'You have lived a certain part of your life so when the baby arrives you are really ready' - Pamela Flood expecting third child
Former Miss Ireland and television presenter Pamela Flood reveals how overhauling her diet and exercise regime sparked not only a new business venture, but a new addition to her family too...
For Pamela Flood, age is simply a number. Now aged 43, the former Miss Ireland, broadcaster, model and mum is fitter and healthier than she has ever been before and is looking forward to the birth of her third child.
"I will be 44 this month and even though I know I am going to be that age, I don't feel it," Pamela laughs.
"I might look it, but mentally I certainly don't feel it.
"You notice differences in your body where you have a few more little aches and I was always prone to backache and I still get the odd twinge, but now it is a twinge from working out rather than lazing around doing nothing, which I did for a long time."
In February 2014, Pamela began training at BodyByrne Fitness in Dublin and has subsequently transformed her body and her eating habits.
"There are huge benefits in keeping strong and healthy, and becoming a mum at an older age has shown me how important it is," Pamela says. "I don't just want to be around for my kids, I want to be really in it with them."
Pamela believes that her healthier lifestyle contributed to her ability to conceive naturally for the third time at 43.
"We had the briefest of chats back in February, we were just talking about the kids and how they're so great and we are so happy and Ronan looked at me and he said 'I'd love another one' and I said 'so would I'," Pamela beams.
"Five weeks later, we were pregnant and it was by far the quickest of the three. I reckon it was a few things because firstly the pressure was off because we said 'well it would be great if it happens, but if it doesn't it doesn't' and then I think a big part of it I believe is lifestyle.
"It is long proven that exercise can regulate your hormones and keeps everything in check, so I do think that the exercise and the diet helped things a lot," Pamela adds.
"But I can't say for sure. It was so quick this time though; with Elsie we were a few months trying, but with Harrison it was about six months and I am so much older now. I was 38 when we conceived Harrison and I was 43 conceiving this one, so I can't help but think that the exercise and the diet played a big role."
Pamela goes to two personal training sessions a week, which are a mixture of weights, resistance training and cardio.
"I am pretty rigid about it and I absolutely hate to miss a session," Pamela explains.
"My whole outlook has really changed because their ethos is not just about how you get your body right, it's not just about how you look, but it's also about how you feel from the inside.
"So I have learned a lot about nutrition, it's been a real education," Pamela says.
"My sugar consumption has dramatically decreased since I started going there."
And with limited time, Pamela has a babysitter, who comes in twice a week specifically to let her go to her training sessions.
"I do very little during the week outside of those two sessions, I'm afraid," she says. "I love to go out for a run or a swim if I can, but it is quite hard as I have two little people here - a four-year-old and a one-year-old.
"My other half is working seven days a week in our new business, so there isn't a whole amount of free time away from the house."
Earlier this year, Pamela and her husband Ronan Ryan, set up Counter Culture, a clean-eating cafe in Dublin's Powerscourt Townhouse Centre.
"We've both learned so much about diet and nutrition from our trainers Paul Byrne and Amanda Kelly that it seemed a shame not to use all this new-found knowledge for a bigger project," Pamela explains.
"It really sprang from this mutual education and love for eating healthy and clean food, even though it was a business idea that Ronan had a few years ago; it sort of escalated with me getting on board, going to the gym and eating healthily at home.
"Our thinking altered, I guess, and it has just progressed naturally to opening the new business, which is just all clean food, guilt-free eating.
"There are a few good places around the city that serve great healthy food such as the Kemp sisters'
Alchemy on Grafton street, and a couple of others that are well-established, but we felt that there was far from enough out there still," Pamela adds.
"I think we are on the cusp of a change and people are becoming much better educated about their nutrition and they are buying better food. So I think the timing is really good."
Pamela found the change in eating habits difficult at first, particularly as she had spent a number of years eating lots of sugar.
"The odd bit of sugar, here and there, isn't too bad, but there is a huge difference in my habits in comparison to before when I would have had a lot of sugar every day," Pamela explains.
"I haven't smoked for years and I don't drink because I can't do small children and hangovers, so I used to think 'well sugar is my only vice' - but it's a hell of a vice if you are going through three or four bars of chocolate in a day.
"I'm a great woman for justifying doing the wrong thing and I had these great excuses over the last few years a) being pregnant and being tired and b) having small people and being tired and reaching for the bars of chocolate several times a day thinking 'I need it I am tired, I need a boost'," Pamela laughs.
"Knowing in my mind that I am going to get a sugar rush and then I'll get that drop and feel even worse, but when you're tired you just don't care, it's give me that chocolate or I will bite your hand off."
Pamela gradually changed her outlook on nutrition over a number of months.
"It wasn't instant - it took a while to educate me gently as the months went on and before I knew it, I was having porridge for my breakfast in the mornings," Pamela tells me.
"I have always been a breakfast person and I always would have been a cereal person, but she converted me to porridge with almond milk or coconut milk.
