Photo taken at Fort Mason, San Francisco, California
Culture in Ireland is slowly but surely changing. People are becoming more conscious about what they eat and making a conscious choice to exercise. When I was in secondary school I would come home and make pasta with cheese. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t cause I wasn’t able to cook something fancy, but it was the mentality of what was the point when I was only cooking for one. My youngest sister now comes home from school and makes herself a sandwich, with chicken, pesto, sundried tomato’s and goats cheese. Now she may be the exception, as she is quite the chef, but I do feel younger generations are more aware of healthy eating. As Operation Transformation makes its way back onto Irish television screens, we see communities getting together to come out and get fit! Local supermarkets advertising weekly deals on fruit and vegetable, all ready to give us that kick we need to get started.
I recently bought myself an UP Jawbone, for those of you who do not know this is a fitness tracker. It tracks how many steps you take daily, your sleep and you can also record the food you eat through the app. December 2013, myself and my sisters bought one of these bands for my dad and to this day I am surprised he religiously wears it (expect for last week when he momentarily lost it, but that’s another story). It is suggested that you aim to take 10,000 steps per day and I am finding myself getting disappointed if I do not surpass this target. Another thing that gives me a slight nudge in the right direction is that I have ‘teamed up’ with my dad and a close friend back home, which has released my competitive streak… I must beat them on a daily basis, although I don’t think they are aware of this competition.
I have also joined a gym close to work and try to go every day after work and if I am feeling super motivated sometimes on a Saturday too. I am not going to lie, the steam room and jacuzzi have a huge pull on that motivation, but that only happens if I commit to an intense 45 plus minute workout beforehand. I find my peers here are very focused on eating healthy and keeping active, some go as far as eating lunch at their desk as to have time for a 40 minute run during the day. People take pride in their health/appearance going for their bi-weekly manicures and I have even heard of people in the gym talk about their weekly massages!
Shortly after moving into our apartment we bought a Nutri-bullet, something I had never heard of before and was convinced I was also never going to use it. Now, I have two juices a day, one for breakfast and another as a mid-afternoon snack. One day in the office my manager walked by and saw me drinking my dark green drink, he asked did it have kale. As I nodded he began to reply, ‘Oh you certainly are a true Californian now’! A statement that made me laugh, people at home eat Kale too!
On the odd sunny occasion in Ireland you will hear the phrase, ‘the sun comes out, clothes come off’. You will see young girls wander around as if they are in the south of Spain, and men wandering around the city centre with tops off as if they are at the beach. Imagine if Ireland was always guaranteed that sunny weather throughout the summer/year, I feel people would be more health conscious, similar to how people are when they are prepping to go away on holiday – getting beach bod ready! I certainly know I became more aware of what I was eating and ensuring I got that gym session in once I booked my one way ticket to California.
Ireland may be years behind in a lot of things (roads and transport systems to name a few) but it is catching on quickly when it comes to the importance of fitness and healthy eating. Gyms and fitness classes are popping up across the country and there are more healthy options available when eating out. I hope by the time I move back home that Ireland will be on par with the way of living over here (maybe leaving out the weekly massages), hoping that people will invest in their health and see the benefits of staying fit!