60 Days To Save Your Life – Tanya Sweeney Q & A

After the spate of recent reports surrounding the increase in obesity and weight-related illness throughout Ireland, The elbowroom has decided to do something to help.

Throughout the coming year, The elbowroom will be working with certain individuals who need our help through a project called ’60 Days To Save Your Life’.

Our first candidate is Tanya Sweeney. Tanya was working as a journalist at the age of 11 for her local newspaper (reporting on Dublin Zoo, the Coca-Cola factory and ‘backstage’ at McDonald’s, where the freebies left her in no doubt of her vocation), so it stands to reason that now she has reached her 40s and is still a journalist, she is plain knackered. After a brief interlude in the music industry, Tanya started working for Hot Press magazine in the nearly Noughties and now writes for the Irish Times, Irish Independent and Irish Daily Mail. She also runs Ladyshambles, a regular salon-style event in Dublin.

Due to the hectic nature of her work Tanya has found it hard to maintain a good work/life balance. This can lead to a stressful life, something she hopes to address as part of the 60 Days To Change Your Life project.

What has made you want to make a change in your lifestyle?

It’s been a long winter, and I had hoped that longer days and milder weather would help to energise me. Alas, I feel exactly the same, even coming into spring. I’m knackered. I’m jaded. I’m burnt out at work. I don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. I’m hoping a lifestyle overhaul will give me the kick in the arse that I need to make long-term lifestyle changes, and along with a team who are on hand to help, I’m ready to investigate why I find it so hard within myself to get motivated or take care of myself.

I’m excited to see how a healthier, calmer week might suit me, and whether I can bring these changes into the rest of the year.


What are the bad lifestyle habits you’re trying to change?


How long do you have? I love a de-stressing glass of wine at night (or four). I see lots of friends in the evenings – about five nights a week – so those glasses of wine can add up. I’m a cinema nut, which means a lot of sitting around in the dark (with popcorn). My time management skills mean that I’m often running late, which results in a quick bus or Luas ride where a nice long walk could have done the job. I haven’t been on my bike in months, where normally that’s my main way of getting around the city.

Exercise has taken a backseat to long work hours and deadlines. If ever I have a free morning or afternoon, I spend it in recovery mode, catching up on Netflix or trying to clear some life admin. Diet-wise, I love to eat out with friends and I’m willing to wager that a lot of lovely yummy restaurants use a lot of naughty things to make their food so damn good. I’ve started to cook more at home from scratch, but often food is something that happens on the fly.

Other than that, I spend a lot of time in front of a computer getting stressed about deadlines (or wasting time on Facebook). My work-life balance is fairly out of kilter at the moment.

What obstacles do you envision having to overcome?

This sounds ridiculous, but making time for me seems like a big thing to overcome psychologically. Granted, if you told me that there was free gin happening down the road, I’d have no problem finding five hours to get stuck into that. But exercise and training feel, to my mind, like such a chore. A real pain in the arse duty. I’m blaming my old PE teachers. I was given circuits around the hockey pitch as punishment, A LOT.

I reckon seeing friends will be slightly problematic, and it has been when I was in training before. I’m the old reliable who you can always have a drink/dinner/coffee and cake with. I’ve tried not drinking before with friends, and while many of them are okay with it, some really aren’t.

I’m looking forward to seeing if I can actually get rid of stress in my life. It’s the worst habit I have. I catastrophise everything. I’ve experienced depression and anxiety in the past, and I am hardwired to dread and freak out about everything. Stress is my default mode. It’s knackering. As you might imagine, I don’t sleep especially well, which brings its own set of problems.

So Tanya, what do you hope to have achieved after 60 days of healthy living?

I honestly don’t care about losing weight or dropping dress sizes. I’ve found that while it’s lovely, it can actually sometimes distract you, or derail you from an end goal of wanting to be healthy. Ultimately, I’d love more energy, and to feel more healthy. I’m not even sure what ‘more healthy would feel like… happier? More on top of life? Fewer hangovers?

I’d love to be able to wake up refreshed in the mornings and for exercise and wellness to just be built into the day, like brushing your teeth, as opposed to the BIG THING I have to get out of the way every day. Addressing stress and the work-life balance would be amazing, but small steps for now!

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