40 slimming secrets from Ireland's biggest stars
Published 21/11/2016 | 02:30
'Banish bread', says newly svelte Francis Brennan. 'Move away from the table', is Daniel O'Donnell's sage advance, while Roz Purcell says meal preparation is the top tip. Catherine Fulvio's advice is to downsize to fit the dress size, while Keith Barry has found visualising a fit version of himself does the trick, and stir fries are Brent Pope's secret weapon.
My top tip for staying in shape is to start walking. There are numerous benefits to it: it is free, will help you burn calories, traffic will never delay you and being outside in the fresh air is great for your skin (once you use some sunscreen... especially in the summer).
Walking outside also helps you top up your levels of vitamin D.
Fashion designer and creative director Theia
I think genetics is the only thing keeping me in one piece. I went to the gym every morning for years and then in 2012, when Mom got sick, my schedule went out the window and I never got my groove back.
My work life has gotten so demanding and so stressful with collection on top of collection that I feel chained to my desk. I walk to the subway in the morning, which is all of a two-minute walk, arrive at work, which is three minutes from the subway, then sit at my desk for 10 hours.
All I manage to do is start the day with a pint of very warm water with the freshly squeezed juice of a whole lemon.
I eat a healthy breakfast loaded with berries and a salad from Pret a Manger for lunch.
Dinner is always a home-cooked healthy meal lovingly prepared by my husband, Pascal. No snacking, drink lots of water, and get to bed by 10pm every night.
I also drink very, very little alcohol - barely any.
I love a good HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session; they're quick, easy and really effective. The Body Coach has lots of great HIIT workouts on YouTube, which are perfect if you have just 20 minutes to spare in front of your computer. You can do them anywhere and they're an amazing workout no matter what your fitness level is.
Publisher and broadcaster
I'm just out of hospital after six weeks - I was in for my appendix - so I'm just beginning to start back on my exercise regime. It is always 30 minutes on the treadmill in the morning. I was running but I think when you get to a certain age your knees decide that you can't so I find the treadmill much better - I do fast walking rather than running. I was an ambassador for the Heart Foundation last year and there is a huge issue around heart disease. I think I sort of realised that as you get older you have to do cardiac for at least 20 minutes every day. A lot of people my age tend to do Pilates or yoga, which is fine, it's great for keeping you supple, but it actually doesn't help your cardiac at all. I think as women get older they tend to not eat so many carbs and they rely a little bit more on protein, which is not good for your cholesterol. So religiously every day I have an app on my phone and I make sure I do my 30 minutes to the point where your heart is racing. Usually four kilometres if I can. And then Saturday and Sunday I go out in the fresh air walking. I find walking fantastic for your mental health as well as your physical health.
Author and weight-loss coach
My top slimming tip is to keep your refined sugar intake to a minimum because excess sugar consumed is converted to fat and stored in the body. The World Health Organisation guideline is a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar per day. The average Irish person is consuming 24 teaspoons of sugar per day, so that's one of the main reasons we're in the midst of an obesity crisis. Ireland is the fourth highest consumer of sugar in the world and by 2018 it's predicted that 90pc of Irish adults will be overweight, which is an alarming prospect. So I believe living a low-sugar life is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.
I think we could all make good, informed choices if more people knew how to read food labels to work out how many teaspoons of sugar they contain. This is something I've been teaching people and many are shocked when they realise how much sugar is pumped into everything, for example a one-litre bottle of tonic water could contain 22 teaspoons of sugar, and some light yogurts contain three teaspoons of sugar; lots of products like this are marketed towards people trying to lose weight, the manufacturers remove the fat content, which takes away the flavour so they replace it with sugar and can then sell the product as low-calorie and low-fat.
Broadcaster and founder of Pure Results Bootcamp
Commit to a class or meeting somebody for a workout twice a week as then you are held accountable. Preferably on a Monday so you start the way you mean to continue for the next five days. Also, do not put off getting in shape until January. Make November your month so you can enjoy Christmas and be ahead of the game by January.
I workout so that I have energy and so that I can have pizza and chocolate... and beer. My top tip for staying in shape has to be mixing up workouts. I mix strength and conditioning training with short, high-intensity workouts. My trainer Deborah O'Sullivan from Energy Fitness in Ballsbridge is pretty much a lifesaver when it comes to workouts. I think a brilliant trainer is one who can make you cry and make you laugh in the same session - she's brilliant!
