Thursday, 3 October 2013

Nutrition Support

Definitely one of the harder things for me in the grand scheme of getting fit, healthy and losing weight was changing my eating habits and attitude to food in general.

As part of the 'Feirme Bodies' programme we were paired up with mentors from the Nutrition Society in D.I.T as I previously mentioned.
I was paired with a lovely lady called Eileen who has had a good chat with me about my eating habits, my exercise regime (or lack of!) and my hopes for this programme and beyond.

She sent me some brilliant information which is tailored to what I had said to her but is still relevant to a lot of other people so I thought I would share it with you all. (I've tweaked it slightly to make it more general)


1. Aim for 7 days worth of exercise each week. If you're busy some days, add extra time onto another exercise session, or do 2 sessions in one day.

2. When exercising it's best to do so at an intensity that would be too difficult to sing at, but you could hold a conversation.

3. For weight loss, and to burn fat, it's best to exercise for greater that 30 mins. Aim for at least 45 mins for most sessions to get the most out of your exercise!

4. Try to fit a bit of extra exercise into your day...take the stairs or park away from work and walk in.

Download the couch to 5k app for some motivation and support while exercising!


1. Keep sticking with 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks during the day.

2. If you feel peckish try some fruit, a low fat yoghurt, some rice cakes, or raw veg sticks to tide you over

3. At dinner try to use the plate model of half veg, quarter potatoes /rice /pasta and quarter meat. The veg really fills you up, is packed with vitamins and minerals and is quite low in calories so eat as much as you want!

4. Make sure to keep hydrated, especially now that you're engaged in more exercise. Aim for 2 - 2.5 litres (5 pints) of water throughout the day. Refill your water bottle during the day and sip throughout the day.

5. Aim to include lean red meat (beef, lamb) twice per week to ensure you get enough iron in your diet. If this is not possible. consider talking to your pharmacist about iron supplements (eg. Galfer)

6. Attached is a copy of the food pyramid. Print this out (page 3 and 4) and stick it somewhere visible in your kitchen. Use it as a go-to guide when you're feeling peckish and don't know what to eat! There's lots of other useful information in this booklet too! 

I've made a whole other blog post about the booklet and food pyramid mentioned, the information is super useful, and I thought it would be great to share it with everyone. You can find it here.

Hope some of this helped and I'd love to hear comments from any of you with advice, ideas, etc.

"The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself"
Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Food Pyramid and information on healthy eating

I was recently given a very handy booklet on healthy eating and I thought it would be great to share it with you all, so here goes.


The results are in Part I.

I told you  a few weeks ago about our initial weigh-in. I still am too much of a wuss to reveal the starting weight here but I do hope to eventually! For the purposes of the Macra challenge, I'm starting at weight 'zero' and showing my losses/gains.

The whole 'Macra's Feirme bodies' crew weighed in on the 31st August and that was our start point in the journey to reach (and hopefully) exceed the target weight loss of one stone (14lbs) each at the end of the two month programme - the October Bank Holiday weekend.

We were all paired up with a mentor from the Nutritional Society in D.I.T (link to their facebook page here) and the mentor has been in touch with us each individually to chat about eating and exercise habits and ideas - more to follow on this later.

After a fortnight we were asked to attend our second weigh-in to record any losses/gains. Obviously we were hoping for the former and we had all been working towards it but there is still that butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling before it - fear of the unknown as well as the fear of being disappointed or worse, disappointing the other members of our three-person group.

I'd been keeping an eye on what I was eating as much as possible, cut out fizzy drinks totally and started getting more active. Zumba came back into my life.
Myself, Úna and James after our first Zumba class together
Lovely sweaty heads and all!
So, on the morning of the 14th September we met at a national Macra event in Dublin ( I was so dedicated I drove up and down on the day, a nice six-hour round trip!) and we took our turns to reveal our new weights...

No need for me to be worrying as I was down 3.5 lbs! 
Exactly on target to achieve the 14lb loss in two months.
As well as that, James Healy our Munster Vice President lost 6.75 lbs and Úna Ryan lost an astonishing 21.5 lbs!!! Go team!

