Monday 23 October 2017

Exercise - you have to get the balance just right

Yvonne Hogan and Siobhan Byrne at BodyByrne
Yvonne Hogan and Siobhan Byrne at BodyByrne

Yvonne Hogan

We are three weeks in now, and if you have been following the plan rigidly, you should find that it is starting to become a bit easier. Apparently, it takes a minimum of 21 days for new behaviours to become habits, so keep focused and before you know it, exercise and healthy eating will be a part of your identity.

The six months I spent training and keeping a food diary in 2010 have instilled lifelong habits in me - and even if I move away from them for a time when life gets in the way, I will always come back to them. Because once you have experienced the joy of fitness, you can never go back to feeling unhealthy for very long.

In 2010, however, I had it a lot easier. I wasn't yet a mother, and I could spend as long as I wanted in the gym in the morning before work, because I could stay as late as I wanted in the office come the evening. I had a lot more time to prepare my food, and I would spend most of every Sunday and another evening during the week, roasting meat and veg and stir-frying stuff. I had more money, as I wasn't paying for childcare, so I could eat out more and make sure I had a nice varied diet.

This time around, I thought I could get away with just roasting some meat once a week, and adding salads. Three weeks in, and I realise that this isn't going to work and I will have to add another window for cooking - to up my starchy vegetable intake. If you have been following my daily food blog, you will notice that I haven't been eating many carbohydrates. It is a trap, Siobhan tells me, that a lot of women fall into. She will write more about the science of it next week in her column, but for the moment, suffice it to say that if you don't eat enough healthy carbohydrates, you will have no energy and you will not drop fat. You will play havoc with your metabolism, you will also set yourself up for a massive food hangover when you do introduce carbs for your cheat meal.

The reason I have been avoiding them is partly time, but also that I don't trust myself. I am an all or nothing person and I find it easier to behave if I have very strict guidelines. I am afraid that if I do have grains or starchy veg with my meat and salads, that I will get cravings.

With some of these foods I know I will get cravings. I had porridge for breakfast, with an egg and half an avocado (I had run out of eggs and was improvising) last week and for the whole day I felt like I was fighting myself.

I was out for lunch that day with friends and I ordered the beef burger with no bun and some salad.

When it came, it had a rasher and loads of cheese on top. Any other day I would have just taken the bacon and cheese off and eaten the burger with my salad. But that day, I wolfed it down.

Now, I know this isn't exactly an epic fall off the wagon. It's isn't a big deal at all really, but it does teach me a lesson. I need to keep away from oats.

However, I do need to include more carbohydrates in my diet. Three weeks in and I am finding my energy dipping.

I had a horrendous food hangover after my cheat meal last week - pizza and some chocolate afterwards, all of which points to a lack of balance.

So I had added some sweet potato or butternut squash to my meals, and am going to cook a pot of brown rice and put it in the freezer - apparently it keeps for up to five days, so that I have a healthier balance in my food.

Portion sizes are crucial - more so with carbs than anything else, so I make sure that it is never more than two dessertspoons if it is rice, or a handful if starchy veg.

Another lesson the 'porridge incident' has taught me is that everybody is different. Most people can have oats and will not experience cravings. Some people can eat dairy until the cows come home and some get sinusy and bloated after a small amount.

On the next page you will read about Katie Taylor's diet - she eats a lot of carbs as she trains so much. There are no set of food rules that suit everybody - you need to listen to your body and how it reacts.

For example, some of you will find yourself eating too much nut butter, or too many nuts. Listen to your body. Know yourself and avoid foods that make you lose control. Foods that make it harder for you to stick to your food plan. It will make life a lot easier for you and trust me, you won't even miss them.

If you do have a slip up, make sure you get straight back on the wagon. Don't write the whole day off. Definitely don't write the whole week off. Just dust yourself off and start making good choices again. Be strong, be tenacious, be disciplined.

Your fourth seven-day plan

Monday, August 25

Tabata workout. Dublin half-marathon. Run it. Rest. Race it. Rest. Food.

Make sure each meal contains a protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat source.

August 26

If you are already fit, interval sprints (30r, 30w x 10) or bonus workout. If you are a beginner, a vigorous walk.

Dublin half-marathon. Run it. Four miles. Race it. Three miles.

Food. As Monday

Wednesday, August 27

Tabata workout.

Dublin half-marathon. Run it. Tabata workout. Race it, 2 x 10min.

Food. As Monday

August 28

If you are already fit, interval sprints (30r, 30w x 10) or bonus workout. If you are a beginner, a vigorous walk.

Dublin half-marathon. Run it. Four miles. Race it. Tabata workout.

Food. As Monday and pick up Irish Independent for bonus recipes.

August 29

Exercise. Tabata workout.  Dublin half-marathon. Run it. Rest. Race it. Three miles.

Food. As Monday.

Saturday, August 30

If you are already fit, interval sprints (30r, 30w x 10) or bonus workout. If you are a beginner, a vigorous walk.

Dublin half-marathon. Run it, 45min cross. Race it. Rest.

Food. As Monday.

August 31

Rest. Dublin half-marathon. Run it, 10 miles. Race it, 10 miles.

Food: As Monday plus cheat meal.

Yvonne's shopping list for week four

Brown rice

Sweet potato

Butternut squash

Lettuce - 2 types for variety. I like baby spinach and maybe a gem lettuce, depending on what looks nice in the supermarket

Tomatoes, I like cherry tomatoes



Chicken breasts

Salmon fillets

Greek yoghurt - plain, low fat



For batch cook meal: turkey chilli con carne

Turkey mince

Tinned tomatoes

Tomato puree



Red chillis

Red peppers

Tin red kidney beans

Health & Living

Editors Choice

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