My Attempt at the 5:2 Diet…

plate with appleHowayis lads.

So. In an ongoing effort to get the body I want, I am gymming up a storm three mornings a week (sometimes two, if I’m being lazy), getting up at 6.30 and doing it all before I get to work. I lift weights and have a really good idea what I’m at in the gym, plus I trained with a trainer for two years so I know how to motivate myself and how hard to push. I also have an inspiring gym buddy to train with who has a bangin’ bod for me to aspire to.
But as those patronising (but accurate) signs in my gym tell me every day, ‘YOU CAN’T OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET’. GOD DAMN IT.
So there I was, last week, having numerous times tried the ‘just eat clean’ thing that everyone postulates about and having failed. My main problem is sustainability. I can prep food like a motherfluffer and be really good for about two/three weeks and then I get lazy and busy or both, and stop going to the shops for real food, opting instead for ALL of the takeaways and convenience food. SO. I decided, against my own policy of ‘no fad diets’, to try the 5:2 thing.
The basics: Eat normally (2000 calories) on five days. Eat 500 calories (600 for men) on ‘fast’ days. They have to be non-consecutive. And your calories can be made up of whatevs, but clearly a giant mound of broccoli is favourable over a single Galaxy bar when it comes to feeding you for an entire day.
The reason I tried it: Committing to eating clean has worked for me in the past but only short term. I haven’t got the time to constantly prep and bring food with me, and my life is too unpredictable to maintain it (I don’t say this to make it sound like I have an exciting life, I say it with a roll of the eye because I’m pulled in a zillion different directions every week like most of us!). So two days absolutely STARVING and five days normal seemed more doable than six days of pretending to eat virtuously and then cheating as soon as the pre-prepared food runs out. IN THEORY. And lookit, it’s probably not healthy. But my body just needed a kickstart, a bit of visual motivation if you will. I work out a lot and I just want to SEE the muscles I know are there.

Here, in full, is my *ahem* journey.


9.00am.
This is great, I can do this! I’m perky, I’m at work, I’m a woman in control of her diet. YES.
9.10am. 500 calories is loads, right?? Like, I can definitely have three full meals.
9.15am. YEAHHHHHH I’m gonna be so skinny. And on days I work out, I can eat normally so I won’t actually die.
9.20am. Okay… I’m hungry. Calm yourself, woman. It’s only twenty past nine. Brunch isn’t until 11.

11.00am. BRUNCHTIME, muthaaaaf*ckaaaas. Time to NAIL about one third of my daily calorie allowance.
11.01am. WHAT? This banana is 100 calories? Are you joking?
11.02am. God damn it I’m gonna make this banana last until at LEAST 2pm if it’s the last thing I ever do.
11.03am. Banana is gone.
12.15pm. I’m gonna have some dry crackers because (a) I am unprepared for this life of fasting and (b) they are on my desk in handy snack packs, listing the exact calorie count.
12.16pm. Ah, brilliant! Only 35 calories in this…. SINGLE CRACKER. So if I eat the pack, thats another 105 calories chalked up.
12.17pm. Dry crackers? SHITE CRAIC.
12.20pm. HOW do I have chronic wind pains from eating NOTHING??
1pm. Ah, look there. My colleagues. All trotting off to get delicious lunches without me. I’m powering through though, and getting lots of work done into the bargain.
1.10pm. Gosh, when I wasn’t completely distracted by a giant tuna roll and can of Coke this lunchtime I managed to get a shocking amount of work done. Maybe I should skip lunch every day.
2pm. I’ve just spent the last 15 minutes gazing wildly around the room with absolutely no idea what I was doing before I started the gazing.
2.10pm. FOCUS WOMAN.
2.30pm. Maybe if I just ate that 97% Organic Cleansing Cream on my desk I’d be okay?
2.40pm. My eyes hurt.
3pm. Why is my head so heavy? It feels like it’s about to loll off my neck.
3.20pm. So, what will I have for breakfast lunch and dinner tomorrow? I CAN’T WAIT TO EAT.
3.21pm. That girl that just tweeted me is a personal trainer and she said I’m ruining my metabolism… What she doesn’t know is I CLEARLY don’t have a metabolism left to ruin. It left, years ago, and in its place is a giant arse.
3.31pm. Wait, wait. What was I doing just there?? Zzzz…
3.40pm. I think I’m going slowly blind.
16.45pm. It’s nearly 5 o’clock. Which means… Almost time to eat something else. But it’ll have to come in at under 300 calories, and it’ll have to fill me until 9pm when I face plant onto my bed from lack of energy.
16.55pm. I think time is going backwards.
17.00pm. I can’t remember… What’s my name again?
17.01pm. YAWWWWN.
17.15pm. Eh, is that MY breath I can smell?? Apparently not eating a lot results in stinking breath. Better watch that. May not go down well with my relatively new colleagues.
17.30pm. Time to leave the office. Walking to my car is going to be… interesting.
18.30pm. I’m meeting someone after work and I have the genuine fear that the lack of sugar/anything in my diet today as STOLEN MY PERSONALITY. I’m not going to be as sparkly as usual. Oh no.
19.30pm. I am TANKING at this. I’m staring blankly at this girl, sipping my tap water, making like I’m interested when all I can concentrate on is DON’T LET YOUR EYES CLOSE…. Don’t!!!
19.35pm. Did she just ask me a question? God knows. I know, I’ll just laugh maniacally and hope that answers it.
20.00pm. Okay. Home. At. LAST. Starving. All I can focus on is food. It’s consuming my every movement (or lack of movement. No food = no calories = no energy. SCIENCE.)
20.01pm. That’s it. I’m having a bowl of Cornflakes.
20.10pm. WORTH EVERY BITE.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the beginning and end of my 5:2 Diet experience. As it turns out, even one day of fasting isn’t a goer for me. I need energy!! If I wasn’t a busy person with a job and mates and exercise to do I’m sure I could fast and not concentrate too much on anything. But lads, you need energy. And that’s what food is for.
However, I am still my same flabby self, and on goes my struggle to achieve the bod I’ve been lifting for for three long years.
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I’m on de telly!

