Teena’s Training Blog

The Adventures of #GoogleDog and #Dad93

 For those of you who haven’t met her yet on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram…. let me introduce you to #GoogleDog.

GoogleDog loves belly rubs, gentle nose and ear stroking, and going for walks. She doesn’t really like doggie treats, but loves real chicken. She drinks lots of water and rarely barks. She doesn’t like fireworks, or loud bangs.

Google is very good with most other dogs, but will occasionally take offence and growl and bark. She wears a muzzle in public because she’s a German Shepherd Dog and that’s the law, but she’s ok with that.  She has very good recall and walks very nicely on her lead. She will chase after balls, and can be very dominant when there’s a ball in play – but she won’t fetch a ball, because wearing a muzzle has confused her about what to do with it when she catches it.

She is only slowly beginning to play. She was never played with as a puppy and it’s something that she doesn’t really understand. But that’s slowly and gently changing.

Google is a DSPCSA rescue dog, who was seized from a bad home last November. She came to me as a 2017 Christmas foster, but I couldn’t give her back! Yes, I’m a failed foster mum. We formally adopted her in the first week of January and have never regretted the decision for a moment.

When Google first came to stay, she was a very timid and very underweight doggie, with her pelvis and ribs sticking out through her rough and dull coat. By the summer her muscles and coat had grown so much that she needed an extra four inches on her neck collar!

Google helps look after #Dad93. She carries his personal alarm on her collar, and she tells him when the phone or doorbell are ringing.

She’s an absolute darling dog who had a very bad start in life, but shows very little sign of it now, and is incredibly trusting and kind. My Facebook posts have been absolutely loaded with her funny and heart-warming escapades and the growing friendship between her and dad. So I’ve decided to collect them here on my blog.

So welcome to the future adventures of #GoogleDog and #Dad93.

Wining Project to Keep Seniors Alive and Well at Home…









I’m absolutely thrilled to hear about this seniors’ project, thrilled to hear it’s won top prize in the HSE Health Service Excellence Awards and very excited to hear that it could soon become available nationwide… hurry up, #Dad (92) is waiting!

 Over 300 projects from all over the country entered the 2017 Health Service Excellence Awards, which are open to all staff working in the publicly funded health system. 11 innovative projects got through to the final shortlist after a rigorous selection process. These projects highlight how so many HSE staff are working to deliver better services with easier access and higher quality care for patients.

The Overall Award went to ‘Innovative Support Co-ordination for Older Persons’. This is a joint project between Alone and the HSE which aims to keep older people living well at home for as long as possible. By co-ordinating and organising services for older people who might need some extra support to continue living at home or some practical help to return home from hospital, the two agencies have, to date, supported 489 older people in Dublin North city and county.

This project was piloted in CHO Dublin North City & County where four  ALONE support co-ordinators were funded by the HSE.  Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, explains: “to avoid duplication of services, ALONE works in partnership with other organisation to ensure the best use of limited resources.”

Since the programme began in January, 489 older people have been referred to the service.  Older people can be referred to the service through their GP, public health nurse, or self-refer. Support coordinators help older people by assessing their needs. Many organisations – voluntary, local government and the health service – provide services for older people.  Knowing what is available, where to go and how to access these services can be very confusing and frustrating.

The people who are referred to us have a variety of needs. The type of support people might need could be anything from repairs or adaptions to their house, help with applying for grants, setting up a befriending service if they are lonely or isolated. The list goes on.” Corrinne Hasson (ALONE Support Coordinator).

Margaret Browne is someone who benefits from the program and has a befriending volunteer coming weekly to her home to keep her company; “I really enjoy her company. My family don’t visit me often, so I look forward to seeing her every week. I wish she could come more often.”

Trained volunteers provide support to older people by providing services such as a befriending and events service; informing them of their benefits and entitlements; helping with access to primary care services; assisting with applications/grants/etc; and end of life planning and budgeting.

The programme intends to create a cost effective, scalable, and transferable model by working with all services in the area.  The project aims to:
·        reduce hospital admission and support older people being discharged to return home
·        avoid nursing home admissions, for older people with lower support needs
·        identify factors preventing an older person from living well at home and identify the practical, social resources and supports addressing these factors

The implementation of the Support Co-ordination Project in Dublin North City and County with the HSE and ALONE has facilitated the supporting almost 500 vulnerable older people in these communities across all areas of their lives where they needed assistance.  It would be the aim that we could bring this service nationwide by the end of 2019”, says Samantha Rayner, HSE Older Person Specialist, National Social care.