Designer and broadcaster
For me it's a combination of easy exercise and being aware of what I eat. Feeling good mentally is a huge part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle so choose an exercise that you enjoy. I do Pilates with Eva Berg Secret Pilates - her class just makes me feel better. I use it to de-stress as much as to stay toned and agile. Fresh air is very important. I love getting outdoors so I would walk or stroll with the dogs most days.
Food is one of my loves so as much as I want to stay slim I am not interested in denying my taste buds (life's too short!) so I keep my portion sizes smaller. That way I can eat anything I want. As a nation our portion sizes are just getting bigger. I don't always practise what I preach but putting less food on my plate, including something healthy for each meal (try to eat this first) and avoiding deep-fried foods definitely works.
I'm a massive fan of yoga and try to go to classes at least twice a week. Not only is it good for the body in terms of stretching and toning but it's so relaxing and a great way to de-stress during a busy schedule. I love to do some light workouts at home and use weights on the arms and tummy area to stay toned. Cycling during the summer is my favourite way to keep fit.
I'm so out of shape but I do believe in doing a bit of exercise wherever you can throughout the day. So if you're stuck at home and it's a rainy day, stick some tunes on and dance like no one's watching - because no one is watching.
My first way to be skinny was always smoking! Don't laugh. Then I gave up when I got pregnant and went out of shape. I am not into the gym - too lazy. I never eat breakfast. My first meal is at noon or later. Just coffee in the morning, maybe a banana. That's how I stay in some sort of shape.
Downsize for your dress size! A smaller plate and smaller glass means it's possible to enjoy everything in moderation, so you never feel deprived.
I know that if I have the discipline, then no bread, potatoes, sugar in any form, or alcohol for just one week and I feel younger, stronger and more mentally alert. Any time I manage to do it, I experience around three pounds of weight loss.
CELIA HOLMAN LEE
Model agent, presenter and producer
What works for me are country walks in fresh air. I feel rejuvenated after the walk, it clears my head and clears my mind. I also do some light upper-body weights for the old arms. But I'm a huge believer of no slouching no matter what age you are. I'm always aware of my posture, when I'm walking and when I'm sitting. I think that's been my secret to really keeping my shape. Tips for that are keeping your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders back and down. Always be aware of your posture.
What also contributes to my well being is good food. I try to eat as healthily as I possibly can and I think all the information and access to healthy eating is very welcoming. But of course I like my glass of red wine and my dark chocolate.
Ballerina and founder of Ballet Ireland
Life is so hectic these days and yet paradoxically, more and more sedentary. Exercise, fresh air, sleep and better eating will help to get the system moving, making us feel and look a whole lot better and more energised.
Get dancing - whether it's in your kitchen or a dance class, get those endorphins going. There is a dance class for everyone, whether it's ballet or ballroom, swing or street dance, dancing is now acknowledged in many studies as one the very best forms of exercise we can take, for an all-round workout of the body and the mind. Exercise combined with fresh air cannot be beaten. Walking is something that anyone of any age can do. Just open the front door and off you go.
Turmeric and ginger are great ingredients to add to your diet for flavour and to add pep to your step. Get the digestive system going with plenty of fibre - lay off the red meat in favour of fish with lots of vegetables or some vegetarian curries.
And knock the alcohol on the head for a while. Nothing is more useless than all of those extra red and white calories!
Clothes that make you feel glamorous and attractive, not tight and uncomfortable, are a must to lift the spirits. When you look good, you feel good.
Eat breakfast with protein in it. Eggs are perfect as they keep you full until lunch and kickstart your metabolism. If I don't eat breakfast I stuff my face at night, so it really is the most important meal of the day.
Founder of Itsa and Feast Catering and author of many books, including 'The Keto Kitchen'
Cutting back on carbohydrates - even the good, unprocessed ones - is one of the most effective ways to keep weight off in the longer term. This means that eating a bit more fat - like the healthy, natural fats found in avocados, eggs, olive oil, nuts and even some butter, in moderate amounts - is permissible.
Sleep is absolutely vital. Don't underestimate the way we all make bad food choices when we're over-tired or, dare I say it, hungover. The day after the night before, when you're dying to binge on processed carbs, try to stick to eggs as these will give you protein and some fat and should stop those hangover munchies.
Another tip is to add some raw apple cider vinegar to your water and drink it during the day: a few tablespoons to about 2 litres of water. This can be an acquired taste but it helps curb appetite and regulates blood sugar levels. Adding cinnamon if you have a sweet tooth is another trick that can to help keep sugar levels steady.
