Sports wear? Moi? At least at the beach…

About 3-4 years ago I had very little sports wear to my name. Like baggy trackies and beat up old runners were really all I had. But sure yeah, I didn’t need it. I wasn’t exercising, it would have been a waste of money and I hate wasting money. But also, I didn’t much care for how it all looked. Nothing jumped out at me as really cool. Maybe I was in the wrong mindset? Maybe I was uncomfortable with the idea of sports wear. Maybe I felt I had a moral code of fashion to uphold. Or maybe I saw nothing I thought was cute… But recently, every other high street brand has an activewear section and all the sports brands are just getting hotter and more fun! Activewear is becoming the new casual, Lululemon yoga pants and a Nike tank is perfectly acceptable (dare I say it, trendy) attire to pick up a few bits from the shop. It’s no longer just for the gym…

For me, it’s not a comfort or a practicality thing (though that is important), my sports wear says a lot about me, be it my Sunburst style zip-up or my strappy-back all-in-one or my bright blue sports bra. My gear says “yes I’m athletic and yes I work out but also I got swag” *clicks finger!*. I buy gear that I feel free in, that I look good in and I think it shows off another side me that is (still girly) but tougher.

And due to all this, instead of going for some skimpy bikini, or some too cute high waisted two piece for my summer holidays, I went and bought a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners sporty two piece. And boy am I excited about it. I mean, I look amazing in a sports bra (brag much!) and if I’m surfing/kayaking/swimming/splashball tournamenting (family game) my ladies are gonna stay up and deffo aren’t gonna pop out! I will be able to move and be free and feel good about myself, as I do in my training gear. For once I’ll be bringing my tougher side with me…

Now, I do have a pretty floral halter for that day by the pool where I’ll be doing nothing but sunbathing (those swimsuits are just as important). Two’s enough right?

Batting for team shorty…

Honest to goodness that phrase was used once to describe me. But honestly I never thought I was short… I’m 5ft 4inches. That’s only .25 of an inch below the Irish average for a woman. My mother is shorter, coming in at 5’1. And my boyfriend has always been much taller than me, he’s just under 6’2. I’ve never seen it it as a massive disadvantage, I’m quite good at climbing to get to things (or just call Cormac) and it meant I could always wear heels (brings me up to the height of the rest of the women in the office). But recently I’ve been wishing I was a little taller. Why? Well it all boils down to that sport I’ve been banging on about for the past 6 months!

Rowing.

Height is very important in rowing. All to do with physics or some such but basically the taller you are the easier it is for you to get a boat moving quickly. And you’ll never guess what, I’m the shortest in the group of women that I row with. Not only that but my main crew member, the woman who is in the boat with me everyday is 5’11. A whole six inches in the difference. To keep up with her I have to work so much harder. What would feel a little tiring to her would completely kill me. And I can’t help but think how good we could be if I wasn’t so vertically challenged. Or if she would be better off with one of the taller girls Is she just carrying me? Yes I’m just as fit but is that enough?

These questions have been playing over and over in my head for months now. And yesterday I felt like some of these questions were answered for me. We were put out in single sculls and had to row against each other. I know what you’re thinking, I must have been miles behind her. And for the paddle I was, I had to pull so much harder to even stay closer to her and she was rowing quite lightly, only focusing on her technique. But then we raced. And boy did I hold my own. I was quick and I was strong and I was hard to beat.

I wasn’t going down without a fight… or at least until I broke the boat.

And that got me thinking about my own attributes. Attributes that made me a good rower. Attributes I should be proud of instead of focusing on what I’m not. Being lighter than my competition, being fast from the get-go, being strong and being stubborn as fuck. Dammit I am good! And so is she! We make a great team!

Those six inches don’t mean anything when we work hard, stick together and never let the other one give up!

 

Photo shown above: Myself, Art and Ruth. These are the two that I train with the most, yes these two! I’m hella short in comparison!

What do kids even wear these days?

