“Resolution – A Firm Decision to do or not to do something”

As the world returns to normal today after the Christmas and New Year Festivities with people returning to work and day-to-day life with plans for a better “them” I decided to write my first blog of 2013. Those of you who know me or do in fact read my blogs will know I only write when I have something to say, or at least have something worth reading….

So here it is and guess what it’s all about RESOLUTIONS!!

Now, bear with me, this is not one of those blogs where I tell you all how I am going to be a better person in 2013, where I plan on making so many changes that come 2014 I am unrecognisable; this is actually my attempt to motivate all of those who have in fact set themselves a goal, to share with you my journey as I attempted to fulfil my own resolution.

Looking back it’s easy remember what motivated me to set my 2010 New Year’s resolution. I had spent the Christmas of 2009 hating myself, and while that may sound a tad dramatic, I mean it with all my heart. I hated how I looked, I hated that all the girls in the office were fitting into slinky size 10 dresses and I was beating myself into size 14-16 dresses. (Now don’t get me wrong, to me a size 14-16 is NOT big, I don’t consider a girl with curves fat but personally I wasn’t happy at my weight and size during that time). I hated getting ready for a night out, because I would physically feel nauseous beforehand trying to plan what I was going to wear or trying to find a dress that made me feel slimmer. Enough was enough and I decided that Christmas to get all my eating out of the way, to binge on desserts and sugary foods and drink all and anything I wanted because that January I was going to start my weight loss journey.

In January 2010 I joined WW at a starting weight of 13st 1lb, my friends still don’t believe that I was as heavy as that, they never considered me over weight in the first place, which is still the ultimate compliment. And slowly but surely I started to lose the weight. I was turning 30 that October and I was determined to have reached my goal weight before 10-10-10.

So here’s where the motivation comes in;

Weight loss as with any resolution you’ve made is NOT easy. There will be some great weeks, like my very 1st week where I lost a half stone, and there will be some pretty rough weeks like the month of June 2010 where I didn’t lose one single pound, but ladies and gents that is all part of the journey!! You must learn to take the good with the bad and you must accept that there will be days when you will want to give in and just go back to eating normal, these are the days you must try harder, because if you can overcome these fleeting moments of feeling downhearted then you WILL reach your goal no matter what that is.

So what did I do to keep myself motivated? How did I get through the rough days? I simply did the following;

  1. Rewards – people do NOT underestimate the power of rewarding yourself for both the big and small accomplishments. I had weekly treats whether it was a takeout; the nachos with CHEESE at the cinema, or something pretty to wear. And when I reached the bigger goals I allowed myself something a little more extravagant, new shoes or a new handbag; all of which I still have and still remind me of what I achieved.
  2. Diary – I kept a diary BUT not a typical day in day out diary; I kept one where I would ONLY write the positive feelings; so how happy it made me feel when I had my 1st half stone down, when someone would give me a compliment or notice my weight loss, Anything positive was recorded and kept in my diary, so on the tough days I could look back and know it was all worth it no matter how difficult I was finding it.
  3. Talk – I told people. Again don’t get me wrong, I did not focus on myself for 12mths and talk solely about my weight loss, but my friends knew my goal and were so supportive that every week I would text my closest friends with my accomplishment whether it was good or bad and I was met with their congratulations or their supportive “you’ll do better next week” texts, all of which helped me immensely.

So in October 2010 I had lost 32lbs and was at the weight of 10 and a half stone. Never have you seen a girl so happy. I was thrilled to be fitting into smaller clothes & while I had not reached my goal weight of 9st 12lbs I was well on my way and I did in fact accomplish my goal weight by December of that year. In 12mths I had changed my body and I was thrilled that I had.

Since then my weight has gone up slightly, I am now always floating somewhere between 10st and 10st 4lbs. Do I feel bad because I’ve gained these few pounds? Occasionally, but now I am in the gym and concentrating on toning my body and learning slowly but surely that muscle weighs heavier than fat.

And what’s my resolution in 2013 you ask; the same as it was in 2011 and 2012 – Keep healthy; keep the weight off and keep the exercise going as much as I can. Yes there are months when I am lazy but even then I stand on the scales every week and acknowledge if I have put up weight, and then I do something about it. Remember all of these resolutions are supposed to be life changes.

So this morning as you embark on being the new you – look at me; know that I know what you’re going through and if we’re on twitter, then tweet me or any of your followers if you’re having a rough day BUT don’t give up, keep struggling through so that next Christmas as you embark on 2014 you do it as the you, you wanted to be.

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Looking for Love …?

“Love is an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection, the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.”