And getting out for exercise, even when it's misery guts weather, will stop you feeling blue and mean you're less likely to fall off a healthy-eating wagon.
Life is for living and for enjoying. We put so much pressure on ourselves and we underestimate the place of joy in our lives. I try to remember that - to live in the moment, and that the moment should be around joy; a lifestyle of health and good living, mentally and physically. I try to drink three litres of water every day and I will know the difference if I haven't. I add raspberry or cucumber to give a bit of flavour.
Sleep is a big thing too. I'm not a good sleeper, I never have been, but if I get into a rhythm of good sleep, I feel I can take on the world.
Exercise, for me, is as much about being in the fresh air as anything. It's the most uplifting thing to be outside, to see the skies and the autumn colours.
I'm not a 'bah-humbug' person. I eat very carefully during the week, healthy food and not too much. I try to stay away from bread. But at the weekends, I will have rashers, sausages, scrambled eggs with a bit of cream, toast and marmalade.
Author, broadcaster and chef
I love running on the beach early in the morning (it has to be first thing otherwise I lose momentum and the will to exercise).
I do a bit of swimming in the sea in the summer and autumn, after my run, and in a pool in the winter - and some Pilates too, preferably on the beach as the sun is rising. During the run I will do push-ups, squats and lunges, and pick seaweed to add into my green juice when I get home.
Food wise, I eat a good, balanced diet with lots of home-grown herbs and vegetables, happy, free-range meat and local seafood.
I believe that "a little of what you fancy does you good" so I never feel guilty about sitting down with friends and family to enjoy a delicious glass of wine or that perfect gin and tonic.
Balance is really important, so if I can fit into a day some exercise combined with fresh air, an honest day's work fuelled by great fresh food, and time with my family and friends then I'm a very happy girl.
Actress and model
Pilates is my go-to when it comes to staying in shape. I've been practising for years. I find it really helpful for relaxing your mind also. Although after I had Max it was quite difficult to lose my baby weight so I started running a couple of times a week as well as doing Pilates.
Hypnotist, currently kicking off a nationwide tour: Keith Barry Hypnomagick
We all know staying in shape is about reducing calorie intake through healthy dietary habits coupled with regular exercise. For many people reading this it seems easier to say or read than to do. But how many people reading this have attempted what most of the most successful athletes and business people do on a regular basis? Visualising the end result is key. Try this. Once a day find a quiet space to sit or lie down. Breathe deeply and concentrate on relaxing the physical body. Then imagine you're in a cinema. Visualise a strong, healthy and fit version of yourself on the screen. See it in bright vivid colour and add in sounds. Visualise for three or four minutes and add in pictures of yourself taking the necessary action to stay in shape. Continue on a daily basis. You'll be amazed that your subconscious mind will absorb these pictures and suggestions making it much easier to make the healthy life choices needed.
My secret weapon for staying in shape is my trainer Sue Fraser. I try to work out one-on-one with her when I can. If my schedule is crazy I'll try to go to one of her bootcamp classes. She's more than just a trainer; she's like a life coach. She helps me get my mind in the right place. We do TRX suspension training, weight training, HIIT, resistance bands, cardio. She knows exactly how I want my body to be - feminine and lean. I try to work out a minimum of two times a week, a maximum of four times a week. To stay consistent I think the classes need to be near your house and parking needs to be easy. If I'm really trying to slim down I'll try to cut down on booze - that's where I really see a difference, especially in my face. I'll also try not to eat out as much. Eating out is a killer. Recently I've been trying to drink a least one green juice a day and I try not to eat after 8pm. I also got food allergy testing and found out I was allergic to foods like chicken, olives, and almonds. They might be healthy foods but they just don't agree with me!
Train smarter, not harder. We all tend to give exercise our all, but sometimes over-exercising can negate the good we do. Muscles need time to recuperate and grow. This is how we get a lean, toned body. Over-exercise builds lactic acid, which in turn makes our bodies less alkaline, and stress in the body leads to excess cortisol levels which gather around the belly area giving you belly fat.
So there is a plus to taking a day off and chilling out!
Presenter and business owner
My top tip is more of a mindset thing. Sometimes you might be in the shape of your life and sometimes illness, injury or life itself can get in the way. And then it can be easy to lose heart. That's when having a great mentor like a Paul Byrne is invaluable. Staying in shape is a journey that never actually ends. But making healthy lifestyle choices is one of the greatest gifts you can give your mind as well as your body.
For me really it's walking. It's such an easy thing to do if you can be bothered. Everybody can do it. A brisk walk is good for your mind and good for your body.