The Excellence Awards enable the HSE to identify new and creative service developments that can be shared and implemented, as appropriate, in different parts of our health system. The Programme for Health Service Improvement is now planning to work with a number of the project teams to support the innovative work they do.

Speaking about the importance of the awards, Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE, said: “The Health Service Excellence Awards are designed to identify and recognise the real value we place on excellence and innovation across all of our health service.”

HSE National Director of Human Resources, Rosarii Mannion, said: “It is our ambition for staff to have a strong sense of connection to our service, take personal responsibility for achieving better outcomes and support their team colleagues to deliver results. The commitment of staff throughout the public health service contributes in a very significant way to the quality and satisfaction levels acknowledged by the people who use our services.”

Full details of the shortlisted projects can be found at: www.hse.ie/excellenceawards.  

TILDA, #Dad (92) and Me

Yesterday I was messaging with a community nurse, an occupational therapist, and hiring a professional carer. These are support services which will help me to help my lovely #Dad (92). A few months ago, I didn’t know they existed.

As I headed into work as a journalist with Newstalk Network News, I was still trying to understand how I could be so ignorant about what’s available to a man of dad’s age. Some of these services are free, some I have to pay for, but the fact that they’re there at all will make both dad’s journey, and mine, so much happier. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to care for dad. I would hate the pleasure and fun of our love and friendship to be eaten away by stress and difficulty.

Knowing that I have started building a new, safe, environment for dad feels like a pressure jet being released. The air physically escapes from my lungs in a rush and I feel my shoulders drop; an easing of tension that’s been building for months. For the first time I begin to realise how hugely stressed I have become.

Later today I’m meant to be flying to Copenhagen for a two day mini-break and to wild swim in the city’s freezing canals. (It’s a thing). But the trip’s been cancelled since Friday, when dad complained about a volcano in the garden; and I realised I couldn’t leave him alone any more.

I’ve learned that the sudden realisation of being a carer can leave you scrambling for answers.

Leaving the house and turning the car into the evening rush hour, I again found myself wondering about how quickly my world has changed. How could I find myself so far behind the game; failing to realise dad’s changing needs until he fell and hurt himself earlier this year?

How did I accept the brush-offs about unavailability, 2yr waiting lists for Occupational Therapy and the casual dismissals of my growing concerns?

Suddenly I realise I’m angry.

Age is not a disease and age is not an excuse for lack of respect or care. Dad’s in great health and can continue to happily live at home with me; with just a little extra support.

My dad’s dad received a 1916 medal for services rendered during the foundation of the state. His son (my dad) helped build our country, he worked all his life and paid all his taxes. He ran in cross country races, he was a sprinter, he won medals for dancing while working in Belfast during the troubles, and he cycled from his farm in Cavan to Croke Park for a match (and Cavan wasn’t even playing!). My dad has an expensive love for silk ties and Louis Copeland suits, and his favourite food is a 30oz steak! He is a person, an individual, a charming, funny, sensitive gentleman. He deserves a proper and dignified quality of life.

*Breathes deeply*.

Driving towards Dublin city centre, I also wonder whether my experience is unique? I’m a working journalist who has spent the last 30 years asking questions. If I run into a brick wall while trying to get answers, surely I’m not the only one finding the going tough?

With that thought buzzing between my ears, I arrived into work to find the latest TILDA report on ageing in Ireland, sitting on my desk. Incredible timing. But my eyes widened and my jaw dropped as I read it’s heartbreaking findings. It’s being published today and guess what?

#Dad (92) and I are not alone.

Read on >>>


42 per cent of all care provided in ‘last year of life’ in Ireland is provided informally by either friends or family.

A significant number of elderly people are NOT accessing support and services which are available to them. Many don’t know what’s on offer; others don’t know how to go about getting it.

People can enjoy a better quality of life in their final months if treatable conditions are screened and tended to accordingly; this includes pain relief and help with depression.


These are some of the findings of the latest TIDLA report published today. The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing is a large-scale, nationally representative survey on ageing in Ireland.