xpose tvHowayis lads.

Just a little note to say that as part of my lovely new job at Xposé magazine, I’ve been filming with the Xposé TV crew (and the very patient and generous Aisling O’Loughlin) and my first couple of Beauty Buy slots have been aired.

I obviously hate watching myself back, hate the sound of my voice, hate my accent, my clothes, EVERYTHING. But my mam, dad and sister assure me I did fine, so I’ll believe that, albeit the most biased opinion one can receive as feedback.

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Here’s a link to one of them just in case you wanna hear about bareMinerals Hydrating Tinted Gel Cream Balm Moisturising Lotion Gel Cream. Or whatever the crazy long name they gave it is…

Any feedback would be welcomed. Negative, preferably, as it’s the only bit I seem to pay any attention to – like many people, I fear?! 

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#InstaGirls: What Ireland’s Instagram Queens are Voting

#MarRef #YesToEquality

I stalked chatted to some of my fave Irish Instagrammers over the past little while and one thing I wanted to know from them was what they would be voting on May 22nd… Here are some of the answers:

“I will be voting a big fat YES. We live in such violent times and to still have love in the world is amazing and it should be celebrated regardless if it’s a man loving a man or a woman loving a woman and so on. Love is love and no one should be denied that.” – Lauren Bejaoui (@LolaBejaoui)

“On the 22nd of May 2015 I will be proudly voting YES on the Marriage Equality referendum! A person marrying another person regardless of their sexuality has absolutely no affect on society and it makes absolutely no difference if it is a man marrying a man, a woman marrying and woman or a man marrying a woman. It’s time to come together as an Irish society and vote YES for marriage and YES for equality. Mothers and fathers want all of their children to grow up in a country where they can have the same aspirations in life. The parents of gay and lesbian children want the same. I want that too #StandUp4Equality xo.” – Jo Archbold (@yo_im_jo)

“I know this is terrible but I’m not actually registered to vote… YET. I’ve just looked into obtaining a registration form as I am going to register so that I can vote yes for Marriage Equality in May.” – Nuala Gorham (@nualagorham)

“Yes yes and YES! Marriage equality is so important, it’s about love between two people, something for which gender should not come into the equation. Love is love.” – Louise O’Reilly (@StyleMeCurvy)

“Oh my God 109% I will be voting YES! I have no interest in getting married, the idea of it (the big party, being centre of attention, spending €40k on one day) literally repels me but at least I have a choice. Everyone should have the choice. I think the idea of the ‘perfect family’ being a mother, father and a few kids is outdated. Anyone who would rob another of their chance at happiness is not a good person and won’t be admired by their ancestors in years to come when our children’s children are wondering how something like equal marriage rights were ever even a question.” – Holly Shortall (@HollyShortall)

Needless to say, I agree with the girls and will be voting YES. Get out and vote, lads. It’s important.

