#2: Aly Harte - How To Build Confidence To Pursue A Creative Career, Know Your Worth and Keep Your Creativity Alive While Running A Business

    In our second episode of Werkin' On It, I sit down with artist, writer and educator, Aly Harte. Here she gets candid about discovering her ability to pursue a creative career, learning to sell her work at the right price and the reality of being a full time parent and running a business. Aly also touches on the importance of mental health and her passion for self-acceptance. 

    You can follow Aly's work on Instagram at @aly.harte where you'll also find plenty of fitness inspiration and workout ideas. To purchase any of Aly's pieces or to find out more about her self acceptance bundle, visit

    Resources mentioned within this podcast:

    Isle Jewellery

    Tim Ferris: The 4-Hour Workweek

    Arianna Huffington 

    The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

    Female Entrepreneur Association - Carrie Green

    Self Acceptance E-Bundle - Aly Harte

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    Top 5 Fitness Apps for your iPhone

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    The reality of today's digital age is that all of us end up spending a lot of our time aimlessly scrolling through our phones just to pass the time and let's be honest hear, if it was an olympic sport we would all be very worthy contenders of that gold medal. In reality though, it isn't an olympic sport and the only working out that is being done is by our poor, continuously scrolling thumbs. But what if we told you that with the help of the right apps you could put all of that scrolling to good use and actually get a workout out of it?

    The app store can easily become a very daunting place and if you don't know exactly what you're looking for it can be a slippery slope and you can easily get lost in the maze that is the app store. To help you out I've put together a list of the top 5 fitness apps complete with a description of each to help you to decipher which one is best suited to your fitness needs and goals.

    1. Zombies, Run!

    First up is arguably the most fun of them all so if you're in it to have fun and enjoy your workout as much as possible, this one is right up your street. Running and exercise in general can be a great way to clear your head and forget about whatever stresses or problems you might have going on in your life. This app helps you to do just that as you get lost in a fantasy world of your own as your run turns into a fight for survival against the undead. Using the threat of Zombie attack to dictate your routes, speeds and tactics in an undeniably effective way.

    Clearly the app is doing something right, or rather you're doing something right in downloading the app when you put into perspective the fact that it's been downloaded over a million times in just the 3 years that it has been available.

    2. Fitocracy

    In 2012, when the hugely popular website, Fitocracy, launched an iOS app, it was no surprise when it instantly shot to fame as one of the most popular exercise apps available on the market.

    Although perhaps not the as creative, Fitocracy uses the same concept of turning workouts into a game. Achieve your fitness goals and you get to move up a level, winning points as you go and competing against others that are part of the Fitocracy community. The app also offers workouts that are tailored to the user's fitness ability and for an added cost provides you with a personal trainer in your pocket.

    3. Fitnet

    I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that our number one reason for skipping a workout, whether it's an excuse of a genuine reason, is not having enough hours in the day to squeeze it in but for those of us whose time is very precious, this one is for you.

    There are more 5 to 7 minute workout than any deprived little gym bunny could hope for which means that you can help reach your fitness goals without having to sacrifice any of your quality time spent with friends or family. An additional feature of the app it's able to measure how closely you follow the moves shown on the screen as part of your workout, taking your selfie game to the next level.

    4. Spotify Running

    Previously featured on the Paul Cooney Fitness blog as well as my own was an article that I wrote about the Top 10 Workout Songs for your Gym Playlist but if that wasn't enough for you, we've found an even better solution to finding the best music  to see you through your workout.

    Most of us already have the Spotify app on our phone and as part of the app, Spotify Running measures your pace and selects a song with the same beats per minute to match it.

    5. Couch to 5K

    Couch to 5K is a great app for running beginners. If you've always wanted to get into running but struggle to find out where to start, this one is for you and first stop on your newly embarked upon running journey is the app store to download this onto your phone. The app provides you its users with 3 workouts per week as part of an 8 week programme. Give it a go and before you know it you'll be a pro, taking both the start and finish line confidently in your stride.


    Pictures Courtesy of Unsplash.

    Niamh ♥

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    Top 10 Workout Songs for your Gym Playlist



    Music is a much bigger part of our lives than we actually realise. You would be amazed by the effect that it can have on your mood but really this should come as no surprise when you think of how there is easily a playlist for every possible mood or scenario that you might find yourself in whether that's getting ready for a night out or getting over a break over which for some may be the same playlist...

    Well it's no different when it comes to working out. When you have a good playlist on the go, anything seems possible and it even makes the gym feel like a fun place to be (which for some of us is a massive achievement).

