When we announced we were offering places to a group of readers to participate in fitness trainer Karl Henry’s Slim Solution Bootcamp, we fully expected that there would be a stampede to take up the challenge.
We were right, as hundreds of you applied to take part in the programme, which aims to help participants lose 14lbs in weight and 14 inches of body fat in 30 days.
“It was very tough whittling the applications down,” says Karl, whose bootcamp is based on the principles contained in his forthcoming book, ‘The Slim Solution’.
“The really surprising thing was that a lot of the emails came in from people who had a relatively small amount of weight to lose — as in a stone or two — because I had expected we’d get a flood of entries from people who were far heavier.”
Karl was looking to find a variety of people with different goals, and says that the ones who jumped out at him were those whose determination to succeed shone through.
We think he chose very well. Our participants include Kevin Scanlon, from Arklow, and Martha Kennedy, from Navan, who have both lost weight in recent years but were struggling to shift the last couple of stone.
Martha’s husband, Simon, and Frank McDonnell, from Leixlip, took on the challenge because while they were able to eat what they liked when they played sport, they piled on the weight once their sporting days came to an end.
Geraldine Sinnott, from Enniscorthy, just wanted something to focus on, while for others, major life events were the catalyst for a lifestyle change.
New mother Aine Hayes, from Cashel, wanted to get in shape after having baby girl Amy Rose, while Cork’s Una Duffy has her forthcoming wedding in mind.
Siobhan Lennon, from Birr, is emigrating in January, a challenge that represents a new start for her. Also taking part are Aisling Carroll, from Gowran, Co Kilkenny, and Lisa Wright, from Dublin, both of whom want to improve their health.
Busy Joanne Sweeney Burke, from Galway, meanwhile, wants to embark on a new eating regime. The participants met up with Karl at the first bootcamp at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone, where he took their measurements (the scary bit) and gave them all the information and guidance they needed for the four-week programme.
“They were all fairly apprehensive,” he says, “as they thought I was going to starve them for a month. That’s not the case at all. The food plan is about taking the processed food out of your diet and getting back to eating real food. This will improve skin, energy, sleep and optimism levels.
My focus is on people getting healthy. Weight loss is almost a by-product of that. “The beauty of the programme is that it works for any level of fitness and can be adjusted to each person, so it’s not too extreme. We’ve had fantastic results already in the first week, which has made me confident that our participants will all achieve their goals.
“The advice I’d give to anyone starting a programme is to plan your meals and exercise regime, as failing to plan means planning to fail. Combine cardiovascular work with resistance work, and make sure you’re working hard enough to get the benefits. Finally, have a treat day every week when you have something you like, and enjoy it. Life is for living, and I’m all about balance.”
Here’s how our participants got on during the first week.
JOANNE SWEENEY BURKE (35)
BARNA, CO GALWAY
HEIGHT: 5ft 1in
STARTING Weight: 11st 7.5lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 6.5lbs
FAMILY: Husband Tom, daughter Sophie (18) and son Bobby (4)
OCCUPATION: Owner of Media Box.
MOTIVATION: “I’m aiming to get to eight and-a-half stone, which is what I weighed before I had Bobby. I exercise regularly, but
I had a light-bulb moment when Karl said that you cannot out-train a bad diet.”
PROGRESS: “I might not eat for seven hours, and then I’d end up eating late at night, so I’m now trying to eat regularly. I’ve missed my husband’s great dinners and not having a glass of wine after a tough day. I’m like Bill Cullen, boasting about living on five hours’ sleep, but Karl advised me that I needed more rest to help my metabolism. I think I’ve slept more this past week than l’ve done in 10 years!”
GERALDINE SINNOTT (49)
ENNISCORTHY, CO WEXFORD
HEIGHT: 5ft 4in
STARTING WEIGHT: 14st 7.5lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 5.5lbs
FAMILY: Husband John, and children Colm, Shauna and Kevin
OCCUPATION: Sales office official
MOTIVATION: “I was doing different types of diets for years, but I couldn’t get focused. Having read Karl’s column every Saturday, I felt that this could be what I needed. I’d like to lose two stone, mainly for health reasons.”
PROGRESS: “It’s going much better than I thought. You have to be organised have your meals planned and have snacks ready for when you get hungry. Resistance work is new to me, and it makes me realise how unfit I am. I found the walking easier. You definitely feel better when you do the exercise.”
AINE HAYES (30)
CASHEL, CO TIPPERARY
HEIGHT: 5ft 3in
STARTING WEIGHT: 11st
WEIGHT LOSS: 4.5lbs
FAMILY: Husband Alan and three-month-old daughter Amy Rose
OCCUPATION: Quality engineer
MOTIVATION: “I’d like to get back in shape after having my baby. I’ ll be chief bridesmaid at my sister Aileen’s wedding next year, and would like to feel good about myself when we go shopping for dresses.”
PROGRESS: “Since I had the baby, I’ve been grabbing sandwiches where I can, so this plan is giving me structure. It was hard giving up sugar in my tea at first as I used to have eight to 10 cups a day, but now I feel less hungry and have more energy. When I see a bright patch, I take the pram and go out walking for exercise.”
UNA DUFFY (31)
HEIGHT: 5ft 7in
STARTING WEIGHT: 13st 13lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 3lbs
FAMILY: Fiance Peter
MOTIVATION: “I’m getting married in June 2015, so I want to start the diet now. I’m also going to be a bridesmaid for my best friend in 2014, and my brother is getting married as well, so there are a lot of things on.”PROGRESS: “I’ve found the programme really good so far. I was already exercising three times a week, so I knew what I was doing there, but I’ve learned lots about the food side of things. I found cutting out sugar, salt and alcohol to be hard, so I’ve been saying no to going out while I’m on the programme because I’d like to lose the 14lbs this month.”
