I’ve been told on Facebook that it’s “old age – fat – adipose tissue” – and something that I will “just have to put up with if I want to keep swimming”. Well that’s Continue reading
I’ve decided that this is how I want to look by the end of the year! Before you laugh, it’s the beautiful powerful creature charging after the surf ‘look’ that I’m going after! So no old nag cracks please – especially from Continue reading
My heart is bursting – and it’s only day one. It’s not bursting from effort, or exertion, or altitude or attitude – it’s bursting because I’m among friends, doing wonderful things, in a Continue reading
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting St. Patrick’s Boys National School in Drumcondra to talk about the fun of getting healthy and getting active. They are wonderful lads who know lots about sport and mountains and what happens at altitude. They are great at science and geography, they know the height of Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil. They are polite, enthusiastic, intelligent and very talented. They had lots of hints for me, and explained that I’ll enjoy running more if I run with a friend, and if I run as much as I can and then run a little bit more. They also told me it’s good to have a reason or a goal to run for. I’ve taken their advice and accepted their challenge to run a 10k in the Phoenix Park by the end of the Summer. They tell me that I can do it – and I believe them. The boys also had a surprise presentation for me, and performed a couple of rap songs that they had written for me, about food and healthy eating. Their work is so good that I just had to share the lyrics with you. It’s a pity I didn’t bring my GoPro camera along to video them – because they were great. Maybe next time 🙂
What does the sugar say? I’m fat, I’m fat, I’m obese.
What does the sugar say? I’m fat, I’m fat, I’m obese. x3
Carrots are good
Potatoes are too. Song
Sugar is bad
Salt will kill you!!
I wanna eat some cake
Which I’m not allowed
So let’s eat some rhubarb
Which I am allowed
We’ll go into the kitchen Rap
And take out all the junk
Get a bit of rhubarb
Add some cheese
Go into the sitting-room
And eat with ease.
Every night at tea-time
I eat bread
It is brown
Then I add some flora
Not butter song to the tune of Titanic
It is bad.
Sometimes I have white bread
But it’s full of sugar
And salt and faaat.
I live with an apple beside my bed
I can’t get this junk food out of my head. Tune of ‘Monster’
I’m going for runs but I keep losing my breath.
I’m trying to get fit, I’m to get fit, because I care.
Heyyyyy brother, there’s a KFC around the corner
OOOOhhhh we can share a mighty bucket for 2 Tune of ‘Brother’ Avicii
Then there’s nothing in this World we couldn’t do.
Put your hands in the air if you don’t care
Eat KFC and squash your chair (Tune of ‘Put your hands in the air’)
Do a dance, do a dance
Lose your breath AHHHH!!!
It’s a little bit spicy
And a little bit hot
I might need another penny to get a cookie
But then I realised you had a cookie so I ate it instead.
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I ate you cookie
But it tastes so wonderful that it’s in my belly.
Now I quit junk food I put it in the thrash
I feel a lot healthier that I’m not eating hash-browns
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I threw out your cookie
But it looked so tempting I couldn’t control me.
We came, we ate, we did not wait
For our calories to burn
Don’t you ever say that I’m overweight
I will always crush you.
I’m the same size as a wrecking ball
I’ve never been so fat before
All I ever ate is KFC
I pretty own the company.
Someone told me about broccoli
I finally can see my knees
And I’ll be as fit as Muhammad Ali.
I have low cholesterol
I can now run to Donegal
I can now get up when I fall
I can now kick a ball.
I was so angry with myself this week
In November and December last year, I ate my way through the stress of starting up a new business (www.teenagates.com), I ate my way through the sadness of saying goodbye to old colleagues, and I ate my way through the celebration of spending Christmas with my family and the excitement of my new start. Happiness or sadness, I turned to food. Result? I put on TWENTY pounds in two months (over 9kilograms).
It wasn’t really about being lazy or inactive either. I was tearing around the place and doing lots of cycling and swimming; although I probably wasn’t putting as much effort into it as I usually would. Looking back at the last few months, it was definitely food that was the problem. I easily returned to my old 23-stone lifestyle of skipping breakfast, not bothering to plan my day’s food, grabbing a roll at lunch, eating out, trying to starve for a couple of hours as guilt set in, and then caving into food cravings and ordering a take-away just before bed – the worse time of the day to be eating.
