Sunday 17 December 2017

Can you handle Derval O'Rourke's weekly challenge? Take on the Olympian's nutrition and exercise mission and transform your health this summer

A healthy lifestyle is more than just eating well, it's about getting up and getting moving, says Derval O'Rourke. Here, the former world champion hurdler sets out a weekly challenge to help you make positive changes

Derval in the semi-final of the Women’s 100m Hurdles at the London Olympics in 2012
Derval in the semi-final of the Women’s 100m Hurdles at the London Olympics in 2012
Derval O'Rourke's Fit Foodie
Three grain salad from The Fit Foodie
Butternut Squash
Eggs Mex
Derval O'Rourke says make sensible food choices is only one part of being a fit foodie

A healthy lifestyle is the sum of many parts; it’s the combination of a hundred small decisions taken day in, day out, week in and week out. Making sensible choices in the kitchen is only part of being a fit foodie: embracing a healthy day-to-day lifestyle is also vital, and it’s incredibly rewarding.

I like to set myself small goals that will keep me on track as part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of my tips for a healthier week. I hope they inspire you to create your own Fit Foodie weekly challenge.

MONDAY:

SLEEP WELL

Athlete Derval O'Rourke says there's more to a healthy lifestyle than just eating well. Photo: Naomi Gaffey
Athlete Derval O'Rourke says there's more to a healthy lifestyle than just eating well. Photo: Naomi Gaffey
Derval O'Rourke says make sensible food choices is only one part of being a fit foodie

I like to get at least seven hours' sleep on a Monday night, ideally more. It helps to set me up for the week. Sleep is an essential part of living well and it impacts on everything else we do. I have a sleep-scale as follows: If I get less than six hours' sleep, I am dysfunctional. If I get six-seven hours' sleep, I'm grumpy but acceptable. And anything over seven hours makes me believe I'm capable of world domination. It's completely unscientific and subjective, but I live by it anyway. I encourage you to prioritise sleep. Get those PJs on and get snoozing so that your mind and body can do some essential recovery.

TUESDAY:

LIFT SOMETHING

I believe in the benefits of weightlifting and conditioning. Regardless of what level of fitness you have, a little weightlifting will help. When I'm in a regular routine of weightlifting, I find that it does wonders for my running. I keep a medicine ball (4 kg) in my house and if I can't get to the gym I do a circuit at home with it. Weightlifting is the best route to a toned, strong physique. Try to find a way to work it into your weekly routine.

THURSDAY:

GET MOVING

You might think that the demands of the working week are not conducive to fitness, but there are always opportunities to move. Try to find ways to build activity into your day. If you normally get a bus to work, why not start walking at least part of the route? If you work in a building with stairs, take the stairs instead of the lift. Honestly, these small changes pay dividends in the long run.

A healthy lifestyle is the sum of many parts; it's the combination of a hundred small decisions taken day in, day out, week in and week out. Making sensible choices in the kitchen is only part of being a fit foodie: embracing a healthy day-to-day lifestyle is also vital, and it's incredibly rewarding. I like to set myself small goals that will keep me on track as part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of my tips for a healthier week. I hope they inspire you to create your own Fit Foodie weekly challenge.

WEDNESDAY:

STRETCH YOURSELF

I spent 20 years running in a straight line and jumping over hurdles, so nowadays I like to find different ways to move. Wednesday night has become Pilates night. Pilates gives me a chance to stretch my body and to challenge myself.

SATURDAY:

BE SOCIABLE

Ask your friends or colleagues if they'll join you for a bit of group fitness. Maybe you can join a fitness class together or set up your own indoor soccer league or tennis tournament. It's good to stay fit in a group because you're accountable to one another and you'll also have a lot of fun.

FRIDAY:

FIT DATE

When I was a professional athlete, I always seemed to have the time to meet friends for coffee and it never interfered with my workout routine. Ever since my retirement from track and my move into the regular working world, my schedule is not as flexible. So nowadays I organise fit dates. I catch up with a friend while doing a workout. A brisk walk or jog can be a great way to do this.

SUNDAY:

RUN

There are few things in life more enjoyable than getting out on a Sunday for a run or a long walk. If you're lucky enough to have extra time on a Sunday, use it to get outdoors so that you can wind down and relax after a busy week.