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Minimal Make-up: My little routine

I have to admit. I’m not terribly minimalist when it comes to the make-up I carry around with me. I’d love to say I just go around with a lip balm and some SPF (like some kind of fabulous French lady) but…. no.

I have to carry the makings of a full face with me at all times just in case I have to, last minute, go somewhere important or see people who I don’t want to scare. 

Imagine meeting someone intimidatingly beautiful and looking like one of those ‘after’ pictures of a crystal meth addict? That has happened me before, and so I carry a lot of make-up with me for all eventualities. I CAN do minimal make-up, though, so here’s an ‘on the go’ pared-down version of my make-up bag. You know when you look so rough people keep asking you are you okay?? This is how I stop them doing that!

strobe creamSTEP 1:

Presuming my skin is freshly clean (it isn’t always) and moisturised, I lash on some MAC Strobe Cream across my T-zone, down my nose, little on my chin and under my brows.

STEP 2: 

Then I conceal. If it’s a good skin day, Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Concealer does the job. If I’m halfway to being dead I opt for the Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer and if I look like one of those people that died eight times and was revived, I use Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage concealer. Sometimes I look so god-awful I need all three.

STEP 3:

I brush through and pencil my brows. To brush them, I use a dried up clear mascara wand (thrifty, I know) and to pencil them I use the double-ended dream that is Shavata’s eyebrow pencil. It’s €12 and if they ever discontinue them I’m arrive at Shavata’s door in London and cry on her doorstep until she reinstates the thing.

benebalmSTEP 4:

BALM time. I am currently using Benebalm, the red one, from Benefit. It’s amazing. I could go on all the livelong day about why, but just trust me. Texture, colour, moisture, staying power – it’s got it all. I LOVE IT. Also, I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you how to apply lip balm.

STEP 5: 

Moisturiser comes out again, whichever you like (right now I’m using a Nuxe eye cream for this because I like to live life on the edge). Pea-sized amount on your fingertips, rub rub rub, then pat it down onto the tops of your nuxe eye creamcheekbones/temples and slightly around your eye area. This gives a dewy finish, fakes health, and was a tip I stole from my style icon and gorgeous friend, Sarah O’Hegarty (she’s Fashion Ed with Irish Tatler and you should totes follow her on Instagram…. @ohegartysarah).

STEP 6:

I wear eyelash extensions, because (a) they are extremely handy and low maintenance and (b) because I couldn’t be ARSED with mascara removal every day. But if you don’t, using a mascara here would be advisable, espesh if you’re a blondie like me and your brows are otherwise invisible.

TA-DAH. This is how I get to not look like a corpse. <3

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#Instagirls: Nuala Gorham

Today’s installment of Irish ridey Instagrammers?? If you loved Lauren and Jo’s interviews, check this one out…

Follow Nuala HERE.

nuala gorham 5Nuala Gorham is an award winning blogger, Irish Instagram superstar and is the owner of the Instagram account I covet most often. Penny and Polaroids is her website, @NualaGorham is her Instagram… just prepare to have style, hair, shoe and life envy. I warned you!!

Tell me… Instagram. Why do you love it?? 

Let me count the ways..! As a blogger (and an avid follower of many blogs) I love how visual Instagram is. It’s not clouded with junk articles (or conversations that have nothing to do with me) like Facebook is and it’s far more aesthetically pleasing than Twitter.

What in your life inspires you to post?

Style, my personal style occupies most of my content.

What other Instagram accounts are you inspired by?

There are so many, I love Oracle Fox, Tuula Vintage and Not Your Standard name a few. The Baby Animals is also one of my favourite pages, granted it doesn’t inspire me but it’s so good I just really wanted to mention it!

What posts of yours get the biggest reactions?

It’s definitely my street style shots where you can see the outfit in full. I really love flatlay pictures and detailed shots but they get less of a reaction than the full outfit looks. Having said that, detailed shots which contain heels always get a great reaction too.

