What not to eat!

April 28, 2014
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These days there is a lot of debate about what is really healthy for us.

A lot of the information available about healthy eating actually seems to contradict itself – like protein is good for you vs that it might give us a deadly disease!!!

So, how can we navigate the stormy waters of misinformation and keep our sanity at the same time?

My story

I remember seeing a nutritionist in 2002 who seemed so shocked that I ate a small bar of chocolate every day that I was shocked!

Surely, a small treat every day was okay?? She recommended I try dark chocolate so I dutifully went to the nearest health shop and bought two large bars of 70% dark chocolate.

I went home…

…and cooked a proper meal of salmon and roasted vegetables and then sat down in front of the TV with my cup of peppermint tea and my dark chocolate. Before I knew it I had finished the whole bar and was looking for the second one. But I still didn’t get the sugar hit I was used to!!

Luckily, I realised that it was the sugar hit that I was addicted to and NOT the chocolate! Knowing I was addicted was a turning point for me.

I began by repeating this mantra 50 times a day to reprogram my mind – “I have the best diet of anyone I know”. I literally would count on my fingers as I did it. And it worked!

I cut out all refined sugar from my diet for a full year back in 2003-2004. I ate protein at every meal for a few years after that.  I didn’t have a mars bar for about 6 years and when I finally tried one again I spat it out again because it was too sweet!!

BUT… like many people on a healthy buzz, I became tired of all the deprivation and started to add more treats into my diet as time went by within the guidelines below.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” Virginia Woolf

I’ve spent about 10 years working in the health and wellness industry – I worked in Health Shops for about five years and after getting my diploma in holistic nutrition and dietetics I worked in gyms for a few years…

But not everyone has the time or energy to study health to that level – and though some of what I know isn’t common knowledge, a lot of what I recommend here is common sense…!

  1. DO NOT rely on packaged foods. Almost every processed food has additives and hidden sugars of some kind.
  1. Eat real foods – eat some fresh vegetables and learn to cook fish or meat from raw… at least you will know what is in it! Check out Jamie Oliver’s recipes for tips.
  1. Eat breakfast. If you haven’t eaten early in the day then you are likely to crave junk food later. Please don’t use sugary cereals to start the day if you can help it!
  1. Don’t eat dessert until after your dinner. Avoid sweets unless you’ve eaten a proper healthy meat first.




This is a personal blog written and edited by me, and it does not represent the views of any employer, my family, my friends, or anyone or anything that isn’t me. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  I will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.


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Head first!

April 22, 2014
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Figuring what your next step is can sometimes seem overwhelming especially if you’re in a situation that you’re not too happy about right now.

The urge to move away from an unpleasant situation can be a strong motivation and it could make you do something impulsive… and me too…

But be careful!

If you don’t have something to move towards you could find yourself moving into a more difficult situation. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as they say.

Socrates said “Know yourself” and he said “To find yourself, think for yourself”.

Seeing your “bulls-eye” is essential to hitting it. Just think about it. If you can’t see what you’re aiming for… how can you achieve it?

My Story

Being a dreamer has led me into some uncomfortable situations. I have always been brilliant at jumping head first without thinking or planning.

Case in point when I went to live in San Francisco for a year. I left a difficult work situation at home and headed off – full of the joys of spring and lots of optimism but very little money. I was sure success would fall into my lap.

So, being locked out of work because the company went bust and then working in a windowless basement office of one of the tallest sky scrapers in San Francisco was not part of the plan.

Even though I learned a tough lesson when life in San Francisco was so challenging, I still do my best to see the positives in all my decisions.

Though it took me a while, I realised that going to San Francisco was hugely beneficial. I studied Speech Level Singing there which completely transformed my singing from using a traditional choral sound that was drummed into me in our school choir to sounding more natural and more me… 🙂

So, in order to have no regrets I take the lesson on the chin, resolve to do better next time and move on a little wiser than before.

So, how about using your head first and checking into what you would like to do rather than jumping in head first?

Because this has been a genuine difficulty of mine, I have come up with a short checklist to help me make my decisions wiser and to help me think for myself… and hopefully know myself better than ever…

  1. Ask why. Check what I am feeling now and how I want to feel…
  2. Ask what. What am I moving away from and what am I moving towards…
  3. Ask how. What are the alternatives to my first impulsive reaction…
  4. Ask when. How will the timing of the decision and the action affect the outcome…
  5. Ask who. Who will be affected by your choice and how…

So, here’s to knowing yourself…and thinking for yourself… Good Luck!