    Research has shown that not only does music help to make your workout more enjoyable but it also can improve your overall performance by 15%. Win, win.

    Along with this, The Journal of Sport and Exercise Pyschology, found that by listening to motivational music, whether that's a bit of Beyonce of the entire Rocky soundtrack, this enhances the effort that you put in and the overall enjoyment of the task.

    The music you listen to may vary depending on the type of exercise that you're doing but with a focus on running in particular, I've put together a list of the top 10 tracks to add to your workout playlist.



     1.Run the World (Girls) - Beyonce

    2. Stronger - Kanye West

    3. All I Do is Win - DJ Khaled, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, T-Pain

    4. Titanium - Sia

    5. Problem - Ariane Grande, Iggy Azalea

    6. Fancy - Iggy Azalea

    7. One Woman Army - Ciara

    8. The Girl is Mine (featuring Destiny's Child & Brandy) - 99 Souls

    9. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift

    10. Focus - Ariana Grande


    Niamh Serena xo


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    How to Avoid Burnout

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    Once you get into the swing of a training routine at the gym it can be easy to become addicted to the high that comes with the satisfaction of having just smashed a workout. With the adrenaline pumping and the release of endorphins making you feel good, who can blame you? Let's be honest here, there are worse things in life to be addicted to. But when you're suddenly training 7 times a week, your body just might be the one to start pointing the blame as you've left it with no time to repair or recover. It's at this point that you enter "The Burnout Zone".

    Like most things in life there's a balance that needs to be found and maintained within your training programme. It's the balance between exercise overload and recovery time that needs to be established in order to avoid reaching the burnout stage.

    Burnout can affect you in various different ways, be that prone to illness, physical and mental exhaustion, problems concentrating, irritability or having problems sleeping. Either way, it's something that you want to avoid.

    Once you start seeing results or even just start to notice a few other benefits of your training, it's understandable that this will motivate you to keep at it and work harder. By no means is this to say that motivation is a bad thing, however it is important that you're careful not to take too much on at once or too soon. Not only will doing so cause you to reach a burnout stage but in the long term it may lead to you abandoning your programme altogether which, for obvious reasons, isn't desirable.

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    10 Non-Physical Benefits of Regular Exercise



    Everyone enters into a healthy lifestyle for various different reasons but I think it's fairly safe to say that most choose to for the obvious physical benefits that regular exercise has to offer. You'd be surprised though, regular exercise has a lot more to offer than just a bikini body to die for or a six pack that would put everyone else to shame.

    I don't know about you guys but for me some days the more vain side of exercising just doesn't cut it as enough motivation to get to the gym so to help us all out a little, I've compiled a list of 10 non-physical benefits of exercise.

    First up is the fact that regular exercise can have a positive effect on your sleeping pattern. I'm an awful sleeper and have been for a long time so already this is making me want to exercise more. I always feel a little more like I've actually earned my sleep after I've worked out and the tiredness you get from exercising is such a different feeling to just feeling a little tired and groggy at the end of your day. Not only does regular exercise help you to fall asleep faster (just what I need to hear) but it also can help to deepen your sleep, making you feel better rested all round.

    *Side note: maybe avoid exercising too close to bed time though as this may leave you feeling too energized to be able to fall asleep...

    Stress relief serves as the most common of mental benefits offered up by regular exercise. Through carrying out regular exercise this increases the concentration of norepinephrine within the body - a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress. So not only does exercise help to reduce stress but it also enables boosting of the body's ability to deal with stress. What's not to love about this non-physical benefit?!

    Ever wondered why even though you've spent all day dreading going to the gym you always feel so much better afterwards? Speaking for myself on this one but after I've been to the gym and really had a productive workout I leave feeling so much better and so much more motivated to return for another workout. It makes me wonder what all the fuss was about getting there in the first place. Unfortunately for me though this is all just part of the vicious cycle of trying to maintain a  healthy lifestyle... Back to the reasoning behind this though:- This is because the chemical reaction of your body to physical activity results in stimulation of various brain chemicals which may leave you not only feeling happier but also more relaxed.

    Following on from the point above you'll find yourself feeling much better about your physical appearance and about yourself in general when you engage in physical activity on a regular basis which in turn then boosts your self-confidence and your self-esteem. As a result of this increased self-esteem, a person's self-image of themselves become much more positive and can elevate someone's perception of their attractiveness, regardless of age, gender, race etc. (Not that this is an excuse to become big headed though. No arrogance over here thanks...)

