Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Well-Being Wednesdays: Ally Sheehan

I think you probably all have heard of that girl named ally, flooding both your instagram feed and tumblr dashboard with incredible, thoughtful and genuine advice as well as gorgeous bright photos, she is really that hard to miss.  An inspiration for teenage girls, promoting self-love and a non-restrictive as well laid-back attitude to diet and exercise, she is really the whole package.  She may be Bircher muesli, watermelon and breakfast obsessed as well as a co-founder of The Breakfast Society, but her love for watermelon is only a small part to what attracted me to her; the one element to Ally that stood out was her kind heart…  though she may to appear to be of someone of young age, with her youthful look and style (we have this in common) she is more then willingly to make time for anyone and has been able to provide help to individuals with various problems, ranging from relationship issues to helping teenage girls cope with lethal eating disorders.  When I say Ally is one of a kind, I mean it, I think you are going to end up loving her more then I do (pretty impossible though) Say hello to Ally!

Ally Sheehan

19. Twelve at heart.

Where do you live?
Melbourne, Australia.

What initiated your healthy life style? And/or how did it start?
Luckily, my parents raised me with a fairly healthy and well-rounded lifestyle. They both play hockey (I now play on mum’s team but she’s still way fitter than I am) and taught me the importance of good, wholesome food. As I grew older I started learning more about nutrition, which fascinated me, because I really believed the notion of ‘you are what you eat’ and how much we can impact our entire life with what we put into our bodies. Now, I’d say I’ve come pretty far with my views, very much thanks to blogging, tumblr and reading, which have absolutely opened my eyes to so many more complexities. It started off as just studying food at school, but that has turned into a mentality that has shaped the person that I am today, one that focuses more on a holistic approach for mind, body and spirit.

What does health mean to you and why is it important?
To me, health has a lot to do with balance. It’s not one size fits all and it means something different for each person. For some, that could be running 5km or changing white bread for brown. For others, it might mean eating a huge piece of cake, or learning to be okay with not exercising for a while. It might be the ability to run a marathon, or simply learning how to walk again. Health can even be overcoming social anxieties or challenges faced inside one’s own head. Health comes in all sorts of shapes and forms, and I think that’s really important to remember. I also think health should be more to do with how one feels, rather than how one looks. Each person has such a unique existence and they should search to find the lifestyle that makes them feel like the best version of themselves, rather than try to adhere to some crazy unsustainable lifestyle. Sometimes that means going for runs and drinking protein shakes, but other times it also means knowing that a day in bed with chocolate and your favourite movie can be just as good. A balanced approach to physical, mental and social wellbeing is what health encompasses for me, so that’s what I’ll always strive for.

When on the run, what are your go to meals and snacks?
Fast food! That means bananas, apples, grapes and watermelon. I’m also in a relationship with hummus, so I’ve got that going on with some carrot sticks or mountain bread.

What aspects are in adaptable when it comes to your diet?
I don’t really believe in restriction or deprivation, so nothing is 100% off-limits! I just eat what I feel like, which usually means fruits, veg, whole grains and breakfast foods, but if I crave something else then I’ll go with it :)

Are there any people who inspired you to make this lifestyle choice and/or who you admire?
It was never really a conscious overnight decision, more of a gradual process as I learn more about the world, my body, my preferences, and the food industry, and also health principles in general. That said there are definitely people I admire who are going against the crowd, trying things we mere mortals deem ‘radical’ or just those with healthy approaches to life and positive self-views. People like Loni Jane, Jennifer Lawrence, or any of the many people I’ve befriended through tumblr, who have taught me so much about compassion and kindness not only to others but also myself. There’s Rosie (cleanbodyfreshstart), Ajita (organicallygorgeous), Siobhan (iamnotover), Anna (annaonea) and of course Dem! I’m also really thankful for my friends, who remind me (whether consciously or not) of the person I am and what I want to bring to the world. It’s so easy to get lost in judgement, pressure, confusion, negativity and inauthenticity, sometimes all you need is to see yourself through somebody else’s eyes to remember what’s really important.

What is your favourite live-by quote?
I have a lot, in fact I have an entire journal dedicated to my favourites, but one that I think always stays in the back of my mind is “be the change you wish to see in the world”. It’s such a good philosophy to live your life by, as it acts as the perfect guide to motivate change for goodness, and cultivates positive behaviour. Whenever you get lost along the way trying to figure out the kind of person you want to be or what you want to offer in this lifetime, it’s good to think about that and ask yourself if you’re being true to what you’d hope to see from others.  I also like “Comparison is the thief of joy”, ““We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” and “the Universe sends us exactly what we are ready for at the exact time we need it in our lives.”

What is your favourite way to stay active?
Anything with friends! Hiking is great, I also enjoy stand up paddle boarding, bike riding, roller skating, swimming, a fitness class or even just a nice long walk and talk. I’ve played team sports for about 14 years now and I love that too because it’s got such a strong social environment, and it creates a really positive way to keep fit.

What are your top 3 tips to stay healthy, happy and positive?