So last night I was at a house party. A friend of mine did the terribly, stupidly brave thing of going back to college. We’re all so proud of him for going back and chasing his dream. And last week he finished! So in true Ross fashion, his wifey had a shindig in his honour. But it was no ordinary house party. Oh no, it was themed. Which I am totally fine with, honestly I love any excuse to make a costume (last Halloween I went into work as a cat, a cat people!)

Problem is, it was possibly the hardest theme I’ve ever had to dress for. The theme was ‘student’. Don’t be fooled, this seems easy but it truly isn’t. There are too many variations to choose from. What era of student? What level? Am I protesty? Am I a stoner? Am I bookish? Should I channel some kick ass students from the movies, like Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect (don’t hate me it’s a great movie) or maybe in Reese Witherspoon from Legally Blonde (seriously, don’t hate me!) Am I to dress like a modern day student? How do they even dress? Or should I just dress how I dressed when I was in college. I really had no interest in doing the last one, don’t really know why, just wasn’t an option.

So I panicked and threw on some skinny jeans, some beat up old converse, some cheap ass earring from Tenerife, one of my boyfriends old tshirts and an army-style jacket (sorta going for the angsty-protestor-student-doing-the-walk-of-shame-and-has-been-on-a-sun-holiday-with-her-gal-pals-hence-the-earrings look). Cormac wore some torn up combats (which he wears all the time), a hoodie (which he wears all the time) and a fees protest tshirt from his college days. He honestly didn’t look like he tried at all but he really did, he even got cans!

I honestly had no idea what to expect. How other people would interpret the dress code. What would pass for a student? And I was amazed at the different costumes that people had come up with. From the lady (who I reckon was fifty) dressing like an out and out punk (and totally working it by the way), to the man who went as ‘Cow-Elvis’, to the bald man in the lab coat (clearly a science degree theme going on there). And then all the simple similarities, like everybody wearing some sort of sneaker. Converse reigned supreme! It was a complete mish-mash of everyone’s own thoughts of what college life was or maybe even should be.

And just like when I was a student I was yet again the designated driver, some things just don’t change…

Doing it all, except the dishes and trying not to burn out

So my daily life has kicked up a gear ever since the clocks went forward. An extra hour of sunlight meant only one thing to me, waterwork. No more tedious long erg sessions (rowing machines). Anyone who has sat on one of these will know that it’s great to get back off them. With that extra bit of light we could go out at 6.30 and get a good session on the water. Only problem with that is. I am left with NO TIME! I am not exaggerating. I work from about 8.30am to roughly 5.30pm, then I get togged out and head down to the club. We get on the water for about 6.30pm and don’t get off it til about 8. After bringing in the boat, getting changed, locking up and driving home it’s between 9 and 9.30. Then it’s time to make dinner. So we’re eating by 10pm and then we chill for about an hour before I start getting real sleepy and head to bed around 11-11.30 pm. I sleep, I get up and I do it all again. That is my daily routine roughly. Housework does not get done during the week. Dishes pile up (although very neatly) and wait patiently for a spare moment to get washed. Grocery shopping now gets squeezed in during my “chill time” on a Monday evening. Thankfully, I’ve enough clothes to get me through a week without too many loads of washing. On the weekends, I train, see my friends, clean the house and catch on some r&r with the boyfriend.

This is was all going grand, then the other designer went on a three week holiday. You can forgive him as it was his honeymoon. Nontheless, the anti was indeed upped in work. I had a more stressful and more demanding workload. He has since come back but the workload has not lessened. I also have the new task of being the coxwain for the novice quad. Foe those of you that don’t know, that is the person who steers the boat and yells at the crew to row harder (who doesn’t love to yell). I gladly excepted this task not realising how mentally draining it could be. How people do it well is beyond me. EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS. So this means on my rest days I’m actually still down at the club. I may not be rowing but I’m still in the boat.