8,500 people over the age of 50 initially took part in Tilda, and its latest findings are based on interviews with the family members and friends of 375 participants who have died since the study began.


Check out radio news bulletins to hear more (Tues 12/12) with report author Prof Charles Normand of Trinity College Dublin, and reaction from Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement at Family Carers Ireland.

Or read the full report at www.tilda.ie.

With a Little Help From My Friends…. #Dad (92)

I’m very happy to say I’m now a member of three new groups, which are offering me support & advice about how best to keep an eye on my lovely #Dad (92).

This is in addition to – and as a result of – the invaluable information that I got this year from the Health Care Assistants and Carers’ page on Facebook – who were there when I really didn’t know where to turn.

With their help, I now have a Community Nurse and Occupational Therapist visiting dad – which was eventually organised through my GP and local healthcare centre, once I knew what to ask for.

I also have a Lifeline24hr monitored alarm bracelet that dad can use to call for help at the press of a button. https://www.lifeline24.ie

Social fun, parties and outings have always been on offer through the wonderful Sally and Marie in our local St.Peregrine’s senior citizens’ network – and dad and I are both looking forward to attending the Christmas Party next week!


My three latest finds are:

https://homecaredirect.ie – this is a technical online platform which allows me to hire a Garda-vetted, qualified, professional carer, who charges by the hour/visit.

https://familycarers.ie – which is a support network for carers all around the country.

And the Carefolk Family – a brand new FREE web and mobile application that is currently being launched to connect carers with a peer support network.


I’m popping this all down here in case it helps anyone else that suddenly realises they need to start reaching out for a bit of help.

Wild Web of the West

I’m likely to be web walloped for this, but the way I feel inside, I’d be a coward if I didn’t share my thoughts.

I’m deeply concerned about where we’re all going with the Wild West of the Web and trial by social media.

Our judicial system needs an overhaul and I can understand frustration over low reportage, support for victims, and poor sentencing. But this system has been developed with the aim of protecting all sides, and reaching a fair and balanced decision. This system can be repaired, improved and perfected.

But you can’t expect any such restraint or balance from the lynch mobs currently running rampant online.

Who decides who is guilty of an offence and why, and who decides the severity of the sentence? Is a lost career, a lost life, the only appropriate justice?

And what about a right of reply? Any voice not taking the popular line in the social stream is lost in the shouting. In fact any contribution to the argument is merely propagating the storm and fomenting the fury.

We’re no stranger to trial by media, which has had its fair share of criticism in the past. But at least in a licensed broadcast or publication, there is a chance of a reasoned argument, a right to reply, a space for apology, and some rules regarding ethics and accuracy.

Trial by SOCIAL MEDIA is a blunt instrument with no rules, guidelines, safeguards or protections.

What happens when the angry stream gets it wrong? What happens when it ruins a life, creates a tragedy, drives someone to the edge, and beyond?

Who gets to say sorry?

Who gets to repair the damage?

Who gets to take responsibility?

Who is accountable?

The web is a wonderful thing with countless wonderful uses. Internet lynch mobs are not among them. I’m deeply worried about how we can tame the Wild West of the Web.

I don’t have a solution, but a deepening sense of injustice, concern and dismay.

I think, at least for the moment, we’ve lost our way.

92 Reasons to Smile

The gentleman on my arm nearly got whiplash as he swung around to watch the Coast Guard helicopter thunder past our heads. You can feel the heavy, powerful thud of the Sikorsky deep in your chest, understanding the power but only imagining the comfort that sound must bring to countless men and women who have called on its services down through the years.

We’re in Cootehill, County Cavan, queuing for entry to a Spiegeltent marquee for an evening’s entertainment in honour and celebration of the fallen Rescue 116 Coast Guard crew who lost their lives when their chopper flew into the night but never returned, on March 14th 2017.

This RNLI memorial underlines the close ties between our rescue services, described on the night as a marriage of heroes. We often say there are no heroes any more. We are wrong, they are here all around us. But sometimes we don’t appreciate our heroes; tonight we do.

There are all sorts of heroes. The man on my arm who narrowly avoided whiplash grinning up at the Sikorsky is a hero. To me he is one of the greatest heroes of all. My #Dad (92) files into the tent beside me in the rain at 8pm at night. In a lightweight hand-stitched Louis Copeland suit, he’s the epitome of elegance, but badly equipped for the night ahead. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t notice he’d left his overcoat behind and I’m wondering how long we should stay before I coax him away back to the warmth.