Growing up I imagine all girls and indeed boys at one point or another picture their “happy ending”, meeting their Prince Charming or Princess, starting a family, buying a home.  In traditional Ireland, girls, like me, would have grown up under the assumption that their fairy tale ending would be there waiting for them; sparks would fly, fireworks would decorate the night sky and you would be forever bound to your soul-mate.

So what happens when the fairy-tale doesn’t come true; when you find yourself like me, single again and approaching 32? For almost 18months I have been single, flying the flag solo, ALONE.  For me age and marital status were always two separate entities BUT that tilted head and sorrowful look when people ask “have you met anyone YET” is becoming all too familiar. It’s as though people can’t or don’t believe I can be happy without a significant other in my life.

Modern Ireland is like countless other countries, with life for many being focused on fast cars, fast money and fast sex.  Gone are the traditional days of courting, of meeting your love at the crossroads, or local dance, and of marrying young.  So why then, do I seem to get that pitiful look every time I say I’m single, or that reassuring “you’ll meet someone when the time is right” line??

The truth is I’m not ready to meet anyone, I went from one long term relationship to another, and I need time for me.  Somewhere in the midst of my previous relationships I lost the girl I thought I was.  I went from having a large circle of male friends to having very few because it wasn’t liked, I lost friendships I thought would never fade and worst of all I lost a lot of my positivity and I’m not too enamoured by the person I am right now.

So here I am approaching my 32nd birthday and while others would think their biological clock was ticking or they were now destined to be alone, these are thoughts I don’t ever entertain.  The romantic inside of me feels that one day I will meet the “one” who is right for me, someone who comes with their own life experience and relationship scaring, someone who knows what it is to have loved and lost, and maybe when I do meet him my heart will be ready, open again to welcoming someone in.

For now, I live my life by rules, and I don’t mean this as some powerful feminist statement, I simply mean I live life for me now and no-one else.  I don’t sleep around, that’s something you do in your 20’s, I don’t go off with my male friends, I simply do what I have to do to make life best for me.  I work, I go to the gym and I sit down drinking milky coffees dreaming about making me the best me I can be.

So YES, if you’re wondering I am looking for love; every girl is, but right now that love doesn’t come in a 6ft well chiselled body (mind you that wouldn’t hurt either), but it comes from me.  I’m looking to learn how to love me again, love the woman I have become and am becoming before ever I love another man because in the words of Buddha “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

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I get by with a little help from my Friends …….

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”  Elisabeth Foley

At a very young age I discovered the value of friendship; I realised the wealth of having someone who would unconditionally love you when all others around you appeared to be judging you & as I have grown older I have grown to value this all the more.

Over the last 12months I have been overwhelmed by the friends in my life, those who allowed me to lean on them when I didn’t have strength to stand on my own, those who were able to sit with me & allow me to cry, knowing there were no words they could say & most importantly those who are still there all the while knowing that although I have found some happiness, I’m still not fully there.

Unfortunately my school days are long over, so I, like many others now must face the reality of adulthood, the reality that my friends must leave the country for work, that friendships will be tested and sadly not all friendships make it.

As 32 lurks around the corner, I find myself single again after a very long time & because of this I now value friendships all the more; from those friends I see daily, to those I’ve only ever spoken to via the medium of twitter, each & every one of them make my days richer & for that I am truly grateful.

Over the coming weeks two of my closest friends, Laura & Barrie are set to embark on new adventures & unfortunately (for me) these adventures take them out of Ireland.  Two people who I have leaned on most will no longer be just a car journey or train ride away & honestly it scares me to death.  I have refused point blank to speak of Laura’s leaving and while people may think that I am being dramatic she knows it’s because I feel so sad about it.  Even writing this has me filling with tears.

However with age also comes wisdom, I know that all true friendships transcend even the toughest of barriers, and while I may not get to see Laura every day in work or I may not get to visit Barrie if the urge takes me, I will still be able to confide in them & that makes my life instantly richer.

So here’s my purpose for writing “To all my friends, old & new, Thank you.  Thank you for being there in the good times & more recently the bad.  Thank you all for sharing my laughter & wiping away my tears.  Thank you for simply being you”

Last week my friend shared with me that she was expecting her first baby & for her, I cried tears of happiness.  Upon her leaving she text me & said that she wanted me to share in her happiness and that while I was on the wrong side of the coin now she was sure that one day she would be sharing in mine again.