This was a nice boost for all of us and definitely spurred us on to carry on and even improve.
Just hoped the next weigh in would yield similar results!
P.S. I'd love if all of you wonderful people reading this would comment, etc. - really like the idea of a more interactive blog!

"A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement."
Bo Bennett

Sugar Infographic

Interesting infographic (a teacher's best friend!) on sugar quantities in common foods.
(Obviously an American creation with some foods we don't have here but a lot is relevant regardless).
Have fun viewing! (Click into it to see larger)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

It is the simple things

Something as simple as choosing water and fruit as snacks for journey instead of fizzy drinks (however much I miss you diet coke!) and chocolate/taytos is definitely making a difference

Monday, 16 September 2013

Eating habits

One of the main things that I needed to target what my attitude to food and how much/what I was eating.

My main bad habits were/are

  • Eating main meals late in the evening - I don't enjoy eating on my own so would wait until himself was home to have dinner. I also didn't think too much about what I was putting into food - cheese, creamy sauces, salt...
  • Snacking while doing chores/reading/watching tv - Not at all out of hunger, more something to do!
  • If I had a cup of tea (which was frequently!) I would have something sweet also. This meant that I again was eating unnecessarily.
  • Fizzy drinks - LOVE Diet Coke and would happily drink it each day.
  • Not eating fruit remotely regularly or enough water per day
I know what I should have been doing all along, in theory, but as I mentioned previously I never thought too much about my weight therefore didn't take any of the logical advice on board for a long time.

Basically snacking a lot and fizzy drinks were my worst vices. Trying to change some well established bad habits was going to be a good chunk of my initial fight against my weight. As my friend mentioned in her guest post, it takes three weeks to really get out of a habit but by God you must be determined to do it in order for the urge to get out of your system. 

I'm two weeks into the 'Macra's Feirme Bodies' journey so we shall see how I am getting on by next week!

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.” 
Mahatma Ghandi

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Guest post I - Other people's experiences and advice

Hey everyone,

My name is Aisling, I am 25 years of age, in the past two and a half years ive lost just over seven stone still not finished but almost! Rebecca has asked me to write a few posts over the next number of weeks just give everyone a few tips and just share my experience! I'm happy to answer questions or help anyone in any way i can!

First things first i want to wish Rebecca and all those taking part in Macras Feirme bodies initiative the best of luck. Its not an easy task but the rewards make every harrowing moment worth it!

If you take nothing from this post please take this: If you want to attain your goal of losing a substantial amount of weight you must be really committed to it! You must want to it for yourself not to impress others! You have to sit yourself down and say i really want this! This is a long and sometimes very tedious journey that you need to ready for! 

If some very nice person comes up to you and says 'you've lost weight weight well done! Are you on a diet?' the answer is simply 'no' followed with "I've just changed what I'm eating and doing a bit of exercise.....its more of a lifestyle change." Thats exactly what it is you must retrain your brain and your stomach to your new way of life! 

My Story:

It was January 2011, my weight had been creeping up over the years and i hated it but at that point my attitude was it was gone so far what was the point in even trying. I tried everything in the past lipotrim egg diets even Operation Transformation you name it i tried it but the weight i had just came back and more with it! 
My brother was getting married at the end of the year and i wanted to look good!
That January i started Operation Transformation and that year it just clicked as i really wanted it!
Why operation Transformation?

Different strokes for different folks i guess and it worked for me!

It gives you an extensive knowledge of healthy normal food! It makes you try food that you never would have before. It teaches you healthy alternatives to common dishes that are just as tasty. You soon discover what you like and don't like and Dr. Eva very importantly teaches you about portion control. It is so simple as every meal is planned for you.


Everything is planned for you! Everyday there is a video and set of directions to complete your task! All you need is two bottles of water and you are ready to go! Karl Henry is someone you can't help but love but on your third set of lunges you feel like you might throw your water bottle at him!

There is a feeling of comradery with every leader and what seems to be half of Ireland doing it with you! They face the same challenges as you! They spur you and you are fighting for them too! 

A good start is half the battle
Ive done this every January completely committed for the last three years! I still use the recipes every week ill pick two or three of my favourite recipes and make them my dinner! I will always let myself have something nice if really want but i have to really want it! The Operation Transformation website is available everyday so if you wanna start today go there and start day one! The knowledge and understanding of food and exercise that you gain from the show is invaluable in my opinion if done right!