Nuala’s four faves…

nuala gorham1. Monochrome Outfit

I really loved this outfit and it’s a really good representation of my personal style. I love monochrome and leather.

nuala gorham22. Heels

This was a really popular post for. I have a thing for lace up heels and love shooting new heels on plain white sheets like this.

nuala gorham33. Lace Bra

These style shots are synonymous with my Instagram. This was basically a few items I was loving at that moment in time.

nuala gorham44. Grey Outfit 

This London Fashion Week outfit is my all time most popular picture, it received a huge amount of likes (especially considering I only had half the amount of followers I have now at the time).

And the rest…

What makes you happy?

Good company. Aside from that, reaching little milestones and goals I set myself for Penny and Polaroids also makes me really happy.

Who are your icons?

I’ve always really admired Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel for her pioneering work and poise, and Edie Sedgwick for her sheer boldness. I also really admire Gisele Bündchen since reading her latest feature in British Vogue. She seems to have such a strong belief in mindfulness and seems to have a really healthy life and work balance. She’s hard working and hugely successful yet seems to make time for her family and horse-riding, that’s pretty much my life goal right there!

What’s your biggest dream?

The first thing that comes to mind is the saying ‘don’t tell people your dreams, show them’, so I’m going to go with that here.

What three words mean the most to you?

Family, health and work. I know some people might disagree that work should mean the most to me but it really is a huge part of all our lives. I’m really ambitious and at the moment it means so much.

What’s the best life advice you’ve ever been given?

I’ve been told to be more assertive a couple of times in life and I’m slowly learning to be. I think it’s really important in work especially but also in life in general. If you want something, don’t be afraid to ask and go for it, take the opportunity before someone else does.

Tell me something about yourself that you really want people to know?

I’m actually quite shy. I think people assume bloggers are so confident and outgoing as it does take a lot to really put ourselves out there but it was honestly the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

What’s your ultimate beauty tip?

Keep a jar of coconut oil in the kitchen and another in the bathroom. I use it a couple of times a week mixed with a powdered exfoliator for a really deep clean and I brush my teeth with it once a week too, I find it really brightens them up. I also use it to remove stubborn eye makeup as its gentle the delicate skin around the eye.

When it comes to your personal style, how would you describe it?

I could never describe it in just one word, it really is a mixture of everything. It’s so funny because I think I have a really distinct style and while I do experiment from time to time, it doesn’t fluctuate very much. I like simple, tailored styles. My style can be a little bit androgynous, a little laid-back, and a little structured and glam at the same time.

What one thing drives you BANANAS?

People who wear leggings as trousers and they’re borderline transparent. Just no.

What music do you listen most often?

I listen to such a mix of music, this week I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and I’ve been replaying Kayne, Rihanna and Paul McCartney’s ‘Four Five Seconds’, it’s quite a mixture.

I have to say, re: transparent leggings as trousers??
PREACH. You are spot on there, girl.

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So Sue Her: Suzanne Jackson is killing it!

Unless you’ve been living under some weird WiFi-less rock, you’ll have heard of Suzanne Jackson, or SoSueMe, the name of her blog which she is often referred to by. She’s a blogger turned entrepreneur, who just launched the first of (hopefully!) many beauty products, and I went along to the ‘SoSu’ nail polish launch the other night…

I first met Suzanne on a press trip a couple of years ago and we bonded over Beyoncé and beauty gossip. I didn’t know what to expect from her, she’s got such a massive following and I figured she’d probably be all business and ignore me completely – with my lack of style and my added holiday weight (permanent holiday weight!) I’m not half as glam as her usual crew.

But she was nothing but absolutely lovely, and continues to be that way today. In fact, I felt oddly offended for her when I saw negative comments go up on her social networks – comments so hurtful and pointless she went along deleting and blocking (I think that’s what you’d call trolling, so I don’t blame her, I’d be all OVER the block button!). I feel like I’m a good judge of character and she seemed a genuinely nice, down to earth person.

So back to the SoSu launch…

sosu nailsWhen I arrived at her event, the place was MOBBED. Fans, family and friends gathered to watch her pose for TV cameras and endless selfies, and with each person in turn she took time and paid attention, leaving no one out. Tough job, but she did it! I managed to grab her for a quick chat, and she congratulated me on my new job and introduced me to her lovely mammy, then we took a picture and she was off, working the room again.