The massive 400 seat Spiegeltent is sheltered, dry, and fitted with an impressive array of speakers and lights; hints of a seriously good show ahead. But eyeing the amphitheatre of wooden benches stretching high into the big top, I suddenly wonder what the heck I’m doing bringing my 92 year old father here.

And yet he’s a Cavan man, and would have been a local here in Cootehill in the forties.  With Captain Dara’s father being a fellow Cootehill native, it seems right that dad should join in the community’s shared wish to console and honour the crew’s families.

Sitting on a red cushioned pew, we settle down and I determine to keep an eye on him and drag him out, at the first sign of cold or fatigue.

TWO HOURS LATER the band takes a break, and I finally persuade him to leave. We’ve had a loan of a bomber jacket from a very kind man behind us, and I’ve surreptitiously had my arm around his back to support him a bit, but seriously, he insists he’s fine. In spite of age and arthritis he’s adamant that he’s not stiff, not sore, and thoroughly enjoyed the night.

The sold out show was certainly inspiring.  RTE Broadcaster Ray D’Acy was funny and entertaining as MC, artfully and empathetically blending joy and hope with respect and dignity. The Clew Bay Pipe Band were stunning, as were the other acts. But the pipers really raised the roof and a live-streamed, big-screen video link-up with a lone piper playing from the Lighthouse Tower at Blacksod in Mayo where Rescue 116 went down, brought  bitter sweet joyful tears to the eye.

It was a night of memories.

Taking dad’s arm, we manoeuvre across wet, muddy grass to the car and again, I wonder if I was wrong to bring him here. It was 11pm and I whisked him into the town for last orders, thinking a shot of whiskey wouldn’t hurt.

While shouting small talk to friendly locals in the bar, with his hearing aids vibrating to the sound of a two piece rock ensemble, dad inquired where we’d get anything to eat. Sitting back in the car, with a slightly sozzled father wolfing down chicken nuggets and a massive bag of chips from the local takeaway…  I laugh out loud, realising that right or wrong, my hero and I have just enjoyed a most unlikely night out on the town, worthy of any teenager. It was a precious, precious night.

That’s what memories are made of.

The Rescue 116 Memorial Concert paid tribute to the bravery of the Irish Coast Guard crew, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy and winch men Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby, who died when their aircraft crashed off the County Mayo coast.

Musicians Triona Marshall and Martin Tourish, Declan O’Rourke, Matt Molloy, Janice Igoe, the Roscommon Solstice Choir and the Clew Bay pipe band, were among the artists who performed for free at the sell-out concert in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

In a letter read to the audience, Britain’s Prince William wrote “The crew of 116 lived their lives to the full, not just for themselves but for all of us. They will never be forgotten.” President Michael D Higgins wrote “citizens like Dara, Mark, Ciarán and Paul greatly enrich our world, and make a profound contribution to the creation of strong and compassionate communities”.

They will never be forgotten​.

Adventures of a Weightloss Warrior


I lost a pound and a couple of inches off my hips last week, which was week 3 and my third weight loss in three weeks – which has a bit of a ‘Power of Three’ ring to it.

I could actually have done better, but I strayed off the plan midweek after losing the will to live while knocking out some 4am starts for work!

Still I’m heading in the right direction and that’s a good thing, because I don’t want to incur the wrath of  ‘the man with the plan’ –  Irish Defence Forces soldier and sniper, Peter O’Halloran.

My PPT Fitness & Nutrition plan for this week is simple… increase the water intake, keep eating the right food, and get some consistency into my exercise.  I had a tonne of exercise at the weekend, but I had a sore bum for my trouble…


I had a chance to join a bunch of gals cycling along the Greenway in Waterford at the weekend, which was brilliant and definitely something I’d recommend.  For some reason though, I rented a bike instead of bringing down my own and I paid for it with a bruised bum.  I’m sure if I wasn’t carrying an extra 8 stone it wouldn’t have mattered, but after 10k the unfamiliar saddle was making itself felt, at 20k I was no longer able to sit down, and at 25k, I was calling it quits at the halfway mark and promising to return again another day. In fairness to myself, I had actually woken up at 5am on the morning of the cycle with a tummy bug, so the universe had rather stacked the odds against me.

