Super Brain Blog – Season 3 Episode 12

The stabilisers are off with PJ Gallagher

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In this episode I chat to comedian, actor and broadcaster PJ Gallagher 

During this episode we discuss

  • His childhood hero Evil Knievel 
  • His love of anything with two wheels
  • Dicing with death & motor bike racing – as good as it gets
  • Shit shows and standup
  • School
  • Growing up in a ‘mad house’ 
  • Being adopted – taking up someone else’s space
  • Honesty



Watch PJ Gallagher in The Big DIY Challenge

Guest Bio

PJ Gallagher is a much-loved Irish comedian, broadcaster and accomplished actor. He played Principal Walsh in the massively successful television series The Young Offenders on RTÉ and BBC as Principal Walsh. But is probably known most for the hilarious and sometimes outrageous hit TV show Naked Camera and his alter ego Jake Stevens. You can also catch PJ every morning from 6am to 10am on Radio Nova. Most recently he hosts The Big DIY Challenge on RTE

Over to You

If you would like me to take a deeper dive into any of the issues discussed in this episode please do let me know in the comments below.

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PJ Final Mix

Sun, 5/16 5:38PM • 1:09:14


people, fucking, racing, life, day, shit, motorbike, remember, feel, called, grew, stand, brain, house, world, acting, irish, bike, literally, bit


Sabina Brennan, PJ Gallagher


Sabina Brennan  00:01

Hello, and welcome to Super brain, the podcast for everyone with a brain. My name is Sabina Brennan, and my guest today is PJ Gallaher, much loved Irish comedian, broadcaster and actor, best known for his role in The Young Offenders. And for his Naked Camera characters taxi driver, ‘Jake Stevens’, and ‘A dirty aul one’ renowned for sexual innuendo.  You might want to turn the volume down on this episode and turn your attention up to keep up with this one, as PJ and I are both very excitable and have a tendency to talk loudly and speak over each other. So there’s your work. And then there’s stuff that people have written about you


PJ Gallagher  00:45



Sabina Brennan  00:45

and the interviews that you’ve done. And one of them jumped out of me. And that was about the motorbikes because I’m always talking about how people can manage stress or you know,


PJ Gallagher  00:55



Sabina Brennan  00:55

reduce anxiety. And people always say to me, oh, what about meditation? What about this? And I say, No, you’ve got to find something that you love, or you absolutely lose yourself, you’re totally in that. That’s meditation, that’s much easier than siting and actually trying to the meditation


PJ Gallagher  01:12



Sabina Brennan  01:12

And that really jumped out at me because I read the article, because you were saying the first time you got on a motorbike,


PJ Gallagher  01:17

The first time we ever was on a bike, I mean, anything to do with two wheels has always been my way out of anything. Like no matter what it was


Sabina Brennan  01:24

So like a push bike as well,


PJ Gallagher  01:25

anything, the first time it was on two wheels ever, as a young fella, like I’ll never forget the first day the stabilizers came off, you know, I’ll never forget it. Like that was a hugely significant day in my life, you know, the day the stabilizers came off. That sense of freedom, like you and I remember me uncle. What a bastard, when I think of it, like, he put 50 pence on the ground and says, if you can pick that up, cycling past, you can keep it and of course, I near killed myself like,


Sabina Brennan  01:48

Oh, you had to be… So read that alright, but I was thinking the same thing about your uncle, you know. Probably trying to keep you diverted for a long time.


PJ Gallagher  01:55

Like, you know he was just fucking with me


Sabina Brennan  01:57

 I think, you know, it was a different time. It was like you used to, like, you know, see kids get hurt for the crack. You know, it was a different time.  You know, I grew up in a time where you know, now it’s kids aren’t allowed in the house. I wasn’t allowed into the house. Ever, Like I wasn’t allowed into the house that was a fact. Like you actually had to… You’d to play outside.


PJ Gallagher  02:12

It wasn’t play, it was like ‘Get the fuck out of the house’.  You know, your ma was busy. Your parents didn’t want you there. You were under their feet. So


Sabina Brennan  02:18

 Yeah, yeah,


PJ Gallagher  02:18

So nine o’clock on a Saturday morning.


Sabina Brennan  02:19

You were out all day


PJ Gallagher  02:20

‘Get out, get the fuck out’?You know, ‘don’t be underneath me feet.’ So you’re eight years old and you have a bike. So if you’re  eight years old and you have a bike and noone gives a shit where you until the streetlights come on. You have got freedom in your life.


Sabina Brennan  02:32



PJ Gallagher  02:33

And then I started watching Evel Knievel videos


Sabina Brennan  02:36

Oh do ya remember?


PJ Gallagher  02:37

Jesus Christ. I was I never I couldn’t believe it,  it’s still, I would say the greatest influence ever. People look at Evel Knievel and they say he’s the most ridiculous, stupid human being on the face of the earth. He actually never even succeeded in anything he did. This is what I loved about every single major job.


Sabina Brennan  02:53

He’s like your man, Eddie, the Eagle. Do you remember the ski guy?


PJ Gallagher  02:56

Yeah… Eddie the Eagle, like could stand up and go home. Evel Knievel can actually try and  actually live like, you know, he never he would like, ‘if I can just live through this next hour, I will be a millionaire’. Like ‘if I can just …’ So I was never about succeeding. He never wanted to succeed. He just wanted to try and stay the fuck alive for the next 10 minutes. And I remember being obsessed with that idea that this person on a bike could get on a bike and do something, which like, literally take his life in his hands. And if he was alive in 10 minutes time, he was gon na live a different life and this ridiculous man with high heels and a cape and a walking cane, all dressed up. And I was obsessed with it. You know, like, I would always jump on the bike if I wanted to get away from the world. Always jump on a bike. And then my old man got cancer. And he was like, obviously very sick’ cause killed him. Ha So you know what I mean I remember then, being, getting on a bike, a motor bike bike I’m like, you know, months later, like this is in the 90s like, And I got on a bike and.. riding down, here in Clontarf, down Hollybrook Road I got on Jason Byrne’s motorbike and went down. Hollybrook road. I’d never been the motorbike before.


Sabina Brennan  04:01



PJ Gallagher  04:02

And I just remember not feeling sad. Like, I wasn’t happy like


Sabina Brennan  04:06

For the first time – yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.


PJ Gallagher  04:11

  But all of a sudden, I had something else I was back on two wheels.


Sabina Brennan  04:16

You can’t ride a motorbike not paying attention, because you’re not going to be alive when


PJ Gallagher  04:21

You can say that but you don’t feel like you’re paying attention there’s something about being in the groove. I think that’s what I loved about racing as well. You’re just get into this place where the only thing that matters, you don’t feel like you’re paying attention at all.  No,  but the only thing that matters is the second in front of your face.


Sabina Brennan  04:36



PJ Gallagher  04:36

that’s all


Sabina Brennan  04:37

No, no, no, you don’t have to actively pay attention. That’s what I’m that’s what I’m always trying to say to people your just doing it


PJ Gallagher  04:43

You’re just trying to stay alive. And I guess that’s what happened with racing. Then ’cause you get when you go from one extreme


Sabina Brennan  04:48

Did you go into racing then?


PJ Gallagher  04:49

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I raced motorbikes for years, then and I always say that they were the best days of my life. In fact, everything else since racing has just been hanging around. It’s not really fun at all. Look, racing was real life like when you’re getting –  leaving a race then on a Sunday, and you genuinely were shitting yourself. Like the fine line between falling off a motorcycle and winning the trophy. The difference that makes You’re like, yeah, like you genuinely could die on a Sunday. Or you could wake up in the morning with a trophy and like the difference that makes your week. Like, you know, that’s all you think about is holy shit, you know?


Sabina Brennan  05:21

So were you wired all the time


PJ Gallagher  05:22

I was wired all the time doing racing. I was wired all the time, but it was… it gave me something to focus on. And that’s all I cared about was racing. I didn’t care about anything else. Now, people say why do you gig, why do you do stand up comedy and everything? To pay for motorbike parts


Sabina Brennan  05:34



PJ Gallagher  05:35

I’ve never liked stand up comedy. Like I think stand up…   like, I wouldn’t go to a stand up gig if you paid me.  I think stand up comedy’s s.. fucking grand, like I only ever did it ’cause I couldn’t do fuck all else, you know. And then…


Sabina Brennan  05:45

But you could race Well like, yeah, but not good enough to make a, like I was good on Irish standards I could win a few races here, but I was never gonna make a full time living out of it. You know, that was the thing. So racing was where I could put my focus into stuff. And then I did a couple of road races and then I had a huge accident in Spain. And that was the end, because I went back to Mondello park briefly and for the first time ever in a race track, I was afraid and when you’re afraid that’s over


PJ Gallagher  06:08

You’re not focused. You’re just afraid, you know?


Sabina Brennan  06:13

Yeah, that’s that’s exactly what I was going to ask you because what’s going through the back of my mind as well. So you’ve  mentioned that the motorbikes and the stand up right, and the motorbike like, my heart is racing at the thought of being on a motorbike like, you know, I be kind of pretty scared about that. But what I find really interesting is you can go that life / death stuff on the motorbike and be excited about it and buzzing, but then you had issues with panic attacks before performing on stage


PJ Gallagher  06:39

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I still hate performing on stage. Yeah. You know, I always have done so that’s why I’m not doing it. You know?


Sabina Brennan  06:45

Yeah. I understand that. Like,


PJ Gallagher  06:48

But I wasn’t afraid to get killed. I didn’t care. It just was always doing something. They loved you. And so I didn’t care. There was a part of me that was afraid of getting injured.


Sabina Brennan  06:57

How old were you ? Are you talking late teens early 20s?


PJ Gallagher  06:59

No, no I was in my 30s


Sabina Brennan  07:00

Oh, really?


PJ Gallagher  07:01

Yeah. Yeah. No it was right into me mid thirties


Sabina Brennan  07:03

Oh, cuz I was gonna say, you know, your brain hadn’t fully kind of developed in and you wouldn’t be able to assess risk properly.


PJ Gallagher  07:08

No I just didn’t care. I just didn’t care.


Sabina Brennan  07:12

Was it that you didn’t care or you needed that buzz?


PJ Gallagher  07:14

I didn’t care  right ok.


Sabina Brennan  07:15



PJ Gallagher  07:15

No, this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t care. When I have low moments. I often think I wish that was the time I was killed, you know, if I have low moments, that’s what I think because those were the best days of my life. Those are the days that, all that mattered was being on the race track, where I had a single absolute driven focus every weekend, where I would stay fit all through the winter where I would get operations all through the winter, and I could bear them all because I knew I was going to get on the race track again in the summer. Where all that my heart was that one second in front of my face, and that one second behind me. Where I could go out to racetracks and people would get hurt on sometimes I would get very badly hurt but I knew I’d be able to get back on the racetrack. So if you die doing that you don’t give a shit. I know it’s hard for people to understand that don’t do it, but I didn’t care about it. And I guess you look at people who’ve never done anything You think grand you don’t get it.  But my attitude at the time was I would much rather die in a fucked up body now then take a body that’s in really good neck into a grave when I’m eighty years old and feel feel like a totally wasted it. That was the attitude I kind of had


Sabina Brennan  08:15

Yeah, yeah, but but it makes me feel sad to think that you think that was the best?


PJ Gallagher  08:19

That was the best


Sabina Brennan  08:20

because you’re really young


PJ Gallagher  08:22

I know but there’s nothing that will ever beat that.


Sabina Brennan  08:24

No, no, no, no, you can’t you can’t you can’t. So I used to think that


PJ Gallagher  08:28

No nothing will ever beat it. Stand up was never.. gave me the high


Sabina Brennan  08:31

I think you’re just not looking hard enough.


PJ Gallagher  08:33

Well no I’m not looking at all.


Sabina Brennan  08:38

Yeah, well then get looking. So I get a lot of what you’re saying. Right? I used to be an actor, I hated theatre acting I trained from the age of eight. in theater, right?


PJ Gallagher  08:48



Sabina Brennan  08:48

I loved film and television because for me it was about figuring out why and that’s why I’m a psychologist and all that was figuring out why would someone do that and what’s going on in their brain and what you know, I’d be figuring out the inner dialogue and and the the challenge for me was getting inside that and making it work and being it you know, making it believable I didn’t care about applause you know, if I didn’t get it right. I don’t give a shit if y’all stand up and give me a standing ovation. I know I didn’t get it right. So for me it was about understanding it, doing it, getting it right performing it over and done, now give me another piece. I had no desire to do night after night. When I was an actor. I thought that was the only thing that would ever give me the buzz.


PJ Gallagher  09:32



Sabina Brennan  09:33

The happiness the… and I mean


PJ Gallagher  09:35

Well, it probably is What else has? What’s filled it for you like,


Sabina Brennan  09:39

Oh yeah, what I do now what I do now has filled it much more. I was always high as a kite when I was acting.


PJ Gallagher  09:46



Sabina Brennan  09:46

really down low when I wasn’t. And it’s hard to for women as actors like there’s much more parts for guys.


PJ Gallagher  09:52

Ah there is yeah, but then most things are a bit more difficult for women when it comes to performance because you’re judged differently as well. So


Sabina Brennan  09:59

yeah, yeah. Yeah, I remember someone saying to me actually one of the writers of the show about work and he just said to me, like, you’re really great actor, whatever. And I said, Yeah, but it’s really tough. I can’t get any work now after this


PJ Gallagher  10:10



Sabina Brennan  10:10

you know? And he said, Yeah, he said, You’re really hard to cast he says, because you’re not really beautiful and you’re not really ugly. And that’s what the parts for women are you know. – but he was right


PJ Gallagher  10:20

Yeah. Well, he’s not right. He’s full of shit. That’s the full of shit attitude that can be accepted as normal.


Sabina Brennan  10:27

Yeah, yeah


PJ Gallagher  10:28

that’s that’s not a standard I’ve ever been held, you know, would be held to. You know, granted, I’m not going to get Tom Cruise fuckin parts in  Hollywood, you know, I’m not going to be the love interest.


Sabina Brennan  10:36

But why not?


PJ Gallagher  10:36

Why not my face is like someone drew a face on a balloon.  Why not?


Sabina Brennan  10:37



PJ Gallagher  10:38

No its not. Doesn’t matter it’s never gonna be an issue. Yeah, for instance, look at these women stand up that are out there. Now. People will look at me and if they don’t like me, they’ll say you’re shaking your head fat bitch or fucking another unfunny slut or it’s you know what? Oh, yeah, no, no, totally, totally different. A call. She’s a stand up. She can’t get a bloke. Oh, yeah, I have never had that. I’ve been called a fucker and a this and a bollocks, grand, but the standard is totally different. it’s the same with acting, it’s the same with performance. It’s different. Like,


Sabina Brennan  11:15

yeah, it is different. And…


PJ Gallagher  11:17

What am I telling you for you know fucking more than I do


Sabina Brennan  11:19

I know, but it’s nice to see guys recognize it as well. You know, that’s kind of good


PJ Gallagher  11:24

Guys sometimes get upset by it because they take an inference out of it that they haven’t worked as hard as they possibly could. You know, sometimes people say, oh, women have to work harder on lads than see that as ‘so you’re saying I haven’t bust my bollocks to get where I am. No, that’s not what they’re saying.


Sabina Brennan  11:39

It’s not a zero sum game. So


PJ Gallagher  11:40

It’s an added layer of shit


Sabina Brennan  11:43

one thing I wanted to ask you about was your new show. I had a listen. I don’t get up at six o’clock in the morning. You obviously have to get up much earlier than six


PJ Gallagher  11:52

Five Yeah, five


Sabina Brennan  11:53

Oh well that’s not too bad. So I was having to listen to it last night. It’s a new show what I was thinking was your four hours on the radio That’s a lot


PJ Gallagher  12:01

It’s not that long


Sabina Brennan  12:02

Well, yeah, you play music though.


PJ Gallagher  12:03

You play music, there’s news there’s all kinds of things happen you know if you add up what I do it adds up to less than a half an hour or spread over four hours I suppose.


Sabina Brennan  12:11

Shss, don’t let them hear you say that


PJ Gallagher  12:14

No I want to do more but they’re very strict about the time that we put into it


Sabina Brennan  12:17

Are they?


PJ Gallagher  12:17

Yeah, cuz they want to get features and music and news and there’s a license Yes. So you have to abide by the terms your license and all as well. You can’t just do what you want to


Sabina Brennan  12:25

do you are you buzzing when you finish that? Like what do you do with that high when you’re just finished? Are do you not have that No I’ve never had that from performance Wow. Oh, no, never  but did you have that from your motorbike racing?


PJ Gallagher  12:39

Yeah, hugely so yeah. Yeah, hugely. Yeah. And but I never had it from performing or anything. Okay, I get a sense of relief when I do shows thank god that’s wasn’t shite or whatever. Yeah, that’s been my motivation in my life is don’t be shit. Never be brilliant. Never be good, never be the best, never be… just don’t be shit has always been my motivation. So when they do shows like the radio show, it’s always just a feeling of thank. Fuck that. I don’t think that wasn’t shit. That’s great. That’s okay, though.


Sabina Brennan  13:06

You’re very hard on yourself.


PJ Gallagher  13:07

Well, I guess I’ll tell you I suppose you have to be don’t you? Are you’d do nothing at all.