The point of this post is, I suppose, to just say how feckin’ brilliant I think it is that an Irish girl with just ambition and a passion for what she does is doing astoundingly well for herself, making her family proud and working bloody hard. Just like Beyoncé, people can say what they want, but she’s successful and any naysayers are probably just jealous. Nail polish is her first step into the SoSu land of products, and I for one hope they fly off the shelves!

suzanne jackson and me

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#InstaGirls: Jo Archbold

Last week, Lauren Bejaoui was showing us around her Instagram, and this week, I’ve got the gorgeous Jo Archbold here to do the same thing.

When I asked the questions in this interview, I wasn’t expecting such insightful, honest and inspiring answers, tbh. Very pleasant surprise from a very lovely lady.

Hope you enjoy.

Follow Jo HERE.

Haaaaaay Jo. So c’mere. Why do you love Instagram so much?

jo headshotThere are many reasons why I love Instagram; the main reason being the visual aspect. I love the old saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and I think Instagram is a great platform for proving this. When I was first introduced to Instagram I seen the tagline of: “Instagram is a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures” and I always kept this in mind when posting a photo. I love Instagram because I can do just that, I can share my life experiences through pictures that I post. I think it brings a lot of people together all across the world because no matter how far away your auntie, cousin, sister or partner is you can keep them up to date with all the fun going on in your world. Personally, I think that’s beautiful. I also love instagram as it has helped me a lot recently in my career. Personal photos show exactly how I act and what I do day to day. This is great for clients who like to book girls for shows or shoots when they know how they look when they are not in ‘work mode’. I have been booked for work solely because of my Instagram and how I look from it. I have also become friends with a lot of cool people around the world who have similar interests as me just from liking photos on the accounts. It’s my favourite social media platform, I’m an #Instaholic!

What inspires your posts?

Generally my life itself inspires me to post on Instagram. I’m lucky enough to have a job that I really love and people in my life that I really care about so there are many things to inspire me. Photos are extremely important to me and I try to capture as many beautiful moments as I can to remind me how wonderful life can be. Fashion and beauty inspire me to post makeup looks and outfit posts to show that you don’t have to have designer clothes or expensive makeup to feel comfortable in your own skin. I use Instagram to express myself when I’m happy or proud of myself when I do something good. I like to post about things that matter as well as fashion and the materialistic side of my life. I think it’s important to use these social media platforms when dealing with big issues and serious matters too. It’s another place that you own to voice your opinion on something you feel good about. I am all for standing up for what I believe in and what inspires me so I use whatever I can to share my views.

What posts of yours get the biggest reactions?

The posts that I have recently noticed getting bigger reactions are probably personal makeup/fashion posts. I recently went to London Fashion Week for AW16 and while I was there I got quite a bit of notice because of my outfit choices. This then reflected on my Instagram after being tagged in other streetstyle posts. I learn quite a lot about makeup with my job, after having your makeup done 4⁄5 days out of the week you really notice what suits your face shape and eye colour. I think when I post makeup pictures that I have done myself, they get quite a good reaction because i’m not a professional and it’s not perfect so it is achievable for anyone that has an interest in make-up. I tag a lot of brands in my photos so I think that really helps when you are building a follower count. This then also reflects in more likes and followers causing your posts to get a better response.

Jo’s four faves from Instagram…

jo archbold1. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE: This was my favourite night out EVER! The most amazing people I am lucky to have as my friends decided that we should all dress up as Superheroes for halloween! We all had to pick our favourite hero and stick together for the entire night. We had specific poses we had to do and catch phrases. I had the most amazing night with these guys and I couldn’t have asked for a better night. It also seemed to go down well on instagram! (left to right: Dave as Cyclops, Me as Superwoman, Eoghan as IronMan, Muireann as Wonder Woman, Benny as SuperMan and Terry as Green Lantern)

jo paolo2. Scottish Heartthrob: At Electric Picnic last year I got to meet the love of my life, the most beautiful scottish man I have ever seen; Paolo Nutini. Swoooon. After a little interview on Rte Live for EP I was lucky enough corner this beaut for a photo and by the look on my face I had been enjoying the festival a lot by then.. He kept it short and sweet with a “Hello lassie” and I don’t remember much after that.. He kind of took my breath away (Please don’t tell my boyfriend). What a brilliant weekend!

