Step 3: Change the outside

So we have settled into our new home. During my PhD I gained about 20 lbs (~10 kg). Two things made this possible; diet and exercise, which seems pretty obvious. I tried weightwatchers, I tried the gym, with limited success. I accepted that for now this was how I was, I was too busy writing all day every day for 3 months, eating 700 cal/day. Until the other day, I walked by a mirror and caught a glimpse of myself. I stopped, and with disgrace in my heart I saw what I had become. When I was a teen I had a bit of an eating disorder, nothing major like anorexia nervosa or bulimia, but I was definately conscious about my weight. I was happy with my weight when I was 21 or 22, but it got out of hand not long after that. 

Blah blah blah, weh weh weh, ok. Done. So what now? I said “F*ck it, it’s now or never”. If I didn’t commit to something now, how could I ever be sure I would do it in the future. So now, the carb addict has started Atkins, why not. I’m now on day 6. I have actually lost some of the blubber! It’s actually working! 

The one thing I like about the programme, is the allowances you can have in the induction period. For example, I can eat cheese, vegetables, and as much meat as I want! (As long as its within the daily calorie allowance). The first few days were rough, and I suspected I went through withdrawals. Nasty mood swings. Now though, my appetite has changed, and I feel much healthier. All I am eating is breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the odd snack before dinner. Not much different to before, but its not carb heavy. My aim is to get from a 31 inch waist back down to 28, or 26″.

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Thursday’s lunch special, prepared by my amazing boyfriend 🙂

I have one more week left in induction, then I start to reintroduce carbs to my diet, in a controlled way. Eventually I will be able to eat my normal diet again, but being more conscious about the foods I’ve been eating. The diet doesn’t endorse starving, and the intake of vegetables is just so good for you. I have to say so far, I am delighted to have started this challenge, and hopefully it will increase my own happiness (yes I know how shallow that is). I’ll be like my old self again 🙂  

An open letter to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter

You should be ashamed of yourself. In what universe does closing Garda stations, and pushing the protectors of the peace to the edge count as fighting crime? There is a reason people like An Garda Síochána have they pay they do, it’s for travel expenses, boots that are cheap and wear through after 3 months on the beat, replace the shoddy equipment that your Department keep purchasing, and to raise their own families. People like you, Minister, do not deserve your salary. If each politician took a substantial pay cut, those 95 Garda stations may not need to be closed. Have you considered that? Oh what hardship for your family if you reduced your pay to a “meager” € 40,000 per anum. If you are a representative of the people, surely should you not set the example of civilised living, and refuse to take the ridiculous pay you receive for sitting on your arse, making the lives of hundreds and thousands of Gardaí miserable. The law in Ireland is an absolute joke, let me show some examples:

1. A criminal rammed into a Garda car and hit some Gardaí, causing the loss of an unborn child, community service sentence.

2. Convicted repeat rapist released for Christmas following a 4 month sentence. Well that’ll stop him for repeating his offence.

3. A man placed the wrong windows in his house, as they differed from his planning permission, 6 months in prison.

4. A man continuously raping his daughter over 10 years, walks free? The only reason that was changed was due to public uproar.

How thick do you have to be to let convicted fellons walk free, to the horror of their victims who are generally at the hearings? Is it not obvious that by closing rural Garda stations you are leaving people vulnerable in their own homes, which is evident from the spate of burglaries on elderly people deep in the rural countryside.

You have obviously sold your soul to the euro, no-one respects you or your authority. Your department is an absolute joke. Your logic in making these decisions is unfounded. Enjoy your massive unnecessary pension you fool, while others are out on the street starving, and being victimised by brutal criminals. The problem with Ireland is no change is brought in to law unless there is a tragic occurance, like Mrs. Halapanavar’s death in hospital following the refusal of a termination of her non viable child. This is a horrible example of how politiciains in Ireland are not working together for a better country, they are caught up in the petty arguments between rival parties. For god sake, cop on you bunch of twats, stop ruining our country.

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Step 2: Where to start?

The weekend in Prague I had always dreamed of, but not with THAT suitcase. Talk about a nightmare, 24 kg and a broken wheel on cobble stones. We checked into Jury’s in Karlin, just north of the old town (astronomical clock). We were straight back outside to walk around the city. With James’s first time in Prague, I knew he would be astounded by the beauty of the architecture. His facial expressions didn’t disappoint! On the back of my mind I knew, once this trip is over its out to our new home in Pardubice, and I didn’t know what to expect. We had dinner in Pizza Colleseum (chain of retaurants), and they do really good pizza, fyi. Stopped in Billa on the way and picked up some beers and snacks. Sipping beer and nibbling on paprika snacks we snuggled watching tv, it was bliss.