This a very simple overview of what i have done! For those starting out remember they say it takes three weeks to break a habit of a lifetime and the first three weeks are the hardest but if you persevere i believe it will soon become a way of life.

Until next time remember this quote:

 "Desire is the key to motivation but its determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence that will enable you to attain the success that you seek."
Mario Andretti


Friday, 13 September 2013

Macra's Feirme Bodies - Part III

So what have we done exactly?
A quick update -
To start off was the dreaded weigh-in...
The ten leaders all met a couple of Saturdays ago and we did the initial weigh-in. In fairness to the lads most of them were quite open about their 'starting' weight but most of us ladies kept it quiet - maybe at a later date!
I kind of/half saw my weight on the scales - was trying to look down to see it while staying as straight as possible, not an easy task. It is the number I am working off from now on.

The next day we did a 3km walk around a fabulous local activity area which was to help kick off the project. Quite enjoyable and (as I always do after exercise) I felt great and then questioned myself as to why I don't do this kind of thing more often!

The group taking part in the first of our Macra's Feirme Bodies activities - a 3km walk

I've started back at Zumba in the last fortnight and have met up with another leader Úna to go for a walk. Really enjoying what I have done so far!

I'll do a separate post about my eating habits and a more in depth one about the exercise...

Second weigh-in is tomorrow so I will keep you all updated!!

“But the beauty is in the walking -- we are betrayed by destinations.” 
Gwyn Thomas

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Recipe ideas part I

My tagline states that this blog is also going to include recipe ideas so here is the first post of these.

As part of the whole get healthy challenge (If this were twitter I'd hashtag #getfit #gethealthy here), I will take the recipes I put up, try them and document my results :) Hope you like this idea?

The following links and attached comments are courtesy of the wonderful Ms. Helen Flynn-Becerra (who we miss here in Ireland!). Thanks a million for the ideas!

This list is stuff I make all the time and is guaranteed delicious while being healthy. I've made so many things from these blogs, I'm sure you'll love em too!
(The dressing is onraaaale)
(, srsly!)
(I make this about once a month and it's under 200 cals per medium bowlful if you go easy on the cheese & avocado. You'll feed yourself for a week with one batch)
(I like to add extra veggies to this. As long as your beef is pretty lean it's very healthy)
(Absolutely amazing! One of my top 3 fave things to eat ever in the world ever!)
(Not as good as fried falafels but nice for a change from meat. The yogurt sauce wasn't my thing though, I used Ballymaloe relish haha!)
(I make this a lot to bring to barbeques/parties. I use quinoa instead of the barely)

I hope you like them as much as I do!!!

Thanks a million Helen - I'll post pictures of my efforts as soon as I get to them but they look delicious!

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”
Orson Welles

Monday, 9 September 2013

The offending picture...

In an earlier post (here), I explained that what really spurred me on to do something to get healthier and fitter was a photo.

A seemingly innocuous photo showing myself and four friends partaking in an event.

I didn't know the photo was being taken and while I am smirking delightedly (no idea why! Funny joke? Hilarious answer to one of the questions asked in the event? Who knows!) by God I wasn't too delighted to see the photo.

More bumps.
Bumps on bulges.

Was too afraid to put it up earlier but here goes...

I've even blurred out the others' faces, I'm embarrassed for them to be in the photo!

Be gentle.

"A picture is worth a thousand words"
Napoleon Boneparte

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Macra's Feirme Bodies - Part II

I suppose it would be a good idea to explain a bit more about the initiative wouldn't it? :)

For anyone unfamiliar with the whole 'Operation Transformation' idea, I suppose I'll start there.
Operation Transformation is a television programme on RTÉ here in Ireland which follows five 'leaders' on their journey to get fitter, healthier and losing weight. While doing the programme, they are supported by a panel of people who are experts in exercise, nutrition, etc.
Each leader is different. They are doing it for different reasons and what is great about it is that each leader has a tailored diet and fitness plan depending on their needs and lifestyle. 
Viewers of the programme are encouraged to follow a leader, choosing whomever is most like yourself in terms of needs etc, and nationwide events are organised to get encourage the Irish people to get fitter and healthier.
It is always fascinating to see how the people do transform from start to finish but also the trials and tribulations which accompany such a venture. In fairness to the programme makers, there is no glossing over when people are upset, unmotivated or not working as hard as they could be and while it can be harsh to see the experts being quite blunt about someone on the programme, ultimately, it is for their own good.