On this occasion I don’t regret bailing out. I’m not normally a quitter, but I was too uncomfortable to enjoy going any further. This way, I loved what I saw and I’ve got something to look forward to achieving in the future. It was really good to meet up with the girls too and it reminded me how much fun we lot had, hiking out in the hills together. That’s something else to start doing again.


The rest of the weekend was taken up with the world of swimming and kayaking. I was helping out with some social media for the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race, as part of the Leinster Open Sea swim series,. My Lough Erne wingman Stephen Turner was back out on the water doing rescue cover for the 2.2k swim course, which sweeps out across the mouth of the harbour.  It was a stunning day, flat calm, hardly a jellyfish in sight and even a burst of sunshine from time to time. It was lovely to bump into so many of my swimming friends and kayaking friends, and the atmosphere was really fun and uplifting.

Everyone kept asking me why I wasn’t swimming, and I confessed that I’ve always been quite nervous of the Harbour Swim. It’s a big swim, with big currents and frequently choppy swells out near the harbour mouth. I really am in awe of the swimmers who finish the course, not to mention the elites who carry handicaps of up to SIXTEEN MINUTES before setting out after the rest of the field.

I wouldn’t have to win it of course, I’d just have to complete it. As quite a few people pointed out to me yesterday, I can no longer use the excuse that the distance is too long, after managing the 5k Lough Erne solo in Eniskillen a couple of weeks ago.  So I guess I have just selected my first challenge for 2018!  TEENA 2

My Lough Erne 5k Solo

5k swimI really love swimming in the Liffey. In particular, I really love being a part of the annual, iconic, Liffey Swim.

When I was a young radio reporter I used to write about Dublin’s Liffey Swim and gaze in awe as men and women slipped into the fast moving water and set off swimming down the quays, beneath the bridges.  Then a couple of years ago I had a fitness revolution and suddenly that experience was in my grasp.  After a year of swimming and training and taking part in qualifying sea races, I finally got to take part in the Liffey Swim.  I was last out of the water, but I made it. Since then I’ve made it every year, and despite putting on a tonne of weight, I really hope to make it again this year.

I also fancied pushing the swimming distance.  After swimming in ten triathlons last year, and completing the Escape from Spike Island swim, and they Sandycove Island Swim, as well as the Lee and the Liffey, I felt I wanted to challenge myself some more.

I attempted to get a team together to take part in a 17k relay swim on Lough Erne, but it didn’t quite come together. However when I looked at the entries again, I noticed that they were putting on a shorter 5k solo and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I’d swam several 2ks and 3ks, and I knew I could always leave the water at any time if I ran into difficulty. I also had a big advantage, in that my mate and kayak buddy Stephen Turner, had been pencilled into my diary for the 17k since last Christmas and he agreed to come with me for support.

So last Saturday found me perched on the side of a jetty in Enniskillen jumping into Lough Erne.  My kayak wingman Stephen was already on the water, and my mermaid mate and swim buddy Sinead Merrigan was organising the whole event, so I had good company and was in good hands.

I pushed off into soft, very dark, rather warm, peaty water with zero visibility. I didn’t have a clue how deep it was, and I couldn’t see any further than my hand through the dark water. It felt a bit eerie, but I got used to it quite quickly.  My first battle was with the yellow buoy that we had to wear for visibility and safety.  I hadn’t strapped it tight enough around my waist and it started slipping off. I grasped it as it sailed past my knees and without stopping hauled it back up and over my boobs, knowing it would have plenty of anchorage there! It did, but it also proceeded to in turn strangle me and wrap itself around my arm every time I took a stroke, so I belted it, and punched it, and snarled at it, for at least 1k – before I finally stopped, began treading water – and finally managed to re-fit it properly around my waist.

After that, the swim was pure bliss.  The scenery was gorgeous, with beautiful properties and parkland sweeping down to the waterfront, blue skies, and sun warming the back of my head and shoulders.  I was comfortable enough to speak with Stephen as he paddled along beside me. There was plenty of boat traffic out on the lake, but we had a vast amount of our own boat-cover, with paddleboards and kayakers, and small motorcraft. Everyone clearly knew where we were and waved enthusiasm as we swam past. I felt totally confident, but also loved having Stephen there beside me. We have kayaked together many times while providing cover for other swimmers, and this was very special to have Stephen covering for me.  We knew each other’s style very well and we both cut a great line down the lake, in fact we actually trimmed it so well that we eventually made it over the course in just under 5k.