SIMON KENNEDY (53)
NAVAN, CO MEATH
HEIGHT: 6ft 3in
STARTING WEIGHT: 18st 9lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 9lbs
FAMILY: Wife Martha (right), daughter Karen (27) and son Simon (22)
OCCUPATION: Manager at Parc Aviation.
MOTIVATION: “I used to play basketball (for Ireland), but I’ve had both of my hips replaced and can’t do as much as before. The 42in waist trousers from Dunnes Stores were getting too tight, so I decided it was time to do something about it.”
PROGRESS: “I can’t run because of my hips, but I play a lot of golf, and I walk with the dog. Karl seems to be a fairly smart guy on the food end of things, and I found the food plan fine, although it was hard watching TV with a cup of tea and no biscuits! I love a pint, though I think Martha misses her wine more than I miss my Guinness!”
MARTHA KENNEDY (54)
NAVAN, CO MEATH
HEIGHT: 5ft 4in
STARTING WEIGHT: 12st 6lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 4lbs
FAMILY: Husband Simon (left), daughter Karen (27) and son Simon (22)
MOTIVATION: “I weighed 15 stone coming up to 2001, but I gave up smoking and lost four-and-a-half stone in a year. I was lady captain of Headford Golf Club last year, and vice-captain the year before. With all the entertaining, I put some weight back on.”
PROGRESS: “The programme is fantastic, and I’m very excited about it. It wasn’t hard, though it was different. I play golf and try to walk in the evening, but the gym is a different thing altogether for me. I’m not the best cook, but having to cook every evening has made me look at recipes and at ingredients in food.”
SIOBHAN LENNON (45)
BIRR, CO OFFALY
HEIGHT: 5ft 2in
STARTING WEIGHT: 9st 2lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 4lbs
FAMILY: Husband Frank, daughters Clodagh (8) and Aine (6)
OCCUPATION: Just left position in local pharmacy
MOTIVATION: “We are moving to Canada for my husband’s job in the new year, so it’ll be a whole new start. I’d like to get to eight-and-a-half stone, but it would be more about toning up.”
PROGRESS: “It’s actually quite easy once you plan your meals in advance, and that’s what I wanted to do rather than just having something to eat for the sake of it. I used to do a bit of walking when I could fit it in, but being on this programme is a great motivator to make me do the exercise I’m supposed to do every day.”
FRANK McDONNELL (60)
LEIXLIP, CO KILDARE
STARTING WEIGHT: 15st 10lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 4lbs
FAMILY: Wife Margaret, daughter Carol and son David
OCCUPATION: Self-employed owner of cold store business
MOTIVATION: “I used to play rugby, so it was easy to eat and drink what I wanted. But when I stopped playing, my stomach started getting bigger. I lost my father and brother to massive heart attacks, and another brother to cancer, so I decided I should do something about my health.”
PROGRESS: “I had a lot of stress at work this week, so it would have been easy to come home and do the kitchen picking —which I’m good at. My weakness is having tea and biscuits, and not having them was a huge challenge. I cycle, so my fitness levels are reasonable, but I’ve learned from Karl that I wasn’t walking properly before now — I was taking it far too easy.”
LISA WRIGHT (44)
HEIGHT: 5ft 8in
STARTING WEIGHT: 14st 4lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 6.5lbs
FAMILY: Husband Patrick, and children Alex (13), Natasha (12), Max (10) and Christopher (9)
OCCUPATION: Student services manager at Kilroy’s College
MOTIVATION: “A combination of things, the most recent being the death of my mother-in law.
It was a wake-up call for me to think about my life, as I have four children and want to be as active as possible for them.”
PROGRESS: “I had aching muscles doing the exercises initially, but it’s fine now and it’s definitely working for me. I’m sticking to the food plan, though I did allow myself a small glass of wine in the evening on occasion. I’m going to Spain this week for two days and am planning to pack my bran flakes in my case, so I don’t get tempted by the breakfast buffet.”
AISLING CARROLL (42)
GOWRAN, CO KILKENNY
HEIGHT: 5ft 7 inches
STARTING WEIGHT: 12st 12lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 3lbs
FAMILY: Husband Peter, sons Danny (15) and Lorcan (2).
OCCUPATION: Co-owner with Peter of Momentum Healthcare
MOTIVATION: “I’m one of those people who have one-and-a-half to two stone to lose, and I’m years not shifting it. I’ve had some medical issues, but I’m past them now, so no more excuses for staying at the muffin-top stage!”
PROGRESS: “I’d be pretty well up on nutrition, but I felt Karl was great on the theory and explaining the philosophy behind his programme. He kept it so simple that you couldn’t help but succeed. I found not having carbs with dinner the hardest aspect, or at least my kind of carbs, like rice and potatoes. But the treat day on the seventh day kept me going.”
KEVIN SCANLON (39)
ARKLOW, CO WICKLOW
HEIGHT: 5ft 9in
STARTING WEIGHT: 15st 11.5lbs
WEIGHT LOSS: 7.5lbs
FAMILY: Wife Jay and children Eoin (7) and Jessica (6)
OCCUPATION: Civil engineer with Wicklow County Council
MOTIVATION: “I have lost about five stone in recent years, mostly through running, but haven’t been able to shift the last couple of stone. I’ve been struggling with my diet and training, as I had a couple of injuries.”
PROGRESS: “I was hungry for the first few days, but I think that I was being too strict. Since I’ve had an extra handful of nuts or fruit, it has been great. The walking is grand, but it’s been years since I did press-ups, quads, squats and tricep dips, so I was sore at first. I find it great, though, and I can see and feel the difference.