© Aideen Reidy & Real Girl Confidence. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Aideen Reidy & Real Girl Confidence with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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No more Miss Nice Girl

April 12, 2014
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The Native Americans believed that a photo could steal your soul…

I don’t know if there is any truth in that… but I do believe that we can give our power away to others quite easily especially if we don’t have faith in ourselves.

Our parents spent years letting us know we need to obey them and our teachers. So much so, that we learn to LIKE the comfort of following someone else’s lead. Someone who always seems to know better than us.

But they don’t know everything!

My story

My career plan as a teenager included dancing or acting or singing. My poor guidance teacher didn’t know what to think… and her suggestion that I consider nursing or teaching fell on deaf ears.

Though I auditioned and was accepted to acting school, I was convinced to go to University instead by my Dad. I did take dancing and singing classes in the evenings for a while but then one comment from my singing teacher stopped me in my tracks.

Mr Smolenski innocently told me that my voice wouldn’t be fully developed until my 30’s so I decided to just give it up!! Crazy or what!

In my thirties I did go back to singing, studied Jazz music, recorded a demo and started to gig in some clubs in Dublin. But again in a moment of self-doubt, I went to a trusted friend who told me to give it up and join a choir. I auditioned for a couple of choir but didn’t get in and gave up music for another 3 years…

Are you seeing the trend here???

Yes, my lack of confidence meant I listened more to other people than to myself. But despite the lack of support I keep coming back to doing music which must mean something. It was like an itch that I just had to scratch!

I’m so glad I’ve learned from those mistakes finally! Now I gather my thoughts and steel my resolve to be able to fight for the life I want even if no one else really “gets” it.

If you need to believe in yourself more just remember that no one else can live your life for you. Watch this GREAT trailer for inspiration too.

“No more Miss Nice Girl” – as Matilda says in the trailer below 🙂

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“You can’t EAT beauty!”

April 9, 2014
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For many years I worked as an image consultant, helping people see what colours and styles suited them. As rewarding as that was, I finally got fed up.

Was helping people look good really going to make them happier or more fulfilled? Was a “Band-aid” of great colours in your wardrobe or make-up going to hide deeper issues of ill-health or lack of self-confidence?

Could someone improve their self-confidence with some help from an image consultant?? Do those TV shows like What not to wear or 10 years younger really help their “victims”?

“I think no matter what you look like the key first of all is to be happy with yourself. Then you know if you want to try to improve things that you don’t like about yourself, then do it after you appreciate yourself.” ADELE

How we perceive ourselves does have an impact on our self-identity. And most of us go through a phase of looking to others to judge ourselves.

So, how does it go… well, as young children most of us don’t notice or care what anyone else thinks. But our teenage years become a minefield of self-doubt and comparative thinking.

My story

I was a complete dreamer in my teens. I read lots of mystery, romance and science fiction and I buried my head in books as a way to cope with my world.

When Madonna released “Like a virgin” I was just 10 years old and I remember seeing her on Top of the Pops.

Five years later I bought a raunchy super-short Madonna-esque velvet and lace dress that probably looked like a Halloween costume and attempted to wear it to the teenage disco. Thankfully, my father saved my reputation and simultaneously dinted my self-confidence by insisting I changed my outfit.

What was it all about??? My identity… I was figuring out who I was by changing the way I dressed but I see now how influenced I was by the media.

My absolute favourite story comes from the model/ actor and director Lupita Nyong’o who was raised in Kenya. She describes never seeing beautiful black women on TV and how she promises God she would never lose her school sweater again if he would just lighten her skin. She wished to be beautiful but didn’t think anyone who looked like her could be.

Her mother’s advice was “you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you”. Meaning you can’t rely on how you look… to sustain you.

Lupita says “what actually sustains us, what is fundamentally beautiful, is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul.”

Yes, it is nice to know what colours suit your skin or what the perfect shade of lipstick for you is but that is just the surface… when we achieve something or do what we love in life or help someone else that is where our true deep beauty and individuality can be found.

Lupita recently won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave. You might enjoy hearing her story below:

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When is failure really a success?