Sabina Brennan  13:11



PJ Gallagher  13:11

There’s so many people I see? When I… nothing frustrates me more when I go to a venue  and somebody gets up and they’ve e done the most mediocre set in the world. And they’re like, That was amazing. You’re like, yeah, okay, fair play. You did it again. That’s my compliment to give people when they think they’re…you know well, you did it again. Again,


Sabina Brennan  13:26

I always – how do you do that when people ask you to go to a show – what am I going to say if they’re crap


PJ Gallagher  13:28

 You did it again. Good for you. I mean, and there’s nothing I hate more than when I know when I did a shit show. Or a walk offstage. It was substandard. And someone goes Oh, that was brilliant. Yeah, fuck off. Yeah, so for me,


Sabina Brennan  13:46

Yeah that really annoyed me. Yeah that’s so insincere


PJ Gallagher  13:51

Whenever I did stand up, and whoever I was doing the gigs with be it Joanne McNally, I’ll be it john Lean or any of those those people I will always tell them. This is the last joke I’m going to do this night, when they start this joke, open the back door and start to car. So that I would be able to do it, walk out the back door to open the car and be the first person to the venue. Every single night.


Sabina Brennan  14:12

You couldn’t wait to get away?


PJ Gallagher  14:13

No couldn’t wait to get away.


Sabina Brennan  14:15

So it’s like torture,


PJ Gallagher  14:16

torture, torture.


Sabina Brennan  14:18



PJ Gallagher  14:19

So I mean,


Sabina Brennan  14:20

you must do you know, people listening to this who’d be dying to be stand up or people dying to be actors … are probably kinda going fuckin hell.


PJ Gallagher  14:28

I know


Sabina Brennan  14:29

Maybe because you care less. You see, I think often people get in their way of themselves performing. Because it matters too much. Do you know what I mean? So they kind of


PJ Gallagher  14:37

Yeah, I guess. And I’ve seen people do does. I’m not gonna say names, but I know someone in particular, who does that they torture themselves into ruining their performance.


Sabina Brennan  14:46



PJ Gallagher  14:47

but it’s not that I care less like, hey, like I care too much about the responsibility of it. So when somebody pays in to see your show, for me on a Friday night, it’s Vicar Street. It’s a random Friday in March, whatever. They pay in and straight away I think if I don’t do the best show they’ve ever seen I’ve fucked up their weekend, and nothing will ever make me not feel that, that’s what I feel. I’m like, these fucking people have lives. There’s 1100 of them Vickar Street. So there’s 1100 people out there who need me to have the best show they’ve ever seen, or their hard lives weekend now was fucked. I’ve ruined their weekend.


Sabina Brennan  15:22

I don’t know,


PJ Gallagher  15:23

I can’t help it. It’s exactly how we feel.


Sabina Brennan  15:26

But you can switch that


PJ Gallagher  15:26

So when the show is over, you know, the show has been amazing. And I’ll be honest with you, I think most of mine are I’m very competitive.


Sabina Brennan  15:34



PJ Gallagher  15:34

I think most of them are amazing shows. I don’t enjoy a second of them till I get in the car. And I go to fuck home. And I go to bed. And I’m glad it’s over that;s always the way it’s okay.


Sabina Brennan  15:46

So it’s like you’re punishing yourself. So you’re only taking the negative?


PJ Gallagher  15:50

Well, I’m not only taking the negative I’m getting paid


Sabina Brennan  15:52

No. But you’re not saying that. Actually, those people in the audience, you could have made their weekend and you made them laugh. You gave them something to laugh about for the first time in six months?


PJ Gallagher  16:01

Yeah I know. But you have to do it again then on the Saturday and the Sunday. So let’s see, you know, you can’t


Sabina Brennan  16:05

Ah yeah, you can.


PJ Gallagher  16:06

I don’t think you can


Sabina Brennan  16:08

you can


PJ Gallagher  16:09

It gets worse every year. So I did that show, the RTE show Stage Fright the documentary,


Sabina Brennan  16:15



PJ Gallagher  16:15

And I thought maybe I’d knocked it on the head. But it turned out wI was just rehearsing the show as I was going and I felt it was better. And then I had to start writing a show again. And it just was back to square one.


Sabina Brennan  16:24

This is like the kind of panic attacks before doing it. Is it?


PJ Gallagher  16:27

just a dread of the whole entire experience. So for me, like I’ve only ever been?


Sabina Brennan  16:30

Why? Well, the reason I’m gonna say why do it I presume The answer is for the money


PJ Gallagher  16:34

I’ve always been shit at the things I like doing I’m pretty good at things I have no interest in. See, I’m always saying and it’s this is genuinely very, very true with me. And like I was saying to you Don’t be shit was my motivation. I never wanted to even be brilliant or the best at anything. I was fucking shit at almost everything I put my hand to. So I was terrible in school. Bar English. I was terrible at sports. I wanted to play for the Dubs. I wanted to play sports. I couldn’t catch a ball to save me life. My hands are literally ornamental. I mean my best. You know, I was tired of all these teams. Everything I did. I was told her body was most of them. Can’t do anything else, no that’s it  No.


Sabina Brennan  16:37

What about the acting That doesn’t mean that you were actually terribly


PJ Gallagher  17:15

lost. Oh, no, I was I didn’t care what it was. I just wanted to be good. at something I know that we will stand up. Yeah, I got the validation of it’s fine. You can be good at this.


Sabina Brennan  17:28

Yeah. So can I just explain something to you there then. Because this is the sort of next book I want to write is how we construct who we are and our sense of self right? So your brain makes up who you are right? From all the information that can get everywhere, there’s no independent self, you’ll have some sort to trade your your


PJ Gallagher  17:47

your the story, you tell yourself your


Sabina Brennan  17:48

the stories you tell yourself or the stories that other people tells you. So your brain literally takes information from all over the place through the course of your life. And that becomes who you think you are. Yeah, whatever, would like loads of that information is wrong. And loads of it is outdated. So you’re like you’re operating on a story of yourself from when you were a kid that you were told you were crap, but everything that you did, but


PJ Gallagher  18:12

it wasn’t just I was told it was my experience of it as well.


Sabina Brennan  18:14

Yeah. But what I’m trying to say is like, I’m older than you. So I don’t know how to change much by the time you kind of came along to school, but like, our teachers were in not in the business of boosting your self esteem are telling you you were good. They were in the businesses of keeping you under control. I’m


PJ Gallagher  18:31

telling ya, we’re terrible. Yeah, well, yeah, everything I was half decent, that was seen as disruptive in school. Yeah, you know, on the idea of having to sit down and work is fundamentally not something I am able to do. I can’t do it. For me to do anything productive. I have to be on my feet and moving around. And it’s loud, and it makes noise. And so that was never valued. You know?


Sabina Brennan  18:51

No. And you see, so if you watch kids learn and write toddlers, they explore the world with all of their senses. Everything goes in their mouth, they smell it, they taste it, they roll in it, you know, they just use everything. And that’s how they learn, right? And that’s how all of us learn when we go to school. And we’ve decided we want to control children. And so you tell them cross your arms Don’t, don’t stand don’t sit. And that’s torture for some kids. And actually, it’s just not good for your brain. So basically what happens is, we all turn into these underperforming creatures who really can only learn through hearing and listening and neurone value through that when there’s like all this other stuff. So I’m always trying to encourage people, you know, if you want to improve your memory, if you want to improve how your brain works, take in all of your senses. I guess you don’t know, I’m just calculus.


PJ Gallagher  19:41

Right? So you can’t do that. So I’m just saying just the numbers essentially, and I left school at 16. But I think if I hadn’t left school, I probably would have ended up in jail. So like I know if I had stayed in school, it would have been the road to ruin because I was so miserable in school, like nothing God was ever gonna come out of that situation. You know,


Sabina Brennan  20:00

yeah, so, but that’s the teachers that’s down to the teachers in the school and the system. It is it is because you should be trying to find what someone’s good at. You know, it’s like forcing square pegs into round holes. That’s why when people say to me, like I did really, really well at university, right, and people say, Oh my God, that’s brilliant. I said, No, it’s something I found easy. Actually, it was my training as an actor. I worked in soap, so I had to learn tons of scripts. Yeah, over and over again. I went to uni, it just had to learn tons of stuff and regurgitate it Okay, yeah, I have to be able to understand it and all the rest, but it’s just society just puts a value on that. It doesn’t mean it’s any better than


PJ Gallagher  20:41

Well, it also saves me a lot actually. Because it’s so overvalued with some so I have nephews who play sport and whatever. And this participation level fucking bullshit really gets to me because I went to school with lads who were really challenged when it came to certain subjects in school. If school didn’t suit you the only 20 of us in school and did everything they could do just put wrap a chain around the door and just ignore us. Yeah. And then you will go out and put these lads had a way to prove themselves. Yeah, yeah, playing sport. You could see talents shine and trill and some of these notes when I look back on it now, and I know some of them ended up on drugs or they just you know, nothing ever came up. Yeah. So you don’t give anyone a participation Medal from Max. You know, or science. Yeah. Or Ganesh or even TNR he get the audition you get you pass the test. He gets it or not. And then everyone goes out into a different field. And then it’s not finally to the point are fairplay sure everyone gets to have a game everyone gets it. Yeah, that’s not the way you know, I don’t believe it should be like that. You should be equally as rewarding. I’m like a read that annoys me. And yeah, yeah, I I think there’s just key values here. All right. This is how you fight gets to one stage winner. Here we go. I’m better at yesterday. Yeah. And then you’re told I know, everyone gets emails. Now. This is an important. Yeah, this is all been taken apart. This isn’t the belshe Yeah, Excel.


Sabina Brennan  21:56

What do you see? You do it the other way? Or else you say? Well, actually, you don’t have to get 10 out of 10. In your spelling test. It’s all about taking part.


PJ Gallagher  22:04

It gets 10 deserves to be celebrated.


Sabina Brennan  22:08



PJ Gallagher  22:10

Oh, my gosh, you should be acknowledged. You know, I’m all about winning chess, you know, to play the game, but you shouldn’t like if you play fair bluff if you get something else. Well, congratulations. But the winners.


Sabina Brennan  22:23

I think the thing is, though, everybody’s good at something. It just that the school system doesn’t look for that. Did you grow up in Qatar? Oh, no. I


PJ Gallagher  22:30

grew up Marino and then contact. So because I grew up. You know, I grew up in a in a really strange situation. Yes,


Sabina Brennan  22:35

I do. You said that your house was like a university for comedy. Well, we were part of a social experiment.


PJ Gallagher  22:42

Yeah. So I was adopted for. And then I ended up with me, folks. I was six months in foster care, and fingerless, and then I went to Ruby folks. And then dows became a part of what was a social experiment at the time. What happened was the Eastern Health Board at the time and our wisdom decided that there was going to be this, you know, into the community type of idea. I can’t.


Sabina Brennan  23:03

So the Eastern Health Board for listeners in the UK is like the NHS or a wall. Yeah.


PJ Gallagher  23:10

Yeah, yeah, we have the HSE was like a regional sort of thing. So and so they had this idea that people who had, you know, severe mental illnesses at the time, they report into houses around the country. Now, there was only a handful of places in the country this happened. And just I’ll hop on a handful. I mean, like, five or something. Yeah. So we ended up with six people who had schizophrenia living in their house had schizophrenia. Yeah. So six people who are schizophrenia lived in our house. So it was like mee mee, mee mah, my sister in the dog, and six people with schizophrenia. So I wrote a show about and it’s called mad house because I literally cannot explain it any other way. So I lived almost all of my childhood in this experience. And so was I ever going to be a doctor after that? I don’t think so. Definitely. Definitely. I met a fella recently, but you just mental health talk that Ted formatos disco a great guy, Ted for him. And he used to play for the dogs and he has this mental health night for lads. Right. And I was on having a chat about Tatiana talk with the lads there. And there was a lot that goes I was past that scheme as well. I grew up on that scheme. And he goes, would you ever think of working in the mental health business? Oh, just because he’s a psychiatric nurse. That was I have no idea how you did that. Because I couldn’t get away from a quick enough. Yeah, I’m like, he was like, No, no, he was compelled to stay with us his whole life. I was like, Man, you haven’t. I know how you did that. I couldn’t get away from it quick enough. Like I was just get me out of this. How many years was it like was this years? It was like 14 years or something? Yeah, it was long, like right through my childhood. And I


Sabina Brennan  24:46

presume these people were medicated and they were feel really sorry for them. This is just just the team mental health as


PJ Gallagher  24:53

a ward. Yeah, this is a new war. You know yourself. This wasn’t a phrase when I was growing up in the Do you want mental or your heart health? There was no mental health. So they were seen as mental.


Sabina Brennan  25:05

Yeah, no, it was terrible. We were very, very own PC. And we said, like, as you said, that Madhouse thing just, that’s a very common phrase in Ireland, people say, Oh, we grew up in tomatoes, tomatoes. And it just means you had a chaotic house. It was never intended that way. But that’s the only


PJ Gallagher  25:24

thing we all know.


Sabina Brennan  25:27

We did like I mean, it was awful, like psychiatric institutions were like called mad houses. And


PJ Gallagher  25:34

yeah, we’re terrible on people. And around our role, though, a call that I had was to know Hey, listen, you know, all of the you know, the common term, like very normal terms. Yeah, mine’s a new bar. Yeah, yeah. That was very normal towards a phrase, you know? Yeah. Back in the days where we used to refer to mental illness with the most passive weird way it’s never like, oh, James. Yeah, he’s taken to the bed or his nerves around him is massively suicidal, couldn’t leave the house for it his nerves around like he’s fucking nerves, or I’m celebrating people who had serious problems like buying buying on 40 Colts and Suzie Mossad is famous toggling characters who became part of the fabric of the city we live in. And there are people who are nowadays I would never you would never have somebody walking around. Terrible.


Sabina Brennan  26:21

Yeah, it’s very different world today. It is now and they’re still like,


PJ Gallagher  26:24

I think when it comes to that sort of car you see on this thing, I still worry today because with me, I hear mental health, mental health, mental health, and it doesn’t mean anything. It’s like saying physical health


Sabina Brennan  26:35

  1. Yeah.


PJ Gallagher  26:36

So for people I grew up with, I think would feel very excluded by the mental health thing today, it seems to refer to depression and anxiety, that’s depression, anxiety, things that really are killers. They kill lads. Especially you need to talk about these things. But we focus so much on that. I grew up with fellas who used to see his dead brother in the show. Yeah, start his dead brother was haunting him calling him a bastard and beating them in the sleep used to wake up picking up another like he wanted to get a dog in his fucking stomach, like these people are still completely No, we’re not talking about these people, these people,


Sabina Brennan  27:07

because that’s


PJ Gallagher  27:08

real and Madeline’s are not part of this conversation.


Sabina Brennan  27:12

There’s one issue I have with the way it’s gone. And it speaks exactly to what you’re saying. And that is that depression and anxiety, they run on a continuum. So we can all feel a bit depressed and anxious. And yet, it’s really important to talk about it before it spirals down. What’s happened a little bit is because everybody’s very open about talking about Oh, I’ve dealt with anxiety, or I’ve had panic attacks, or I’ve had the people who are looking at that who have much more severe stuff are kind of going well, no, hold on. I can’t even leave my house. Yeah. Not hard to these people.


PJ Gallagher  27:48

Obviously, completely mad.


Sabina Brennan  27:50

I can’t leave my house. I can’t even go on social media. I wouldn’t even be able to wash my hair and put makeup on


PJ Gallagher  27:56

my pink. Ray. We’re in the Arctic yesterday trying to you know, these are things that remember people genuinely thinking in our house.


Sabina Brennan  28:02

Yeah, well, that’s schizophrenia. So but I mean, eating disorders are in there as well, and personality disorders. And, you know, they’re serious stuff. But I also do think that there’s much more serious clinical depression, you know, where people really literally can’t function. You don’t identify with that sort of more public face of all I’ve lived with depression we all have. It’s a normal human feeling. Do you know what I mean? It doesn’t have to end your life. And that’s why it’s important to talk about it because we can pull ourselves out of it. But I want to talk to you actually about been adopted. So you told all along that you were adopted.


PJ Gallagher  28:37

Oh, yeah, we always knew. I remember finding out where people weren’t coming as a shock. I was in belgrove. I was chatting to a fella called on conference his name, and I was sitting there chatting to him. I can’t remember all the conversations go on. You know, when these significant moments happen in your life, you never know what happened on the laughter Yeah, it’s after so but remember just the moment I became aware that he was still with the parents the hug him. I remember initially thinking the poor bastard like the fucking like they couldn’t find anyone to take him. You know? Cuz me it was like they found your parents and then you grew up with your parent. Yeah, yeah. So whoever sees the story we tell ourselves, just remember that happening?


Sabina Brennan  29:18

Do you think that’s part of where your comedy comes from? Like, you’re a great mimic. Is that a right way to say it? You’re great at imitating people’s voices and all that to just start young?


PJ Gallagher  29:27

Yeah, yeah. Did Yeah.


Sabina Brennan  29:29

Yeah. Yes. It was finding something you were good at that made people laugh.