“Friends, I am doing ok, there are still tough days, and life isn’t exactly what I had planned but in the words of Olly Murs,  I’m gonna live the life I wanted every day, Find someone to help me chase the clouds away, If you wanna know it’s written on my face, When you see me smiling, I’m OK”

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Respect; One Girls Perspective

In the end we are all separate: our stories, no matter how similar, come to a fork and diverge. We are drawn to each other because of our similarities, but it is our differences we must learn to respect

It would be forgiven if over the last 10 months my attitude towards men had altered and I had become resentful of them; disparaging them for their lack of respect and tarring them all with the same brush.  When a man hurts us we are all too eager to put him down, to criticise & chastise him and with the help of our friends berate him for his behaviour.  But what about the way we as women behave toward each other?

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by emotionally strong, independent women who have faced their own struggles & conquered them; women who highlight to the world that the body is merely the shell of the person inside.  As we grow older, we become pass-remarkable, commenting on the way the women around us look, sharing gossip we have heard about them or secretly bitching behind their back.  How can we, as women who do this, honestly chastise a man for his lack of respect, when we ourselves are showing it daily?!

I have felt the sideward glances of the girls who think they know my story; heard the mutterings & seen the sympathetic head tilts.  Over my 31 years I have definitely fed the gossips, I have had dramas in my life that some can only imagine but through it all I have kept my head held high and now I can say with confidence and certainty that people’s opinions of me, matter very little.  I am who I am; those who love me; always will and those that don’t; don’t matter.

This valuable lesson was lovingly taught to me by my mother; a woman who I truly love and respect, not only because she selflessly raised me but because as I have grown older she has become a true friend.  When I hear people speak of her, it is always in a positive manner, they talk of her strength, her unconditional friendship and the love she exudes.  She never speaks negatively of any other woman, if she hears a critical remark passed, her simple but powerful response is “yes, but maybe she’s happy”.  My mum never fails to see the good in other women, she sees the light that shines from within them and doesn’t allow a woman’s weight, fashion-sense or mistakes extinguish that.  From her own struggles she has drawn strength and I am very lucky to say that she has shown me how to do the same.

So ladies here’s what I say to you: “If we wish for men to treat us with the respect we deserve, then we must set the precedent.  We must stop passing negative comments on the women that surround us and focus instead on their strengths.  You may not like her skirt, you may think her hairstyle out-dated or her behaviour irrational, but who are we to judge?  None of us know the struggles another woman faces on a daily basis, the insecurities she harbours or the personal goals she aims to achieve, but she like us is a woman and for that reason alone she deserves our respect.  I as a woman have fallen but I have risen, I have made mistakes, I live, I learn, I’ve been hurt but I’m alive.  I’m not perfect but I’m thankful and because of this I for one will always recognise the beauty of womanhood and respect those women like you, like me, who face life with vigour on a daily basis.”

 J ❤

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“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”

An age old romantic, in love with love itself” & an “Eternal optimist” are both phrases that I have used when describing myself.  For those of you who know me, you will know that I am an old fashioned gal, I believe in the virtues of marriage, I believe every Princess does indeed have her Prince & more importantly I believe in “Happy Ever After”

11-11-11 was the day intended to encapsulate all of this for me.  Tomorrow afternoon at 2pm, I Jennifer Aherne was to walk up the aisle. However, my Fairy Tale was not to be & now the date hangs in the air like the darkest of clouds & all I can do is wait for it to pass.  5 months ago, My WeddingFairy Tale came grinding to a halt & my world came crashing down around me; sure I could blog about the reasons, I could rant about the hurt and the pain or I could sit and bitterly crush the sanctity of marriage, but that’s just not me & it is certainly not my reason for writing this blog.

For me life is a lesson & nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  The last 5 months while difficult have also taught me a lot; “Sometimes the people you love will unfortunately be the people who cause you pain, just remember they too are only human & everyone makes mistakes.  Unhappiness & Hurt can make you bitter but only if you let it; embrace those emotions like an old friend, allow them to fill your heart but as time passes wish them farewell because bitterness means you’ll never be truly happy.  Don’t forget what you believe in; I still believe in Love, in Marriage & in Happy Ever After & I always will.  Remember that however dark the cloud there is always a silver lining & most importantly when things are truly difficult, take a deep breath & repeat *this too shall pass*”

So tomorrow on 11-11-11 if you are lucky enough to have someone you love beside you, kiss them, hug them & make sure they know you care …. Yes Love has hurt me but it has also filled me with happiness & as the “Eternal Optimist” I believe that although tomorrow was not my time, one day it will be ……..

J ❤

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The Weight-ing Game

“I cannot take a compliment & I will NEVER be happy with how I look despite having lost the weight I wanted to lose.”

These words have echoed in my mind since writing my first blog post. I have repeated the sentence over & over again in the hope that I would eventually look up, see my reflection and think differently……….I DON’T!!!