paddle jo3. Power Ranger girls: Another amazing weekend spent in Bundoran, Co. Donegal at the Sea Sessions festival! This photo was taken just before Daniella and myself went paddle boarding. Balancing on one leg was the least of our problems before we got out on the boards! I couldn’t even kneel on them! The sunniest day with the brilliant people I love and fantastic music, how perfect!

jo nails4. Gorgeous by Gorgeous: I am a girl that loves to get pampered now and again and I have a favourite place that I love to go! Gorgeous Dundrum is a beauty salon in Dundrum that I always go to and the place I know i’ll be treated like a princess. They offer fab services that are so affordable and great quality! I got these beautiful nails done there and they last me on average 5 and a half weeks. Kate and Emma are the lovely girls who look after me there and they couldn’t be anymore attentive! You should check them out on FB!

What makes you happy?

Sunshine, food, people and travelling. The simple things in life make me happy. It’s cliché but it’s such a true statement. I am happy when I’m surrounded with good people, when I’m eating good food and especially when I’m travelling. I love seeing new things and experiencing new places so I think I am at my happiest when the sun is shining and there are new adventures awaiting.

Who are your icons?

Style icon: My biggest style icon would have to be Olivia Palermo! Although I would never try to mimic her style, I always take notice of colour combos and print clashes that she always gets soooo right! She has the most amazing style and it’s so effortless. The price tag may be quite a bit ridiculous by my standards but to be honest it’s so easy to find alternatives to some of her pieces. I’ve been following her for about two years now and I always amazed at how your style just gets better and better! I’m a huge fan.

My biggest icon: My biggest icon is without a doubt my mum. My mum is the strangest, weirdest and most unbelievably beautiful person I know. She has put up with me for all these years and although I don’t understand how, she’s been there for every smile and tear. I’ve always had a strong relationship with my mum and we have an unbreakable bond that I could never have wished for. We share clothes like sisters, argue likes children and dance like lunatics. My mum definitely shaped the person I am today with her discipline and morals, she brought me up making sure I appreciated everything I had and supported me in everything I wanted to achieve. My mum taught me to be the best that I could but to never step over anyone to get what I wanted. I lived my childhood to teenage years being polite and gracious at every point and never treated anyone badly. At an early age I gained my independence by getting a job and supporting myself because I was told if I wanted something that I have to get up and go get it. I did. My mum still let’s me know when I need to up my game or when I need to have a break, she understands my body language and stays well clear when I am in a ‘mood’. She really is the most influential person in my life and I respect and love her so very much.

What’s your biggest dream?

My biggest dream is to wake up tomorrow, be healthy and get on with my day. Then tomorrow that will be my dream and then next day it will be too, until there are no more days left. Yes, sure, I have goals that I want to reach and places I want to see but they aren’t my dreams. I live more for here and now instead of wishing for something that I would like, but not necessarily need. My goals are to purchase my own house and make it a home, to visit places I want to see, to walk in London fashion week and then Paris. I think a lot of us live for the future and don’t really notice time pass us by because we’re too busy wishing it away. Life is way too short to only stop and breathe when you reach your ‘dreams’ and when you’re old and you’re looking back on everything you have done just make sure it’s going to be not just full of milestone events but times you lived in the moment and skinny dipped in the ocean. I don’t ever want to feel like I am wasting my life away because I have no reason to; I am young and the world is too big for me not to live everyday as if it’s a new adventure.

What words mean the most to you?

Kindness – I think it’s a word people should be taught the minute they start to walk and talk. It’s so important to me as it really is something that can get you a long way in life.

Help – This word has a deeper meaning to me as it is a part of understanding someone’s situation and providing comfort and support to them in their day to day life. A serious word that a lot of people are afraid of is ‘Help’. Asking for help in any situation shouldn’t be as difficult as it is for some people and recently we have been very focused on Mental Health Awareness here in Ireland. We are trying to break the stigma around mental health issues like depression which in Ireland affects about 300,000 people. Break the stigma surrounding depression. (Aware.ie)

What’s the best life advice you’ve ever been given, and what life advice would you love to pass on to Irish women/girls?