PJ Gallagher  29:32

Yeah. But again, for all that time, you weren’t good at something that was just causing fucking trouble for people. That was the problem like, Oh, yeah, that would have been the same as saying he’s really good at taking heroin or he’s really good at drinking like it was that destructive in the environment. I was so you were


Sabina Brennan  29:47

giddy. Yeah. You know


PJ Gallagher  29:48

what I mean? Well, yeah. And genuinely, teachers would have hated me and you know why you would hate a damn and I would have hated the confines of the school and they wished I wasn’t there. And,


Sabina Brennan  29:56

you know, when we grew up, like everyone was You have to remember to


PJ Gallagher  30:01

never forget all this you these are the best days your life. Right now. They were awash with 60 I’m like, I’m getting the fuck out. waste. I never looked back. never looked back. I do think it’s probably the day was sheer.


Sabina Brennan  30:21

It’s just the game you have to play. I let you tell this story, but you had a lovely mom and dad growing up, you know real drive to find your birth parents. No, yeah,


PJ Gallagher  30:33

no, not really.


Sabina Brennan  30:34

Did you imagine like, I remember talking to Joanna like, and she was imagining that she was part of this amazing acting dynasty.


PJ Gallagher  30:42

Now we’re very different takes on it. I think because I look back at my childhood and I have no real positive childhood memories. So I look back and I remember being very angry over angry that you were adopted. Yeah. Well, yeah. Angry data was adopted in the world and angry at all the world around me and I remember being very fuckin angry over. I remember at one stage having these talks on find a Monday and I’ll get my own back. That was


Sabina Brennan  31:06

so angry with them. I know.


PJ Gallagher  31:08

Damn. But I grew up every day. I agree with your mom. Yeah. Where are you everyone? Yeah. You’re reaching close to your mom. On we’re very close now. Yeah, yeah. But not always. No, no, he was close to anyone. Okay, okay. No, I misunderstood. Jesus. No, not at all. No comedy until the 90s. It sounds ridiculous. We live in the same house. But we didn’t know each other with each other.


Sabina Brennan  31:34

I don’t think my mother ever knew who I was ever. It wasn’t who you were, you just


PJ Gallagher  31:39

had to behave almost like that. Anyways, I was always in trouble. I was always very rebellious. I was never fit in. And nothing was really expected of me either. You know, so I guess. Yeah, I was just very angry. You know? Yeah. So I’m saying that was angry bird parents, but no more angry than anybody else. So, you know, it’s just full of hate when I was a young fella, you know, I was just so fucking angry all the time. Yesterday, he hated being able to control you know, not having any say in anything in my life. It drove me insane. You


Sabina Brennan  32:07

have to connect with lamsa say, he has this lovely line, because he was angry. And he says anger is just an emotion in search of love. I’m sorry, I’d love but that’s what it was.



Yeah, you know,


Sabina Brennan  32:18

I just think it’s a great way to look at it, you know, that it’s just there was something amiss. And that I mean, I think that’s with any kids that are acting out, or there’s something not right, you need to try and figure out what it is, instead of punishing the anger. You need to find out what’s going on in there. Like, yeah,


PJ Gallagher  32:33

I guess so. But then I wouldn’t let you eat or you know, you wouldn’t have got in even now, I won’t let anyone in. Like that’s never got, that’s not a thing that’s ever gonna happen.


Sabina Brennan  32:41

Why you are too much.


PJ Gallagher  32:43

I just don’t think I could do it now. And because I’m so used to and I don’t think I’ll ever want to do it. Now. It’s just not attaining. For me. I’ve never really felt I fit in with anyone or in any place. So like, for instance, like, a lot of times people say, Oh, you know, do your fucking great the charity work you do. And all right. I never avoid that narrative. Because for me, it’s nothing except trying to justify why I get to get up and breathe every day. And other people don’t. That’s all it is. Because I still feel like a fucking accident. And that’s never gonna go away. That’s just now I know, you can say whatever you


Sabina Brennan  33:18

want, if you man, like an accident, because I


PJ Gallagher  33:22

shouldn’t be here. I’m taking up someone else’s space. No, this is exactly exactly how I feel about myself. I’ll never change. I’ve had all the reasoning for this, though. But I’ll never believe it. And you’ll


Sabina Brennan  33:35

never change unless you decide you want to change. So I’ll never cheat. Yeah.


PJ Gallagher  33:38

So I always feel like that. So when I do charity work, whenever it’s just trying to fit in for a day or a minute or a week. That’s all it is. But trying to feel like you’re maybe contributing something rather than just taking all the time. Yeah. So when I was born, I was given away when I wanted to build a house. Other people have priorities. When I went to school, I was told I was terrible. I didn’t fit in. When I went to work. I wasn’t great. When I had passions for things in life. I couldn’t pull it off. So all these things in my life, I’ve always felt like I’m in the way I’m taking up a space that doesn’t belong to me. That’s always the way it is. It probably comes from being adopted. I don’t fucking know. I can only tell you that’s what I think. Yeah. So when they do these charity things, that’s the motivation behind so it’s selfish in itself. Oh,


Sabina Brennan  34:22

I totally agree. I do loads of pro bono stuff. And I don’t even see that as boasting. It makes me feel good. I don’t believe in altruism. It doesn’t mean you do stuff because it makes you feel good so I just think that’s just being honest. I do stuff because it makes me feel good. I was actually talking to Tom dawn and we were actually talking about doing stuff for free. Right now I’ll give a talk No, it’s fine. You do for free right and I have a fee then for my corporate stuff is how I earn my living costs and other people will ask you and they’ll say someone throws you 50 quid and you feel like it’s much easier to do it for free room that now rounded now either you give me me full Be? Yeah, if you turn around and give me an insulting amount, do you not realize that I just spent 10 hours preparing this via and at least I got the pleasure. Oh, yeah,


PJ Gallagher  35:08

I did it for you. I did


Sabina Brennan  35:10

it for free. You’ve kind of wrecked it. We all do it because we get something out of it or it eases some conscience or it just makes us feel good. It doesn’t matter. It’s benefiting someone else. And doesn’t matter what your motivation is, if someone else is benefiting from it, it’s good. And the thing is, with kindness, if you engage in an act of kindness to someone, you get a benefit, they get a benefit. But if someone witnesses an act of kindness, they’re more likely to engage in an act of kindness. It’s actually really funny. Yeah. Yeah. You know,


PJ Gallagher  35:41

Yeah, I think so. Yeah.


Sabina Brennan  35:42

Anyway, so you have overcome so many things. So you got it. You got a sort of genetic form of


PJ Gallagher  35:50

Oh, I got this thing called Reuter syndrome. So hasn’t


Sabina Brennan  35:52

that cleared up for you? Or does it still fly one


PJ Gallagher  35:54

of the lucky ones it cleared, it went, it’s a type of arthritis, and you can get it in your feet and your hands whenever I get pain. I’ll never forget the pain. There. So it’s doing a gig in Cork. And remember, Arianna, Barbara, and the next day be in so much pain. So I still don’t know if that was thinking about what I


Sabina Brennan  36:12

did. That’s it. It can be triggered by


PJ Gallagher  36:16

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, I went to the doctor, and the doctor said, he was asked me like, you know, is it in your family course adopted? I don’t know. Is that history of heart disease? Or you don’t know, cancer? I don’t know. Like, you start realizing I literally don’t know what I’m made of, but don’t know what I’m made of. Now, I’m not one of these people who says I don’t know who I am. I’ve never that’s never been the challenge for me, thankfully. Yeah, people are not as lucky in their sense of identity. They feel lost. I’m not that person. I just didn’t know what it was made. Oh, yeah. Yeah, exactly. On my unfairness tour has always said, you have to find where you’re from. She says if you are born under a rock in Killarney, I don’t know why you remember that one time. You have to find that rock she goes. And that was what started me looking, wanting to find a selfish reason. Again, it was I just want to find out what is my medical history, like


Sabina Brennan  37:07

what is wishes, if there’s something wrong with that, there’s nothing wrong with that.


PJ Gallagher  37:11

I know. But I knew I


Sabina Brennan  37:15

didn’t need to be qualified as selfish. It just I wanted to the


PJ Gallagher  37:18

same time though, I kind of knew it was gonna disrupt other people’s lives and wants to say I started you can start by what became about something different, very, very quick. It became about Who are these people? And, you know, I want to know who these people are. And it all right. And so why is their lives and hopefully they are okay. And as you get older, you get a bit more understanding about the world. Really? Yeah, it’s not black and white, even though you’re still I still struggle with that. So the genuine desire to find out who they were, as well, as well, I started to mail. And then To be honest, I have a very, very quick for me, you know, I literally went to the adoption agency and sailed down the street and said conference calls and says, I want to do this. They said write a letter. Oh, you already knew I had two brothers and two sisters. You already knew that. Yeah, I knew this for years. I don’t know, at a point. My parents knew enough. To this day. I don’t know. But they told me your brothers and sisters. And one of the things my mom always used to tell me was you really need to find your family because you could be out there on a football pitch or whatever. And you and your product will be punched in the fucking heads off each other. And you’d never know each other exists. So she was a must have no she did not. Yes. She told me your brothers and sisters out there. Like she told me this.


Sabina Brennan  38:27

How did she know? How did she get that information? And you know me, me my never talk with this. Why don’t you ask her?


PJ Gallagher  38:33

I wouldn’t. Why don’t we just don’t talk but ah, ah,


Sabina Brennan  38:37

Look, my parents are gone. Yeah, I can’t ask any questions. And it’s only after they’re gone. You go. I should have asked, I should ask your haftar. She won’t mind. You can always say, look, you don’t have to answer this question. But how do you know I had


PJ Gallagher  38:50

brothers? Yeah. Okay. I’ll ask her today. I don’t really want to know


Sabina Brennan  38:58

this, because I kind of think I have to say when I kind of heard this first that you went looking for your mom, I suppose is what most people tend to do first and in your head, you somehow. I mean, we’re


PJ Gallagher  39:08

still together, like new doctors. Well,


Sabina Brennan  39:10

you knew that earlier. So I thought I think there’s one newspaper article that I read. It just shows you never believe and you read in the press where you talk about your mom was maybe a single mom.


PJ Gallagher  39:19

No, no, that’s not me. No, that wasn’t my story at all. No rice. No, I knew they were together. I knew there was a family


Sabina Brennan  39:25

just that makes it much harder.


PJ Gallagher  39:27

Do you think automated easy teases. Yeah, I think to be honest, my way of finding people as as easy as it can be, because I knew they were all right. I knew they were still together. I knew they had a family, you know


Sabina Brennan  39:39

that they have this family unit and then you were elsewhere. Like not great. I mean, it’s


PJ Gallagher  39:43

still put like every other thing that’s happened to me life I was the black sheep. So whatever, you know, like it’s not


Sabina Brennan  39:49

nobody new. Like that’s a mantle that you’ve assumed in a way because people said all that shy, like, but like you were an infant, and you were the first They were too young. Is that what it was? They gotta


PJ Gallagher  40:02

look, it’s 1970s Yeah, west of Ireland. It just wasn’t attain, you couldn’t do us you weren’t married, it was as simple as that. They were of Good Standing in the community. And I don’t want to tell their story, but it just wasn’t going to be a team. So, you know, the mother and baby homes, let’s face it, they were pretty full. You know, this is how we’re involved. You know? Absolutely. Your social standing. I think people now just don’t understand the social pressures of us. You know, so nude was, but yeah, but then again, best friends are still open, you know, when you start showing like nobody inherited bedspread, like he couldn’t believe that it was a thing. It was so weird. Like, a couple of months ago. You know, all the news came out. I was getting all these text messages for people like you all right, you know, this news and click but this is nothing new to me. Yeah. This is nothing new to me. Like, this has been my story for the last 45 years.


Sabina Brennan  40:51

Yeah, yeah. Yeah,


PJ Gallagher  40:52

I understand. You’re upset. And I was there. And it was like, Don’t focus me on this. There’s people who remembers my sister, but it’s not my memories. I don’t have memories. These are not mine. Like not for me, like older people have memories of it.


Sabina Brennan  41:07

And I think it’s hard for people to understand, like, we were more like commodities are different. Now we kids like


PJ Gallagher  41:14

it’s like, you know, I hear my friends and all that have kids. And they say, oh, why didn’t you never want to have kids and they just didn’t want to have the experience. You know, we only have negativities child, and they’re like, y’all went off. But when you see them, your life is different. And it’s never the same again, again, maybe it is for you. But I’ve seen so many examples to say the opposite that that is just not the truth. I mean, I’m delighted. That’s your truth. Yeah, I really am. Because you and your kids are gonna be very happy to get well like the amount of lads I grew up putting stuff on. pricks to them, they could be aware that their children lived in the same house like it was


Sabina Brennan  41:50

was very different because we weren’t parented like we were given orders and things that you have to do and more time you had to be in it on what to do, but there was no actual parenting. There was no giving you advice on how to navigate the world.


PJ Gallagher  42:03

It was a playdate You see? Honestly, honestly, like there’s no way like to go back to what we said at the start. You weren’t allowed in your own house. make deals and then the like documents the same as she had like, although they weren’t looking after you know, they would that was the way it was the world. That was the one that was Yeah, they were doing as good as anybody else. You can be sure laughs


Sabina Brennan  42:26

Yeah, yeah, that’s why I do think like it’s mad for women again, going back to the women thing like, why mom didn’t have a job. Our job was raising kids, but like,


PJ Gallagher  42:35

we have women got married to have to leave their job.


Sabina Brennan  42:39

So old is your mom that you grew up with shady trees? Right? trade and then is your birth mother much younger? Yeah,


PJ Gallagher  42:46

yeah, go bit younger. Yeah, I couldn’t tell you what he has. But she’s younger. Yeah.


Sabina Brennan  42:50

which had been in her teens when she had I think she was 21 maybe something nice okay. Yeah,


PJ Gallagher  42:54

yeah, not sure to be honest. Like I’m


Sabina Brennan  42:57

not curious.


PJ Gallagher  43:00

Yeah, like


Sabina Brennan  43:02

anything I think that


PJ Gallagher  43:04

it’s hard to I can talk about my own experience of these things no problem. Yeah, no problem. This is totally alright to me. There’s no difficulty but I can never really ask anyone else I don’t know what that is for me and me and me my ex we’re still married but you know me x Elaine she’s still my best friend in the world so it’s totally grand but she’s she was so curious used to make me uncomfortable. So me and me various motor on Elaine will be unrelated be like what he and what was it like? Yeah, I tell us I might be like just taking a shirt off. I don’t know why the anxiety of hearing the information used to kill me unsealed I still is somebody who’s not doesn’t volunteer it and they don’t want me to don’t


Sabina Brennan  43:41

make that assumption. No, don’t make that assumption because they could be dying for you to ask and they could be gone. Why is he no interest in it?


PJ Gallagher  43:48

Why does he know you’re probably really


Sabina Brennan  43:50

hopefully THE COMPLETE REVERSE. And so the two he is they’re doing the opposite thing.


PJ Gallagher  43:54

I was living I grew up there. I was born you never spoke?





PJ Gallagher  43:56

So did you do your sister was adopted? Today and tomorrow we’ll all wake up. pretend nothing happened. That was my gift. No matter what happened. You never referred back


Sabina Brennan  44:05

to your sister was adopted as well. She was Yeah. And did you get on with her? Oh,


PJ Gallagher  44:08

you got to know my sister recently, right? We didn’t know each other like we live separate lives. Like I got up and went out. And she


Sabina Brennan  44:16

Yeah, no.


PJ Gallagher  44:18

And there she is Castaway. How she reacted he experienced were the only two people we know that lived his, you know, experiences, you know? And how she reacted like she from the start. She was like, I’m gonna have on she still says a million kids. I’m gonna have a million fucking kids. She goes a million kids. I’m gonna have a million of them. And she got married and she’s three kids and she has a dog. And she’s like, I want more on her husband goes Oh, caught me flew all over the wall. If you ever got pregnant again, I’ll tell him. I’m castrating myself. He’s like unwitnessed is never happening again. And that was her reaction was to run headlong into a family she could make hard on only alone on half that Yeah, where it was like get that for you Yeah I’m still running always gonna be running yeah but


Sabina Brennan  45:04

the thing is when you run you’re always gonna take yourself which way for yourself


PJ Gallagher  45:08

like I realized I had a very strange when we perception was because it was so angry all the time dark when it came to fight or flight I was always fight but I wasn’t I was always fly or you will cut the cord on teams quicker than anyone you know in your life I will caught the car because the car is too much buying if you don’t vary too much. I have never I never fight with people more than once relying gone. Really? Yeah. never fight with people more than once like the social CSRS comes down buying the car to school. The short has come down and that’s it.


Sabina Brennan  45:38

And is it because it hurts too much? or what have you done? No,


PJ Gallagher  45:41

no, you’re done. You know, I


Sabina Brennan  45:45

don’t have a crystal ball. I’m just really interested in like, a lot of what we do is a learned behavior. It just worked that way. So you just said a minute ago in our heads if we had arrived nobody mentioned it again. Never mentioned that, you know, but you were stuck in the same house. So it’s kind of maybe


PJ Gallagher  45:59

that was a valuable piece.


Sabina Brennan  46:00

So now you kind of go off. Always be fighting with Oh God, I


PJ Gallagher  46:04

never thought Oh, I try not to show them you know, oh, no problem grant and that you’ll never hear from me


Sabina Brennan  46:09

again. So you mentioned that you had a fair few injuries from the motorbike. I read somewhere that you have migraine. Or


PJ Gallagher  46:18

Yeah, I haven’t timecard I haven’t had them in year Sealy years. I can’t get to the bottom of why they went away, please. They stay away. Thank God for now, please. Hopefully they never come back again. The pain the agony of them was unbelievable.