I have battled with my weight since I was 18 years old. Once a young skinny girl, I embarked on college life, I went traveling & I discovered the joys of eating & boozing. Before I knew it I was retiring my skinny, Size 10, bootcut jeans and buying the next size up & then the next one up again.  The realization of what was happening to my body didn’t dawn on me straight away but when I became the “fat” one in my group of friends my battle began.

Being overweight played havoc with me, I became insecure, I lost my confidence but even more worryingly I became abusive towards myself.  I would look in the mirror & mentally or quite often verbally abuse myself. I would call myself names, I would point out every single negative feature I could find until I couldn’t take it anymore and I would sit & cry about how ugly I was. On nights out I would find myself looking at my friends, making comparisons, seeing their good points and using these as ammunition towards myself; it was just another reason for me to put “me” down. 

In my naiveté I believed if I lost weight all of this would change, I would start to love myself, I would become more confident and I would just be a better me.  So, in January 2010 I finally found myself in the correct frame of mind, and decided to do something about my weight.  I was 12stone 7lbs and 5ft 4” dressing in sizes 14 -16 and things needed to change. 

I made the decision to join Weight Watchers, as for me this seemed the only sane way to lose weight while still being able to enjoy the food I liked.  I was determined. For once I wanted it to be a long term, lifestyle change & not some quick fix where I lost a few pounds but then had the weight back on a couple of weeks later.

Losing weight is not an easy thing to do; it is a journey that can quite often bring you huge highs but equally huge lows.  So here’s my advice; celebrate each loss, whether it’s a ½ pound or 4 pounds, one is equally as important as the other.  If you slip off the wagon and gain weight, don’t become disheartened, but use it as motivation to drive yourself onwards to encourage you to get back on track. 

It is now a year and a half on and I am proud to say that I have lost just under 3 stone and on my last weigh-in I weighed 9st 8lbs, and am happily fitting into a Size 10. So, let me share with you what I’ve learned in that time…….

People never thought that I was fat & I hear that now all the time, from my friends, my family and even from my work colleagues. I have been and always will be my own worst critic, and that’s something Weight Watchers can’t change. I still look in the mirror and pinpoint every flaw I can see; I clearly still haven’t got my head around the fact that I am now “skinny”.

Losing weight does not build your confidence but it did make me realize that I never want to be in a place where I abuse myself mentally or verbally again. Most of all it has taught me that as you grow older, you have to learn to love you; even though I find that very difficult I have learned to look at “Jennifer the person” as a whole package  & not just what you see on the outside. I look at the impact I have on people’s lives, the smiles I create, how I love people unconditionally & the friendships I value & I realize that if I do all these things well, my size shouldn’t really matter ……



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Hello, I am Jenn with a Pen

It is with trepidation that I write my first blog, so much so that I have spent the last 2hours doing anything but putting pen to paper, or in this case finger to key.  I am apprehensive about content, the entertainment factor but more than anything about being judged.  Writing a blog for me is almost like writing a diary entry, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing people’s secrets, pain & laughter through their blogs & it scares me to put myself “out there” like that, but this is something I have been threatening on you good folk for some time, so today while I have a quiet moment I thought I would start in the only way I know how; by the age old means of introduction, so,  “Hello I am Jenn with a Pen”

There are certain things you need to know about me.  I am a complex girl & I don’t pretend to be otherwise, I am an age old romantic who is in love with love itself, I am honest, but never to the point where my honesty will hurt or offend & when I care about something or someone I do so with every fibre of my being.  I can often speak before I think yet I am afraid of any form of confrontation, which has been much to my detriment.  I am my biggest critic, I cannot take a compliment & I will NEVER be happy with how I look despite having lost the weight I wanted to lose.  I am mostly happy but have days like any other that are tinged with sadness or insecurity or anger….. These emotions however are fleeting, I feel them I own them & then honestly I let them go because I believe people can waste precious time on feelings that inevitably make them bitter.  I am a wife to be, a WW advocate but mostly  I am me and I admit I am still growing so that one day I may become the person I have always wanted to be.

Over the last 12months I have become a Twittering Fanatic & it is because of this that I endeavor to join the blogging world, because while you all know I can talk (god knows some of you probably wish I would shut up every now & then) I think it’s important you all know the girl behind the tweets.  I honestly don’t know which direction the blog will go in but I thought maybe if I started by introducing myself to you all my next blog could be a little more adventurous & it wouldn’t find me sitting in front of the screen typing, deleting, re-reading & invariably TRYING to build up the courage to press POST !!!!!

J ♥

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