Saturday 20 January 2018

Eimear Ni Bhraonain: I'm ditching the fast food and fighting the flab for a good cause

Fat fighters: Eimear
Ni Bhraonain
(centre) with Deirdre
Esmond Walsh (left)
and Mary Cody.
Photo by Dylan Vaughan
Fat fighters: Eimear Ni Bhraonain (centre) with Deirdre Esmond Walsh (left) and Mary Cody. Photo by Dylan Vaughan

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

I'm a beer-swilling, chip-munching chocoholic who only exercises sporadically. My idea of healthy eating is opting for a diet coke and saying "no, regular is fine" when the guy at McDonald's asks if I want to go large.

Sometimes I don't cook for days on end and breakfast is a strong coffee and a Cadbury's purple snack from the garage when I'm rushing somewhere.

On days off instead of walking 20 minutes into town, I usually take the car. It freaks me out in Dunnes Stores when I get to the checkout and see the contents of my basket compared to the person next to me.

Crisps, wine, chocolate, pasta, cheese, bleach, newspapers and trashy magazines -- compared with fresh fruit, vegetables, water, multi-grain bread and low-fat yogurts. Well at least I can't drink the bleach or eat the papers, I console myself.

When the waves are good and I head to Tramore for a surf, I'm only out of the water when myself and a friend are tucking into Dooley's fish and chips with garlic mayonnaise. Then I can't wait to get back home to head out for a half a dozen bottles of cold beer -- as I continue rewarding myself for a few hours of physical activity.

After a night out -- and seven or eight bottles of Coors Light (don't be fooled, it's full of calories) -- I like nothing more than tucking into a greasy helping of Abrakebabra taco fries.

I listen to my friends around me complaining about their weight and going on diets but I normally keep grazing and boozing to my heart's content. My eyes glaze over when I hear people talking about counting points and cutting out carbs. The only time I counted points was in my Leaving Certificate and I'm so over that now.

Back then I was a 17-year-old -- and looked healthy at eight stone for my 5ft 3in frame. Fast-forward 11 years and considering the abuse my body has endured, it could be worse. I'm sceptical about Kate Moss's "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" mantra.

I'm sure skinny feels good but I've really enjoyed the calorie-laden cocktails, pizzas, thousands of cups of milky tea and biscuits. I suppose I'm lucky I'm not 20-stone. I have no scales in my house and I'm dreading the first weigh-in today for this challenge but pre-Christmas at Curves, I was the wrong side of 10-and-a-half stone.

The size 10 jeans have been at the back of the wardrobe for so long, they're probably gone out of fashion. I have three sets of clothes at this stage -- depending on whether I'm feeling small, medium or large.

A man dumped me once for putting on weight. I was horrified but it still didn't prompt me into action.

Such a drastic event would be the kick-in-the-arse most women would need to lose weight but not me.

I don't suffer fools gladly so I figured it was a lucky escape. It was only a stone after all, not a sex change, and it enlightened me on parts of his personality that were in the shadows until then.

There are lots of little tricks I've learned to hide the flab but I'm starting to run out of them.

The spread is catching up on me -- and while the high heels give me me an extra few inches in stature -- they don't reduce the bulging waistline.

So after years of ignoring the signs of weight gain, I'm finally confronting the reality that I need to shed the excess pounds.

I joined Curves a few months ago and started off well before falling off the 30-minute workout wagon as the Christmas party season kicked in.

As I write this, I've just had a Chinese take-away with two friends, and we're on our second bottle of wine. I sound like a glutton and maybe I am but I'm being honest.

It's the second month of the New Year and resolutions haven't even featured on my radar -- apart from maybe cornering George Clooney for an interview when he finally arrives in Kilkenny any day now -- but if you're assuming I'm not taking this looming diet seriously, you're mistaken.

Not only am I ready to ditch the muffin-top spilling from the top of my trousers, I have the added motivation of achieving my goal because it's for a good cause.

I've vowed to lose 13-18lbs in 10 weeks -- and the one thing to keep me on track is that I'm doing it for the Susie Long Hospice Fund. What better motivation to change your lifestyle than to raise funds for people who need end-of-life care and to keep Susie Long's memory alive.

Another thing is I'm not doing it alone. I have three wing-women who share my fondness for socialising several nights a week and eating fatty foods. Between us, we hope to slash a decent percentage of our body fat.

I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'm about to turn tee-total or that I'm ready to give up a late-night chicken burger for life but I know it's time to turn the trend. The number on the scales needs to start moving downwards.

Hopefully when the pounds start falling off, the feel-good factor will kick in. I don't want it to be a fad diet that ends up with me gaining twice as much as I lose. I have realistic expectations and I know that maintaining a healthy weight is probably harder than achieving it.

I've always been convinced it's simple maths so it's about burning off the extra calories consumed. I was never good at sums, but here's hoping.

Read about Eimear's progress next Thursday, February 9

Irish Independent

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