Amazingly I didn’t notice the weight-gain for a while. It’s incredible how easy it is to slip back into denial. I noticed a couple of tops and dresses getting tighter, but thought they’d shrunk in the wash!
It wasn’t until I went kayaking before Christmas and had to get my mate Fiona to prise me into my buoyancy aid, that I noticed something was wrong. Even then, I stayed off the scales for a couple of weeks, telling myself I’d get the weight off first before taking the acid test. How dumb is that? Of course that didn’t happen, and I didn’t brave the scales until December 28th to measure the shocking extent of the damage done. I reached that point once before, on my way to morbid obesity. Back then I put my head down, right into a chicken snackbox and munched my way to oblivion. At least this time I’m facing the truth.
I’ve reintroduced the word ‘diet’ into my vocabulary.
In today’s world, it’s not polite to say ‘diet’ and it’s virtually unforgivable to say ‘fat’. But for me, I need to face both words and deal with them. The alternative is to slip back into the void that leads to obesity, depression, diabetes, fatty liver, high cholesterol, heart disease, increased risk of cancer and stroke, and inevitably, if I don’t put the brakes on, death. Being badly overweight really is that serious. I’ve been there before, I’ve faced death in the face and walked away from it, taking a different road that brought me to a whole new journey of adventure of discovery, and I’m not giving that up. I’m not giving up my mountains either, and the particularly large one that I plan to climb later this year… (Mount Elbrus in Russia with Irish Adventurer Pat Falvey of ‘The Summit’ film and book.)
The anger came when I went back running with my athletic club. In 2013 I started the Le Chéile ‘Couch to 5K’ programme and went on to run 10k and take part in adventure races in Wicklow and Killarney. Now here I was on a dark, rainy, winter night – back where I started – huffing and puffing over my boobs, as I heaved my way around the track, gasping for breath and limping over my sore knees. There was embarrassment too, as everyone else streaked ahead of me. I hated every second of it. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that next week will be easier, and the week after will be easier still. Not easy, just easier!
I was angry too over all my pretty dresses. It is not the washing machine that is to blame, I just don’t fit into a size 12 anymore, and no matter how I rant at the designers, it’s not their fault. I used to fit into dresses that I don’t fit into now. How the heck did that happen? Subconsciously I must have been grabbing the stretchy, looser stuff, without noticing what was happening to my waistline.
No more denial. I’ve bagged up all my pretty dresses and tailored suits and stashed them up in the attic until I’m fit to wear them again. In the meantime, I’m looking at empty hangers as a reminder of where I want to be – and I am NOT buying new, bigger clothes. So apologies in advance if I turn up at your event in running pants!
Since January 1st I have been eating well. Porridge, chicken, eggs, brown rice, brown pasta, a little olive and coconut oil, some oily fish, nuts, fruit and lots of vegetables and salad. I have also been drinking at least 2 litres of water each day. Most importantly, I am facing up to the fact that I need to eat slightly less than my body requires, because I have a storehouse of energy stored around my belly that needs to be unleashed! That means I don’t give in to cravings, and sometimes it’s ok to feel a little hungry.
I’m back in the gym, back on the hill, swimming, cycling, and hiking to my heart’s content. I’m back running with Parkrun on Saturdays, I’ve rejoined Le Chéile AC, and I’ve joined up with a global event on Facebook to run ‘100 days of miles’ in 2014.
There are absolutely no food ‘treats’ in my diet, instead I’ve set targets with much better treats in store. I collect the first tomorrow. I promised myself that if I lost 10lb across January I’d get a mountain bike. Well I’ve lost 9lb in 9 days – so tomorrow I’m off to the Giant Bike Store to pick up my new baby; and my new baby will help improve my fitness as I work to target number two…
I’ve realised writing this, that I’m not angry with myself any more. I am determined….I’m getting back on track, healthy and fit, and I’m looking forward to the road ahead.
