdre Desmond, Crosshaven Yoga.)
FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH
“Typically, we focus on physical changes like weightless or exercise but mental health is so important and often overlooked. Make a change and focus on your mental wellbeing this coming year. Focusing on mental health has such a positive effect on your body physically, relationships with people and overall life. Mindfulness is a great place to start and anyone can practice it.”
(Sinead Cady Youtube Makeup Artist.)
BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF
“So many of us are caught in an emotional cycle when it comes to our eating habits: indulgence followed by guilt. I see a crazy amount of self-sabotaging with people who want to make positive changes for their health. 2017 gives you an opportunity to break the cycle.
“Change is possible, yet it takes time, patience and kindness on your behalf. Make one change at a time and when, yes when, you slip back to your old ways, acknowledge it, laugh, and get straight back to the direction you want to go. No more need for the story. No more need for ‘I can’t’, I always’ and ‘I wish’. You can and you will.”
(Lucy Hyland, Nutritionist and Chef, see www.lucyhyland.com.)
GIVE YOURSELF JOY
“At the Everyman, we spend a lot of time thinking about time: looking at calendars, schedules, figuring out how to maximise time. Our goal is make a programme that entertains and gives a little bit of joy.
“When times are tough, either for me or loved ones, I often reach for a cultural prescription of some sort — a great book/film/album, or a show to lift the spirits. When the prescription is right, someone is at least momentarily distracted from real life, and at best, has found a little bit of joy!
“Like many others, my work hours are irregular, and time is often at a premium, so my resolution for us all in 2017: make time to give yourself a little bit of joy.
“It doesn’t have to be healthy or virtuous! Be captivated by a beautiful image, sing along to a catchy song or immerse yourself in a compelling story. I can’t think of anything more joyous, except having someone great to share it with!”
(Julie Kelleher, Artistic Director, Everyman.)
INVEST TIME IN YOUR SKIN
“Five minutes every day is all it would take you to cleanse, tone, and moisturise your beautiful skin. Morning and evening, regardless of your age and time restraints. You are never too old or busy to take five minutes for your skin. The simplest of changes are the easiest to keep, and it’s all about forming healthy habits that you are consistent with daily — they are the difference between one’s skin prematurely aging versus keeping the youth, hydration and collagen of your skin longer.”
(Emer O’Callaghan, Emerald Beauty Clinic, Douglas.)
INVEST IN EDUCATION
“If I could wish for one change in 2017 it would be that we would prioritise investment in education. Education has the potential to be one of our most valuable resources.
“For many years, Ireland has been lauded internationally as a country with a highly educated and smart workforce. This reputation has served us well, however all reputations need to be nurtured and require investment. We are at risk of losing ours due to a considerable lack of investment in recent years.
“By way of example, we recognise that investment in STEM is a key driver of economic activity. A consistent supply of STEM graduates is critical to Ireland’s economic growth however we are not best in class in how we develop STEM education at second and third level. The result is that our indigenous and multinational companies are finding it increasingly difficult to fill key roles and they are concerned about their talent pipeline.
“I hope 2017 delivers a commitment from government for a much needed increase in the level of investment in our education system.
(Gillian Keating, I WISH.)
“The one change I would like to make is to get industry to provide more work experience, from Transition Year up to graduate level so that students get an understand of opportunities in business and can tailor their courses to meet business needs.
“Bringing a graduate in on work experience give an extra project resource but also provides a fresh perspective on the latest technology to existing employees. We all want graduates with experience, but industry must be willing to invest in graduate training programs like EMC and TYCO offer.”
(Brenda Cooper, Horner APG Europe and member of the CEIA)
ADDRESS GENDER BALANCE
“I wish that for just for one month that people, particularly those who are used to working in an environment where one gender is predominantly represented over another, would consider how this could work if the balance was redressed.
“How would their team, department, section or organisation be if there was gender balance throughout all levels the organisation? How the basics of team work are enhanced when the team is made up of ‘different’? How ‘group think’ works against innovation and change but diversity stretches and challenges us to new heights.”