Sabina Brennan  46:30

I have chronic daily migraine. So daily. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, no.


PJ Gallagher  46:36

There have been a long time. It’s great. A long time. I’m obviously doing something different. Yeah.


Sabina Brennan  46:42

Well, I mean, yeah, there can also be changes in your body as well, like hormones kind of affected. And hormones change. And everybody like yeah, I’m an


PJ Gallagher  46:50

alpha now so different, you know? Things are different. sounds different. Yeah.


Sabina Brennan  46:55

Guys have hormonal changes as well. And actually, we just don’t know as much about guys, hormonal changes, because most of the research has been done on women because like, we have crazy just when it comes to hormones, you know, something that really, really annoys me is people say they have migraine when they have a hangover or just


PJ Gallagher  47:13

Yeah, the Irish way is revert to the war. You know what I mean? It’s like somebody was, you know, obsessive compulsive disorder. And someone goes Ah, tell me about I can’t do what humans love to get. Oh, no, you don’t actually cleaning or Yeah, you know, people who have a hangover and say, I’m fucking dying. Jesus, I’m dying. The Irish way is to go. I’m literally starving. No, you’re literally not hungry. It’s the Irish way you deal with things


Sabina Brennan  47:41

I have to say. I think you’re very brave. I just have to tell the listeners about hey, this guest came back.


PJ Gallagher  47:48

Yeah, I was a cost. This was like pretty much it was borderline kidnapping. I was just getting out I just got on the car and I was walking into the house and then you and I go and come here. I’ll do a podcast. I was like, What the heck is this? Like? Yeah, I do a podcast and then she goes on not mental and like as we know the one sign of somebody who’s dangerous and mental is somebody that calls on not mental when they’re at your house to fuck is this and you’re like I do a podcast now don’t and even though it was he said don’t take our minds I’m a neuroscientist. Nothing about this makes sense. Now. I’ve interviewed Joe McNally. Where are we going with this? And then can I have your contact details? Or you can


Sabina Brennan  48:34

I could have been I mean as you said well I didn’t know


PJ Gallagher  48:39

I was like right to ignore this certainly Google this person I was like Oh, she is actually a normal human being normal like let’s be serious I’ve told people where I’m going to be today in case you did turn out to be a crazy person you know the world is aware of of my current location in case I disappear off the face of the earth


Sabina Brennan  49:02

Honest to God I have never done anything like that


PJ Gallagher  49:05

I was walking this is when all crazy people say this is solely out of character. Nothing crazy to say all the time it’s


Sabina Brennan  49:12

not like this I have no problem being described as crazy I’ll happily take out of the ordinary you know, it’s a bit weird to be stopped on the street and people you know, talking about you and stuff.


PJ Gallagher  49:24

Because it’s nearly always notice right? Yeah, they are nearly always notice right? So and stopped and fair of you by a lot of Eagles come here. I’m right in the middle. I’m so glad to match eagles. I’m right in the middle of xiomi movie. And I was like, I don’t know. And he goes Listen, he says I have a big budget right? I’m after buying 12,000 Indian Head massages from China. And I’m selling them all and it’s kind of fun. This movie was like, I can’t believe this conversation. You’ll see mountains athletes and various. So you’re gonna straight away just love this bonkers, right? Yeah, you know, you you Google better than him. Yeah.


Sabina Brennan  50:00

knew I went, and then I went, you know what some amazing things have happened in my life through kind of coincidence, it kind of just works that way. So I walked past it and I went, I turned around, that’s the bit you missed. He’s gonna think I’m annoyed. And I went up with that attitude, I could see it on your face. I really felt like I got it. This poor man is actually terrified. He was like,


PJ Gallagher  50:24

well, only because for a brief minute, I talked to her, like, you know, sitting into been for the last couple of days waiting for me to come in. You know, it didn’t seem like it, you know, cuz it didn’t feel like a chance meeting. I was like she’s parked outside the house or something the last three hours for my wife, then you realize we only live down the road now as a girl just decided to be much more normal.


Sabina Brennan  50:46

very normal. to you. You were really, really nice about it. You were very polite. And then you gave me the email address. And I kind of went, I actually had the same thing. I said, I’ll email him, but


PJ Gallagher  50:55

he may not. Here we are. Yeah,


Sabina Brennan  51:00

we are. And I’m delighted. It’s great. So like, yeah, folks, you know, go for it. Sometimes you stick your neck out. You never know what happens. Oh, yes. I did want to talk to you about your new job. How do you find that getting up early in the morning?


PJ Gallagher  51:16

during the day, six and a half years? So you’re not breakfast on another station in the same building for six and a half years? So it’s not so your body’s used to? Um, well, you sweat? Yeah. I mean, 25 years doing gigs at night, and then suddenly, it turns out, you’re a morning person, you know? Yeah, it’s a weird thing to happen, you know. And another chair, like I love it, like I love being on the radio. I love


Sabina Brennan  51:36

you love it more than the stand much more. So it’s a little bit closer to the bike ride. Well, yeah,


PJ Gallagher  51:41

like, I mean, it’s not motorbike racing, but like I love it much more like yeah, like don’t get me wrong when I say nothing’s ever going to be as good as together No, you’ve ever won’t be tough doesn’t mean looks bad. No, I


Sabina Brennan  51:51

know. I know. But I still want that fuzzy stuff, you know? Yeah.


PJ Gallagher  51:55

Those days are gone. So yeah, you’re just gonna have to think about people nowadays everyone thinks they’re supposed to be happy all the time. You know wants to be miserable a lot of the time so we enjoyed the high of the day that’s a fire is a pretty good day, you know, the day is hard. So yeah, hitting tan duck on like, those days are gone. But that’s all I can you know, you reflect on them and you enjoy them in retrospect, and you know, I get my little nostalgia style fills those. Oh, you see, I’m


Sabina Brennan  52:25

not good enough. I don’t like to go and back.


PJ Gallagher  52:27

I You see, I did


Sabina Brennan  52:29

make me sad to see so I think I’m the opposite way.


PJ Gallagher  52:32

So no, I don’t I love walking around all the streets I walked around the 80s and remember and shit like that and race days and you know all the headlines, you will never go back and look at a normal bike racer and again, but I’ll play with it in my head. Like, you know, I remember it that way. You know, and, and when I get on my bike, and I ride my bike up and down the roads every day now, which is a long way from racing. But you know, remember it and go back into my head with it and well you can’t watch other people to know see, I’m not even doing that. Yeah, I can juggle this. I love watching people do things I can’t do. Yeah, or you’re watching football. Love it. Or like Yeah, and I loved watching GAA, mostly Bohemians and I love all that because I was never able to deal with so there’s a great mystery to it to me. Really Yeah, like love that shit. But like a lot like you know, I love watching people play music well to certain gigs. I love going to these things. But anything I feel I can do. I kind of devalued a bit so I don’t want to see anyone doing you know


Sabina Brennan  53:32

I don’t really like watching movies with Irish actors in it.


PJ Gallagher  53:35

Because I Oh yeah, cuz I have a bit of a jealousy. Oh, yeah. Do you know that kind of course but your time for you to detach and you can’t see them in character anymore. You’re seeing them and that’s true Seamus from the Albion kids yourself. Yeah, go on to know what you’re like. Yeah.


Sabina Brennan  53:52

I would still feel like that. Like, I would still feel like a failed actor, you know, whereas my husband would be saying to me all the things you’ve achieved and I go Oh, yeah, but it’s a bit the same as you are Yeah, but that’s


PJ Gallagher  54:03

when it’s not acknowledged. Like when you say to yourself, there’s a part of me that feels like a failure


Sabina Brennan  54:07

when people don’t


PJ Gallagher  54:08

know you know, when your conscious wants them to go Yeah, you understand that? Yeah, yeah. It’s about me life as well because I think everyone has these things not everybody


Sabina Brennan  54:16

has the my tank.


PJ Gallagher  54:18

fuckin West definitely looks at himself and says, I should have got more he knows who you are in the world. Oh, yeah. I should have got I should have got more. You know, I let myself down there like everybody so but just infuriates me when I say are children and when people just talk about Yeah, I know where you’re failing on the same with this. Yeah, yeah. Rather than they go No, look at all the things you did get an interest in them now. I’ll do that tomorrow. Today. You’re looking at the shift. We’re looking at the shape today. Let’s look at the shape today. Look at the positive overload


Sabina Brennan  54:49

the time to be the one that I want to look at the shit now you see, I can look at the shit too long because I know a day is all it takes for me. I’d be gone. You No I have to keep doing stuff


PJ Gallagher  55:03

to ship the ship cuz I know you’re just shitting your to ship your ship and you’re everyone’s into ship item I can never do ship to ship fine to me. That’s to pretend positivity sometimes cares me I’m like I use all fucking message is anyone here to tell the truth? Is anyone here gonna tell the truth? Somebody say they feel like a failure because they know he is fucking do you know? That depends on the day but like literally Obama Barack Obama has definitely looks in some sense Should I let myself down and you can list out days and nobody feels like a failure when he was a fucking failure like we all are failures like all of us are as we are known to things and that we succeed and wanting. And this doesn’t mean anything Oh, no, but that makes you successful in this product. No, we’re all fucking let ourselves down all the time. That’s all right. Dreams as well. Get your fucking dreams go your dreams. I’m like a bank account. There’s never as much potential as your tinctorius you can achieve, do you know you can’t you can achieve on if you’re good at it. And your timing is good. And you know, people are you know,


Sabina Brennan  56:08

work hard and you see opportunities.


PJ Gallagher  56:12

A long time, it’s more than that the timing is wrong. If you’re a little bit too early, or you’re a little bit too late, or yet your dreams are fought. Like all your fucking dreams, your dreams, our baggage, your dreams or a story you’re used to let yourself down like, Fuck your dreams, I think more opportunities and things. Things are all right. It’s okay. It’s fucking okay. You know, it’s, I’m not forcing anyone else. You know, that’s I don’t know, the mayor. It sounds very negative when I say it. But I get a lot of comfort out of it. You


Sabina Brennan  56:42

know, I think you’re being what I call sort of accepting on that. And some people see accepting as some negative, but actually, it’s just not the way that is and you know, whatever. But I think the interesting thing is from a brain perspective is the brain is adaptable, right? It can change and respond is constantly changing. Right? Exactly. And that’s called neuroplasticity. And all that means is your brain has the capacity to change with learning. So failing is part of learning and that means your brain is constantly changing, but it’s adaptable. So that means when you learn and when you achieve something right you’re working to achieve it, you get your dopamine hit, you get your reward and then it’s done and it doesn’t have the same value because you’ve achieved it so you have to have something else or you need something else so like that like the minute you written the first book and like the minute that books written I go okay I need to get a third book deal it’s like the album’s are thing you know, and I am the last few months before this come out trying to come up with an idea for my next book. Yeah, and that went number one the week before last brilliant but I’m kind of going a year but it’s only number one in the nonfiction Irish Times charts I’m not oh me. No, but you know, and someone said to me a friend of mine who’s a literary agent she says but nobody can ever take it away from you You are an Irish Times number one bestseller


PJ Gallagher  57:58

that’s what I’d say to you. It is it’s only nonfiction yeah we can you can enjoy that like


Sabina Brennan  58:02

yeah yeah but I mean people think you make loads of money like you know


PJ Gallagher  58:09

never forget your naked camera the first year and like went from being literally a nobody comedian to a person was touring which I said no money. Yeah, homie lead cart. Lead card on a fella goes Bernardi


Sabina Brennan  58:29

you only got paid for the weeks you were on like it’s not like in the UK. Doctors have to sign on in here like you’re on the telly Yeah, I kind of earned six grand this year


PJ Gallagher  58:41

this year the actress who was doing Ferris Ed and like you know on sign and on and on posing for photographs yeah post office and are looking at what is they don’t know like to know whether they’re probably paying their TV licence but he’s like this is the weirdest thing like yeah it’s so minor scratch and I’m only posing for photographs and yeah people are going that’s your your man from Ferris. He was like dislike he’s like Tyrese demoed some testifiers and stuff as the I’m the only one here collected before everyone else is here paying bills I’m here collecting me scratch like walked up Fox. Like the celebrity in Ireland doesn’t mean we’re it’s weird like we’ve been so mad like we’ve celebrity mattress salesman in Ireland. For your celebrity mattress salesman, celebrity chef, celebrity hoteliers star and then we’ve hacked our swear to scratch Oh, they’re the biggest faces Yeah, like it so


Sabina Brennan  59:42

can I ask you this? I remember this when rochas doors was a shop in town. But I remember it This happened so often. I mean, I remember you’ve been doing your ordinary stove like your everyday stuff. I was raising kids and I was looking at something on the shelf and you’re conscious of people walk by I’m sure you get this all the time and then they start to walk back in


PJ Gallagher  1:00:00

Yeah, you got


Sabina Brennan  1:00:02

her and I kind of went like, I’ll just keep what I’m doing.


PJ Gallagher  1:00:05

Oh, she’s much


Sabina Brennan  1:00:06

smaller in real life than she is on the telly, and she’s this and she’s having a conversation. And they’re like this kosha and you kind of feel like


PJ Gallagher  1:00:14

I’m here. Yeah, yeah, I’m not quite recently in hospital. I was in a hospital getting a check of weather consultants. Thankfully not an RA. You know where people go, what’s your name is again. I was there PJ and she goes, now that’s not to me. She goes. Jason Bourne. He goes in fuckin isn’t. That was like really? Okay. Fair enough. Talk you have much different Oh,


Sabina Brennan  1:00:45

definitely. Definitely.


PJ Gallagher  1:00:46

I remember it’s like they know he had like, you know how we got normal stars. Yeah, yeah,


Sabina Brennan  1:00:50

I’m sure you’ve had people like that think they know you? They don’t realize that.


PJ Gallagher  1:00:55

No, you from an aspiring razor. I know you from and you don’t want to go? Oh. I don’t know. Oh, no, wait, wait. You want to pack them Valley family tree years ago there? fella car fondy Oh my god. Why is it? I don’t know. Did you know my God, it’s just these weird conversations. No,


Sabina Brennan  1:01:19

I remember that. Never knew you knew straight away that where they knew you’re from my character wasn’t very glamorous. So I was new. I’m looking shit. If they’re asking me to get recognized. I’m looking shy. And it would be a beautiful morning, say something in the middle of decorating it. And like that, you can’t you cannot turn it. Where do I know you from? And I don’t say What? I’m from Qatar. What school did you go? Because if you turn around, I mean, there’ll be someone like your show naked camera and you begin? Or maybe it’s fair city? No, I don’t watch first. You know,


PJ Gallagher  1:01:51

you just got a friend Eric Lawler who was in fair city, as called by by Carl. He’s a stand up. And he says because a fair city. So first thing is a different thing. Because he’s on La TV. He says that when you have a fair seat, you go into a whole new level. Yeah. Where people just thought he was the character. So yes, he was in Clare Hall Tesco and someone came up to him and goes, you’re some fucking bastard you can Oh, that’s a character in play. And he goes, don’t give a full quality as you’re doing you’re not biased. Like, you can’t can’t even play bread milk. Someone give me shit.


Sabina Brennan  1:02:25

I remember George Clooney. Not talking about myself are Irish actors in the same context, but like he’s a movie star now. But he started in sort of soap and that’s our thing. And like, that’s what he said. He said, when you’re in something like that, you’re in people’s living rooms. Yeah, they think they know you’re whereas when it’s a movie, you know, you’re going to see it and it’s a movie star. And it’s a level. It’s another level. But I remember there was a guy when I was in it. And he was a barman, actually, I think in McCoys, or whatever he was doing. He was up to no good. But we used to go down to the Tesco just down the road. Yeah, TV station. And someone started to beat him over the head with an umbrella. Or whatever you did. with mud. Yeah, it is what was salutely wild rice. Listen, I’ve taken loads of your time. What I do like to end on is to ask after I’d like to ask people to give their sort of advice on surviving and thriving.


PJ Gallagher  1:03:22

give up on your dream. Yeah, I mean, watch what you say. Are you done? I’m divorced parents to give anyone any advice. You know, stay lucky while you can. Stay lucky. Jesus Christ. It’s all you can do a wake up and try and feel lucky. You know what I mean? That’s here is really I’m not even messing. I just mean go with the flow. Like just do you


Sabina Brennan  1:03:49

know, I don’t believe in luck.


PJ Gallagher  1:03:52

I think you don’t believe in luck. I’m made out of the shit like I made.


Sabina Brennan  1:03:57

No, yes. No. You see that is giving away your power on your talent to look and your personality. And the reason people like you


PJ Gallagher  1:04:06

see, this is the things that color gone wrong. Yeah, but the time or the right person and the right so


Sabina Brennan  1:04:12

you were ready. You see, that’s my whole point.


PJ Gallagher  1:04:15

I’m not ready. Now. I’m not even ready for dinner. Are you?