At one point I commented to Stephen that I thought we were getting some tide assistance because I felt I was actually swimming better. This was halfway through the swim, and looking at the graphics from my watch afterwards I realised that after about 3k I actually started swimming better and faster.  Talking afterwards with other swimmers, they said they thought we had been pushing against a current for the first 2k, so that makes perfect sense.

There were amazing swimmers in the water, some like me were just swimming 5k for the first time, but others were swimming 17k and 25k solos.  I was in the company of true athletes and that added to the sense of occasion.  I didn’t feel tired at any stage, but I did keep telling myself to be prepared to swim for longer. I never allowed myself to think about finishing, and when one motorboat going past, shouted encouragement and said I only had 1600 metres to go, I laughed and thought they were lying – but they meant it!  Some time later, Stephen said, you’ve got about 700 metres to go, and it genuinely came as a surprise.

I could hear the shouting before I could see the finish, at the castellated fort up above us on the river.  I concentrated on lifting my arms high and swimming as prettily as I could – as a mark of respect to my swimtutor.ie instructor Karl McEnteggert, who is always so supportive.  I’d hate him to see me swimming in with lazy arms!

I finished in bright sunshine, with laughter, loads of friends on the bank, and Stephen my wingman on my shoulder. I grabbed a hold of him to haul him out of his kayak for a giggle, but I just couldn’t do it. He’d been with me all the way and I couldn’t bring myself to be that mean. Instead we had a great big warm, happy hug, and the moment was caught on camera. The nicest photo I’ve seen all year and one that’s definitely going to find it’s way into a frame.

Thanks Stephen, Karl, Fergal, Vanessa, Sabrina, Sinead, all my swimming friends, and thanks to Swim Ireland and Swim Ulster and the wonderful ILDSA who hosted the swim.  I even got a medal (we all did) and asked on the spot to say a few words I could only confess that … ‘in the morning I had thought ‘OMG I’ve got to swim 5k, but by the afternoon I found myself saying, ‘well it was only a 5k’…. That’s what challenges do. They boost your confidence and your knowledge, and make you think that even greater things are possible.  I wonder what might be next?


Eating My Way Home

diveRecently I’ve had a reminder that eating 700 calories, then crashing with hunger and fatigue and eating fast food on the way home from a night shift is NOT the way to health. Particularly when I go and beat myself up with guilt and jump on the 700 calorie or VLC (Very Low Calorie) treadmill again. Instead, I’ve eaten 1500 calories a day under orders from an Irish Army sniper – and I’ve lost a stone in the first week.

Thanks to those of you who have recently pointed out that I’m in trouble with my weight again. Thanks also to those who haven’t. Yes, I’m back on a mission and I just can’t believe that there’s 20 stone of me back in the mirror. But realising that, and kicking denial into touch is the first step to getting some control back.

There are lots of reasons and lots of excuses for the weight gain which started slowly in 2015, then escalated in 2016 despite my completing TEN TRIATHLONS in one year!  This year the weight-gain flippin’ well hit Grand Prix levels, piling on 4 stone since Christmas! I could probably write a book about it (oh hang on, I did that before…!!!) but in essence, I think I basically lost the balance in my life between work and play, and everything else took a hit.  I can’t believe I’m having to remind myself this but YOU’VE GOT TO ENJOY LIFE.

There are a thousand conversations we can have about stress, sadness, illness and depression – and no, I’m not pretending to be an expert for one second on any of those topics, and no I’m not depressed, although I am sometimes sad. The thing is, we need to REMIND ourselves to be happy. At least I do.  I have so much to be thankful for and happy about, but sometimes I get far too wrapped up in the race of daily living.  I can actually forget to appreciate the joy of living. No wonder they call it the human race – it’s so often to race to death, without ever pausing to enjoy the present.