(Ruth Buckley, Head of ICT & Business Services, Cork City Council.)
STOP TRYING TO ‘FIX’ GIRLS
“We need more girls to pursue careers in STEM. We all know that. But my wish for 2017 is that we stop focusing on trying to fix girls. Girls don’t need to be fixed, society does and our education system does. 75% of the girls surveyed by I Wish said that they want a career where they can help other people, yet only 16% of them want to study Physics in school.
“Girls are not making the link between subjects like physics, chemistry and computer science to an impactful job with purpose, at least not in sufficient numbers.
“So let’s work together to show these girls how having a career in STEM can help other people in the most remarkable way, that it will help solve the greatest challenges our planet faces and how we need these girls and their diversity of thought to be part of that journey.”
(Caroline O’Driscoll, I WISH)
DITCH THE SODA
“Give up sodas, or minerals as we used to call them when I was young! They rot your teeth, your gut, and your skin, and drive your blood sugar levels crazy, all to no avail, and are laden with calories! You won’t miss them! If you are out at night? Try vodka & soda with a wedge of freshly squeezed lime instead.”
(Cliona O’Connor of Leanmeanmoma, www.leanmeanmomma.ie.)
“The one easiest change we can all make is to be actively kinder. Kindness is contagious and is a proven anti-inflammatory with anti-ageing benefits. It’s an instant connector that serves up some serious feelgood feels. What’s more, it requires no fancy gym equipment; just the smallest daily effort makes a huge difference.”
(Annemarie O’Connor, fashion journliast, stylist and wardrobe wellness coach, author of The Happy Closet & The Happy Medium.)
EXPLORE YOUR CREATIVITY
“As children, we all loved imaginative play, but as Picasso said, the challenge is how to remain an artist once we grow up! This New Year, why not pick up a pen and start doodling, write down some words in response to the world, make believe you are on a stage, sing your own song. Lots of cultural organisations in Cork have activities to nurture this creative part of you — here at the Glucksman we do lunchtime and Saturday art courses for adults. So carve out a little time to explore your own creativity and let 2017 be a year of artistic pleasures.”
(Fiona Kearney Director of the Glucksman.)
“Be more polite! I think it’s a simple and easy change that we could all make in our daily lives … whether it’s smiling at a jogger passing you by as you’re on your evening run or walk, whether it’s chatting to the barista in your local (important that it’s your local!) coffee shop about something other than the weather, or going out of your way to have a brief chat with someone new in the company canteen… I think if we all added a little burst of politeness to our day, then we’d make the world, and Cork, an even cheerier place than it already is!
(Mary White, author of Relentless.)
SPEND MORE TIME WITH FAMILY
“Spend time with your kids, your family and loved ones. Sometimes people get caught up in business and work, trying to progress like myself, but this year made me realise that family is everything — if you are sick, or down your business will still be standing, but time waits for no one. Enjoy family times with your kids and cherish every minute with your parents and grandparents, no-one knows how many days we have left.”
(Sinead Egan, Tiger Boutique.)
BUY LESS/ CHOOSE WELL
The ‘Fast Fashion’ phenomenon mass produces clothes at a low cost so that the consumer can stay in ‘fashion’. Unfortunately, there is a cost when it comes to who makes these clothes, resulting in unethical labour practices.
Help dispel the myth that you need to buy more to stay in fashion and help actively change the world by buying quality clothing that aids fair employment. In 2017, why not re-evaluate your wardrobe and mix and match what you have? Why not recycle or give unwanted clothes to charity? Why not avoid buying a cheap garment you’ll never even wear or end up throwing away? Why not buy quality versatile stylish pieces from a vintage shop or an ethical clothing brand/retailer?
(Elizabeth Hobbs of Ethical Souls Boutique www.ethicalsoulsboutique.com.)
SUPPORT FOR STEM
“Greater recognition for schools and teachers who support students to participate in STEM projects. The ‘life skills’ that students, and in particular girls, gain through STEM programme and projects, can have a lasting impact on their college and career choices.”
(Valerie Cowman, Skills and Education Chair of the CEIA.)