From swimming 6k before breakfast, swapping sweet treats for snacking on frozen grapes and Saturday morning sprints, we asked three women – whose job it is to be in peak physical condition – just what their secrets are to staying fit and looking great.
'Chips, chocolate and booze are out'
Aileen Morrison (31) is a professional triathlete, and she represented Ireland at the London 2012 Olympics. She says:
'My dad had us doing all sorts of sporty, outdoorsy stuff when I was little, so exercise has always been a way of life. It's something I see myself continuing in the future and passing on to my own kids.
"Since joining with a new coach last year, I'm doing things a little bit differently. My old coach allowed me one day off a week but my new coach has recovery days instead, so I'll have an easy swim or run, but still train everyday.
"Each day is different and in a week I'll usually have six swims, four or five bike sessions, six runs and three gym visits with physio and massage as well.
"Because I'm training for up to six hours a day, I have to make sure I get enough grub, but it's important to make sure that grub has the correct nutritional content.
"Chips, chocolate and alcohol are pretty much out, but most of the time I don't want them anyway. I like eating healthy food and, if I've had a hard session, I'll have an Optimum Nutrition bar or I have emergency chocolate peanut butter bars hidden in my car.
"Sometimes I find myself craving a big pain au raisin from M&S, but if I'm training hard, I do allow myself a treat."
Aileen’s Daily Plan
5am: Snack of a pancake or piece of toast with a glass of milk (something that goes down easy and won’t come back up during swimming!).
5.30am: Swimming (6km).
7.45am: Breakfast of porridge with banana, nuts and seeds (porridge is excellent for slow release energy, nuts and seeds add texture and provide good fats/oils).
10.30am: Snack of wheaten toast with peanut butter and jam and coffee — it’s my wake-me-up hit.
11am: Bike session of 90 minutes with some low-intensity intervals.
1pm: Lunch of soup and a wrap with salad and turkey. I also drink water throughout the day with some electrolyte in my bottles to help absorb it all.
2pm: Gym for body weight session with some rehab exercises for shoulders and feet.
3pm: Snack of fruit, cereal bars or maybe a protein bar for energy.
6pm: Dinner of steak with heaps of salad. If I’m eating lots of carbs during the day for energy, then I want to eat lots of nutritious, fibre filled stuff at dinner.
9pm: Snack of cereal or wheaten toast — I couldn’t go to bed without something or I wouldn't sleep.
'As a personal trainer, I'm a role model for my clients'
"As a personal trainer, I'm a role model for my clients"
Amanda Kelly (26) is a personal trainer at Body Byrne Fitness, Dublin. She has been involved in sport since the age of nine, when she competed in gymnastics nationally and internationally. She says:
'I was always interested in health and fitness, but at the age of 16 I got a knee injury and couldn't compete in gymnastics any more. I was eating the same amount of food but not doing the same volume of training and started to gain a little weight.
"That's when I joined my first gym and I've never looked back! I loved how the gym and resistance training could sculpt your body, and I decided to make a career of it, studying sports science and health in DCU, followed by a master's in strength and conditioning in Edinburgh.
"As a personal trainer, I'm a role model for my clients so it's vitally important for me to stay in shape.
"I never have fizzy drinks because of their high sugar content and if I want a treat I avoid processed foods and make something like protein brownies.
"I do some form of exercise six days a week: three days of resistance training, one day of gymnastics (I still like to keep some of the skills I had when I was competing!), interval training on a bike on Thursdays for cardio and a 7-10km run on Saturday with a total rest on Sunday.
"I always believe there's something I can improve on. For example, after Christmas I'm feeling a little softer around my abs because I allowed myself more carbs and sugar than I normally would.
"By reducing my carb and sugar intake and eating more protein and healthy fats and getting back into my normal routine, I'm getting my flat stomach back.
"The most important thing is to have a structure in place. I plan my food the day before and have my workouts in my diary – if you're not organised, the chances are it won't happen."
Amanda’s daily plan
6am: Water with Amino Energy (good for energy and building healthy muscle) followed by a 25-minute cycle into work
9.30am: Oats with unsweetened almond milk (good for energy and I use almond milk because I have an intolerance to cow’s milk; it also has less sugar and calories)
10am: Cup of green tea (I also drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated)
11am: Resistance training session for 45 minutes (Monday: chest, shoulders and triceps; Wednesday: legs and abs; and Friday: back and biceps. My top exercisers are overhead squats, hanging leg raises, pull-ups, push-ups and lateral shoulder raises)
12pm: Protein shake and a small piece of fruit (with a shake I know I'm getting enough protein, similar to having three egg whites)
3pm: Handful of mixed nuts and berries
4pm: A 25-minute cycle home
7pm: Dinner of grilled salmon, green beans and spinach and avocado salad (I generally have four or five small meals throughout the day, eating enough to promote muscle growth. It doesn't mean bulking up, just looking lean and having some definition)
Paleo is way forward for ex-Miss Ireland
Holly Carpenter (22) is a model who has appeared in Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model and was crowned Miss Ireland in 2011. She says:
‘In college, I didn't play sports or go to the gym much, it was only when I fell into modelling and found myself in the final of Miss Ireland that I started to learn more about food and fitness and began taking care of myself.
“Initially, I was just training to look good but when I started to feel fit and healthy too, I got a real love for my new healthier lifestyle.
“Now I train five days a week with my trainer, Sophie Kavanagh. We do 30-40 minutes’ intense training followed by a run in Merrion Park after.
“I used to think you had to spend hours in the gym to achieve changes in your body but now I've learned that short, intense sessions can be more beneficial and keep you metabolic for longer.
“There's also a saying that ‘abs are made in the kitchen not the gym' and unfortunately it's true! You can exercise all you like but if you're eating crap food all day then it's not going to show.
“In 2012, Sophie got me into the paleo diet and after just a month I felt less bloated, had more energy, lost weight and gained muscle.
“On paleo, you don't eat wheat, dairy, white carbs, processed foods or sugary foods but I'm not an extremist — I still have normal milk in my tea and coffee and a cheat meal every Sunday.”
Holly’s daily plan
8.30am: Breakfast of scrambled egg, turkey rashers, avocado and broccoli. (Avocado is a great source of good fats and gives me energy in the morning which is important because I don’t eat carbohydrates. I also take fish oils and vitamin D with every meal and drink a sachet of iron supplement for energy).
10am: I have an electrolyte drink, like Nuun before the gym. If I’m dehydrated I get the worst headaches.
11am: Training (one day this might be interval sprints on the rower and lunges, then boxing the next day — it’s important to train different parts of your body each day and mix it up to keep motivated).
11.40am: A vegan protein shake
12.30pm: Lunch of chicken breast and green vegetables.
3pm: Small snack of a handful of almonds and blueberries.
6pm: Dinner of fillet of salmon with green vegetables and boiled egg (if I'm craving carbs I'll add some sweet potato wedges).
Evening: I try not to eat after dinner but if I'm hungry I'll snack on crunchy kale, frozen grapes or sliced apple dipped in almond butter.