Sabina Brennan  1:04:19

Yeah, you see you’re not seeing yourself from over here. And seeing how much people like you and how much joy people give and I can see why that’s hard for you to take in. Because you felt that grown up. Everything was the reverse. Right. I’ll


PJ Gallagher  1:04:33

give you a different answer. Okay. Be on a straight. Yeah, just a genuine answer. Right. In the last three years, I wouldn’t have given this interview to fucking anyone. We never give it up. Anyone, if Well, obviously, even even people who were attacking me in the front. Thank you know, but I would I don’t mean anyone but I would like if I’m having an interview. I will be honest, like, I wouldn’t have done it three years ago. It’s only last few years. It’s time to realize They call it an act. You know, it was an all bullshit I was sitting down and I was telling people people were asking me questions. What do you prefer? Do you love stand up? Would you love act and more? Little did they know how much I was DNR bullshit about love at all? You know? Yeah. And it’s just so much better to be I don’t I can sit here now and tell you how to ship that I’m not happy about yourself and I never will be. I’m be I’m alright with it. Yeah, that’s the thing you don’t I don’t feel like I need to fix anything anymore. Yeah, you asked me how things are if this is a bad thing, I’ll tell you I’m fucking awful human Are you never would have done it. I understand. Like, if I had to, I was looking after you. You were saying to me, if I was telling you all this crap that was looking after you to try not to make you feel bad. Try to make the journalist feel better. Or going into do radio interviews and trying to make them go have a good show. And that you can do all that just by yourself. I can be miserable and still give according to you, I think now, I can be better. And that serves me better as well. And actually, since I started being honest to people don’t just say Listen, I was laughing, but people say yeah, I can relate to that. Yeah, so be honest. I mean, it sound but be honest. Yeah, love your bullshit. is not bullshit. It’s the same as everyone else. That’s what I’m saying. If you feel like a failure, you are a failure. Fucking fine. Some of my songs to every other fucker in the pack. Don’t you don’t need to carry a bag in your own. We’re all carrying our bags of sacks a shift. We’re all walking around with sacks of shit that we’re never going to get away from. You look at all these certain celebrities now saying I feel better than you therefore I know better than you. And you know, you’re never going to be this glossy version. And so you feel like you can’t get away from Yeah, he’s a sack of shit lawyer bastard. He gets all right. You know, just fucking Be honest. Don’t listen to the sacks of shit who are telling you you can be anything you want to be be happy with who you are, be honest. Just be fucking honest. It will never free you. It will free you have your shit, I promise you, it will set you free. Yeah, you’ll be miserable. Just the same amount, which you’ll get out of it so much quicker. So much quicker. You stop being responsible for everybody else. And you’d be surprised where health comes from. Like, you’d be surprised how much you start making friends who are who will be honest with you back, you know, you lose those people. He’ll tell you what you want to hear. When you’re very honest with people that people will start being very honest with you back. Yeah. So you want to get to your life a little bit better. A little bit of a smile on your face. Or if you’re the type of person like me that when you’re miserable. You want to get wrapped up in your misery. That’s okay. Yeah, that’s actually quite an enjoyable thing to do. While you can enjoy uncomfortable and misery and anger


Sabina Brennan  1:07:26

sometimes, so just be fucking honest. Thanks to PJ for his honesty and I couldn’t agree more with his tip for thriving and surviving. Honesty really is fundamental to healthy relationships. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you go around sharing unsolicited honest opinions with random strangers. Although that would make for a great pj gallaher comedy character. You can catch PJ in his new series, the big DIY challenge currently airing on RTE. And you can catch up on previous episodes on RTE player. Well, I’m sorry to say that’s the last interview for season three. I’ll be taking a much needed break from podcasting to work on my next book and a radio documentary. I hope to spend some time in nature to to look after my mental health. I’ll still be on social media though. So do follow me at Sabina Brennan on Instagram at Sabina underscore Brennan on Twitter. I would welcome any suggestions for topics that you’d like me to cover in the super brain booster episodes. Thanks as always, to Emily Burke, who is more than just an editor and I couldn’t make this series without her. She is my right hand woman. We have amazing guests lined up for season four which will return in September in the interim. If you haven’t already done so please do have a listen to season one and season two. There are some brilliant guests and interviews and booster shots in there. My name is Sabina Brennan, and you have been listening to superbrain the podcast for everyone with a brain

Super Brain Blog – Season 3 Episode 11

Your body is an instrument not an ornament with Anna Geary

Listen and Subscribe:

Apple Podcasts,    ACAST,    Spotify   StitcherGoogle Podcasts

In this episode I chat to the effervescent Anna Geary about 

During this episode we discuss

  • Scrolling social media and self-sabotaging
  • Body Image
  • Tenacity and hard work
  • The importance of failing
  • Anna’s new documentary for RTE on why girls drop out of sport
  • Why the language we use matters
  • Dancing with the stars
  • Retiring at 27


BodyWhys have lots of valuable resources on body image 

Guest Bio

Anna Geary is an athlete. Not just any old athlete, but one of the most decorated players in the history of Camogie. Competing at the highest level she has four all Ireland wins to her name. Anna not only excelled at this tough sport, she was the Cork Rose and gracefully danced her way to the final of Dancing with the Stars. She has become a much loved household name with a broadcasting career as a sports pundit and as a coach on Ireland’s fittest family. To say that Anna is very glamorous to boot is an understatement. Anna is also a qualified performance coach who shares her wisdom and workouts on Instagram, as @AnnaGCork, you gotta check her out.

Over to You

If you would like me to take a deeper dive into any of the issues discussed in this episode please do let me know in the comments below.

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Sabina Brennan 0:00
Hello and welcome to Super brain the podcast for everyone with a brain. My name is Sabina Brennan, and my guest this week is Wonder Woman. Well, at least the very closest thing to wonder woman that I know. Anna Geary is an athlete. Not just any old athletes, but one of the most decorated players in the history of Camogie. Competing at the highest level she has four all Ireland wins to her name. For those of you listening outside Ireland Camogie involves sticks, helmet and a hard ball that travels at about 100 miles an hour. It terrifies the bejesus out of me as a kid. But Anna not only excelled at this tough sport, she gracefully danced her way to the final of Dancing with the Stars. She has become a much loved household name with a broadcasting career that spans sports punditing, if that’s verb, to coaching on Ireland’s fittest family. To say that Anna is very glamorous to boot is an understatement. Anna is also a qualified performance coach who shares her wisdom and workouts on Instagram, as @AnnaGCork, you gotta check her out. She’s absolutely fab online. And actually, very welcome Anna. And thank you very much for joining me today for Super Brain you’re a perfect guest, because you’re like, you’ve always been like a superhero. Okay, so what I really want to kind of talk about actually is what you do on Instagram. Because whilst there are like, you just scroll through Instagram, and there’s tons of people doing fitness stuff, and wellness stuff. And what I love about you, is about what you’re doing with the fitness stuff is; You do the fitness stuff. You set little challenges for people. You work out yourself, but you very much underscore that this is about being healthy and being fit. And you also do a lot of posts around body image and body positivity. That’s something that you very consciously decided to do?

Anna Geary 2:04
Yeah, like Sabina I think with the world of social media. Now, for anyone that’s on it, the vast majority of people are affected by it in some way, either in a positive way, but equally in a negative way. And I think sometimes we go on to social media, and we’re scrolling. And I myself am guilty of this. What are we looking for? Like, you know, why are you scrolling? You know, and if we are in bad form or not feeling good about ourselves, we often find ourselves gravitating towards things that are going to end up self-sabotaging, and we’re going to actually end up feeling worse. Because if you’re not feeling great about where you are in your body shape, maybe your jeans are a little bit tight. Hands up there, I’ve been that person in the last 12 months. And you’re looking at someone that maybe is in the shape of their life, because maybe then we’re caught for time in the last 12 months, they’ve allowed themselves in lockedown to maybe set themselves up in a healthy regime. We’re comparing ourselves to people that aren’t in the same life or environment as we are.

Sabina Brennan 2:58
I just saw that the other day like I don’t know if you follow on on Instagram, and they have nice stuf fand interesting and you know, it’s light stuff and…, I’ve noticed lately, they’re showing and there was literally one before I came on here, Eva Longoria I think it was does this amazing trampoline routine while on a Yacht. You know, like, seriously, seriously, you know, like I’m struggling to do my work out

Anna Geary 3:24
Very like us – yeah, yeah

Sabina Brennan 3:25
… and I’m looking at a 46 year old and she’s not only trampolining a complex routine, but it’s on the yacht. But also, what’s really actually is starting to niggle me is, in lockdown actually it’s happened, because for a lot of celebrities, they have nothing to do you know, and so they’re doing these reveals so and so so and so 56 reveals her eight pack on Instagram, and you kinda go, okay, could you please just show me so and so so and so actually doesn’t have an eight pack? She’s fit, she’s healthy. She’s in the right weight. And do you know what? Fair Play to her.

Anna Geary 3:57
You’re right in saying that, like, a few months back, I started asking people around body image and I said when you think about the word fit, what picture do you conjure up in your head? And I asked him to be really honest. And you know, we did different polls and questions and I said, does fit for you mean skinny? Does fit for you mean strong? Does fit for you mean, you know, a healthy person was a little bit of exercise and what does it mean? And the vast majority have said that when they think of a fit person, they think of skinny they think of abs, they think of, you know being really no lean, no extra body fat and like that’s not realistic. It’s not a realistic portrayal of what anybody male or female is meant to look like. And unfortunately, we’re bombarded whether it’s in tabloids, whether it’s in social media online, we’re bombarded with this perfect body that probably less than 1% of people have and also what people don’t realize is like you might get yourself into the shape of your life, but it’s a very short term pain because it’s not sustainable. Like there’s no way you could maintain sculpted 12 months a year, because we’re not designed to be like that. I think for me, you made a valid point. What I wanted social media to be is a place of like normality. And a place where people can strive to make improvements. And I’m all about that, because I think sometimes, we’re nearly looking at people saying, “Look at her there, and she’s trying to lose a bit of weight or trying to get fitter or trying to get stronger. An we’re nearly repremanding people

Sabina Brennan 5:25
Yeah, I think that’s a very, I don’t know, whether it’s very Irish thing or,

Anna Geary 5:28
iI think it’s a general thing

Sabina Brennan 5:30
you know, go for it, go for whatever you want to go for. Like, I’m not against that. And I really do admire people who worke that hard. And I talk about like, in one of my books, I talk about Ernestine and, I can never remember her name.. But she took up bodybuilding at 56, she made the Guinness Book of Records at 82, as the oldest bodybuilder, she has an eight pack, she’s a personal trainer, she trains other people, she’s amazing, I admire that I do aspire to have nice muscle tone myself, not just for looks, it’s really, really important. It’s really important for your brain health, physical exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your brain out. So I’m always pushing it. From that perspective, aerobic exercise is critical, but so too, is building muscle mass. So it is important, I’m not anti that. And a lot of people think you lose muscle mass with age No, you don’t lose it with disuse. And there’s every reason for you to try and regain that muscle mass, it’s really good for you from a health perspective. And it also will help protect you from falling. And that’s really important in later life, because once you have one fall in later life, that makes it more likely you’ll have more falls, and that actually increases your risk of developing dementia. Yeah, it’s absolutely critical.

Anna Geary 6:45
I think that’s one thing as well from when as you get older, so when you move from your 20s, your 30s, to your 40s, you start to understand that fitness isn’t about how good you look in a swimsuit, or how good you look in the little black dress. It is about the functional movement, it is about your mood and your energy and your sleep, and all

Sabina Brennan 7:05
and your bone density as a woman, when you get older, you really need the strength

Anna Geary 7:09
of your brain, like you know, your memory, your concentration, all of these things,

Sabina Brennan 7:13

Anna Geary 7:14
Yeah and I suppose that’s what I’ve tried to put across and you know, in social media is that our health shouldn’t be just attached to what size jeans we are or what we weigh on the scales. To be honest our value can’t be attached to that, because our bodies are designed to fluctuate, whether it’s that time of the month for a woman, or whether it’s, you know whether or not you’re in

Sabina Brennan 7:34
winter time. Yeah.

Anna Geary 7:36
So you know, your cortisol levels, if you’re really stressed are going to be a lot puffier, you’re probably going to weigh more. So if you attach yourself to a size or a weight, it really can be detrimental. So it is about feeling good to yourself. I’m all about that, like looking good is one thing, but feeling good is so much better. And like some of the messages that I’ve got from people around them saying, “I might have put on weight this year. But doing your classes made me realize that my body isn’t just about how it looks. And I feel great that I couldn’t do a press up before and now I half can. You know, and I love that because I just think there’s so many negative connotations attached to exercise because it is inadvertently connected to how we look. But if we remove that, like think about young people, when they’re rolling down the hill, or jumping around the place, they’re in a bouncy castle. It should be enjoyed and I think if you can enjoy the process nearly, then you’ll get all the benefits but you won’t have this, “oh, I’ve got to do it” attitude. Like I’m encouraging to have “I get to do it” That’s the attitude I should have.

Sabina Brennan 8:35
I’m kind of screwed up a bit in that way as well. Now, you know, I mean, my sense of self worth has always been linked to my size. I know it’s very hard not to grow up in this society. Without that. I am a real all or nothing person when it comes to everything that I do. I don’t see any point to doing something unless you’re going to do it like 100% I would just really go for it. But I also am very good at that. And I remember I played basketball in school. I’m only five foot one and a half but I was good at basketball..

Anna Geary 9:05
You had the tenacity. I’d say

Sabina Brennan 9:07
I had the tenacity. That’s what it was I was that fighter. You know, No, you are not taking this ball off me and I don’t care if you’re taller, I’m going to duck and get round and get the ball.

Anna Geary 9:16
I would have picked you on my team for sure.

Sabina Brennan 9:19
When it comes to pro sports on sometimes I’m looking at soccer we would be I’ve been a soccer family rather than a ga family. But I sometimes look and watch players playing at the highest level and they’re lazy and I’m going “You’re getting feckin’ half a million a week run for the feckin’ ball will ya. Run back and defend – will ya!

Anna Geary 9:41
I know

Sabina Brennan 9:41
You know. I just I just don’t get that you have all this amazing skill, but then you got to work hard as well. And that just really annoys me when they don’t do that. I just…

Anna Geary 9:51
Well one of the greatest things I think what a coach of mine when I was in second level school said to me “hard work can beat talent, if talent won’t work”, and it’s something that has stuck with me, like it started from sport, but it worked in my education and in my career afterwards that I was okay. I might not be the most talented person on the team or for if I’m going for a job, but I will be the person that works hard. Because I think, you know, if you think what you said there, but your 5ft 1in when you’re doing something you would you want someone in the trenches with you, you want someone, when you’re doing something, whether it’s on a team or on a group project, in college, or in you know, on a team and in work, you want someone that’s going to do the hard work, do the stuff you don’t want to do, but you know, you have to do. And that is one of the greatest things that I have learned from sport is that sometimes you just, in order to be successful, you have to put in the groundwork, you know, and it’s something that has never left me and long after sport and my performance careers ended. It’s kind of something now that as I move into the media world, and I’m, you know, going up against people that are far more experienced than I am, it’s bringing that work ethic, you know, and that energy, that high level energy, I think it’s so vital. Like when I graduated from college, and we’ll get to that in a while I worked in recruitment for a while. And one of the things that I learned from recruitment is that your energy will introduce you before you open your mouth, before you tell everybody how brilliant you are, or all of the degrees, you have, or all the experience. It’s your energy, and we control our energy 100%. Yeah, you get out of bed in the morning. No matter what’s going on your life you make the decision of what kind of energy you’re going to bring to yourself, to people to your work. And if that is backed by your work ethic, it’s amazing the impact that you can have on people.

Sabina Brennan 11:43
Yeah, no, absolutely. So I do this myself, and I say it to people, you do it a lot naturally. First thing you do when you open your eyes, this is non negotiable. First thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning is smile. Yeah. And it just set your before you’ve had a chance to think this is going to be a crappy day, before you’ve had the chance to think that you did something shitty yesterday or you failed in something else. Just smile because it actually releases feel good hormones. And it just kind of sets you off on that. I also think it gives you that real sense of control. Now I’m actually in control of this day.

Anna Geary 12:16
And it’s very hard to be in a bad mood and smile at the same time.

Sabina Brennan 12:19
Yeah, but you can smile when you’re in a bad mood. Like often people think smiling is reactive, but it’s not. Just fake it till you make it really works with smiling. Eh yeah, I’m so with you on so many of those things. You know, if you have talent and you work hard, you increase the likelihood that you will succeed, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will succeed. But your hard work, you can’t underestimate. I always say that they’ll put that on my gravestone, you know, either ‘At least she tried’ or ‘she gave it her best shot’. You know, that kind of way.

Anna Geary 12:51
Again, I suppose it’s even back to some of the things that I’ve learned from sports. And like the idea that even though working as a performance coach, and working in mindset, because I learned from sport that like you can be marking a player that’s just as skillful as you are maybe more skillful than you. But if you can out work her, and you can say – like that idea that, you know, it’s hard to beat somebody that never gives up. And you have that. And I suppose it’s even relinquishing the fear of failure. When you think about young kids, whatever, no matter what they’re doing, we tell them that no matter what, you know, just try your best. And even if they fail it doesn’t matter, go again, but somehow that that changes as we become adults. And we become so afraid of failure, and so afraid to try new things for fear. It’s seen as a weakness. Because if you go for a job and don’t get a promotion, or you go to get your place in a team or try a new workout, and if you don’t do it well, the first time Ah well you must be weak at it And I just think it’s so …

Sabina Brennan 13:46
yeah, no failure, I don’t know where or when it got this negative connotation. But it is essential to learning

Anna Geary 13:53

Sabina Brennan 13:54
cannot learn, we learn through trial and error. And it would be far better that we do that. And I mean, error in the sense that says, if we take the sports analogy, and you’re, you know, standing in front of a goal to try and teach someone or to try and learn how to score a goal, right, you learn how to do that through trial and error. And that’s the mark of a good coach. You know, they understand that. It’s shaping our behavior, and that’s how your brain learns. The way I see it is, there’s nothing wrong with failure. The only thing wrong with failure is if you see it as the end result, rather than part of the journey.