And don’t get me wrong, I truly love how active I am. I love the rowing, I love blogging (albeit, quite infrequently) and I love my job. I’m delighted that I still manage to socialise quite a good bit (it helps when you’re friends with the people you row with) and that Cormac and I still manage to get out and do lots of things, from the cinema and dinners to hacking through that part of the woods they tell you not to go in and despite all my whinging Cormac still drags me to. But I felt like I hit a brick wall this Thursday. I felt like I couldn’t keep going. On my way home from training I had a cry to myself in the car (yes I’m one of those people). How do people “do it all” and not burn out? How do they keep going? Are the snorting berocca or something worse? I have yet to figure out the secret. If someone knows please do tell me. Until then, I will solve my problem the way I solving it right now. Chocolate, boyfriend cuddles and a four day weekend which includes a trip home to my mammy. And ma if you’re reading this, I’m fine, don’t panic. Bless her she worries too much.

And as Cormac keeps telling me, would I rather look back and say I gave it my all or say I kept a clean house. I think we all know the answer to this.

Dressing for life…

I think by now everyone knows that I love fashion. I love getting new pieces, I love putting outfits together. I love the confidence my clothes give me. When I was in college I strived to always be fashion forward. It was hard due to not ever having money, but because my days consisted of college and telly watching I wasn’t exactly restricted due to activity. So most days I looked very on-trend. Though I did get some odd looks. (Jaysus people it’s just a leather pencil skirt and cons!) I think this way of life was hugely influenced due to having a blog. I mean if I’m discussing clothes I have to look my best all the time, right?

But my life got busy and it became more than just college and blogging. I started working, started rowing, nephews came along, I started getting more active, I started baking and cooking, I moved out and started living with my boyfriend. And suddenly this need to be blog perfect fell by the way side. Unlike those fabulously stylish fashion bloggers I read about everyday, my job did not require me to look on-point on a daily basis and frankly it was becoming impractical. I mean I do love me some stilettos but they’re not my friend when I have to dash across town to the bank on my lunch break. And I adore white skinnies but I can’t exactly strut up to the rowing club in those, they would get destroyed! But that doesn’t mean I want to stop having fun with my clothes.

Yesterday is a wonderful example of this. As you can see from the above image I was driving a safety launch for some rowers going out for a Sunday spin. (You can also see that life jackets are in NO WAY flattering – I mean I look about thirty pounds heavier!) I could have changed my outfit from something less sensible to something more sensible but I don’t want to have to waste my day with unnecessary costume changes. No, yesterday I needed to be practical from start to finish. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to have fun. I still wanted to be me, I still wanted to show off some style. So I decided to dress for the persona of “chilled seventies surfer chick” which consisted of flares, vans, a surfer hoodie and an oversized plaid shirt. (Trust me it looked good sans life-jacket – why can’t safety be chic!?)

So in a long winded way, what I’m trying to say is that my style hasn’t really changed. I still love all the same things. But my attitude to dressing has changed. Style, to me, isn’t about mere aesthetics, but managing to find that balance between aestheticism and practicality, between what’s beautiful and what works for you. I’m no longer just dressing for my blog. I’m dressing for my life.

A lazy girls thoughts on getting fit, staying fit…

I was sort of sporty as a teenager. Sure that’s how I met my boyfriend. I was a rower then and fitness came easy to me. But the Leaving Cert came around and I felt I needed to “sort out my priorities.” Really, I think I just got sick of daily exercise and pushing myself physically (there is indeed a lazy bone in my body!) and I used my portfolio and the looming Leaving Cert as an excuse to quit. When I stopped, I stopped completely, I mean COMPLETELY. Looking back, I can see now how lazy I became. This must have annoyed the boyfriend no end as he was super fit and loved to be active. All I did was watch telly, hang out and eat. I ate a lot, like an athlete. No one mentioned calories to me, I had no idea what I was doing to myself. And it wasn’t until half way through my first year of college that my poor mum felt she had to tell me that I had lost my way. She was so upset when she was telling me, she felt like she was the worst person in the world. But she was right… 

 So I decided to make a change. But only with food. My diet changed but my activity level was still really low. This carried on for years. Trying to be healthy through food alone and completely half-assing any exercise I attempted. Starting off with great potential but getting bored and giving up again. I was sluggish, I was slow and I was deeply unhappy. It all came to a head one day when I just burst into tears because another dress in my wardrobe was too tight, was suffocating me. My weight was suffocating me. I wanted to run away from it, rip it off me and be free. My boyfriend simply said if I hate how I look and how I felt that much then change. It was only myself holding me back. My fear of the effort. This thought that I’m not really going to change, not like the people do in the magazines, not like those weightless spokes people. This stuck with me. But I started to run (with help and a wee bit of coaching from himself). Admittedly, my main goal was to lose weight but I started to have a little bit of energy, then a load of energy, soon there was an obvious spring in my step. I loved how agile, how nimble, how quick I was becoming. 

