I’m so happy to have Niamh O’Donoghue as this weeks Wellness Wednesday guest. I met Niamh once before very briefly but recently I saw her being interviewed on The Ray D’Arcy show and she took my breath away. Her resilience, strength and outlook on life is something everyone can learn from. Her positivity is contagious and no matter what life throws at her she just keeps going.
Niamh has had to deal with three life-altering conditions: Severe Idiopathic Scoliosis, kidney disease, and thyroid cancer. Because of her scoliosis she’s fused from the base of her neck down into her pelvis, which means that she can’t bend forward, backward, left or right. She’s also had to have her kidney and entire thyroid removed. Below are some of Niamh’s scars and she is passionate about sharing her message of positive body image.
I don’t know about you but that sounds like an awful lot for one person to handle but in her own words Niamh says:
”I’m extremely lucky to have such a positive outlook on life and a good sense of humour: sure what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!”
I think we’re very lucky today to be inspired by such an incredible young lady. Niamh is a journalist, blogger and creative from Dublin and admits that she’s inquisitive, nosey and passionate about writing, collaborating with other creative people, and promoting positive body image as we have seen online.
How would you describe your lifestyle?
I live quite a high-octane lifestyle and i’m normally on the go for 13-15 hours of the day. I’m currently completing my thesis so between being in college, freelancing, blogging, going to events, and looking after myself and seeing my friends it can be quite hectic!
What’s your favorite food? Naughty or nice.
I’m naturally a clean eater and take care of my body. I don’t really enjoy eating fast-food or processed food. If i’m feeling a bit run-down my go-to snack would be egg, salmon, avocado and spinach on wholemeal bread or batch loaf!
Do you exercise and if so what do you do to keep fit?
Prior to losing my kidney and being diagnosed with cancer I was strength training 5-6 times a week, but now that i’m recovering i’ve brought that down to 2-3 times per week. I struggle to gain weight, especially after having so many surgeries, so it’s important that I eat the right food and do the right kind of exercise to suit my body. Working out and training can be difficult because of how much metal I have in my body, but over time (and with some good coaching) I’ve learned the correct procedures for lifting and have become a lot stronger. Strength training has also stopped me from relying on damaging pain-killers for back pain because I have built up good fat and muscle around my spine. I swim a lot too because your body becomes weightless in the water and it’s good to give your body a break from intense exercise,
Nutrition is very important to me too, and it took me a while to educate myself on which type of foods my body needs and why. Education is key when it comes to exercise. Remember: change is 80% diet and only 20% exercise, so start by eating the right kind of foods and your body will reward you!
How do you find balance in your day-to-day life?
It’s incredibly important to take time for yourself, but this is something that I have only recently learned. I love being busy and active, but I also get run-down very easily and sometimes don’t know when to stop. I’ve learned to listen to my body when it needs rest and some TLC.
How do you manage stress in your life? Do you meditate? Have you ever tried it?
I get stressed out very easily but I have found over time that exercise (healthy release of endorphins) or a hot bath are good ways to help me unwind. I have done pilates for over a year which focused a lot on breathing and I noticed a huge difference in my ability to sleep better. I haven’t tried meditation yet, but I would definitely like to!
People often set goals or intentions as they go through life. Is this something you do?
After being through so many negative set-backs I think it’s fundamentally important to set personal goals – otherwise I would have given up a long time ago! During my illnesses there were days when I didn’t want to, or couldn’t, get out of bed. But I have a very strong sense of will-power and i’m lucky enough that I know what I want to do and what I need to do to achieve it.
It can be hard to achieve anything when you’re body and mind are feeling lethargic and down, but by setting small goals you can help yourself to overcome this slump. But start small – even if that goal means getting out of bed and stretching. And remember to reward yourself when you’ve achieved something!
How do you unwind after a busy day?
Anything that involves being away from a computer screen or mobile phone! I spend up to 12+ hours a day online so it’s important be able to switch off. I have my own rule that I switch off my laptop and phone by 9pm at the latest: that gives me an hour or so to completely unwind and ensure i get a good nights sleep.
It’s the weekend, what do you do for fun?
I like working on creative projects and passion projects, trying new places to eat, and finding hidden gems around our city. I”m learning to work less on weekends and start enjoying time away from my laptop and mobile phone.
What’s your top health tip for our readers?
Give your body the nourishment, love and rest that it needs, and listen when it’s trying to tell you when something is wrong! Never compare your body to others – you’re completely unique.
Finish the sentence – Being complete for me means…
Being complete for me means being healthy. Your health is your wealth and without it you can accomplish nothing.