I ‘Walked The Line’ and I proudly get to wear the T-shirt, and raise the mug – thanks for a brilliant workout from Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue. Their mega annual fundraiser had two challenges, a navigational chase and a straightforward 25k hike for those who were willing to follow the signs! I chose the latter, but the physical demands were no joke. It was a tough, long day out and I came home delighted in just over 6 hours. To be honest, I had a secret weapon, the latter part of the hike was down through Spinc – my favourite mountain. I was actually heard to say ‘this is my patch’ as I trotted down the stones towards the Miners’ Village – and you know I meant it. Yep I guess I’m declaring it. Spinc is MY mountain – so there! (I’m not actually being facetious – that mountain rescued me from being 23 stone and stuck in a cell of my own skin, and my own making. I owe a lot to that mountain). The other benefit from ‘Walk the Line’ was accidentally turning up just 2-minutes before registration closed, and ending up ‘walking the line’ on my own, which I hadn’t really planned. It left me picking out way-paths and finding my way around the hills in a way I hadn’t done before – and I learned a lot – lessons that came in handy later in the week….
A trip to Lough Sheelin cooled my heels after Wicklow – when I turned up to provide boat cover for my brave ‘Get Off The Couch’ colleague Karen Bowers, who swam her first 1k ‘wild swim’ in the beautiful County Cavan lake, surrounded by master swimmers and the fantastic long-distance swimmer, Fergal Somerville, who turned up to coach her, after recently adding an elusive North Channel Crossing to his previous English Channel crossing. That man is inspiration in a set of speedos, and I have permission from his wonderful wife Margaret to say so. (Incidentally that woman is the best power-bar chef this side of either channel!).
A couple of days later I was back in the water again – this time in Donegal. In bright sunshine, myself and buddy Vera Baker ‘Girls on Tour’ headed north with kayaks strapped to the roof of her heroic Jaguar and two bikes jammed inside, along with wetsuits, paddles, running gear, hiking gear, and high heels. What other way to travel? Well as Vera’s son commented wryly as he saw us reverse out – “it wasn’t that we couldn’t do it – but probably that we shouldn’t“!
We hit the ground running when we arrived in Donegal in bright sunshine and instead of heading for shelter and our lovely home for the next three days, we made straight for the beach and launched the boats. It was a good call too; we woke up to winter conditions the following morning, with the mist so thick we could hardly see our boots as we made our way towards Errigal. That solo-navigation stuff in Wicklow helped with my confidence, as we strolled back down the mountain on a bearing and walked straight into the car park to our absolute delight. Boasting to my Mountain Rescue buddies may have been a calculated error however – I’ve been told I’m navigating next time out!
Lots of thanks are due to lots of people after my last set of adventures. Love you all and hugs will be distributed in due course. x
I’ve been on holiday, but I haven’t stopped being active and having fun.
I’m just back from Torremolinas in Spain, where I took my dad to celebrate his 88th birthday. We stayed in the Sol Aloah Puerto 4-star hotel with a deal from Clickandgo.com travel – and I’ve got to say we had a ball. it wasn’t a freebie or a sponsorship or anything, so I’ve no avaricious reason to promote or advertise the travel company or the hotel, other than to say how brilliant they were and how fantastic they were in tailoring the trip to myself and dad. They really delivered and I think that’s worth a shout-out. Thanks lads.
The hotel is situated right on the beach between two Irish bars, walking distance from the Marina, with plenty of shops and restaurants nearby, and the sea-front promenade that comes alive at night with a magical display of impromptu music, traders and entertainers. During the day we soaked up the sun, ate too much, enjoyed happy hour and spent ages in the sea Although the Med hadn’t quite warmed up to Summer temperatures, it was certainly warmer than my Sunday swims in Malahide. During the trip, Dad came kayaking with me, and body boarding and sailing – which is all pretty impressive, given the fact that he doesn’t swim!
The snorkelling was going well too, until the mouthpiece snagged in his false teeth….