 So nearly two years passed and I got really into running, doing weekly 10k’s as if they were nothing! But I started to feel the niggle of that lazy bone again. I didn’t stop exercising but I began shortening my runs, I ran less frequently, no longer feeling guilty if I missed a run or two. I had the mindset that I had already achieved my goal. I had lost over 3 stone, I was a healthy, active person now, I didn’t need to kill myself on a 10k anymore. This was dangerous, but I fought this mindset and I managed to stay active, not letting long workdays and lazy Sundays to be the end of my new lifestyle. I was determined to not go back to that unhappy girl I used to be. 

Then by chance an old work colleague needed an extra bum in a new sport she was trying. That new sport was rowing. Went to one session and was nagged to join the team (thanks Emily). And all of a sudden I was out rowing a few times a week, only leisurely at first but then we started to get a taste for it and then, shockingly, we wanted to compete. This changed everything. Suddenly, we realised we had to up our training to five/six sessions a week. Long runs on the rowing machine, tough intervals, a little bit of weight training and drills after drills after drills. Instead of becoming more sedentary, I was becoming more active, becoming really fit, really fast, really strong. I’m a million miles away from the girl I used to be. I just wish I could tell her that it was all going to be worth it. That not only her body would change, but her health would improve, her attitude to life would change and she’d finally feel good in her skin. 

People, if you’ve done what I’ve done, changed your life and became fit and are worried about falling back, find a sport you enjoy and join a team. There is no better motivation than not wanting to let your teammates down. There is no better way to get through a tough session than doing it right next to someone going through the same shit. One goal in mind, motivating each other, being there together. 

I am forever thankful to my boyfriend for pushing me to achieve what I wanted and I want to thank my crew for not letting me fall back. Anything is possible with the right people beside you.

transitional moods

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I really hate this time of the year. Obviously, I love the fact the the world is coming back to life blah blah blah, but I’m just terrible at dressing for this “transitional season” kind of weather. In the morning it’s freezing so you bundle up, at lunch time the sun is splitting the stones and you’re baking, in the evening it’s getting nippy again. I have never been good at dressing for this, which is unfortunate because it’s the longest season in Ireland!

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This outfit is a perfect example of this. This morning was dull and grey so I went for tights (it’s still March!) and what turned out to be a mostly black ensemble. Fast forward to lunch time and I’m sweltering and feel dark and moody looking. I keep looking at these pics (’cause I’m so gorgeous!) and thinking now if I had bare legs and some nude heels that outfit would look much better. But honestly I cannot bring myself to go tights-less. Maybe in April… Maybe… But you look at so many bloggers in places just as cold as where I am and they are practically starkers! Do I just not like fashion enough? I am not willing to sacrifice my warmth for the perfect look… What have I become!?!

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I suppose at least there is some pretty spring detailing. This top for example, it’s new and simply beautiful. Chiffon and lace are a wonderful combination. Delicate, feminine, soft.  I feel very “House on the Prairie” in it, but you know in a seductive way. And there is a big mother fuppin’ slit in my skirt, surely that also adds to my spring attire feel… right? I mean who wears such slitful skirts in winter (I do), it’s definitely a spring thing!

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No? I still look too wintery? Well feck that anyway! Am I alone? Does anyone else have that problem or does the rest of the world fall into two categories, “Always gets it right when it comes to transitional dressing” and “Don’t give two ninnies about transitional dressing.” Someone else join me in limbo…

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Top: Vila / Jacket: Only / Skirt: Oasis / Sunglasses: Quay / Shoes: Penneys