7 Goals for 2016

Can you believe its almost 2016? Yes, Twenty Sixteen! Have you made any new year’s resolutions yet? Here are 7 of mine:

7 goals for 2016 New Year Resolutions Talking About Family

  1. Pray Pray Pray

Spend time every day with God. Read Scripture. Read my Magnificat. Do a bible study. Pray as a family / couple every day. Continue to journal.

2. Find a place for everything

I’m really trying to declutter, downsize and get organised. I made a big effort to donate items and clear out during Advent, and I have no plans to stop. Its too easy to get attached to things of this world and accumulate stuff. My goal is to find a place for everything, or throw it out!

3. Health and Fitness

I lost quite a few pounds in 2015, through a combination of diet and exercise. As I have somewhat abandoned the diet, the weigh loss has plateaued, so I intend to get back on track in 2016 and lose the last stone!

I also aim to run at last 15k a week (3 x 5k), and complete a 10k in the first half of the year. I took up running after having my daughter, and did my first 10k last year- hopefully I will complete it in a faster time this year!

4. Find a place for technology

My number one resolution for 2015 was to read more on paper than on screen, which I think I achieved. As a mother of a growing girl, I am increasingly aware of the impact of my tech use on her life. I am also currently reading Reclaiming Conversation by psychologist Sherry Turkle. This podcast is well worth a listen.

 

So, 2016 will involve a digital detox, and hopefully I will find a happy, practical balance.

5. Read Read Read

In 2016, I hope to rediscover my inner bookworm, which I lost while doing my BA, about 15 years ago.

Reading list to follow!

One Thousand Gifts Ann Voskamp6. Be Grateful

I am (also) currently reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Voskamp’s perspective and life is transformed when she starts counting her gifts and graces, even amid the pain that life throws up.

In 2016, I am going to start counting my own gifts, the things I am grateful for.

7. Learn 1000 words in Irish

My husband is fluent in Irish and speaks as Gaeilge to our daughter. I don’t want to miss anything!

Also, I hope to learn several prayers and parts of the Mass including:

  • Hail Mary
  • Lamb of God
  • the second part of the ‘Our Father’
  • Holy Holy

This will come in handy when the priest slips into Irish, as occasionally happens here in Ireland!

Do you have any goals for 2016? I would love to hear from you 🙂 Happy new year!

For more quick takes, visit This Aint the Lyceum.

 

How I discovered NFP

How I discovered NFP - talking about family

This week is National NFP awareness week in the United States, so I thought I would share my journey with NFP.

I’ll set my stall out straight away. I confess. I am a Natural Family Planning (NFP) fan. A huge one. However, this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, you could say I used to be quite ambivalent to it. I only knew of NFP myths; it relied on the antiquated rhythm method and was unreliable.

When I was 18, I went to university, fell away from the Church, got a boyfriend and started using the Pill. It seemed like a good idea and the next logical step in adulthood. I went to the doctor, who took my blood pressure and gave me a prescription. Back home, I read the information leaflet and was not put off by the side effects- mood swings, weight gain, breast cancer…  I read that when you stop taking the Pill, your risk of breast cancer goes back to normal after 10 years.[1] I rationalised that was OK, and signed up to nearly a decade of hormone hodgepodge.

Towards the end of my twenties, I came back to the Catholic faith. Through reading Church teachings such as Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body, I began to understand why the Church taught that birth control was wrong- a couple co-operates with God in creating the miracle of new life. To use birth control would be to say to God that my plan was better than His.

I married my husband in 2012. Soon after, a friend mentioned NFP, which prompted us to look into the different methods and find a teacher. I discovered there are effective and evidence-based methods of NFP include the Creighton model, Billings and the sympto-thermal method. The Creighton model has a 97% rate of effectiveness in avoiding pregnancy. This is in sharp contrast to the oral contraceptive whose in-use rate of efficacy is, at best, 92%.

Furthermore, the Pill is listed by the World Health Organization as a group one carcinogen, a fact many women taking the pill are not aware of. Why didn’t my doctor tell me?  A few of its other side effects include blood clotting, depression, weight gain and, ironically, low libido.

I realise now that modern NFP is indeed the Church’s ‘trump card’. Why? Women who use NFP are more in tune with their bodies- they understand them better. It helps detect problems like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and endometriosis. It is scientifically proven. It’s free. There is a divorce rate of less than 2% among couples who use it because it promotes respect and communication between couples. And, in an age where many of us like to try to eat organic, it’s natural, free from artificial hormones which pollute not only the environment, but, more importantly, women’s bodies.

It is a little known fact that some birth control pills, the emergency contraceptive pill and the IUD are abortifacients– they work by preventing the newly formed embryo from attaching to the wall of the uterus. Using these methods means overriding God’s plan and aborting the new life that has formed.

We use the Creighton Model of NFP. By observing cervical mucus daily, and noting it on a chart, a couple can identify the part of the woman’s cycle where she is fertile and infertile.Fertility is embraced as something natural and healthy, rather than a disease to be cured with drugs. Above all, NFP treats human life with dignity and the respect it deserves, made in the image and likeness of God.

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception-guide/pages/the-pill-progestogen-only.aspx

How did you discover NFP? What is your experience of it? I would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

7 tips for running your first 10k

7 tips for running your first 10kI took up running this year as a way to exercise with a baby. It has its benefits- its free, baby can come with you and, in the time you would spend driving to the gym, getting changed and showered and coming home, your workout is done! And it burns LOADS of calories! Since becoming a runner (I guess I can call myself a runner now, eh?!) I feel fitter, my body has changed shape (in a good way!) and I have more energy.