So then came Monday morning. To the train station, with the dodgy suitcase. We bought our one way tickets and popped on the train, amidst the screams of the local weirdo. We chugged out of Prague towards Pardubice. Along this train line (towards Budapest), outside Kolín, there’s a massive facility which is home to thousands of old army tanks, trucks, migs, you name it! One of my favourite sights here. We were met at the station by a colleague and brought to check in at our new home, a dormitory studio apartment. First impressions? OMG what have I done?! We had stepped into the time warp and arrived in the 1970’s. Home sweet bleugh. Luckily I picked up a few homey bits when I was packing, some things from our old place, and as gifts at Christmas. Now, 2 weeks on, its home sweet home. It really grew on us, and its very comfortable.

With the move out of the way, I plan to focus on my work (obviously), but I also want to change my lifestyle, and my attitude to life.

Step 3: What’s the first big change?

Step 1: getting out of dodge

We left our lovely apartment, which we had called home for 2 years. Many parties were had, as well as movie nights, and after pub sessions. After leaving home for a number of years, you tend to collect a lot of stuff, mostly crap, but some of it you’re attached to. We packed our stuff up over a week, with about 6 hours sleep during the final weekend. I had my very first McDonalds breakfast, it was alright, definitely an experience!

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Bye bye awesome apartment 😦 

So we moved home, and spent the entire month of December with our families. Christmas was extra special that year. Decorating the family tree for the first time in years, and baking with my mother. It was the picture of Christmas. On Christmas day all the family were over for Kris Kindle, and we had a whopper of a day!

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The clan, having a banter and some snacks. 

The time spent at home made leaving so much more difficult. I knew at the airport it would be hard, I didn’t think it would affect me so much.

Tears and hugs were had, as the time passed in front of that stupid gigantic horse painting in terminal 2! God, I hate that horse. Walking away we looked back just before we entered the door to security, and waved one last time.

So what did we do then? We went to the champagne bar in T2, with the aim to calm our nerves. Then I started to cry again, then he started to cry again. This was the biggest challenge we had undertaken, of course it was going to affect us.

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 Jim at the airport with our champagne. Twas yummy! 

So we were on our way, and we had no idea what to expect when we got there. We took a weekend in Prague to get used to the Czech way, and of course to sight-see in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

It’s the little things

The whole reason I started this blog was to view the changes in my lifestyle post PhD. The scene has been set. Unlike some people I absolutely loved the topic I researched over the 3 and a bit years. I used to go out Thursday and Saturday nights downtown, and I would be out most other days between volleyball and just chilling at home or with friends. As my work started to consume my soul, I knew that I would have to lose some things to make it work. My social life took a whack, although in hindsight, it was a sincere blessing (wrong crowd kinda thing).

When I started college originally I heard of the fresher 15, thinking it was a lie. Thankfully I avoided it, until my PhD. I had to drop most activities to fit in extra work time, and then because I couldn’t afford gym membership etc. It’s very easy to get into a routine and become a creature of habit, as it is to be lazy. A little too easy. Now on the other side I’m going to try to reverse this, try to be more adventurous and outgoing, and to try to get a smidgen of my personality out there.

So, when the opportunity came to go to Czech Republic, I couldn’t say no. It was a crazy idea to move to eastern Europe when there’s an influx of eastern Europeans at home! All I can say is sometimes, it really pays off to break the mould, and to get out there and to do something bizzarre 🙂

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Prague, one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.

Step 1: Get the hell out of DODGE!

Step 2: Where to start?

Let’s start at the beginning…

It was a very busy final year of my bachelors degree.  I almost tore the meniscus of my knee a month before my final exams, lucky in a way, as I couldn’t run out the door and avoid studying. So we went through the motions, I did my research project, and finished with my ideal result. I was approached during my undergrad research project by an older colleague, apparently funding had come through for a 3 year PhD. Sweet, this could be my way in.

I was offered a masters position at the beginning but within the month my supervisor changed his mind. Luckily for me, I was in. Eighteen months later I had my first publication, which was just pure elation for me.

During my time as a post grad I met some amazing, and not so amazing people. I traveled to some amazing places for conferences and meetings of different sorts.

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Boston, HPLC 2010. Such an awesome place!

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Euroanalysis, Innsbruck 2009

Doing a PhD is like when you get a puppy for Christmas, its a long commitment and it will change your life, not always for the better (the latter is mostly in short term). For three or four years your life is turned upside down, you will find inventive ways of keeping up with results (all nighters), and you will definately have in your desk drawer tea/coffee, UHT milk and a pack of low calorie soups or noodles by the end.

Even a bad result is a result…

Aah the mantra of research postgrads everywhere. Hi. I have just had the honour of finishing my doctorate in chemistry. I am 26 and from Ireland. In 3 years of experiments I completed all the work, and in the subsequent 3 months my thesis was borne. During the 3 years, my life went through an upheaval, and now after finding work and my first post doc, I am trying to get my life back on track. From the anxiety attacks last summer to moving to the Czech Republic, I want to map my progress. Maybe this may be helpful to those who are currently beginning the post graduate life, as I’m sure it will offer many cringeworthy lessons. Image

The monolith snake. This was not a good result, but it changed my method of approach.

I promise, this blog will NOT be science heavy.