Move away from the table.
Athlete and broadcaster
Unfortunately, due to so many rugby injuries, I am unable to work out as much as I would like so diet is vital to me as I am a big guy and I need to watch my weight. But I am a stir-fry king and I never get sick of them as long as I vary the ingredients from time to time. Make sure you use as many fresh vegetables as you can, including greens and colours. Use a small amount of coconut oil and if you like a bit of protein put in some thin cut chicken or turkey breast. I only stir fry the vegetables for about a minute so they're still just about raw. Served over healthy wholegrain rice. I can nearly feel my body pick up the goodness of the food immediately. It's also a great way to eat a big meal and not put on weight. It helps my digestive system, skin and general well being. I feel energised and ready to go.
Swimming is the secret to worthwhile exercise. There is no weight-bearing pressure on the joints. If you can't swim then engage in water aerobics - walking and running in water. The boredom of lengths of the pool can be obviated by music using in-water earphones. Forget running on hard surfaces, the pain of saddle soreness and the humiliation of watching young women in leotards running faster in the gym. Swim, swim, swim.
As far as I'm concerned white carbs are the enemy. White bread, pasta - I do my best to limit those things but I love them too much to cut them out entirely. Whenever I'm eating something carby, I always make sure to split it with green vegetables or a salad. I won't have a full plate of naughtiness to myself. So I suppose my tip is moderation.
Nutritionist and model
Avoiding refined sugar and alcohol as much as possible, watching portion sizes, and combining resistance exercise with cardio are my favourite ways to stay in shape.
Model and presenter
For me it's about understanding your own body instead of mindlessly following trendy cookbooks or fad diets. Making choices for your digestive system is what's most important, listening to how your body reacts to certain food groups or getting an intolerance test to get a clearer picture of your own gut health. On top of that I recently read one of Kimberly Snyder's books called The Beauty Detox Solution and I found it invaluable. I've made some lifestyle changes from the information and they've all been really beneficial so I'd recommend giving it a read.
Senior counsel and owner of Lissadell
When you reach a certain age (one I shall never reveal), keeping a reasonable figure and a healthy mind takes a lot of hard work. First: you can always make time in your day to walk, run, jump. I try to cook proper, healthy food once a day. And set aside time for me (and Them) (and Him, if necessary!). Diet is important. I try to impose a no pasta/spuds/bread regime on myself and my husband Eddie for three or four days of the week. Doing the same with wine is very hard; Eddie is much more disciplined than I. I love weekends and noisy big breakfasts. We try to stick to porridge (sometimes with cream and brown sugar!). Eddie stays fit by planting thousands of trees, daffodils and wild flowers in Lissadell, while I run from kitchen to garden to tea room in a constant 'state of chassis' and this keeps me limber. Looking great is up to you. It's hard work and takes discipline, but reaps dividends.
What works for me is preparation: planning weekly meals. That and training twice a week. Even if I don't love it in the moment, it feels so good afterwards. I make the time. That's usually people's excuse: "I've no time." Make it!
With my early starts on Ireland AM it's good to start healthy. I'll have brown bread with lots of seeds with banana or turkey. I always have small meals and I never drink fizzy drinks. I eat my main meal early in the day.
Hotelier, author and TV presenter
I've lost a stone and a half in the last five months by not eating potatoes and bread. I was in India and I got a dose of the Delhi-belly and I lost 12lb. So when I came back I thought that's it, I'm eating half of what I ate before, and no bread or potatoes. I did go three weeks with a headache - I'll never forget it. It's all to do with willpower, nothing else. I was a great potato man; I'd have eaten five potatoes a day. Now I wouldn't even have one potato. You just have to be disciplined.
Model and actress
I think the biggest thing I've found with staying in shape is discovering what foods work for you and which ones don't. Everybody has little intolerances that they may not be aware of. I try to be dairy-free and stay away from eggs as much as possible and then if I'm having a day when I'm just dying for a Sunday roast or if I want to eat a tonne of brie I'll just go for it because food is for enjoying too. But I do find the less processed the food I eat the better I feel, the better my skin is and the more energy I have. Exercise wise, I get bored pretty easily so I like to switch my workouts up. One day I'll go to a boxing class, then I might go to ballet barre class, then I'll do a Bikram yoga or weights. I constantly keep my body guessing so I'm getting a real workout every time.
Another little tip is adding Spirulina to your juices and smoothies. It's a green plant protein powder. I'll admit the taste is like pond water but mix it with berries and it disappears. It's great for gut health, protein intake, hair, skin and nails.
