How I do it: Bressie
When Bressie isn’t lending his experience on RTE’s The Voice, making his own music or busy with his activism around the important issue of mental health, he’s taking care of himself. For this 6’6” celebrity, keeping fit has never been about looking good; it’s a crucial part of his routine, year round. Currently, he tells Caroline Foran, he’s training for his first ever Iron Man, which means both his mind and body are being pushed beyond their comfort zone.
The exercise programme: “Right now I’m training two or three times a day, seven days a week. I’m on a strict programme that combines swimming, cycling, running, gym work – it’s incredibly intense but it’s a commitment I have to make; it’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing. To me, it’s the holy grail of endurance sport.”
Even when Bressie is not setting himself big challenges, he still works out hard. “I use exercise as a form of therapy, it keeps me calm, it helps me. But there’s a fine line between exercise that’s good for you and exercise that becomes an obsession, and therefore counter-productive to your mental health.”
For the most part, he’s learned the importance of pace: “If you’re constantly huffing and puffing you won’t do it. If you train too hard your body will break down, so it’s hugely important that you understand your physiology and build yourself up. If you can’t hold a conversation while running, you’re running too hard. Walk and build it up slowly, otherwise you won’t want to do it again.
“With the Iron Man, for example, I can never train to the same intensity that I’ll be exercising when I’m actually doing it.” So why put himself through so much? Bressie, who has spoken openly about his struggles with anxiety and depression, explains: “I’ve spent so much of my life having my mind testing me, now I want to test my mind, see how far I can push it, how far I can go. I think my mind used to be something that used to constantly rebel against me, and now it’s my biggest ally. It’s not even a physical thing, this challenge, it’s completely about the mind.”
For Bressie, making exercise part of your lifestyle is all about making healthy habits. “Of course I don’t want to go for a big long cycle on a Saturday morning. I’d rather stay in bed, but my brain is in the habit of doing it; it accepts it because I’ve done it so many times. Give yourself 21 days of constant habit, set a goal, and you’ll get there.”
The food programme: “I have to eat a lot of sugar for my current training because I’m burning 4,000 calories a day. If I don’t get them back in, I’ll fade away, but outside of these challenges I try to eat clean. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still pig out on a Domino’s every now and then, but I watch my sugar intake. If you avoid processed foods, sugar, and watch your portion size, you should really be able to eat what you want. Sugar is the biggest drug of this decade; it’s horrific what it’s doing to our bodies.”