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'I feel better now than in my twenties'

Three years ago, says optician Ellen McNally (44), she wouldn't run for the bus. Now the super-fit Dubliner is in training for her next triathalon -- and reckons if she can transform her life, anyone can.

"I've never been one of those gym bunnies. I've tried every diet known to man and made the new year's resolution to shape up dozens of times.

"Then, three years ago, something just clicked and I decided I had to do something about my weight once and for all. I got myself a personal trainer and began running in the evenings.

"For the first while, I was absolutely crippled -- I was barely able to tie my own shoe laces after working out. I'd go out jogging under cover of darkness so no-one could see me panting and turning purple in the face!

"Gradually though, it got easier. When Karl [Henry, personal trainer] suggested I sign up for the Connemara Half Marathon, I thought he was crazy. But once the seed had been planted in my head, I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone. I completed the marathon and tackled a triathalon next.

"Along the way, I've lost three-and-a-half stone. It hasn't been easy -- you've got to put in the training and eat healthily. There have been times when I was out running with hailstones pelting against my face and wanted to throw in the towel. But I can honestly say I feel better now than I did in my twenties. Exercise has become part of my life, rather than a chore.

"For me, the secret was setting a goal to work towards. I'm not a 'natural' athlete -- just a regular person who decided to get fit. And if I can do it, anyone can."

Irish Independent