Food writer and model
My top tip is preparation. I always have my gym routine planned for each day and when it comes to food I do a bit of meal prep but always have in mind what my meals will be in advance. It helps me to keep on track and be consistent because there's a plan in place. That method suits my personality because I like to have structure. I also make sure I walk a certain amount each day (use the app Steps), I always take the stairs (even in airports), and when I'm out for lunch or dinner I always get water and green tea. If I slip up and cheat I don't feel bad, I just return to having a balance. I avoid doing anything extreme with my diet.
The best thing that ever happened was when my weighing scales broke and I decided not to replace them. No longer was my life ruled by watching pounds going up and down. I highly recommend it as a first step. Throw out your scales - it's so liberating!
I think energy comes from a combination of sleep, food and exercise. I'm not great at steaming vegetables on a daily basis so I bought a Nutri-bullet and I shove everything that is in my fridge into it, blend it and get spinach and kale into my system that way. I add a lot of fruit to make it palatable.
If I get eight hours of solid sleep it makes a big difference to my day. I've had lots of broken sleep this year and a bad night's sleep really does affect your mood, energy and well-being.
When it comes to exercise, you need to find something you enjoy. I used to join a new gym every January but I always hated them. Now, I go for walks and do Pilates, which I find great - especially as I sit hunched over a computer all day. I've tried meditation and mindfulness but they haven't worked for me. A walk in nature works best and is also surprisingly good for sorting out difficult plot issues for my books.
Model and columnist
The most common advice I hear for weight loss is "get more sleep, drink more water, stay away from sugar". That's all very well and good, but I think it's important to plan how you're going to do all of this. Each evening, I lay out my outfit for the next day, pack my gym gear and become familiar with my plan for tomorrow. This gives me extra time in bed in the morning and reduces the stress. I'll often have boiled eggs and spinach ready to go in the fridge so I can eat my breakfast in the car - I never ever go without breakfast. Forward planning with food is important too. Most Sundays, I cook up a load of turkey burgers and boil some sweet potato wedges. I keep them in individual freezer bags so when I come home from a long day I can throw them in the microwave with some frozen spinach and I have a meal in five minutes. I keep big jugs of water in the fridge with chopped cucumber and lemon in them; I aim to get through three litres of water a day so that little bit of flavour helps. I have issues with portion control so I often go for individually packed snacks. If I have a 500g bag of cashews in the house I won't stop at one handful. Once they're open - good luck!
If I fall off the wagon, I try not to beat myself up. Being nasty to yourself will only make you feel worse and lose your motivation. My trainer Sophie Kavanagh is great for that positive mental approach. If I go to the gym on a Monday feeling crap and saying I overdid it at the weekend, she just says "what's done is done, let's just kick ass today!" When you're trying to lose weight you have to be kind to yourself. You have to love the body you have now while you're working on getting the body you want.
I've fallen off the wagon so often I need knee pads. In the past I did the Couch-to-5k but just skipped the 5k and sat on the couch surrounded by pizzas. I was a girl who didn't give a damn and in some ways I'm still a bit like that but it's not a lot of pain to make some changes and they do make a difference. Transformation is not sustainable to a certain extent but you can make a big improvement and then try to sustain that. For me the key is to just eat old-fashioned. Eat dinner in the middle of the day like a muck savage. Then maybe ham and tomatoes and a little brown bread for supper. Fish on a Friday. Homemade bread. Food your mammy gave you basically. Turns out it was healthy after all.
In terms of exercise, most days I take a walk down the quays in Dublin from my home in Temple Bar down as far as the O2. That's 6km altogether and it's a lovely walk with some amazing sunsets over the water. Walking like that is good for the mind and the body.
You wouldn't want to get too obsessed weighing yourself but clothes are a barometer for me. You want to fit your nice things well. As long as I don't go above a size 12-14 I'm OK.
Chef and author
Allow yourself time to cook for yourself - it's the takeaways that have the hidden fats. When you eat good quality, tasty food you eat less.
Author and wellness coach
I think keeping your mind in shape is the most important job. Practising daily happiness habits like meditation, mindfulness and gratitude can help to rewire our brain and prime it to be happier. Keeping in shape is not all about the physical, in fact mental fitness is far more important. So exercise your mind every morning and set yourself up for the day. This naturally leads to better choices with food and fitness. One feeds the other like a domino effect. Strong in mind = strong in body.
Sunday Indo Living