Anna Geary 14:26
We’re nearly a weakness driven society now. So if you look at like, you know, even the exam results, right? What do people naturally gravitate towards? What are the ones that you failed in? What are the ones that you only barely scraped, and we won’t look at the ones that we got the top rgrade in and it’s the same with sport, we’re constantly… If I said to you, ‘I want you to go away now and improve’. You would presume I mean, your weaknesses, but we forget that you can also improve your strength, you can take your strengths from good to great. So …. kind of reminded me of that, that with a team and like it’s the same in a work environment. Everybody brings different strengths to the table. So there’s no point comparing yourself to your corner forwards or your midfielder, because you don’t have the same skills as them. And if you all have the same skills, it would be no good. So it’s like reminding yourself at times that, you know what I might’nt be great at XYZ, but I bring something else. And we’re nearly afraid to acknowledge that,

Sabina Brennan 15:20
but it’s that thing of, you know, and I say to people in terms of say, if people are recovering from Long COVID, and they have brain fog, as consequences and physical fatigue and mental fatigue, and I’m saying to them, you know, it has to be baby steps, it has to be baby steps, your body’s been through this terrible virus, etc. You cannot compare your physical levels of activity, to before you were ill, you’ve got to compare to where you are today. And then tomorrow, you’ve made a tiny improvement. You can’t keep saying, oh, but I used to be able to run 10k. And now I can only walk to the hall. Okay, but let’s see, can you walk two feet further than the hall tomorrow? That’s progress. And if you keep focusing just on that 10k, and the ‘how far you have to go’, you’re never going to get there. It’s a recipe for failure. It’s focusing on yourself as the benchmark. You set that initial goal. You know where you’re going, and then you forget about it. And you focus on the little steps of that journey.

Anna Geary 16:21
Yeah, like we do that, like if I was with a sports team, and we’d set our end goal and maybe to win the title at the end of the year. What if you’re in the middle of January, and it’s wet, and it’s rainy, and you’ve muck up to your knees. That seems like a very far away possibility. So by setting those little milestones like that idea, what did they say? What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time?

Sabina Brennan 16:40
Yeah, yeah exactly.

Anna Geary 16:42
Steps because they keep you on track. And then if you are wavering, or you’re struggling, knowing that you’re just that little bit away from the small milestone, it’s amazing the satisfaction

Sabina Brennan 16:52
the satisfaction. Yeah, yeah, ’cause having to wait for reward from that long term goal is too far. You have to have rewards along the way

So tell me, we’re always a sporty child. I’ve seen this lovely photo on your Instagram, you have posted a little while ago of you as a kid, but you can really see your face. And it’s that big smile. And I mean that in the nice, big smiley face. Or you can just see, happy child. Is that true? Were you really happy child,

Anna Geary 17:18
You know what, I was very energetic child, Sabina, and that, that hasn’t really changed. Like my mom said. I never wants to go to bed when I was younger, and I’m still the same. I still don’t want to go to bed, the fear of missing out. And I think that energy’s been great. I grew up on a farm. My dad was a farmer, my mother was a teacher. My dad is like sports mad, like, absolutely sports, mad, loves it. So I was always destined to be put into sport. But then again, they never knew my ability, they never knew what kind of a player I was going to become. And I wasn’t put into to win medals or Captain teams or win All Irelands, I was really put into it for the social inclusion, you know, to be confident, self-esteem. To kind of express myself properly, to work off that excess energy is more of it as well. And I think that was brilliant. Because from a young age, there was never that pressure there. Now as I got older, and as I got better, I suppose that pressure came from coaches

Sabina Brennan 18:10
so potential was there. How did you… and I would imagine, and I highly recommend, you know, if people have kids, we always said that with ours into sport, into sport. It’s essential for girls, and we have a huge problem that girls aren’t involved enough in sport, or they give it up too early. And that’s a big problem.

Anna Geary 18:29
I’m actually, I’m doing a TV documentary at the moment around that exact thing. Why did girls drop out of sport, and for me, it’s changed my perception of it as well. I’m a very competitive person. Like one of the most competitive people you could probably meet, like, if we are playing tiddlywinks, or you know, I want to win. But it made me reframe sport and success and what it is. It’s not about winning titles. It’s about it’s about getting the same number of girls back in the gates The following year, and keeping that enjoyment going. And, you know, it’s definitely something that I realized I’ve a real passion for because of what I’ve learned from sports and like, I have learned what I’ve learned from sport, regardless of the All Ireland medals and the titles I’ve won, I’ve learned the life skills because I’ve been in it. I’ve experienced the setbacks, I’ve learned how to cope with failure, I’ve learned how to cope with not being the best, you know, with losing, with winning, learning to work with people that might not necessarily be people I like, but have to respect them because we have a collective goal, even empathy. All of these things, you learn them from sports, but I think the reality is that again, go back to the negative connotations attached to sport that parents may have because of a negative experience that they had. It’s like the opportunities that are there in sports, regardless of ability, but what you learn at any level, to me, it’s a no brainer. Excuse the pun to get involved.

Sabina Brennan 19:51
It’s just positive life skills, transferable life skills, everything you’ve talked about there is about life, so I’d be really interested now to see that documentary to see kind of what comes out

Anna Geary 20:02
It was eye opening for me for sure,

Sabina Brennan 20:03
I would imagine a lot of it is around body image. And I think that’s why I sort of half jokingly introduced you as Wonder Woman. But I think you’re a very important role model. And that’s why I also put in actually in the intro, that you’re very glamorous, because I think they’re not mutually exclusive. You can be feminine, and glamorous and pretty and a real hard sports woman, if you want, Do you know they’re not and I think there can be some of that, because part of it is labeling. ‘Oh, she’s a sporty type. She’s a sporty girl, you know, oh, she’s a real pretty girl. She’s a girly girl. She’s a bit of a tomboy.’ And so they have much wider connotations. And I’m fascinated, anyone listening to the podcast knows, I’m fascinated with the concept of self and how the brain creates self and how we create self. And really, it’s just a made up story. And you can change that story however you want. But a lot of that story that you tell about yourself and who you are comes from what other people have said to you. And frequently, it can be something like that, that somebody said to you as a child, oh, you’re a real girly girl. And so you just do the ‘girly, girl’ stuff. And it can work positively. You know, somebody probably said to you somewhere along the line, or she’s a brilliant trier. She never gives up. I suspect somebody said that to me too. And I kind of went, yeah, I like that one. I’m taking that one on. And that’s who I am. I don’t mean that I consciously did. But it was a positive reinforcer. But unfortunately, for every positive reinforcer, there’s negative ones. And, yeah, that’s something that I’m sure you are as well, in terms of your performance coaching. And that side of things is to try and get people to question where they get their notions about themselves. And for the most part, those things are untrue. And you know, you could be 30 years of age, and you’re holding on to something that was said 25 years ago, and you’re letting it limit your life.

Anna Geary 22:01
Yeah, and it is, to me, I think language has a massive part to play in. You know, how we see ourselves, like you said, the stories we tell ourselves, and even that word sporty? Like, what is it like even the word sport, I think sometimes can have negative connotations attached to it now, because people think it’s elite. You know, it has to be a pressure environment, it has to be intense. You know, it has to mean commitment and discipline, things that not everybody wants to be a part of. So like that word, because people have attached ideals to the word sport, that that’s why people think, Oh, I’m not sporty, or that’s not for me, because that’s what they associate with it. It’s the same I suppose. I… when I was younger, I would never have considered myself to be either a ‘girly-girl’ or a tomboy. But I think as I grew up, I realized, I love high heels. I mean, I love fake tan, I love dressing up, I was always the girl in my friendship group where we could meet for something and they’d go “oh where are you off to?” And I say, ‘nowhere’, like, I have all these clothes, why wouldn’t I wear them even now, I’m like I’ll be damned I am going on, I want to wear some of my clothes that I haven’t worn them and so long. So I always would have dressed up because again, I love you know, fashion and shopping and something that my mom used do with me. So on a Friday evening, we’d go like to the shopping center, we’d go browsing, and it was like almost like a mindfulness experience with a switch-off for my mom. So again, like you know, that confirmation bias what you see others do you start to mimic so

Sabina Brennan 23:32
Yeah yeah

Anna Geary 23:32
So I started doing that switch off. And I realized, Oh, I love how fashion makes me feel. And if you want to be glam, and I started wearing clothes, and then I suppose it was again, going back to the whole idea that I could be both I could be a fierce athlete on the pitch and be really determined and make sure that nobody got that ball off me without a fight. But equally then afterwards in the changing room, I could change into a dress and pair high heels going out the door. And I think that is really important that girls need to know that you can be both you can be one or the other if you so wish. But you also can be both simultaneously. And it is really important that we see that but also even how we describe sports people. Tearing down the stereotypes, and valuing people not just as the player they are but the person they are as well. Sometimes people forget there’s a person behind the player. So it is kind of to make sure that what you’re saying about the player is fair, and it’s the truth because although you often see like Twitter and these these such talk, things being said, Your uh, you know that that player didn’t intentionally grow to have a bad game. They didn’t decide they’re gonna like mess up for an own goal. So why then we go to the extremes of slashing them and crucifying them because that’s someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s wife, or husband. I think we need to make sure that we remember that language is really powerful and also the language that we tell ourselves if we talk to ourselves more than we talk to anybody else.

Sabina Brennan 24:55
Yeah, we do yeah

Anna Geary 24:55
And you never talk to your friends the same way you talk to yourself because you wouldn’t have any friends because we can be cruel to ourselves – whether its how we look, how we perform at work. I’m a bad mom I’m a bad dad Dad, how was the house clean? I never remember to defrost the chicken. Like whatever it is we always just cutting ourselves down with the language that we use. And I think we can only switch that and do nothing else. I think we’d have a lot more positivity in the way that we see ourselves.

Sabina Brennan 25:21
Yeah, no,, that’s very true.

Anna Geary 25:22
Don’t get me wrong. I used to get in trouble with referees all the time, because I still have earrings in and they’d be like, I had a little bit of a scar on, part of my pre-game ritual was always to put tan on because I felt great. I mean, I’m from a small rural village in North Cork, I can assure you, you know, we don’t get more sun than anyone else. But like, the color of my skin would have said otherwise. It is all about, like, doing what makes you feel good. But then not being berated for it one way or another. Whether you wear fake tan, or glamorous or you’re not, you know, and I think it’s just we like to put people in boxes. You know, we all do, we like to like, that’s her, she’s the sporty one. She’s the intelligent one. She’s the reliable one. You know, he’s the dependable person, whatever it is. And I really welcome seeing people changing things up and doing things differently.

Sabina Brennan 26:13
Yeah, Feck the stereotypes, question the stereotypes, and just do what you enjoy. That’s what’s really important, I think when it comes to sport, but it’s hard, it’s going to be a challenge for girls. Because ultimately, it’s having a really negative effect on girls physical and mental health.

Anna Geary 26:28
Yeah, well it is because I suppose there’s long term benefits to staying in sports and even the team environment, your friends, if the social aspect of sports like when I think about the opportunities that are you have been privy to because of sports, and I’ve got to travel, I went to Luxembourg in 2008, during my degree on work placement, and I went to the GAA club to join in not too loud, we could play but I knew was going to be a support structure. For me, it was going to help me find a house. You know, I was in a foreign country where English was the third language, you know, and I only had even certificate proficiency in French. So I needed allies. And it was amazing. Having that network of people through sport, they didn’t know me from Adam, but because I played for it was the cheese one of our own lessons of after. And I think that, for me is a really important thing that sport brings is that you might not know anybody. But if you go into university, say, and you go down to a local sports club, immediately you’ve got connections, you’ve got people that are like minded that are going to help you and I think we overlook the importance of those things. Absolutely. The physical benefits are there, you know, the mental benefits, put the social benefits, I think of sport, to me are some of the most important things that you learn.

Sabina Brennan 27:39
Yeah, and I think that’s what a lot of people are missing. With the pandemic and lockdown. You know, we were talking about teenage girls, but I think, you know, sport for teenage boys is hugely critical, you know, they suddenly have this upsurge of testosterone in their system, and that can come with the tendency towards aggression. And what better, more positive way to channel that then through physical Sport and Exercise and, you know, in an appropriate way, like it’s really brilliant, I want to kind of move on to your time on Dancing with the Stars. And I’ve just been looking back at some clips, and I’m just looking, oh, my God, your back your arms, your muscles. You were really just, oh my god. Amazing.

Anna Geary 28:25
My life. Yeah,

Sabina Brennan 28:27
I mean, the shape of your life,

Anna Geary 28:28
I played top level sport for 12 years, and I was in better shape.

Sabina Brennan 28:33
That’s what I was gonna say to you. So that came from the dancing, where were you actually working in the gym, as well as the dancing so that you could dance better? One of the things I love about when I’m actually doing weights, you know, when I’m being in my good self, in terms of exercise, is I feel stronger, I feel sturdier in my body. You know, obviously, my clothes fit better. But I love that. It’s very hard to describe, you just suddenly flip into the hole. Yeah, I feel sturdy and strong. So you would have already been in pretty good shape. But what point of your career was that? Were you still playing,

Anna Geary 29:07
though I had retired from top level sport with the intercounty team, say in 2015. But I was still playing morgy at club level. And so this was January 2018, when I did it, so it was still a few years on from it. And obviously your muscle is there, you know, and I still had the good core strength and I still had built up a lot of muscle. Both one of the reasons why actually I said yes to dance with the stars. There was two reasons I said yes. One was because I missed the challenge. And that was one of the brilliant things were playing with cork was that every time you went out and played a game, you know what, there was always a risk that you weren’t going to come out the right side, but your opponent was going to beat you and I missed that challenge of every week having to stand there and produce the goods. And the second reason why I did it was to do with body image because I felt I would have loved role models that looked like me when I was growing up. And it was I’m five foot five It was a sprint. When I was younger, I played kimochi for years. So I’m very muscular and very athletic in my frame, I’m very curvy as well. So a very small waist and I caused my quads and my glutes from playing sport for years, I’d be much stronger. And it wasn’t like I wanted to show younger girls, but women in general that like, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to a body. And I’m not better or worse than anyone else. But I’ll be damned if I don’t be proud of the body I have, because I worked hard to get it. It isn’t your typical that you’ll see that motor muscle. And as you said, like my back muscle, and I remember my dance partner call. He’s actually one of the cast now instructing. And he turned around and he was just like, we had to do this pose where I was leaning forward, and he was catching my hands behind me. So my back was really on show. And he was like, Oh, my God, you have so much muscle. And my fear genuinely was that he wouldn’t be able to lift me because I was I was strong, you know. And I did, I weighed a lot because of the most. And it was a genuine concern to me. He was like, don’t worry about it. Like, that’s my job. You just worry about getting out there. And I’m, I’m worried about holding you up there. But it was brilliant. Because the messages that I got from people, the sense of worth, they had to go, I had a woman messaged me saying that her daughter had been rowing. And I’d given it off because she felt that her shoulders were getting too big. And she didn’t want to look, you know, this idea, again, the stereotype of masculine. So she gave up when she was very good. And she watched one of my dances and turned her mom’s like, Oh my god, she’s got back muscles like me, and the funnel in which he wanted to go back training. And I said, Oh, you know, nothing else in this. Like, if I’m fueling people’s ambition to look whatever way they can because their sport, it’s like the idea that you’re looking at what your body can do, rather than focusing on how it looks. You know what that is? Yeah, it’s an instrument, not an ornament. I think that’s the kind of message that I wish, you know, that I had more of when I was in my late teens, early 20s. I was like, you know, if I can help people, well, then maybe that’s gonna help me too, because I’m not gonna lie. Like, there was some weeks I was in wardrobe department freaking out at the costumes that they wanted me to wear. Because it was taking me out of my comfort zone. I was like, Oh, God, that I’m sure or that’s too low, or that’s your revealing. And it was just kind of, like letting go of the body insecurities. And because I was was was, I’ll be honest, I was comparing myself to my fellow contestants, the professional dancers, but oh, my God, I don’t look like them. But now you’re back. Right? And no joke. When I say, Christ Anna, you were in the shape of your life. And there was times you felt so insecure about your body. That made me realize this, it doesn’t matter what shape we’re all in, we’re still going to find something to be insecure about. And while I was busy looking at one of the girls, that was five foot 11, her legs have dry balls. She was looking at me going, Oh, I wish I had our core. I wish I had her arms. So we’re all looking what everyone else has. So it’s kind of they’re like, geez, you know, what we may as well just accept we have the body we have, I’m never gonna have long legs. I’ve worked for five, what I can work on other aspects of myself. And again, this goes back to that sense of improvement. You know, you can improve that there’s no embarrassment to feel you want to improve yourself. It’s just about you need to be realistic in what you can do. Because I think if we set our expectations too high, that’s where we’re then in danger of failing them and feeling crap, because we’ve expected ourselves to get to a body size or body shape that’s just realistically unattainable and exhausting. Like, yeah, dancing for 10 hours a day, Sabina, there was no way I’m going to look like that again, because I was dancing. I mean, let me tell you, if you hold your hands out by your sides, and do nothing, don’t lift weights, just hold them up by your sides for 60 minutes alone every single day, you’ll feel the tone. And so I suppose I had to be realistic with myself afterwards when it all ended. I mean, even when I found my body shape changing again, I was like, Oh, no, I want

Sabina Brennan 33:53
to hang on to that spelt

Anna Geary 33:54
and toned body. But I realized if it’s not attainable, no, it was still hard to do, because everything ended with a bang. But now I look back and be like this person calling you didn’t really appreciate the condition that you’ve got your body into at the time. And I think we’re all guilty of that at various stages in our lives. So now I start telling myself if I’m having days now, maybe I’m doing an Instagram Live. And I’m like, all, you know, I’m feeling a little bit bloated, or I’m feeling a little bit, you know, not at my leanest. Why would your 70 year old self say to you right now, she’d probably kick you up the app and say I would kill to have your body like get out there and be proud of it. So that’s kind of something that I do to get myself anxious of feeling the way I do. And sometimes there’s days when my seven year old self would say put on your gym gear, go for a walk, you know, again, go back to it’s not I’ve got to do something it’s I get to we get to exercise we get to move like when we’re 70 8090 we’re relying on our younger selves to have ourselves in the best condition possible when we’re that age. So it’s that’s how I start thinking about things to pull myself out of roles when I’m feeling a little bit net myself.