April 6, 2014
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The word failure sounds so bad – we talk about how a marriage failed after 10 years or now most businesses fail in the first 3 years.

But I believe we need to be careful to call these things failures.

What if that marriage was a success for most of those 10 years? What if the owner of that business learned “what not-to-do” in that business and will make the next one even better.

Let’s say you’ve failed at something – maybe your boyfriend broke up with you or you realised you shouldn’t be studying Economics after all. What then? Have you failed?

My story

Like just about everyone, in my life I’ve tried to please people or impress them or even prove them wrong.

When I became a cabin attendant for Japan Airlines my parents thought I was mad but I was off on an adventure to make some money and travel the world. I wanted to prove them wrong.

But being away ALL the time flying to Japan didn’t do my friendships much good. And my passion for singing was put on a shelf to gather dust for 5 years.

When I started image consulting, I bragged to a friend now amazing my potential earnings would be. But I never did earn that amount!

Little did I know that while every failure has an up-side every apparent success has its down-sides too. It really is a give and take but the old Chinese proverb of “Good luck or bad luck, who knows” stops me from over analysing everything.

It’s only now looking back on my life that I’ve realised how my failures have shaped me, made me stronger and taught me more about me for better or worse.

Thomas Edison who invented the light-bulb said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” and “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Tweet it J

Here is a fabulous video on how to recognise mistakes as an awesome way to learn…

Failure is good!

Imagine deciding that failure is GOOD! Maybe it’s good because you learned what not to do next time or because it helped you leave a situation that didn’t really suit you.

In exercise, the fastest way to tone up is to exercise to failure. That is to do a level of intensity that you can only deal with for a few minutes before you can’t do anymore.

For example, sprinting… you go as fast as you possibly can for 100 meters –if you are really going as fast as you can then by 110 meters you will collapse!

Now that might sound like a crazy thing to do but it works. The next time you sprint your body will adapt to the challenge and improve your speed.

The same happens in weight training… if you choose a weight you can lift safely but only about 6 times before you need to stop (exercise to failure!) then your lean tissue adapts and tones up.

If you lift a much lighter weight 30 or 40 times your body doesn’t see it as enough of a challenge to tone up in the same way.


Make failure work for you!

We often seem to think we have to succeed at everything first time and if we fail it’s not meant to be.

If you read auto-biographies of successful people you will see that most of them admit to failing many times. Even those who are successful quite quickly have projects that just don’t work and have to be dropped.

But the main thing is they didn’t give up so don’t you give up if it matters to you!

It doesn’t have to matter to anyone else but if you want something and if you persist then you will learn what to do and what not to do.


The only thing that is important is to be YOU – the real you.

Be true to yourself and your desires and then include helping others along the way. That is what Real Girl Confidence is all about.

Let’s figure YOU out and have fun while we fail along the way! J

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On doing “good”

July 7, 2013
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Doing “good” isn’t always easy…

I don’t know about you but I’m not perfect. I don’t always think about others. Yes, I’ll admit it – I’ve been generally quite self-centred at times and sometimes even selfish.

Some of us might not think that’s a problem after all – we do need to look after ourselves first – right? Like on a plane where we’re told to put on our own “Oxygen mask” first before helping others.

And… being a “do-gooder” isn’t always seen as a positive thing, is it?

It could refer to someone who is putting their nose in… where it’s not wanted.. like a nosy neighbour…

However, some recent research I came across on TED Talks made me think a bit more about it. It basically shows that countries that “do good” have better reputations. And you might be surprised which countries do the most “good”…

So, maybe we should “do good” too…

I remember a colleague of mine once advised me that if I wasn’t feeling great to think of others. I really feel that advice definitely worked for me over the years.

I was working in sales and no matter what might have been going on with me, I got into the habit of putting everything aside when dealing with my customers. Not only did it help me give them my full attention  – I always felt good afterwards.

So, if you’re not already doing good as a habit – maybe give it a try. It might help you feel good about yourself and others might see you in a better light too.

It looks like Ireland is succeeding in doing just that which makes me happy to be Irish and inspires me to do more good myself 🙂

Check out the list countries that do the most good here (about 11 minutes in) but if you have time have a listen to all of Simon Anholt’s take on doing good – it’s good 🙂



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