Joking aside, what a fantastic spirit my dad has, and what an inspiration. Every day he shows me how life is a dream come true – you just have to wake up and live the dream. I’ve got 40 years of fun ahead of me, to get to where my dad is now, and he’s still open to new adventures. I just can’t wait until tomorrow to see what we both do next. xxx
I’ve been taking it easy since I got back from Uganda. Well, I’ve been going to the gym twice a week and gym guru David has increased the weights I’m lifting, so at least I’m getting some good workouts in between the naughty bits. The naughty bits include a recent trip to Germany to visit friends, which saw me go to the spa, walk in a snowy forest, and consume enough sausage, bread, pastry, cheese and red wine, to keep me going right across Christmas!
I’ve had a bevy of parties already, and the 98FM Radio Christmas Party is on this Friday – but then I’m off to Kerry on Saturday with my bike, and I’ll be camping, cycling, horse-riding, rock climbing and hiking on Carrauntoohil – weather dependent. While the following weekend, I’m off to horseride again at Flowerhill, near Portumna in Galway. I reckon it’s about 15 miles from Ballinasloe train station, so again I think I’ll make things interesting and take the bike. Since Uganda, I’ve changed the way I think about the bike. It was a training tool, cycling in and out to work (30k round trip) in a bid to work up strength for the Africa tri-adventure with Concern. But after cycling over 200k from Mt Elgon to the Nile, I now feel very self-sufficient having the bike with me as a means of transport. Weather doesn’t matter – you just dress for the weather. Have wheels, have freedom!
You know, I guess the secret to keeping fit over Christmas is to find things to do with friends that are active and fun. I started writing this blog with a sense of aplogy for being lazy, but when I look at all the stuff I’ve got planned, I realise I’m actually planning quite an active festive holiday. Gosh it’s so good to have a body that will let me do this stuff. Three years ago I was trapped in my own personal 23-stone prison. It’s not with triumph but with gratefulness and hope that I realise I tore down those prison walls, pound by pound, with my own bare hands – and so many more of us can do the same. The biggest escape since Alcatraz!
The fun really starts in 2013. I’m hosting a new television programme with Athena Media and Setanta, which aims to get people all around the country to join me and seek out a new life of adventure in the great outdoors. The word spread quickly in Dublin and there’s been a huge response, but we’re trying to reach people outside my beloved Dublin too. So if you know someone who you think might like to “Get Off The Couch”. Tell them to get in touch with Rob@athenamedia.ie.
Who are we looking for? People like me who never thought they could be active or sporty, but had a secret curiosity about how that might feel. People who I can encourage to come with me and discover the great outdoors, with the help of some amazing sports enthusiasts who are willing to share their passion for life and sport. I want to open a door and invite people to come through like I did, and feel the breeze and the sun on their face and the taste of salt on their lips and…. and…
Our kayak training moved from the river to the pool last night – not this pool – but one like it, over on the Northside. ( I pinched this video from ‘John’ on YouTube.)
Concern/Uganda buddy Vera Baker and I got a full hour of tuition from our friends at the Wild Water Kayak Club, in how to roll.
Self-rescue will be important when we both head off to Kayak the source of the Nile in Uganda, this November, for Concern. We need to ‘right ourselves’ when we take a tumble in rough water.
The Wild Water Kayak Club came to my assistance later in the night when I needed another bit of self-rescue as I was driving home in ‘blondie’ , my dad’s car…thanks Andy!
Enjoyed a lovely weekend in Sligo when the most adventurous thing I did was walk past the pool to the restaurant! I did eat well across the Bank Holiday though and drank lots of water, because I’m determined to get back on my weight loss plan.
Today – I was back on the bike and back in the gym. I did a 30k round trip cycle in and out to work and I spent an hour weight-training in the gym. Lots of my ‘gal pals’ are nervous about using weights, in case it builds up too much bulk, but seriously – that’s not going to happen. Small weights with high repetitions won’t turn you into hulk-ella… and I think they’re a really fast way to burn weight and work out, while building strength and stamina.
I spent an hour with various weight-lifting drills, including some core-work and a reasonable session with kettlebells, like this one here. I did 4 sets of 10 reps on ‘snatch and grab’ with one of these 16kg bells, followed by the same number of sets and reps – on ‘squat presses’ with a couple of 12kg bells.
I cycled too and from the gym, and did some stretches, so I warmed up and cooled down pretty well, and hopefully won’t be walking too carefully tomorrow. Ouch…