"That in itself was a small change, but it was huge because it is a whole meal and suddenly it has gone from something with a lot of hidden sugar to something extremely healthy."
Pamela also began to snack less on unhealthier foods between meals and to consider portion size more carefully.
"I love spaghetti. I think it has been my favourite meal since I was about six and that has never changed," she explains.
"So I was used to absolutely stuffing myself to the gills with white pasta. Now, I still enjoy my spaghetti, but I don't need to put myself into a food coma when I have it. Just little things like that have been so helpful.
"You start making these little changes and you just feel so much better for it. Energy-wise too it is such an amazing difference."
Two months after Pamela began to change her eating habits and train, she noticed results.
"I actually started to see and feel the results," Pamela says.
"I could feel myself getting stronger. I could feel the muscles, my shape didn't change dramatically, but definitely there were inches and half-inches that I was glad came off certain parts and now I just feel better in myself, my energy levels are better, I sleep better; it's been positive all round."
Being an active mother is Pamela's top fitness priority.
"It's probably more important to me now to be in the gym than it would have been years ago.
"Ten or 20 years ago, it would have been just pure vanity, but now it's more so realising that I am getting older and my body is getting older and wanting to deal with that head on," Pamela tells me.
"I didn't go to the gym saying 'I am going for my bikini body,' because I totally agree with that school of thought which says 'if you want a bikini body put a bikini on your body.'
"I wasn't going to drop a dress size or anything like that, I was going because I wanted to be fit, I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be healthy.
"It is so important, especially when you have two small children because it is very physical. There is a lot of lifting still.
"I want to be an active mam," Pamela adds. "I want to be the one chasing them around the park not sitting there watching them running around."
Pamela is now 18 weeks pregnant, feeling good and plans to continue her training throughout her pregnancy.
"I did have a little while of that crushing tiredness during weeks six to 10, but I had that on my previous two pregnancies as well and I think that is just par for the course, but that passed at week 10 and so far I feel great," Pamela says.
"My energy levels are good and I definitely feel better this time around and just stronger all round.
"When I told my trainer - who I knew had trained quite a few pregnant women right up until month eight or nine before - that I was pregnant she said 'just so everyone is happy check with your doctor that he is happy for you to continue training,'" Pamela explains.
"My doctor was absolutely delighted, he said there is nothing he likes to see more than a strong, fit woman walking through the door because it bodes very well for pregnancy and delivery."
But while Pamela is overjoyed to become a mum again in her 40s, she is also acutely aware that she is particularly lucky.
"I wouldn't say to anybody who is planning a family to wait until you are in your 40s because obviously you are rolling a dice with certain issues, but that is just how things worked out for me and for us," Pamela says.
"I didn't meet Ronan until I was almost 37; that's just how life turned out and I appreciate that we have been very lucky.
"The lovely thing about being an older mum is that there is a great appreciation for it.
"You have lived a certain part of your life - the whole nightclub and party thing is over - so when the baby arrives and you are nearly 40, you are really ready."
Check out Counter Culture cafe, at counterculturedublin.com.
Sweet potato brownie
You will need:
600g of sweet potato
80g of ground almonds
100g buckwheat flour
14 medjool dates
4 tbs of raw cacao
3 tbs of pure maple syrup
A pinch of salt
Start by preheating the oven to 180°C. Cut the potatoes into chunks and steam or boil until soft. Pop into a food processor with the pitted dates and blend until it's a creamy consistency.
Mix all the other ingredients together and then add the sweet potato and date mix. Blend well.
Place in a lined baking dish and cook for about 20 minutes. Use the clean knife test to make sure they're done (when it comes out clean after piercing - they're ready!) Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes (this is important as it helps them stick together.) Then remove from tray allowing to cool for a few more minutes, chop into squares and you're done!
Trainer Amanda Kelly's top tips for pregnancy fitness
Always get medical clearance before exercising once you know you’re pregnant. If you’ve never done an exercise class, weight training or ran before, now is not the time to take it up.
It is safe to do weight and resistance training throughout your pregnancy, I have trained some of my clients right up until a few days before they have given birth. When weight training you might find that you have to lift a little lighter than previously and take more rest between sets and exercises. I tend to work in rep ranges of 12-15 for 3-4 sets for my pregnant clients.
Just like with weight training now is not the time to start running or cycling if you’ve never done it before.
Remember your reasons for training before pregnancy and during are different. The number one point is to listen to your body, if something doesn’t feel right stop immediately and consult your doctor.
Pamela’s day on a plate
Breakfast: Porridge with almond milk, a handful of raisins, cinnamon, chopped nuts and flax seed.
Mid-morning snack: Wholemeal toast with real butter.
Lunch: Home-made soup or a sandwich with homemade bread or a salad.
Afternoon snack: Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts mixture.)
Dinner: Chicken, green vegetables, red peppers, brown rice.
Health & Living