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    The Importance of Refuelling your Body Post Work-Out



    When it come to exercising it can be easy to place all of your focus on your "prep" and making sure that you have everything set in place before you hit the gym but the mistake that we often make is forgetting about the importance of refuelling afterwards.

    Reaching optimal physical performance requires careful attention to both pre and post work out meals and refuelling after a workout is that last crucial step that is necessary to take if you want to ensure that you are looking after yourself properly as well as getting the most out of your training.

    Why is refuelling post workout is so important?

    Our bodies need time to recover and repair after the intensity of exercise. It's at this time, immediately after exercise, that your muscles are primed to take up protein so that they can repair damaged tissue. Therefore, if you're really interested in building up your body, refuelling shortly after you workout is within your best interests. Your glycogen levels will likely have depleted due t the exercise that you have just carried out and it's important to restore these as part of the post workout recovery process.

    How quickly after a workout should you begin the process of refuelling?

    Understandably, some people find themselves feeling nauseous after exercise, particularly if the workout was on the more intense end of the spectrum. If this is you, don't worry about giving yourself half an hour to let your body calm down a little but it is important not to miss the window of opportunity post workout so try not to leave it much longer than 30 minutes. You want to avoid leaving it to the point where your blood sugar starts to plummet because it's at this point that you find yourself reaching for the chocolate bar rather than the healthy alternative that you had originally planned to have.

    How do I refuel post workout?

    Isotonic sports drinks are a safe bet for this. They're the perfect way to replace the electrolytes lost from your body while exercising. Complete the job with snacks of high carbohydrate foods every 2 hours until your next meal.

    Alternatively, here are a few ideas for post-workout snacks that you can easily pack and keep in your gym bag for eating on the go during those post gym errands:-

    1. Dried Apricots:
    - Rich in Potassium
    - Be warned though: A quarter cup of these post gym treats contains 17.25 grams of sugar so this isn't a snack you want to be going too crazy with.

    2. Raisins and Peanuts
    - The perfect mix of carbs, protein and fat

    3. Banana with a tablespoon of Almond/Nut Butter
    - Banana: High in fructose and a high glycogenic carb that your body can quickly convert to energy
    - Almond/Nut Butter combines this with protein and a small amount of healthy fat

    4. Tuna on Whole Wheat

    - 4 ounces of tuna on one slice of whole wheat bread = an ideal protein/carb mini-meal


    Remember: Finish, then refuel fast.

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    Top 5 Ways to Excuse Proof Your Workout

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    Undoubtedly, January is such a busy time in the gym world with every Tom, Dick and Harry desperately clinging to the determination that they woke up with on New Year's Day that this year was the year that their fitness levels would peak, vowing to themselves to go to at least 3 training sessions a week and trade in that foot long subway for a healthy, fresh salad. This week I am that Tom, Dick and Harry. Anything in the form of junk food seems to be calling my name, conveniently just as I got a new job writing articles and lending a helping hand in the social media department at local Belfast gym, Paul Cooney Fitness.

    Sadly, the determination to become a healthier, fitter version of yourself inevitably begins to fade and now as we enter into the third week of January and the weather is only getting colder and colder, who can blame us for wanting to curl up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate, topped off with whipped cream and of course, who could forget the marshmallows?

    You're not the only one who is finding their motivation dwindling though so to help us all out a little bit I've put together 5 ways to excuse proof your work out so that you can smash that goal of 3 training sessions a week that you promised yourself you would achieve. I know the temptation is feeling pretty intense at the moment but I promise that that sense of achievement that you'll feel once you've reached your fitness goal will be so much more rewarding and you'll be thanking yourself down the line that you never gave up even when every temptation to quit was in your way.

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    New Year, New Me: Paul Cooney Fitness

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    I'm sure I'm not the only one who started 2016 still deep in the food coma brought about by the inevitable over-eating that accompanies the Christmas holidays. With family and friend reunions taking place left, right and centre for those few weeks, it is a rare moment to be found without food in our hands so it really should come as no surprise when we find ourselves feeling sluggish and suddenly staring into a wardrobe with nothing to wear because everything has mysteriously "shrunk in the wash".

    Then come the New Year's resolutions. "New Year, New Me" we tell ourselves, with a return to the gym as the first thing on the list that needs to be done in order to achieve this new resolution we've treated ourselves to as we face the reality that something will need to be done in order to shift this slightly more rounded figure we've found ourselves sporting lately.

    The time for me to face the gym again came last Tuesday and I decided there was no better way to do it than to throw myself into the deep end with a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class at Paul Cooney Fitness.

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