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Raising Standards

Raise your standards to create change


Raising Standards

“If you don’t set baseline standards for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it easy to slip into behaviours and attitudes and a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.” – Tony Robbins

As the Christmas holidays draw to a close, I’ve taken stock and reflected on the last few weeks and my behaviours regarding my healthy lifestyle campaign and can conclude that I clearly must raise my standards in what I expect and tolerate from myself.  I’ve had a couple of weeks lately where the scales have not budged and some weeks where I’ve had a gain, including over the Christmas period. The results speak for themselves.  I have become lazy and let my new higher standards slip.  I have actively swanned down the road of unhealthy choices, stumbling through the days with scant regard to my goal plans and strategies.  I was choosing, for the umpteenth time, to settle for easy.  Oh, I had great plans alright and had written them down and up to a certain point in time, to about late November I think, I had followed through with the ACTIONS I needed to take to make progress, to grow, to keep moving outside of my comfortHold yourself responsible to a higher standard zone.  I was consciously active in following the focused rituals and disciplines that I required of myself to make progress, to improve myself and live a healthier lifestyle, like honestly filling in the Why Weight Ireland Food & Exercise Diary, weighing out the food I needed to weigh, preparing delicious meals that I enjoyed, enjoying two tough workouts a week in the Why Weight Ireland Studio and was also building up the miles in my legs again with a few runs per week.  It felt good.  I felt fantastic.  I had lost over 4 stone, my body felt strong and healthy and was full of energy and verve, even running with glee in two 5K races in November.

Then I allowed the wheels to come off the wagon.  In fact, I’d say I got down and took them off myself.  I’ve taken an honest look at what can only be described as lower standards that I had allowed to creep in, resulting in sloppy dedication in following through with my daily disciplines which had been in place to help me make progress and reach my goals.  I asked myself were my practices and attitudes lately compatible with me living and performing at my very best and the sobering answer is a resounding no.  I’ve had to admit to myself that I have willingly allowed myself to lower the bar and become complacent.  It started with small things.  I chose to miss a run here or there and did not make up for it.  I chose to not weigh out meal ingredients and guesstimated the calorie count.  I chose not to enter in my food choices into the food diary.  I chose not to drink enough water.  I chose to relax my consistency and discipline in all areas and have been sliding for a while.  I have allowed other things and other challenges in my life to have an adverse impact on what I thought had been fairly strong baseline standards that I had been slowly building up.  When everything is going well, when my motivation and drive are high, when my daily healthy lifestyle disciplines seem effortless and my progress is smooth and bump free, it is way easier to maintain steadily rising high standards.  I’ve realised however that it’s way more challenging to maintain the higher standards when I’m winded from some unexpected setback or when I’ve decided I’m too tired, or too disorganised or too overwhelmed to keep going.

That’s how it starts though, isn’t it?  With small things.  Whether you are making progress and enjoying well earned achievements or whether you are stagnating and going nowhere at all, it all starts with small choices, small disciplines.  They all add up, whether your discipline is getting yourself out the front door to go for a run or an exercise class or whether your discipline is choosing to sit languishing on the couch watching mindless television.  They are all choices and standards that you, and you alone, hold yourself to.  I had been setting the bar way too low lately and was reigniting my relationship with the cozy groove my ass had made on the couch over previous years.  It would seem that when unexpected challenging times present themselves in my life I chose to limit the reality of reaching my goals by reverting to a default identity of being a quitter and come to a full stop.

