Well guys. This post is a little bit of an emotional one to write. In July, I found out that I was short-listed for ‘Best Irish Blog’ in the Health Blogger’s Community 2017 Health Blog Awards (sponsored by That Protein), and to be honest, I couldn’t quite believe it. So you can imagine my total (in the best way possible of course) shock to find out that The Irish Balance had WON. Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Health Blog Awards in London (with my star of a mom), and I shared a short post with you guys at the time. But I really wanted to follow that ‘Thank You’ post up with more. You guys are, and were AMAZING in your support of my blog for these awards. The amount of votes, kind messages, comments, and all round GOOD VIBES you shared with me leading up to the night itself was incredible, humbling, and more than that, it showed me that my blog DOES spread a positive message, and DOES have a worthy purpose. So, this post is a follow-up to thank you, and also to share some fun from the night itself – my experience there, people I got to meet, and of course photos! Including some cheeky snaps of the goodie bag treats – which was EPIC, you’ll see below!
So, I guess a quick start is to tell you, both for those of you who know me, those who don’t, and those new to my blog – what IS The Irish Balance? Who am I and what’s my blog about? Well, in short, I’m an Irish girl, working as a junior doctor in Dublin, Ireland. I started my blog last October, and there were a few reasons why I did. Firstly, I’ve always loved writing – I used to write reaalllly cringey books about animals as a kid (no, you will never see them posted here!), and reading has been a hobby of mine for a LONG time. Secondly, prior to starting my blog I would get frequent comments on food pictures I posted on my Instagram, asking for a recipes, and I figured why not have one fun place where I could share them? And thirdly, I had begun to realise that one of the things I’m most passionate about is lifestyle and it’s impact on our health. I wanted to educate myself about that whole area as much as possible, and more than that, I wanted to figure out how to make it a central part of my career as a doctor. A blog seemed the perfect fit – and so that’s how The Irish Balance started. Why the name? Well, I am Irish (mostly – I was born in Boston!). And balance? Well, balance is something I strive to achieve personally, and it’s also a key aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Balance between eating well, exercising, spending time with family and friends, working, proper sleep and rest – it ain’t easy for any of us, and there’s always at least one area we can work on. But that’s the beauty of it – balance is a journey. So this blog is my own journey, shared with you to help as many people as possible on theirs.
SO. The AWARDS! Well, a quick backstory. Due to timing of work, exams and study, Mom and I booked a whirlwind trip to London so we could attend the awards – literally, I think we were out of Ireland for about 22 hours round trip! I love London, and plan to go back for a proper trip very soon – but this visit had to be short and sweet. We rushed from airport to train to literally power walking in the rain (in heels, we’re hardcore) to get to the event on time. But we made it – blisters and frizzy hair aside…! The evening itself started off with a meet and greet – fellow bloggers, the judges, and the exciting brands sponsoring the award categories. Which of course included tasting samples, always essential! After that, there was a panel Q&A hosted by the lovely Rhiannon Lambert (who was MC for the evening and absolutely nailed it!). The panel consisted of Dr. Rupy Aujla, Roz Purcell, Tally Rye and Rebecca Pearson. And of course, the totally AWESOME Fab Giovanetti , the founder of the Health Blogger’s Community (HBA), was behind the whole evening, helped of course by a seriously hard-working team! And after the panel Q&A – it was time to announce the winners of each category!
The full run-down of the award winners and their categories are on the HBA website here – and I 100% recommend you have a look through both the short-listed and winner blogs, because there was just so much talent on show, and seriously exciting blog categories. All bloggers have an Instagram too so your inspiration is endless! There’s categories for blogs about recipes, food science, nutrition, yoga, wellness, beauty, lifestyle, and European this year too! Literally something (and then some) to suit everyone. I’d also like to give a massive shout out here to my co-shortlisted Irish bloggers, Holly White and Siobhan of Don’t Frig With My Food – both fantastic to follow and repping the Irish blog scene in a serious way.
I can’t tell you how special the night was guys, and how overwhelmed and totally beyond grateful I am to you and the judges for voting for The Irish Balance. The whole evening was incredible, but I’ll share a few highlights below with captioned photos of course! Overall, one of the most awesome things about the awards was being able to experience an event that celebrates the work that bloggers put into their online platform, and to connect with like-minded people, and as well share the whole evening with my MOM, who (along with my family) needs a LOT of recognition right here for being a total champ, and always supportive. I also want to mention and shout-out to a couple of other special peeps – to Vicky from The Flourishing Pantry, who won her Best Free From and Illness Recovery Blog Category, and who is just such a gem of a person that I’ve happily become friends with simply through meeting via Instagram (brunch brings us bloggers together, what can I say), and also to the wonderful gals at Soul Bia, a fantastic Irish business specialising in retailing a beautiful range of food products from the Irish Artisan and Free-From Food Sector. You might have seen my hilarious Boomerang with Soul Bia on my Instagram – if not, it’s well worth a peek!
Now, begin the makeshift slideshow! We’ll start with some epic goodie bag treats – let me know if you guys have tried any of these brands, it was my first time trying most of them, and I’m a big fan of them all now as a result! And just to note, this post is NOT in any way sponsored by any brand. I’m writing it from my own experience, and all goodie bags came from attending the event itself! Personal favourites of mine – the Spiced Nutrition Roasted Cacao Chickpeas (and their spice blends! Check out the website here), the Nutribrex Cacao Hazelnut Balls, OF COURSE getting to finally try Mindful Bites nut butters (which was so good I have no words for), and the Mighty Bee Coconut Jerky! Ooh, and the Percol Coffee sachets were an absolute GEM, such a cool idea! See what you’ve tried before in the photos below, and leave a comment with your faves! I have reviewed or will be reviewing each of these on my Instagram either via posts or by my Insta-story so keep an eye out for those!
And now for some extra photos of the night itself, including my epic Mom and I, Vicky and I striking a pose with our awards, and getting to meet the lovely Tally Rye again!
Tally and I meeting for the second time! (First time was at Wellfest 2016!)
Vicky and I with our awards (surreal!)
Like Mother Like Daughter – Everyone tells us we’re so alike! What do you guys think?
And that guys and dolls, is a wrap on an epic night. Two weeks later, my award is sitting with pride of place front and centre in my house, and I still feel like the whole night was a dream! Mom and I celebrated with a beautiful dinner at a restaurant called Strut and Cluck (a must visit if you’re in London, thank you Tally for the recommendation!), and the next morning we were up at the crack of dawn to fly home. I plan to celebrate properly over the next few weeks by having more FREE TIME – time with family, friends, boyfriend, and I also have an exciting few weekend health/fitness/foodie events and meet-ups planned before Christmas, as well as trips to Amsterdam, Nice and possibly London again before 2017 comes to a close. And closely linked with ALL of that are my plans for this BLOG – I have a LOT of ideas for The Irish Balance guys, and I cannot wait to share them with you.
So. THANK YOU SO MUCH. For your votes, your constant messages/comments/VIBES that you send me. Knowing my blog reaches you guys, and most importantly, with the messages that I want it to, is so special, and its that feedback coupled with my own total passion for The Irish Balance and lifestyle health that drives me to learn more, share more, and BE MORE every single day. I really hope you like this post, and as always leave a comment here, or message me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, and let me know what you think! I love when you share your thoughts with me. Let’s keep striving towards that balance each and every day guys.
Ciara 🙂 x