Sabina Brennan 35:00
Yeah, as you just said, They’re dancing with the stars ended suddenly. And so you had how many months with this fabulous community and on TV and and prior to that, four months? Yeah. Four months of challenging yourself achieving, being in the spotlight looking beautiful having people to

Anna Geary 35:22
know, but you know what I mean, running around in sequence.

Sabina Brennan 35:28
And then it’s suddenly gone.

Anna Geary 35:31
And ripped out from underneath me, like a lot of people will say, oh, did you find it hurts when you you got all the way to the final. And as a driven person that you lost, losing didn’t actually matter, and I can’t

Sabina Brennan 35:46
get you lost. You’re a finalist, like you, you won so many things, only one person can win the title. But everybody who takes part can win, where it’s very much for me, it

Anna Geary 35:57
was a big challenge,

Sabina Brennan 35:59
you’re gonna win it,

Anna Geary 36:00
what you don’t want. It’s funny. I never thought about the final. Because I was like, there’s so much that’s out of my control, because obviously, you can dance your heart out. But if you don’t get voted through, well, then it doesn’t matter. But I genuinely just kept going back to those milestones was week after week. Every Sunday was my milestone, if I got to that Sunday, it was like I rewarded myself. And you know, congratulations on my seven, I got you through another week. Because for me, the reward was getting to stay in that environment for another week and getting to dance as my job. You know, I was just 10 hours a day. And it was fun, like exhausting, but absolutely gray crap, I made some brilliant friends that I’m really close with now and that I feel like no one on my life. So we had a really good gang as well, that year, we socialize together afterwards. And we’d be in no to each other’s dress rehearsal giving each other sneak peeks. And it was really good supportive environment. Even though we were all really competitive, we want to stay in, it wasn’t at anyone else’s expense, you wanted to win, but in a weird way, you didn’t want to see anyone else go home. So you know, it was a really good environment to be in. But when it ended, I wasn’t prepared for that. And I’ll take people back a little bit just to give a quick backstory. So back in 2015, I would have made a lot of decisions. So I would have decided to retire from playing top level sport. I was 27 at the time and Captain so we just want the already to 2014 it was quite unusual.

Sabina Brennan 37:22
Can I just ask you that? Why did you decide to retire at 27? though? It’s

Anna Geary 37:27
a great question. And I think for me, I am much like you I’m an all or nothing mentality. And if I like if I’m in something, I give absolutely everything of myself. And around that time I’d gone back to qualify as a performance and mindset coach, and I suppose we had to delve into kind of our values and what we stood for and what we wanted out of life really big questions. And I started to realize that that idea of surviving or thriving, like was I surviving or thriving, and I felt while I was thriving in sport, I was only surviving in my job and not like not that what I was doing wasn’t great. It just wasn’t a great career for me. So I started to realize if I don’t change this, I’m going to drift. And I don’t want to drift to a point where I look back 10 years into going I really should have made changes a few years ago. So I knew I wanted to change career, I went back study again. And what I realized is I can’t do both. I can’t give everything off myself a top level sport, and then give everything off myself to forge a new career. Because we all know we’re starting a new career, you’re at the bottom rung of the ladder you’re doing doing sociable hours, you’re doing the things that no one else wants to do. And I didn’t want to be the player that was missing training in the lead up to big games because I had to fulfill commitments to work on it. Okay, if I can’t do both, well, then the guilt wouldn’t have allowed me to have half our stuff. So that okay, no, I had stepped back. So I made that decision when I stepped back that it was someone else’s turn to give everything off themselves to the jersey, and then I threw myself into work. So even though I retired from cork at that time, I had the promise and the prospect of a new career to kind of keep me interested, keep me excited, keep me distracted. Because when you make a big transition in your life and you leave something, it’s really important to fill that gap with something else because that’s where then you go down the wrong road and maybe you use other crutches like alcohol or gambling as your as to fill the gap. So I had this idea of working hard towards a new career to distract me. But then we don’t think with the stairs, I didn’t have anything else to fill the gap. So like that we adjust our lives adjuster put us in, in a pandemic, we build new habits, we you know, kind of our brain gets used to certain routines. And I was used to the routine six, seven days a week of getting up every morning and from morning to night dancing and suddenly finished the road was pulled out from underneath me and it was over and everyone else went back to normal life. You know, with their jobs, the protesters flew back and flew back to all their various different homes all over the world. And people had told me that you’ll be exhausted now accidentally You should take some time off. And I listened to them. And you know what, if ever, there was a time that I should have listened to my gosh, because I know me more better than anyone else does, I should have filled that gap with something else. But I didn’t. And I took time off. Or I remember my boyfriend at the time, my no husband and I went on a holiday after downstairs, worst holiday ever the poor devil, I was just in the depths of despondency, like I was like, Oh, you shouldn’t be done right now. And instead, I should have filled it with something else and new work project or something to just distracted me in that transition period out of it. So if anybody’s listening and you’re, you have something coming up a big change, like it’s then you need to throw yourself into something else. Because otherwise you’re alone with your thoughts. And we all know being alone, our thoughts when we’re not feeling our best, isn’t isn’t a good thing, or it’s not advisable. And like I had a brilliant time. And ultimately, that’s what it was about, I come off this wonderful experience. And I was looking and searching for something else to fill us. And it’s only now I realize I should have done something to distract myself in the in the immediate aftermath of us. So I will never be back again. And I think just to say, it made me realize as well that like, when you’re listening, we often will if we would be decision to make, or if we’re looking, we looked at everybody else for their advice and their opinion. And we forget to ask ourselves, because ultimately, it’s your life. If you’re involved. Nobody knows you better than you. And I learned that the hard way that time when I never made that mistake again. So it’s Yeah, it’s just sometimes the breaks need to be better timed, rather than in the immediate aftermath of something.

Sabina Brennan 41:36
Yeah, no, I totally agree. When you’re an actor, you learn that, you know, you get a gig you get, you know, and you join this whole new family. And it’s all about that, and it’s all consuming, and you’re the character and all that. And then it’s like that it’s happened, it’s just gone. And then you don’t know whether you’re ever going to get work again, that could be your last gig ever.

Anna Geary 41:54
How do you How did you cope with that?

Sabina Brennan 41:57
That’s very well. Not very well, to be perfectly honest. And it is a form of grief, I think when you finish, I know it sounds awful. But I’m quite happy to say that, like, you know, when you’re doing something that is all consuming for you that you love, when that stops, that’s a grief, it’s a loss, and your body has to have and your brain has to have time to adjust. And just stopping and thinking and thinking about loss doesn’t help you move forward and keeps you kind of stuck behind. And I do think you know, it really is critical. And I know you’ll hear people talk about, you know, in the mindfulness space about, oh, there’s an awful lot of buisiness do you know, and there is sometimes we do that. But in some moments, the being busy is really, really useful to, to carry you through to a space where you can start to deal with. And I also think it helps, I think one of the reasons it works is it helps put what you’ve just done or finished in perspective, that it is something and now you can have something else. And so I do that I actually tend on your bit the same, like we’re not friends, we don’t know each other. But I can just see by all the pies you have fingers in, you have things on rolling, there’s always sort of something going and I’m the same, you know, I have several kind of projects on the go. And sometimes it can feel like you’re spinning too many plates. Yeah. But I would much rather than have nothing to do. I can’t cope with the nothing to do. I just can’t and it sends me navel gazing. And is this what it’s all about. So that works for me. And I think for different people, different strokes for different folks. And you know, if it doesn’t work for you, well, then that’s absolutely fine. Some people who probably gave you the advice about being exhausted, they may just have needed to sleep for two weeks. And that works fine for them. It is about getting to know your body and your needs and your emotions and kind of how you cope with things.

Anna Geary 43:47
And even having a support structure as well though, is really important that those one or two people that you can call upon to be truly yourself. You know what I mean? Like that isn’t that you don’t have to put up the front. And you don’t have to pretend you’re fine. Because like you just said, I suppose in the grander scheme of things, like dancing with the stars, in many people’s eyes was just a to, like, Get over yourself. But like you just said it became my life for four months, everything revolved right. And I think my friends and family were sick of me talking about it, because, you know, I was dreaming in steps. I was dreaming Charleston and jive. And I had one or two friends that I could really confide in to say, I don’t know why I’m feeling like this, but I’m feeling in this lull. And I miss it. You know, being able to even acknowledge that to somebody and not feel judged and not feel that you have to pretend to be a certain way. That is really important. And if you only have one person that you can go to. And what I would say to people is be that person for someone else to you know, yeah. Have you ever actually said to your friends, you know what, I know you’ve got the job and the kids and the care and the house and your life looks perfect. But you know what if your life isn’t perfect, you can always pick up the phone to me and tell me that You’re looking at the four walls of your bedroom and you’re really hated and you want to kill you know your dog because it keeps backing during zoom meetings, but I will be that person for you. I think that’s a really valuable part of friendship. We don’t tell our friends that enough. And sometimes then people don’t know where to turn to when they are having a crap day because they allow you to have a crap day. Well, we all have crap days, and

Sabina Brennan 45:20
it’s all relative, you know, yes, people will always be dying. But like if your cat dies, that’s your cat dying? Do you know, it’s important to do you know, and I think what you’ve said, is really valuable. And it’s part of what you know, because people could look at you and go, Oh, my god, she’s good at everything she does, and blah, blah, blah, but you’re a human being underneath it all that has all those same sort of feelings as everybody else. And I did read in an interview where you said, Kevin, he was your boyfriend

Anna Geary 45:46
at the time.

Sabina Brennan 45:47
Yeah. But he saw the loneliness in you. And he knew how much it meant to you. And it is a loss. It’s definitely a grief. And one thing that kind of jumped out of me, I kind of remember when I was an actor like that, you know, anytime I acted or had, you know, had a storyline, it was like that Dancing with the Stars every time. Wow. And I remember having a conversation with a friend one time as well. And I remember saying, Well, what I do is so bloody frivolous, you know, it’s not meaningful, like, like to be doing something that sort of helps people or has meaning. But what that person said to me, again, a bit like you, it really struck a chord with me, and she said, what you do something very important, and I send it out, I’m an actor, I’m in the soap or whatever. And you said, Yeah, and that matters to people’s lives at home, you give them something that they can watch, and enjoy and switch off from their stress. So you are doing something that’s meaningful, and that matters. And so it is sort of the same, I think, you know, we’re dancing with the stars with all of those things. I think people who have never worked in television, and I think what social media feeds into it, you know, are dreadfully critical. They forget that it’s a human being there and say awful things about the size of people or you know, that I mean, it’s incredibly hurtful. But there is this sense that somehow I don’t know, when a person there are not a real person there

Anna Geary 47:11
on Well, I found I did find that even during Dancing with the Stars, I made a very conscious decision in that I was okay, this is my experience, it’s a once in a lifetime chance. I don’t want that to be like Mars by negativity, you know, and I have no problem with nobody being constructive, critical. Like I’ve grown up in the world of sports, it’s parent, yes, it’s great. But if somebody wants to be nasty, just because you know, they’re in a bad headspace, and they want to comment on how you’re looking in an old fish or, you know, whatever it is, I don’t need that. I don’t want that in my face, you know, you can back off. So one of my friends used to take charge of my phone and the live show day. So he would be just if there was any negative comments, delete them block people that were unnecessary. And again, I have no problem with somebody. And I said that it was like, if somebody has a critique, leave it there, I want to see that. Because maybe I can tweak it or improve myself. But I think what if somebody is just being nasty, for the sake fish, absolutely, go ahead and delete it. And it was the best thing ever that I did, because I wasn’t exposed to it, then

Sabina Brennan 48:14
that is a super super decision. Because as you touched on earlier, as human beings, we’re primed to the negative. And there’s good reason for that. But we have to remind ourselves that we will always notice the negative before the positive. So we have to make a very conscious effort to work on looking for the positive. And I always try and say, Look, if you say something negative about yourself to yourself in your head, don’t allow yourself say something negative till you said five positives to yourself, because you really need even that amount to counteract the negativity that you will

Anna Geary 48:45
have. But 100 positive messages come in, and you’ll see the one negative

Sabina Brennan 48:51
still see the negative that

Anna Geary 48:52
will be the one you’re looking at and go oh God, do I sound like that? Do I Do I look like that?

Sabina Brennan 48:58
So you know, I think you were so right, just not to view it. Because exactly that, and also it would have just stuck in your head. And instead of performing being in the moment of your dancing, you would have been thinking of that nasty thing. And so that would actually impact on your performance. And I think you did a super wise thing to just get rid of us. And actually, there’s another thing you’ve just reminded I listened to a little bit of a live you did the other night and you were talking briefly about meditation. You were saying you like the little one minute one zero.


I’m the same I can’t really do that kind of meditation meditation. But the thing is, and that’s what I frequently try to explain to people probably they’re sick of me saying it but I think you’re a prime example of it is dancing on that show was meditation or anything where you are fully in the moment doing what you’re doing is meditation.

Anna Geary 49:51
That’s why I love exercise because it is mindful for me because if you’re lifting a weight, or doing a burpee, or do you have to be focusing on what you’re doing You will fall over you will hate yourself of something or you hurt you. So you have to switch off from your toe. I can’t be thinking about putting the benzos if I’m they’re trying to do away,

Sabina Brennan 50:08
you have to be spent. Am I pushing them out? And that that’s super I can’t do burpees though. Oh, awful, awful, awful thing.

Anna Geary 50:17
That’s full body overall body.

Sabina Brennan 50:19
Day. Oh, God. Yeah, no, I have to get back at my all or nothing thing now is, yeah, like I knew my book was coming out and I knew I’d be doing TV and having photographs taken and all the rest. And so I like everybody else, my weight has just gone up and down over this pandemic, you know, and I got in shape I was walking every day. But then here’s what happens me then. So I’m all in I’m in good shape. And I’m feeling really good. And you know, the clothes are fitting, and it’s really nice. And the thing then that I’ve been preparing for, which was to say this book launch means that I am pulled in all directions, like every minute of every day for about four or five weeks, and I can’t fit in the workout. And then suddenly, I’m going on No, I have to start all over.

Anna Geary 51:03
But you know what that is about revising expectations. And I when I work with clients as well around mindset, it’s kind of around building a habit that’s sustainable. So doing five minutes every day is better than doing 20 minutes one day and then not doing it for another week. So I have a strive for five. So I’m like if you could pick five minutes with a lapse in between work meetings, first thing in the morning on your lunch, break, five minutes of exercise, pick five exercises, 60 seconds for each exercise, it’s done. And if you were to do that three times a day, four times a day, that’s 20 minutes of exercise, right? It doesn’t always have to be sweaty, I think, again, sometimes people say, well, in order for me to be working hard, I need to be sweating. You could be doing like I break things down for people in such a way. So if you have three cups of coffee during the day, and you’re buying kettle three times, and every time you do that,

Sabina Brennan 51:52
I’ve seen that one, she has a lovely little video.

Anna Geary 51:54
Yeah. And if you do that, that save you do 30 squats, right 30 squats a day. So every time you boil the kettle, that’s 10 squats, 30 squats a day in a week, that’s over 200 squats in a month, that’s over 800 squats, if I told you to do 800 squats in a month off the battery, but I never do that. But if I told you with just 10 squats, every 10 Press ups or 10 runs up and down the stairs, every single time you’re boiling the kettle, it’s far more achievable. So that’s a big thing with us when it comes to exercise is reevaluating our expectations. So if you were to say, right, on the days, I’m really busy, I’m going to do five minutes. And if I can get in, you know that various stage in the day, great. But if I only do five, well, you’re still gonna be feeling better about yourself, you’re still going to get physical effects, the mental effects, and you’re keeping the habit going, because that’s the problem, it’s when we break that habit. It’s the habit acting on over again, thinking about it is always worse than doing it. So doing as I say people doing five minutes is better than doing no matter.