Not this time though.  I’ve caught myself in time and am aware of what I need to change.  I’m looking square in the eye the consequences ahead and cost of my life-limiting choices and lower standards if I continue to tolerate them.  For the past 5 weeks or so I have been performing well below my capabilities and had lost, for a while, my respect for the best me that I know I have it in me to be.  So this past week I’ve laced up my runners and got back out there running.  I’ve always loved running even if I’d be contrary at the thoughts of actually getting out the front door but once my foot would hit the ground taking my first step I would be transformed and enchanted at the experience ahead.  Although while out on my first run this week I had decided I’d attempt to stay running for at least 20 minutes and when I got to where I had figured must be the half way mark, when I looked at my Garmin I was distressed and mightily sickened to see I had only been running for 5 MINUTES!!! LOL!  I wasn’t feeling too enchanted then I tell you so with a big thick head on me I motored on.  I decided to feel delighted that I had reached the halfway mark in half the time I had anticipated and something clicked in me.  I KNEW I could do more so roared at keep-calm-and-raise-your-standards-3myself to get out of my own God damn way and KEEP GOING!  I stayed running for 30 minutes, plus 5 minutes walking to warm up and 5 minutes walking to cool down.  It was an epic start back seeing as I hadn’t been out running since mid-November.  I’m delighted to have gotten back out on the roads this week with 3 runs in total.  I can be so stubborn and get in my own way a lot so it’s felt super now to have pushed myself.  Intentions are as useful to you in reaching your goals as a glass hammer.  It’s ACTION and committing to higher standards that will get you there and that’s what I did this week with my exercise.  Today all Why Weight Members have the opportunity to take part in a 4-week fitness and food diary challenge organised by Hannah so I’m raring to go and get stuck in to that.  I’ve also a new 10-week running training plan formulated by Hannah for me that will kick off this week also which will keep me accountable and focused.  I’ve also a stack of new healthy recipes I’ve lined up to test and enjoy.

Raising your standards takes time.  There are no quick-fix solutions or step-skipping tactics, you get there step by step, with every run or workout you complete, with every healthy meal you eat, with every cigarette you don’t smoke, with every takeaway you don’t eat. It happens by degrees, day by day.  Every healthy activity you engage in is actively strengthening your efforts to raise your standards.  Having respect for the power of following through on your simple daily disciplines, of which I didn’t have for last few weeks but an regenerating now, means you can choose to gift to yourself the best and most incredible version of yourself you can be.  Don’t settle for the safe, easier life when you know you are capable of so much more.  Yes, it can be scary to reach and stretch for what you truly want but it can be mind-numbingly dull to settle for a life you are only half living.  Evaluate your behaviours and standards. Demand more of yourself.  You owe it to yourself and to your precious life to raise your standards.

” If there is something in my life that is significant to me, I owe it to myself to raise my standards in it.”

– Gerry Duffy, who ran 32 marathons in 32 days across Ireland in 2010 and completed the inaugural UK DECA-Iron Distance Triathlon (swam 24 miles, cycled 1160 miles and ran 262 miles over 10 days), crossing the finishing line in first place.

My Weight-Loss Update

Right so, I’ve just weighed in.  It’s not pretty but not horrendous either.  Over the Christmas period, the last two weeks, I’ve gained 7lbs.  It’s done, it’s over, I have no regrets, I had a beautiful Christmas with my boys and my family.  It’s half a stone, not a full stone or the 4 stone I’ve already lost.  The line is drawn now and onwards today towards more goals with fire in my belly!

Wholemeal Spaghetti with Broccoli, Mushroom & Parmesan

Wholemeal Spaghetti with Broccoli, Mushrooms & Parmesan

This pasta dish is very quick and simple to make and only 341 calories.  I received the glorious gift of a food processor for Christmas from my lovely Mam so I made great use of it here.   Quantities below serve one.  Enjoy!


  • 1 chunky garlic clove, crushed and chopped
  • 80g broccoli florets, broken into smaller pieces
  • 30g button mushrooms, chopped
  • 100ml hot chicken stock
  • 2tbsp white wine
  • large sprig of chopped fresh basil
  • 15g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 70g wholemeal spaghetti (uncooked weight)
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • basil leaves to garnish


  1. Place the broccoli, garlic, mushrooms and chicken stock into a pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the broccoli has softened.
  2. Place contents of pan into a food processor along with 1tbsp of white wine, the chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan.  Pulse a couple of times until well combined.  If you don’t have a food processor you can mash the mixture well with a fork or a potato masher.
  3. Place mixture back in the pan, add the second tablespoon of white wine and salt and pepper to taste and leave on a low heat.
  4. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions.
  5. Drain the spaghetti and add half the broccoli cheese mixture to the pan and combine.
  6. Dish up into a warmed bowl, serving the remaining broccoli cheese mixture on top with basil leaves to garnish.

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