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. We’re all on completely different journeys and should appreciate the beauty in diversity, not punish ourselves for it. I know it’s one thing to just say that and another to really do it, but if you can it will make a world of difference. It’s a natural human instinct to compare the way we look to someone else, but at the end of the day all we’re left with is a list of reasons to feel like we don’t measure up. This is a sure-fire confidence drop and it’s silly, because comparing yourself against others will never show you truly just how great you are, or make you see all of your own amazing qualities. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, right? We only see the best in others, and the worst in ourselves, leaving us feeling inadequate, and plummeting confidence and self-esteem. As the ever-wise Dr. Suess said; “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”.
  •  Create a positive environment. This includes the way you spend your time, the people you spend that time with, the places you go, the things you see in your surroundings and the way you treat yourself and others. Create a vision/inspiration board or collage if you’re feeling creative, and hang it somewhere in your room where you can see it during the day. Write notes and set reminders or alarms in your phone that tell you how freakin awesome you are, and make sure you’re staying in check with ignoring those negative voices. Get rid of your scale, if you use one. Cut the ties between an arbitrary number and your emotional wellbeing. Learning to love yourself at any weight/size/shape/age is truly one of the best things you will ever do for yourself. If there are people in your life who make you feel bad about who you are or how you look, you don’t need them. Stick with friends who boost you up when you’re feeling down and make you recognise your true potential. We become the sum total of the influences around us, so be extra careful when choosing what you allow to impact on your existence.
  • Perspective is everything. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that the way we view things shapes our whole world. There’s a quote by Anais Nin that reads “we do not see things as they are, but as we are” which I believe whole heartedly. We’re never going to have control over what gets thrown our way, but the way we look at things can make all the difference. No matter what happens in life, you can choose how you react. 10% is what actually happens and the other 90% is your outlook. Happy people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.

Why is self-love important?
Honestly I just think it opens up your entire life to unlimited possibility, because we’re often our own worst enemy and in reality the only thing holding us back. When you’re able to love yourself completely, you’re more open to loving the things around you and that kind of energy you send out just manifests more right back. It’s like a positive cycle. When you love yourself, there’s no need to put others down, to fester jealousy or bitterness, and it just leaves no room for judgement, which is something I think we could all do without. Self-love has got to be one of the most powerful tools people can equip themselves with, it really can change the world.

What do you hope to achieve in the future/what are your goals?
I’m constantly daydreaming about travel, so that’s definitely something I would love to play a big role in my future. I haven’t quite worked out the financial side just yet, but I want to see as much of this earth as possible during my time here. Outside of that, I want to continue to grow and learn more about myself and others, understand why we think the way we do, and ultimately harness a way to change it. It might sound corny but the only thing I can see myself doing in this life is promoting a mentality for others to realise their potential and self-worth. I don’t think there could be anything more rewarding for me than that, and it’s something I’ll always be passionate about. If I can help just one person fall in love with their self, I will die a very happy girl.

If you were trying to persuade someone to join you on your path to a healthy lifestyle, how would you go about doing so?
The only way is to lead by example. You can talk all you want in life but if you’re not practicing what you preach, your words mean nothing, I know I’m most inspired when I see someone out there creating a life for themselves that is one full of abundance, positivity, kindness and a desire for wellness, so this is something I hope to strive for too.

Do you have any books, resources, or tools for someone aspiring to live a healthy lifestyle?
Not really! I’m sure there are hundreds of awesome books and movies out there to help educate and promote wellbeing, but I also think it can be just as useful to go along on an individual journey and find your own way. Create a scrapbook of inspiring quotes, write down three things that make you happy each day, blog about your favourite healthy recipes or goals and accomplishments. Motivation is different for all of us, so it’s all about creating a life that will keep you determined to be your best self.

What do you think is the biggest issue with health in our society?
Right now it seems like we’re being bombarded with information from sources left right and centre, all preaching different miracle fixes and magic weight loss strategies. Laxative teas, ‘detox’ cleanses, diet pills, meal replacements and restrictive plans, we seem to be becoming fixated on the notion that weight loss at any cost is the way to go. I think we would benefit from just dialling back to simple, wholefoods and trying to make more health-conscious decisions in our daily lives for the long-term. Nothing too complicated, drastic or extreme, just nourishing ourselves with fresh produce and moving wherever possible. The way in which media portrays food in general is really problematic too, especially in its marketing to women. There’s always so much negativity and unnecessary emotion attached to food, like feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment or fear. Labelling products as either ‘naughty’, ‘sinful’, ‘cheeky’, ‘bad’ or even ‘indulgent’ while others are ‘guilt-free’ or even ‘clean’; it just creates an unhealthy and potentially dangerous mentality with such black and white views, not to mention the huge impact on one’s relationship towards food, health and overall self-worth.

What has been your proudest moment on your journey and what has been your most challenging?
The proudest moment is just all the connections I’ve made through blogging and instagram. Just connecting with others and being able to make even the smallest difference, it all makes it worthwhile. It’s not exactly one distinct moment, but as my blog has grown over the past 4 years and I’ve been in contact with more and more people, it’s been overwhelming (in the best way possible) to see what kind of affect we can have on one another, just with a little bit of kindness and an open mind.
My most challenging moment has actually occurred quite recently, drawn out over the last few weeks, After my dad was diagnosed with cancer I fell into a funny kind of haze that forced me to do a bit of soul searching. I felt lost and had to question everything I believed in, but ultimately it has only reaffirmed the things I know to be true, the outlook I have on life and made me even more appreciative for everything and everyone I have been blessed with in my life.

How can we find you?
Instagram: @agirlnamedally
Twitter: @allysheehan

Share your favourite recipe?
If you know me at all, you will know that there is no greater joy in my life than breakfast.
I love the wonderful variety that you can have just in one bowl, and also the ease at which it can be thrown together. Here is my ‘recipe’ for a perfect bircher muesli.
In your favourite bowl or oversized mug, put a generous serving of rolled oats, along with some chosen seeds, nuts and grains. I recommend chia seeds (they expand in liquid), flax seeds (packed with healthy fats), sultanas, macadamias, almonds, cacao nibs and goji berries.

Next, pick a tasty liquid (almond milk, apple juice, even water), pour over muesli and leave to soak overnight or for a couple of hours.

When it reaches the desired consistency, take out the muesli, top with a few more superfoods (I recommend coyo, grapes and more goji berries) and enjoy! 2-5 bowls is the recommended serving size for a happy belly. This has been scientifically proven (by me).


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