EGGS-MEX

2016-08-06_lif_22921528_I3.JPG
Eggs Mex
 

PROTEIN 38G

FAT (SATURATED) 46G (27G)

CARB 54G

FIBRE 7.9G

CAL 795

My mother-in-law, Sally, keeps hens. The birds have a spacious run and a view of the sea. I often joke that the birds are the most spoiled hens in Ireland. In return for the fancy accommodation, the hens produce a lot of eggs (seems like a fair deal to me). We regularly find ourselves with a glut of eggs and we have to be inventive in finding ways to use them up. This recipe came about when we had too many eggs and the coriander in our veggie patch was growing like a weed. The first time I made this recipe involved some wild experimentation but it's become a recipe that's now very popular in our house.

Serves 3

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 25 mins

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 peppers, finely chopped

400g lean minced beef

2 tbsp fajita spice mix

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

3 eggs

50g Cheddar, grated

A handful of coriander leaves

3 tbsp natural yoghurt

3 wholemeal pittas, toasted (optional)

Method

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the mince and fajita spice. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the beef is cooked through. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Use a ladle to create three shallow wells, each one about 5cm wide, in the mince. Crack one egg into each of the wells in the mince. (If you are an expert egg-cracker, just crack them straight into the wells. Otherwise, crack each egg in turn into a cup and then tip into the well.) Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Leave the eggs to cook for about 4 minutes, until the white is set.

Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle over the Cheddar. Divide the mince between warmed serving plates, ensuring that each person gets an egg.

Sprinkle over the coriander. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt and toasted pitta on the side.

THREE-GRAIN SALAD

iwTHREE_GRAIN SAL.jpg
Three grain salad from The Fit Foodie
 

PROTEIN 12.1G

FAT (SATURATED) 18.4G (2.4G)

CARB 42G

FIBRE 10.3G

CAL 407

Quinoa is not the only grain I eat for lunch. I love brown rice, wild rice and basmati too. I often purposely cook more rice than I need, so that I have leftovers to play with. If you're pre-cooking grains to be used in a cold salad, remember to cool the cooked grains as quickly as possible and store them in the fridge until you need them.

It is true that making this Three Grain Salad means being prepared. But if you can do a little planning and have all of the ingredients to hand, I promise it will be worth your while.

Store all of the cooled ingredients separately in the fridge until needed. When you are ready to serve, toss them together in a large bowl. Divide the salad between serving plates. Sprinkle over the seeds and mint. Squeeze over some lemon juice and serve without delay.

Serves 6

Prep Time: 5 mins

(Assuming all pre-cooked ingredients are to hand)

Ingredients

100g brown rice, cooked and cooled (100g is the weight before cooking)

100g quinoa, cooked and cooled (100g is the weight before cooking)

100g wild rice, cooked and cooled (100g is the weight before cooking)

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, cubed, roasted and cooled

3 roasted peppers, sliced and cooled

1 pomegranate, seeds only

100g seeds (pumpkin and sunflower work well)

A handful of mint leaves, chopped

1 lemon, halved

BUTTERNUT & BEAN STEW

2016-08-06_lif_22921530_I2.JPG
Butternut Squash
 

PROTEIN 16.7G

FAT (SATURATED) 19.6G (9.6G)

CARB 46G

FIBRE 10.9G

CAL 454

This vegetable stew is full of delicious flavours and textures. The beans provide lots of protein and vitamin B and make this a hearty and nourishing meal. It's a one-pot dish, so you won't have to face a lot of washing-up after dinner (always a plus).

If you wanted to make this stew even more substantial, you could serve it with rice or couscous. It's one of those dishes that tastes even better on the second day: the leftovers are fantastic.

Serves 3

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 onion, finely chopped

½ chilli, finely chopped

A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 cardamom pods, whole

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp turmeric

1 star anise

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, diced

1 aubergine, diced

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

400g tin of mixed beans

A handful of coriander leaves

4 tbsp flaked almonds

4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Method

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, chilli and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently and add a splash of water if the pan gets dry. Stir in the spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add the butternut and aubergine and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes, soy sauce and honey and stir well. Cover the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the vegetables are tender, stir in the beans and heat through. Divide the stew between warmed serving bowls. Sprinkle over the coriander and flaked almonds. Top with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and serve.

Weekend Magazine

Promoted Links

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in Life