The best advice that I have ever been given is probably that I am my own happiness and nothing that anyone else can say or do can ever take that away from me. Advice that I would love to pass on to the Irish ladies would be the same as I was told. Never for a second think that someone can take away your happiness. People may try to put you down or have an opinion of you but at the end of the day you have to realise that you weren’t born to be like everyone else. You may have times when you think that you can’t be everything they want you to be but the reality is you only have to be yourself and you’ll quickly realise that that’s all you will ever need to be.

What’s your ultimate beauty tip?

My ultimate beauty tip would without a doubt have to be: Coconut oil. That’s it. All you will ever need for a clear complexion, a healthy glow, white teeth and gorgeous hair. I use coconut oil religiously. I use it as a moisturiser at night, hair mask before I shower and as a teeth whitening method. I bought a jar in Tesco for about €3 and i’ve had it for months! I’ve even used it once or twice in cooking, replacing cooking oil. You will never look back once you start using this oil. I definitely haven’t. When it comes to your personal style, how would you describe it? Quite recently I have found my own sense of style. I’ve began to experiment with prints and colours whereas before I would stick to dark colours and basics. I think I have a rock-chic, bohemian style. My signature is a smokey eye and a red lip, so I’ve been told! I love to wear heels and dainty necklaces with my outfits to add an edge. Midi rings are also a new favourite of mine as I always have my nails done. I sometimes make my own outfits when I can’t find exactly what i’m looking for or if it’s a bit too expensive to buy in a shop. I made a gorgeous gilet from an old studded leather jacket that I had bought on Boohoo. It’s now a piece that I know no one else has, that makes me love it even more. I’m not one for trends and i’m so bad at keeping up with them so I tend to stick to what I know or just wait for the sales to come along and stock up on mix and match pieces to keep me going. I like to wear what suits me regardless of whether it’s last season… If in doubt, don’t throw it out!

What one thing drives you BANANAS?

You could be here reading this for hours about what drives me BANANAS because oh my days, there is a lot. So, I’ll just have to whittle it down and give me top 2!

1. Cancelled plans on short notice: OH MY GOD. Can we just take a moment for all the makeup wasted and time we spent on getting ready for a night out or planned day, just to have the plan cancelled!? Your hair finally looks presentable and you actually perfected the winged eyeliner you have been trying for months and *phone buzzes* “Hello?” “Hey so I can’t make it tonight, something came up..” “Oh yeah cool, I wasn’t ready anyway” *hangs up* ARE YOU ACTUALLY SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? This is the most irritating and stressful thing to happen to a girl who has spent the day thinking about what you were going to wear that evening.

2. People robbing your food when they said they weren’t hungry: We all know that person who tells you that they’re ‘grand’ when it comes to ordering some food and they insist on you just getting yourself something anyway. So you go ahead and wait patiently for your food whilst your friend looks on and sips on their 7up.. Your food arrives and BAAAM!! a hand appears across the table to take a handful of chips from your plate and even comes back to rob a bit of tomato sauce?! Personally I have a constant ‘foober’ (a food robber) and he still hasn’t learnt and sometimes it’s like I have a child, a big hairy baby child.

What music do you listen most often?

I’m quite an old soul so I always have the radio on and just listen to it as it plays out. I’m quite a big indie music fan so I usually lean towards that genre. I’m a big fan of the Kodaline boys, London Grammar, Hozier and I recently got into a great Irish band called We Cut Corners! My boyfriend is a DJ and he introduced me to some incredible Irish bands that he has found throughout the years. We also get to go to a lot of concerts so my life really involves a lot of music. I don’t think I go a day without listening to some.

Jo…. Eh, can we be best friends??

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Three for Tuesday… Song addiction

I’m one of those people who, upon falling in love with a song (whether it’s brand new or an old one I’m loving afresh) I listen to it on repeat, literally, until I know all the lyrics and nuances by heart.

And oddly, I don’t ever get sick of the song. It might temporarily fall out of favour but when I hear it a few months down the line it reminds me very distinctly of what I was doing at the time it was on repeat. It’s almost like reading a diary – listening to it again is a snapshot of what I was doing at the time.

Here are the three songs I have on repeat right now.

Angie Stone – Wish I Didn’t Miss You

OMI – Cheerleader (don’t ask!)

Maroon5 – Sugar

At no point did I say my selections were ‘trendy’. I love them and that’s all that matters!

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#InstaGirls: Lauren Bejaoui

I spend waaaay too much time on Instagram.