I started using a Couch 2 5k programme, running and walking, and gradually increasing the running each week. When I completed it, I did not want my hard work to go to waste so I set myself a challenge to ensure I kept running- I signed up for a 10k race!

As there are couch 2 5k programmes, so there are couch to 10k programmes, and bridge 2 10k programmes available on apps and podcasts etc. I spent so long umming and ahhing as to which one to use, I just kept running and made my own programme up along the way. So, here are my top 7 bridge 2 10k tips

  1. Firstly, congratulate yourself on becoming a runner. Let’s face it, going from couch potato to a regular runner takes a lot of hard work and discipline. You have built running into your routine and it is important to keep running three times a week.
  2. Continuing on the theme of celebrations- treat yourself to a new piece of kit! Did you do the couch 2 5k in your old trainers? New properly fitted trainers are a worthwhile investment. I did my whole couch 2 5k clutching my phone in my palm, so I got myself a phone arm-band… which went a little way to making me feel like a proper runner!
  3. Sign up for a race. This will keep your eye on the prize and keep you motivated! http://www.runireland.com is a great website for Irish runners.
  4. Back to the actual training… I did three runs a week; one fast half hour run, a 5k run and a long run. I had about 8 weeks before my race, so every week, I increased the distance of my long run by half a kilometre.
  5. Doing the longer runs mixes things up a bit- I ran new routes (using http://www.mapmyrun.com to plan them first) and started running in the evening, so I wasn’t under pressure for time. Changing the route and time of day keeps your running routine fresh and prevents you from getting bored!
  6. Think about your posture and form. How are your feet hitting the ground? Are is your back straight or hunched? Where are your shoulders? That was the thing I had to keep reminding myself about- they were oftentimes up round my ears. Lowering them made me feel instantly more relaxed and I enjoyed a better run.
  7. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad run. Don’t be disheartened if you had a slow run, or you feel you are not improving. You have done so well coming this far. Getting out and having an off run is far better than sitting on the sofa!

Are you a new runner? Or a seasoned one? I would love to hear your comments, questions or tips!

This post is part of Kelly’s 7 quick takes link up, hosted at This Aint the Lyceum. Head on over there for more quick takes!

7QTs: Jogging for Beginners

comes Jogging for beginnersI was never a runner. It’s hard to believe I am now, but I have just finished a Couch to 5k (C25k) plan, and can run for a full 30 minutes! This is the second time I have done this plan. (My first time was a few years ago, before my wedding, but I didn’t keep it up.) Jogging has three main attractions- it’s free, all you need to get started is a pair of runners, and it gets results! I figured it was the best way to get back into shape after having a baby- I could do it with baby in tow, at a convenient time and with minimal expense. So I started again…. Here are seven tips I have learned along the way:

  1. NHS Choices Couch to 5k

    My couck 2 5k programme

    Find a good Couch 2 5k programme You can find them online, on podcasts, apps, and in books and magazines… I used the NHS Couch 2 5k programme, which consisted of 9 weeks worth of podcasts. Laura, the narrator, told me when to walk and when to run, as well as giving tips and motivation.

As well as listening to the podcasts, I would use an app like Map My Run or Endomondo to track my progress. This is a real motivator as you can see how many calories you burn after each work out and see your distance increasing as the weeks go on.

  1. It’s just a light jog C25k programmes usually start with interval training- walking for a bit, then jogging for a bit. The girl on my podcast often said, “Remember, its just a light jog”. I found this really helpful to remember as it took the pressure off.
  1. Route It’s good to vary the route. This comes naturally as the weeks go by and you are running further. If you are running on a treadmill, why not run outside? If you are already running outside, why not try a lap of the park instead of sticking to the pavement. Sometimes I go for a short drive and run somewhere beautiful, like a nature park or the beach. Changing the scenery mixes things up. Variety is the spice of life, right?
  1. My running buddy

    Equipment The first time I did a C25k programme, I knew by week 4 – 5 that I was going to stick with the programme, so I invested in some trainers, fitted at a specialist running shop. This made the word of difference to my feet.

The second time I started the C25k, I would bring baby T along with me. I didn’t need a special buggy for the first few weeks as the running distance was short and I was slow… again, when I knew I would stick it out, I bought a second hand jogger buggy online.

  1. Take a break I began to enjoy running so much I wanted to run consecutive days. However, it is really important to give your muscles a rest and chance to recover, and avoid injury. Why not do something else with that energy? Go for a walk, or a swim…
  1. Prayer Initially, I started praying when I was looking up a big hill, praying a decade of the rosary to get me to the top! Towards the end of the C25k, I found that jogging was a good way to incorporate prayer into my routine. Now, I often pray a whole rosary during my jog. And I offer up any suffering! Its also a good way just to get some head space and think about any ideas / problems or figure out what’s for dinner!
  1. Believe in yourself I am not a natural-born runner. I will never forget the time I ran for two minutes for the first time and looked back on the distance I had covered. I had a real sense of achievement! C25k programmes are designed to build you up gradually, minute by minute, not drop you in the deep end with a 30 minute run. I trusted in the programme and believed in myself. If I had a bad run, I wouldn’t beat myself up- a bad run is better than no run. If I didn’t feel ready to move on to the next week, I would repeat the week. By recognising your progress and believing in yourself, you can do it!

I finished the Couch 2 5k plan this week and I have already set myself a new goal- a 10k run in two months. Watch this space!

Would you like to take up jogging, but have a question? Or, are you a already a runner and have a comment or tip? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to Kelly from This Aint the Lyceum for hosting 7 Quick Takes. For more quick takes, head on over there!