Sabina Brennan 52:54
And I do have that I keep one set of small weights in my bedroom over by my dresser because I have a little six minute arm workout. And I often do that just passing by and kind of go there they are right do that. Yeah. And I always feel much better for it. I just wanted to say, obviously you absolutely adored Dancing with the Stars, what would be your ideal job now? Like it’s very clear that you love what you are doing and all the things you’re doing. But if it was all just to come together and work for it, what would it be? Would it be in television presenting? Would it be in? Oh, that’s

Anna Geary 53:28
it’s a really good question. Because there’s loads of different aspects to it. Like I suppose what I love about my job is that it’s central around people. And I really feed off people’s energy. And I know that and I love the even though I’m someone that loves being organized and loves routine, and love certainty to a point which you know, the world of media does not give you at all, as well as the benefits of working with people at way that certainty. You know, and I love the dynamic relationships that you have loads of different people on set. And I love TV broadcasting but I think radio broadcasting is something so intimate about it. And and as you’re removing that extra pressure of what you’re wearing, how you’re looking, and I love that medium, I’ve grown up with the radio always being on in our house and things can really connect with people on radio. So I love that and I love my role as a speaker as well. I love being able to feel that I can come into a group of people or into a workplace and talk to them about something and have a lasting impact and and not like them the feeling reenergized for like four hours. That’s it, then the next day they forget about it. But being able to kind of equip them with tips like to better their health and their mindset and practical ways they can improve their lives. So I would love to be someone that can combine both that I could speak nationally and internationally about ways to feel better. And then like that Radio TV broadcasting because like when I think back, it was back in 2015. Not that long ago, I was working in an office environment, you know, nine to half five and I’m not telling people to just, you know objects and leave their jobs. But what I’m saying is beyond the bone Three of what people would think if I leave a pensionable job and a stable career was this life now where I don’t have any Sunday dread, I don’t drag on back to my job after holidays, because I’m doing something that I see. And not just that I love, but that I feel, I can actually contribute to, you know, that I’m using my strengths. Now, in the role that I was in, I just didn’t feel that I was getting the best out of myself. And we all want to feel that we’re getting the best out of ourselves. So like, I love talking clearly. The fact that I get paid for it many different levels. I’m like teaching and I’m just like, you know, the teachers when I was growing up that you reprimand me for talking in class, and I’m like, now who’s laughing? You know, and it’s wonderful to feel that I can do that every single person that’s listening here has something that they’re good at, that you Yes. And it’s just about finding a way to bring that into your career in some way, shape, or form. And if you do, you’ll feel all the better for us, you know, and you would feel all the better from being around you as well. Because Yeah, I would always say people are two types of people, you’re either an energy drain, or you’re an energy train. And depending on your life circumstances, we can kind of you know, flip between both. But if you can, more often than not be that train, be that person that encourages people that drives people on that lifts people up and that you do for yourself as well, you’ll live a little bit better, like your your house won’t change your job career might change, you know, the actual physical things might change. But if you can make yourself feel a little bit better, it means your life is going to be that little bit better, because you’re going to go through it, looking at things in a more positive way. Rather than feeling Oh, is it only Tuesday roll on the weekend? That’s not a Well, yeah,

Sabina Brennan 56:42
I mean, that’s just That’s no way to live. And I did that I did that for 15 years, I worked in a job. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And, and a lot of people are doing that. And we can’t all kind of give up. But a lot of people love the jobs that you and I didn’t like me, and for a lot of people, what we do would be their idea of how, like, people say that to me. Oh my god, what are you terrified going on the telly? No, we can’t wait for that. I’m like,

Anna Geary 57:11
don’t tell them but I do it for free.

Sabina Brennan 57:14
Don’t tell you to do it for free? What are we just thinking back to what you said? Like he only get one bite of that cherry? So you know, we spend so much of our time working? really do look at it and see, is there any way you can make it better? Or is there other aspects of your life where you can get that balls that we happen to get out of our jobs, because not everybody is going to get it at their job, but you might make your enjoyable by getting it out of a hobby or sport or you know, something else?

Anna Geary 57:43
And everyone listening should do that, like you should, okay, because it’s very hard. And I often do this exercise with groups of adults and you just see them squirm and cower in a corner of like, Okay, if, you know, if I went to read through and said, you know, name a weakness for me, you know, the bathroom? They go, I give you five, you know, yeah. Then you ask them, what’s your strength? Yeah. And everyone’s like, I don’t want to be the person. And that’s one of two reasons. Number one, some people might never really acknowledged what they’re good at before. And that’s the mindset of language. But also, it’s the fact that you’re terrified of judgment, like who is he or she to say that about themselves, they know like that, like, even that one loves herself is seen as a negative, it’s seen as an insult, you know, this notions concept.

Sabina Brennan 58:26
And then it’s self help. You’re saying, you got to learn to love yourself. And the same person saying that it’s gonna look at your own look at ourselves, looking in the mirror, think she’s great.

Anna Geary 58:37
She loves herself. So it is and I would say if you if you wrote down everything that you were good at the top of my list, when I did that exercise, it was talking, talking to people, they were the two things that are really similar to what can I do to find myself moving towards a job or a coffee or whatever, where I was talking and with people and I find myself where I am no, no, things change, people change. But ultimately, I think it is about doing that and forgetting the judgment of people. That’s why your support structure is so important. And know we can cut people out of our lives that are negative sometimes because they might be your boss or a family member.

Sabina Brennan 59:11
But it’s about number one, and you can ultimately if it gets too bad. Yeah. What’s the point of self preservation? Yeah. Surround yourself with positive people. And that doesn’t mean surround yourself with as often you know, people will talk about celebrities. Oh, they’ve Yes, man all around them, you know, tell them how brilliant they are touch. That’s not what that is. You know, people that you can trust are people who will keep an eye on you and who will say, you know, that’s not good for you, or that’s not really you, Anna, or you’re a little bit rude to them. You know, that’s people who loves you. They’ve got your back. They’re saying it because they know Yeah,

Anna Geary 59:47
I’ve a great story, actually very quick one about my dad. So about your support structure, like your support structure isn’t always people that encourage you and tell you, you’re great until you’re marvelous. Sometimes you do need your support structure to give you the perspective or pull you back and say hang on there and I was second, you need to come back down to earth. So back in 2010, we were out of the big finals, so I had a chance to do some radio commentary on radio one. And for any of your UK listeners, Niala. Murthy is one of the greatest sports broadcasters of all time. And I had an opportunity to do a call commentary with him and Radio One, he’s actually that probably was the impetus for me wanting to get into TV and radio broadcasts. I loved the balls that came from live energy. To me, it was the same as working out with the pitch and all that and finally day, and I remember being up there and I was just like, he was one of my heroes. I was just so nervous, but so excited. And he was so engaging and welcoming. And I remember I met my dad the next day after the match. And because I’d come down late the night before and the train and I said what you think, you know, desperate for that? validation? Joy, Dad, what did you think? And my dad was reading the newspaper. And he was like, yeah, you know, it did well, but I, you know, I wanted more. And I was like, probing and I said, Well, yeah, what was your favorite parts? But what did you did you think I made a really good comment. And he paused and I remember him looking at me dead certain dog. He said, Did you hear about me all my heart like, no, no wash. He was like, Johann Murthy just announced his retirement. And I was like, wow. And my immediate reaction was to feed it with smoke. And while I was one of the last people to do a live broadcast with the new halmer, high tech, and instead my Dad, I’m security, knowing this was going on in my head said, Imagine that man has given decades to broadcasting and an hour with you when he decides to call it a day.

Absolutely disgusted

that my dad would say that. I don’t remember being quite annoying. Just nothing to do me. No, I was quite young at the time. But now I look back and realize he was just bringing him back down to earth. You know, he’s like, no, wait on the job well done. But it was only one gig like, Don’t get too carried away with yourself. And I laugh now. And he still tells me to the day that he didn’t do that. But I remember he did. It was a great lesson. You know, you can’t be the Irish as well to be pulling you back down.

Sabina Brennan 1:02:03
Yeah, sometimes they trample all over you and they don’t like people get you know, that’s

Anna Geary 1:02:07
not always a good thing. But not always a good one.

Sabina Brennan 1:02:10
But I think it’s something that I kind of learned a while ago. And I kind of pass it on as well that if you were going to believe all the good things that are said about you, you have to believe all the bad things that are said about it in the press, if that’s it as well. So actually, really, what you do is you work to reach the standards where you feel you’ve attained what and actually really, then what others think, doesn’t matter. That’s very hard. But you do you know, you have to find that balance. And it’s a dangerous route, if you do go too far down that of taking the praise, because then it’s a very hard argument with yourself then about the negativity. I’m all for it. Like I mean, you know, I’m all for criticisms. That’s how we learn. It’s important. But I just think social media has done this thing that allows people to just be plain nasty, which is really nice. And that’s something that you’ve achieved, you know, is that you’ve always come across as this really, really good natured. You’re competitive?

Anna Geary 1:03:09
Well, the way I see competitiveness as well is and I remember I was actually asked this during dance with the stairs. They said, Oh, she’s, she’s the competitive one. And I was like, I started going through the list of the people that were all doing nothing for stairs. And I was like, she’s, you know, a very good businesswoman, you know, top class, comedian, and Olympian, I was like, hang on, say, What am I the competitive one, just cuz I’m a woman playing sport. So I think it’s like, we again go back to language. And I challenged the radio presenter at the time, and I just said to him do have kids. And he was like, Yeah, I have two young girls. And I said, Oh, interesting. I was like that, would you not want them to grow up to be driven and ambitious, and to go after their goals. And to give it the best that they have is, of course, they wouldn’t say, well, that, to me is being competitive. I think I’m not ruthless. I think some of my best friends are opponents on varying teams that I’ve played against over the years that were great pals. But once we crossed that white line, I’m going to do everything I can to be as driven as I can to move towards my goals. And I think you’re right, like, being competitive, shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. It’s just once you’re not ruthless, and like the difference between being assertive as a man and maybe being a bitch, as a woman, again, we just need to, we need to be very careful with the language that we use, because it does have an impact. It does have a lasting effect. And I would be quite conscious of that you even if you meet somebody, and they’ve lost a lot of weight, how you speak to them, is really important. Do you say to them, you look great, you look really healthy? Or do you say, Oh my god, you look so skinny, you know, and then I’m sitting there going, Oh, looking good means looking skinny, and that’s what they hear. Or that could be a trigger for them. You don’t know what anybody else is going through. So we do need to be a little bit more mindful of how we speak to people and it’s easy to go out. That’s just so PC it’s not because the way it was long gone isn’t always the best way either. Like I’m not about being overly PC at all, but we just we need to be mindful of the language that Use because it can have an effect and it can have a lasting effect on people.

Sabina Brennan 1:05:05
And I think it’s a fine balance. You know, I said at the start there, you know, you’re very much about body positive body image, but it’s about body fish. So I do think that’s a fine balance, you know, I

Anna Geary 1:05:16
mean, it is not good for any organ in your body for you to be overweight and unfit. So I think there’s often a confusion, that being positive about body image is sort of permissive to accepting a body that actually really is very, very unhealthy. There are two different things, and I think it can get confused. And one final point, actually, and that Sabina as well as when it comes to body positivity, and we see this movement on social media now. And I’m kind of unsure about it if I’m honest, because I’m all about people saying, I love my body, and you have to love your body, and love every part of your body because it’s yours. I slightly disagree with that. I think it’s about body acceptance, rather than body positivity, because you’re not going to love every part of your body. And that’s okay, expecting everybody to love all of their body, it’s a very tall order, whereas expecting them or ask them to accept it. And then knowing what parts they can improve. And then knowing what parts that you know, that is just what it is. That’s really important, too. Because sometimes we’re seeing no everyone’s sitting in a way that makes them look like they have roles. And you know what, I don’t care and I’m a real woman, and I’ve stretched maximize cellulite. Let’s be honest, if you didn’t think they were a big deal, why you highlighting them in a social media post? Like that, almost what you’re saying isn’t exactly what you’re showing?

Sabina Brennan 1:06:32
Yeah, yeah, I agree with you. And actually, what you’ve just sort of touched on as a form of therapy for change. So acceptance and Commitment Therapy. And so it’s about accepting where you are now and then committing to change. Nice, you know, my weight goes up and down. But uh, but I am really aware that it’s something that really impacts on your health and even your risk for developing dementia, midlife obesity in you makes you more likely to develop dementia in later life. So

Anna Geary 1:06:57
and I suppose is trying to undo some of the damage as well that social media and online and magazines that have been happening for decades, it’s not like that just social media came along. And suddenly, people became conscious of their bodies like this has been happening. When we opened magazines, and down to the years, there’s always been this pressure to look a certain way and obviously down through the centuries, that look. Yeah, but and culturally, it changed. Yeah, exactly. So it does depend. But I think I do welcome the type of movement where people are taking the glass off the filters of social media. You know, this is me, and I have a little bit of eggs, man, I have a little bit of dry skin or say loader strict wreck and normalizing the things that are normal. But I just think we need to not take it to the other extreme then and that nearly there I say instead of fat shaming, your fit, shaming, you know, and we don’t want to do that either. And like he said, ultimately, for me, somebody that has a real respect for my body in terms of functionally how it helps me. And also I want to live till I’m 70 at, you know, 90,

Sabina Brennan 1:08:02
yeah, I don’t want to just live till then I want to live well to them, and you need your body to support you to them. And thank you so much, Anna, it’s been absolutely fabulous talking with you. Before you go, I just want to ask you, you’ve given loads of tips and advice on it throughout. And I really do say urge anybody who’s on Instagram go follow energy cork, I’m going to start doing those little five a day ones as well, it’s a great

Anna Geary 1:08:29
way to do I put them off Actually, I have reels for people. So I do a 345 reel, the five exercises. And again, you just do 60 seconds for each one. And again, it’s all about mixing things up, try new exercises, because then your body and your mind and Doctor complacent. And again, it’s about being present. Because if you’re doing any new movement, you have to really focus on what you’re doing. And that means then you’re stepping away from whatever stress you had in work or in family. So you’re getting a triple whammy with exercise and I’m such an advocate for it. But when you do the kind of exercise you’re talking about, you’re getting the benefit of the exercise itself. The fitness from if you’re your body, your cardiovascular health and your brain. But your brain is also being challenged because it’s having to learn a new and that’s so learning is key to keeping your brain healthy because it promotes neuroplasticity exercise on its own actually

Sabina Brennan 1:09:13
releases chemicals that actually make it easier for neuroplasticity to occur. So there’s a chemical called brain derived neurotrophic factor BDNF. It’s like Miracle Gro for the brain. So it actually makes your brain more fertile for growing new connections. So stimulating your brain and learning new things stimulate neuroplasticity, the physical exercise is making the garden fertile the brain garden and you can grow and you want more connections and denser connections in your brain to stay healthy. But also when you exercise, you get a release of serotonin and you get that release of feel good hormones. And then on top of that, it’s a great stress buster. It also helps you to sleep better, which is really, really critical for your brain. It’s just an absolute all rounder certainly for me from a brain perspective. So

Anna Geary 1:09:59
It is not just about your body is an instrument, not an ornament, instruments, not an ornament. Yeah, and it’s about what you do with this. And just remember for everybody that there’s an exercise that you’re that you enjoy, you don’t have to do something that you don’t enjoy. There’s so much out there now. And there’s so much online as well, that you just find the even if right, I challenge anybody, if you don’t like exercise, put your favorite song on. Yeah, and dance for five minutes non stop without taking a break, you will be sweating by the end of that five minutes, because you will have moved your body. And movement is movement. And if you do something you enjoy, you’re far more likely to go back to it again and again.

Sabina Brennan 1:10:37
So if you were to pick one, one tip for people, what would it be? Okay,

Anna Geary 1:10:41
I suppose it would follow on from what we were talking about no breaking down goals. Everybody has got goals. And sometimes I would say to people, like are you a goal setter, or you will go getter. So if you want to be a goal getter, it is about looking at your day and breaking it down and saying how can I build working towards that goal into my day. So your day, 1440 minutes, if you were to make 1% improvements towards your goal 1% of your day is just in the rain, 15 minutes. So if you were only to dedicate 15 minutes every day, 1% of your day, you can have the 99% to do whatever you want. 1% of your day goes towards whatever goal you have, in a year, that’s over 90 hours, 90 hours to work towards the goal is worth learning a new language learning to bake getting Fisher, I think sometimes we overwhelm ourselves, we feel we need the hour, we need, you know, 15 minutes, just 1% your day. And I find when I’m struggling to work towards the goal that I have telling myself it’s only 1% of my day me it makes it more realistic. And if you can be consistent and dedicating that 1% putting 90 hours towards anything is going to make it a hell of a lot easier to achieve that goal. So that’s what I would say is break it up into realistic milestones. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do. And just take it day by day. And it’s like climbing a mountain you might not have got to the top straightaway. But if you look back down, you’ll realize just how far you’ve come and that can give you a boost to like that progress can be motivating. It’s not just about hitting the end goal. It’s about focusing on the progress well to give you the boost.

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