Thus an idea was born! 

The wonderful Caroline (wife of current Macra president Kieran and active Sligo Macra member and PRO) had the brainwave of using the format within the Macra organisation and put it to the National representatives.
The idea was that the President and his three Vice-Presidents (James, Seán and Paddy) would all undertake an eight week 'Operation Transformation' style challenge and that they would choose two people from their provinces to help as leaders.
Each group then would individually be monitored but would also do their best to encourage their local members and areas to join them by eating better, organising fun physical activity events and just generally promoting healthier lifestyles.

I put my name forward - as I said in my last post, it seemed like fate that this initiative was happening now - and was delighted to be chosen to work with James as well as another lady, Úna. And so it began... but how would we get on? Would I have the motivation and patience to stick with it?


"The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are and look
realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and the direction you have chosen"
Ralph Marsten

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Macra's Feirme Bodies part I

I am a very much actively involved member of my local macra (more info here) club and region. It is all about getting young people (at 27 am I really that young???) in communities to come together to socialise, learn new skills, take part in competitions (sports, public speaking, performing, etc.) and the national Macra organisation promotes an active, fulfilling lifestyle for all members.

A few weeks after I started this blog, I saw that one of our local lads who is the Munster Vice President of the organisation was going to take part in an initiative to encourage healthier lifestyles throughout the organisation. The plan was to have an 'operation transformation' type scenario where the national President and his three VPs (including our lad James) would take on a two month lifestyle change to get fitter and healthier and they would be looking for people to volunteer as leaders to encourage it more locally also.

It was the perfect opportunity to get my whole get fitter and happier idea really going and I do believe that it all happened around now for a reason; call it fate or whatever you want but it just seems like too much of a coincidence!!

I volunteered myself anyway and was delighted to be chosen to represent Munster along with James Healy the Munster Vice President and Úna Ryan from South Tipperary.
The Macra's Feirme Bodies Leaders (Myself, Úna on left and James in black jersey on right)


"To keep the body in good health is a duty...
Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear"

Monday, 19 August 2013

Been a busy little bee in the last week so I have!

Had some great news  and some definitely not great news news.

On the positive front, I have secured a teaching job for the year which is wonderful! Finally don't have to worry about work and interviews and all that stressful stuff.

On the negative front, had a visit to the doctor during the week. It was for something something unrelated to my weight etc. but the conversation ended up about it. Basically, in BMI terms, I'm in a very bad place... Ended up feeling quite teary about the situation and after a lengthy discussion about my food and exercise habits left with a load of information about low-GI foods. Apparently, foods with a low Glycemic Index (link to more information about this here) will help as the majority of the weight I need to lose is around the middle and these foods will help to combat that , along with exercise 5 days a week as recommended by my GP.

I left the doctor's feeling a little better about the whole situation but it isn't a pleasant feeling to have someone else lay out the issue (and potential related issues) so starkly. It did need to be done though.

Cue a lot of research about low-GI foods/recipes, high protein foods and exercise options locally.

I'm determined to do this!!!

"Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish,
but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything"
Napoleon Hill 

And the target weight is....

11 stone 7 pounds!!!

I'm still not brave enough to put down my current weight but I'm happy to put this figure down.
At a later date I will explain my reasoning but at the moment I'm glad to put this number here in print in order to have a visual target to aim for.

Maybe it may seem a large weight to be aiming for still, but for my height and build this is a good number to aim for.

So here goes!


"It's never too late to be what you might have been."
 George Eliot

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

It all started with a picture...

Most stories about people deciding to get fit and healthy start with a realisation/'Eureka' moment...
Mine was thanks, predictably enough, to a dodgy picture.