Anyway back to my sniper!  Peter O’Halloran is a 6″3 serving soldier with the Irish Defence Forces and a Sniper Instructor to boot…. (or should that be bootcamp?). He’s a qualified trainer and nutritional coach who runs a company called PPT Fitness and recently he’s made quite a stir on social media after losing his temper at ‘stupid’ diets – or words to that effect. He’s picking up quite an impressive following in just a few months with over 3000 Snapchat followers, 18k on Twitter and 10K on Instagram – and those numbers are growing daily.  He’s picked up a reputation with hilarious comedy videos ranging from subjects like crash dieting, gym selfies, training pants (you’ve got to see to understand) and general annoyance that drive people nuts with the fitness industry. However at the heart of that following are some pretty stunning results in terms of weight loss and health, with one client completely reversing her diabetes status. Peter PPT fitness

I came across Peter, because he’s my good friend Maureen O’Halloran’s ‘little’ boy. (snort). Guffaw, sorry Peter, you may be 6″3 but you’re still Maureen’s little boy to me! Maureen was worried about my weight gain and asked (flippin’ nagged) me to get in touch with Peter for some nutritional advice.  I ignored her because the time wasn’t right, and then somehow it was. So I texted Peter and gave him details about my lifestyle and physical condition etc… and back popped a diet sheet. With 1500 calories worth of food on it. I nearly fainted down dead with the shock. Like…Potatoes? Butter?? BREAD???

Anyhow, after jumping onto the diet, my immediate first impression was that I can’t possibly eat all this much food. It’s amazing how much my mind had drifted over the last 12 months, into that unhealthy place of starvation and bingeing. I don’t mean sitting in a room with a fridge and eating a container load. I mean bingeing as in going to work on empty, drinking coffee all day, and then eating a take-away, followed by a sandwich an hour later, and half a packet of biscuits an hour after that.  That’s the place I had gone to, and now, mentally, I found it was really difficult to sit down to a proper meal three times a day, with things like potatoes and gravy and bread and butter.  Somehow it had become ok for me to eat a takeaway followed by a sandwich at 2am in the morning – and yet here I was struggling with the notion of having two slices of buttered toast with eggs at breakfast.

However I decided to trust the plan and two weeks in I have now seen my second weight loss. In week one, I lost half a stone and in week 2 I’ve lost 3lb – and that’s with an early weigh in, because I’m heading off for the weekend. It’s also without exercise, because apart from swimming, I’ve not done any cross-fit, running or cycling for months because I allowed myself to get too busy with work. That’s the next change.  David Dunne my ever patient, gym guru and CrossFit trainer, I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL but I’m coming home.

I’m still struggling with the idea of eating my way thin, but that’s precisely how I described life the last time I had to get to grips with my weight – when I lost 10 stone in one year. It’s about being organised, being accountable and being full! I’m excited now to begin week 3 and I’m looking forward to getting back out on the bike.

I’m really beginning to feel rather like a #WeightlossWarrior.

I’ll let you know how I get on.


**In the meantime, you can check out Peter on Facebook and on his website:




The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good 

Ok it’s good that I’m back training and back at Crossfit, but I’ve put on so much weight, so quickly, that I feel I’m starting all over again.  I suppose it’s also good that I know I’ve done this before, so I know I can do it again.  It also helps to know that absolutely nobody is judging me, except myself!



The Bad


The bad? OMG it’s so bad to be starting at the beginning again. To start a dead-lift only to discover the bar is pinching your overhanging stomach so the weight is the least of your problems.  So bad being out of breath after 4 mins on the rower. So bad to be unable to do a single proper burpee ‘cos your belly gets in the way.  Grrrr when I regain the ability to do a full burpee, I will do 20 a day for the rest of my life and never moan about burpees again.



The Ugly


The ugly is the overhanging belly that gets in the way of every flippin’ thing and sits like a tired old man on my thighs.  The ugly is the tops that won’t fit and the gravity defying baggy leggings. The ugly is the hot sweaty face and the sweat stained runners. The ugly is the double chin that threatens to choke me when I lie down on my yoga mat.



The Result


The result can only be Good.  It’s good to know that this is a passing phase.  All I need to do is train consistently and my faithful old body will stop creaking and start to sing again.   It’s good to know that everyone has my back and is encouraging me on.  It’s good to know that in the eyes of my #CrossFit community, a sweaty face is a thing of beauty, a groan is a badge of honour, and huffing and puffing a testament to a challenge well met.

Here’s to life, to passion, to effort and reward.  I wish The Good,  The Bad and The Ugly for us all this Easter weekend.

  • Communicorp
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