Usually ogling someone else’s expertly created flatlays, and more often than not envying the photography skills of some of the more seasoned IGers. And in case you hadn’t noticed, there are some SERIOUSLY quality Irish women killing the Insta-game, so I figured I’d pick my faves and beg them to chat to me. And in a refreshing and sound turn of events, every single one said yes! My first interviewee? The grey-scale loving Lauren Bejaoui. You might know her best as the owner of the best brows on Instagram, but you’ll see now that she’s so much more than just brow perfection…

Follow her here: @laurenbejaoui

lauren bejaoui instagramLAUREN BEJAOUI

So Lauren… Instagram. Why so much love??

I love the freedom to express myself through personal or inspirational images. Im such a visual person and I love sharing that with my followers. I’ve created my own community on my profile and its amazing. Everything inspires me. I love to post a bit of everything from the human body to buildings and everything in between. I adore the Man Repeller’s (@manrepeller) account! I find Leandra Medine so interesting.

Which posts get the most love from others?

Definitely my outfit posts and anything that involves my body in a revealing but tasteful way.

Lauren’s own four fave Insta posts…

lauren bejaoui fave insta

And the rest…

What makes you happy?
My family and friends. Seeing people be happy and doing well always makes me smile.

Who are your icons?
My mam, Tilda Swinton and Audrey Hepburn for sure. All so timeless and elegant.

What’s your biggest dream?
To be totally and constantly happy in myself and everything I do!

The three words that mean the most to you?
Respect, Family, Love.

What’s the best life advice you’ve ever been given, and what life advice would you love to pass on to Irish women?
To have so much self respect and to never ever lower your standards for anyone.

Tell me something about yourself that you really want people to know?
I’m freakishly small in person even though people expect me to be tall. I have such a petite frame.

What’s your ultimate beauty tip?
For flawless looking foundation be sure to regularly exfoliate and moisturise before applying foundation.

When it comes to your personal style, how would you describe it?
I like clean lines and neutral colours. Adding elements of sexy is important for me as I love items that may swamp my petite frame.

What one thing drives you BANANAS?
Make-up stained clothing still for sale in shops. It makes my stomach turn and Zara is awful for it.

What music do you listen most often?
I’m really open when it comes to music. At this very moment I have LCD Soundsystem on replay. Always reminds me of summer!

More InstaGirl inspiration on Wednesday…

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New job!

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 22.16.23I’ve worked in U magazine for almost four years now. It’s an incredible publication, written by amazing people and designed by some seriously talented art directors. I love it SO much, and I will continue to, even though today, Thursday, April 23, was my last day working there. Sadface.

I was beauty editor, I wrote the health page, the sex page (sorry, family members) and lots more besides. I love the readers who wrote to the U Twitter account, the Facebook messages, the excitement every time a new issue hit my desk. I couldn’t possibly have loved my job any more, actually. I feel very, very lucky to have had it at all. It taught me so much, and I have met some people I’ll never forget, some friends for life – both at U and at the other Harmonia titles. I will miss the mag and the gang SO much. And I’m sure there will be MANY tears at my leaving drinks tonight (and it won’t even be because of the alcohol!)

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 22.16.50But ya know how it is… The career ladder must be climbed, and I’m about to take a giant step into Xposé magazine on Monday next, when I’ll officially have my first day there as Deputy Editor. Happy face!!

I’ll still be working on the beauty pages which makes my heart happy (it’s my bread and butter, like) but I’ll also have a hand in other sections too. I’m so excited to start, but nervous too. You know that very Irish (and too often, female) thing where you think any minute your employer is going to realise you’re an imposter and they’ve made a huge mistake hiring you?? That. But mostly excitement.

So anyway, that’s my news. Like in first class in school when you write your ‘news’ at the start of every day. Mine, next Monday, will read:

“My News:

Today is a sunny day. It is Monday. I started a new job. I write for Xposé magazine now. It is good. I am having beans on toast for dinner. Tomorrow I am going on a nature walk.”

All. With. A. Full. Stop. After. Each. Word. Because. That’s. How. Kids. Read. Right?

And thanks to the design GENIUS that is Ms Aine Duffy and the cover line assistance from my gorgeous colleagues in Harmonia… Ta-dah!! Here’s my very own cover…

Wish me luck!signature