I've never felt huge - well massively huge. I knew there was extra weight on me and many a time I despaired when trying on a beautiful outfit and no way was it getting up past my hips or down across my boobs but I was always (in denial??) happy enough to go on as I was.

I always found some clothes to fit me, I've an amazing boyfriend who has never made me feel anything but gorgeous (and as I am attached I haven't had to worry about the whole hassle of looking a certain way to attract another half) and, like most females, had perfected the best angles suited me for photos (hello drunk duckface!)!!

It was a photo I wasn't aware of being taken (and thus could not contort hand on hip to look decent) that was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back...

Bumps and bulges in places I hadn't realised I had them, on show for everyone to see, like something was trying to crawl out from my top. My pretty outfit overshadowed by what lies beneath...
I'm too morto to put the offending pic up here at the moment but will eventually I hope... The camera never lies eh?

"Embarrassment is a villian to be crushed"
Robert B. Cialdini

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Some background...

I've always been a 'strong' girl, I was never overweight in primary school but I went into sixth class and *boom* puberty hit and all of a sudden I had boobies and growing curves elsewhere - at 11/12 years old! I was the first in the class for this to noticeably happen to and didn't see this as an exciting change which was part of growing up, I saw it as something which made me stand out from the others yet again (I was already the tallest in the class at that stage). I was wearing a size 10/12 as a young teen when other girls my age hadn't even started to bloom and it just crept up from there...

I can't pinpoint one reason exactly why the weight crept up and up slowly but surely as opposed to maintaining at one figure or ever going down (naturally) but all of the female members of my father's family are very curvy naturally and while I did stay relatively active in my teenage years, I wasn't the most diligent in watching what I ate either. I enjoyed (and still do!) my food and I never felt I had to think too much about what kinds of foods I was taking in. I'm not making excuses. just trying to figure out myself why I have ended up here.

It was college when the weight really shot up. Looking back now at pictures from that time, I can see how round my face got and how much weight I was beginning to carry around the middle - hello Muffin Top!
Snacking in the evenings and while watching tv at night and enjoying rich foods is a habit I got into at this time and has continued since.

Even now, the majority of my weight is around my middle, the classic 'apple' body shape. When I do manage to lose weight, it goes from my face and boobs first and then elsewhere, so I know I really have a battle on my hands in order to shift the mass around my middle section.

I am now at the heaviest I have ever been, or very close to it anyway, and this makes me feel terribly disheartened but at the same time I suppose where else is there to go but upwards from here!!?!! I try to stay positive in life in general and am intending to do so with this journey so while there may be some 'sad' posts, I hope this blog will be an inspiring (for myself if no-one else) and sometimes witty account of whatever happens.

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. 
We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake.”
Francis Bacon, Sr.

Friday, 26 July 2013


What better a place to begin than the start!

Welcome to my new blog and thanks for taking time out of your no-doubt hectic life to join me on my journey.

This blog is intended to be a multitude of things:
First and foremost, a written record of my weight-loss journey; a factual account of what happens. 
Secondly, a compelling reason for me to keep up with my hopes and wishes for this journey - what better a reason to keep up the (hopefully!) good work than by documenting it and seeing the progress (while also       being afraid to stop and leave gaps in posting and having to explain why!)
Thirdly, I am the kind of person who has easily put off big plans for weight loss in the past (for reasons I'm sure I will analyse another time) or has abandoned plans-in-progress so I am hoping that by having to 
make myself accountable for my actions in a public forum, it will encourage me to carry on. 
Lastly, I have a keen interest in writing and while I did have a blog previously, I felt it lacked direction and     am looking forward to writing a blog with a purpose.

It is going to be a long journey, I am not kidding myself about that at all, but I really am determined to see it through this time.

I will explain in following posts what inspired me to go down the weight loss route but I felt it was important - for myself and for the blog - to set out from the offset the reasons for this blog's being.

I'm not doing this for attention and I most certainly do not hope to attract any negative comments or anything like that - I couldn't think of anything more demoralising at the moment to be be frank - so I hope if anyone does read this blog, that you enjoy the posts and are as inspired as I am by my (fingers crossed) progress.

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic;
it takes sweat, determination and hard work"
Colin Powell