Tuesday 24 October 2017

Get in shape in time for Christmas

Welcome to Week Three of our LBD Challenge, with dietitian Orla Walsh and personal trainer Siobhan Byrne

Siobhan Byrne
Siobhan Byrne
Orla Walsh, dietitian
Energy balls
Chia seed pudding
Diamond Crunch 1
Diamond Crunch 2
Plank Jacks 1
Plank Jacks 2
Dips 1
Taking the LBD challenge: Leslie Ann Horgan

It's just under five weeks until Christmas, and there is plenty of time to drop a few pounds to look great for the festive party, and to give yourself a bit of wriggle room to indulge over the Christmas season.

The workouts, devised by Siobhan Byrne, are suitable for any fitness level, but if you are new to exercise or have any health issues, be sure to check with your doctor before starting.

If, for any reason, you are unable to perform the exercises, follow the food plan, as developed by Orla Walsh, and you will still gain some benefit.

Remember, fat loss is 80pc food, 20pc exercise. Orla has put together meal plans plus a shopping list and some easy-to-follow food rules.

As always, if you have any questions or queries, please email us at healthandliving@independent.ie. Best of luck with the challenge!

Week 3 of your nutrition guide

This week, the focus is on healthy snacking. Snacks can help achieve a healthy body and shouldn't be considered a no-go.

When I say snacks, I don't mean biscuits, chocolate, scones, etc. So wipe that image from your head. The quality of the snack and what it's composed of matter.

Choose foods that are considered whole foods, which means they are not changed by man. Next, focus on foods that are high in protein and fibre. Several studies have suggested that snacks full of protein help boost satiety, control appetite and aid weight loss. What's more, a higher protein snack mid-morning was shown to help control blood energy levels - linked with productivity, mood, motivation, etc - for the rest of the day.

There are several factors that negatively affect not only the impulse to snack but also the composition of snacks, one of which is sleep, so do try to stay away from your phone and laptop in the two hours before bedtime to ensure better sleep quality.

You won't be surprised to hear that a big study confirmed that alcohol consumption triggers "the munchies". Less is more springs to mind! While another study found that watching television contributes to excessive snacking, regardless of age, so less telly could equal less belly.

• Eat lots of vegetables and fruit to help keep your body protected against illness.

• Include a lean protein at each meal to support your metabolism and help you feel full, and,

• Tailor your wholegrain carbohydrate intake to your activity levels.

- Orla Walsh

Orla's top 10 favourite snacks

* Mozzarella with tomato and basil

* Greek yoghurt with berries

* Lentil soup

* Roasted chickpeas

* Nuts

* Chia seed pudding

* Boiled egg & spinach pot

* An apple with almond butter

* Hummus and veg sticks

* Energy Balls (below)

Healthy snacks:

Chia Seed pudding

Chia seed pudding


* 1/4 cup Chia seeds

* 1 cup milk

* +/- flavourings, e.g., vanilla extract, cocoa, peanut butter, cinnamon, almond extract, mixed spice.


* Mix the Chia seeds with the milk. It's easy to do this in an old jam jar. Simply put on the lid and shake on and off for a few minutes.

* It'll start to form into a gel. When this happens, put on the lid and leave in the fridge overnight. Serve with fruit.

* Chia seed puddings are delicious and an excellent choice for breakfast. If enjoying at breakfast, serve with one piece of fruit. This pudding can be used alongside berries as a healthy snack when hungry. This recipe makes 3 snack-time portions.

Energy Balls

Energy balls


* 1 mug Brazil nuts (200g) (or almonds, pecans, cashews)

* 2 mugs of dates (400g)

* 4 tbsp cocoa powder

* 2 tbsp peanut butter

* 2 tbsp chia seeds (or flaxseeds/linseeds)

* 2 tbsp coconut oil


* Put into a food processor. Blend well.

* Then roll into balls.

* Store in the fridge in a lunch box.

This recipe makes 20 energy balls. Enjoy one as a healthy alternative to junk food if chocolate cravings occur. Aim for no more than two times per week when following this plan!

Week 3 of your exercise plan

This week, we are going to look at targeting specific areas with our exercise regime. This is something I am often asked by people, both men and women, and both those who do and don't train.

Although you can of course target certain areas, the question is, does this reduce body fat in that part of your body?

Well, there is no doubt that if you train a specific muscle, that muscle will develop. Unfortunately, though, you cannot spot-reduce body fat from one specific area, no matter how hard you try. Body fat comes off in predetermined areas that we have no control over.

So does that mean you will never quite get rid of those bingo wings or that extra bit of body fat around the midsection? No, is the simple answer. If you are consistent with training, and adopt and commit to an appropriate eating plan to complement your exercise regime and muscle development, you will get the results you long for.

However, there is one obstacle that always lies between you and your goal - will power.

We live in a world where fast food is the norm, overly busy days make us tired and restrict us in getting the exercise our bodies need to achieve the shape we so desire. Finding the time and inclination to commit to training and eating well regularly requires resolve.

Even once you have achieved a regular training schedule, you can't afford to be complacent. It's easy to get fed up and impatient while awaiting the results you want, and to allow your exercise regime to lapse and unhealthy treats and snacks to creep in.

Do not doubt that results are earned from hard work and consistency, and will benefit you long after all the yo-yo dieting and short term bursts of fad-like, bootcamp-style training are gone.

- Siobhan Byrne

The workout

Split squats

1/ Stand upright with your feet split from back to front.

2/ Lower your body down towards the ground like a lunge position, then push off the front foot and jump into the air.

3/ Land with the opposite foot forward. Repeat.

• Advance this exercise further by using a weighted ball or dumbbell, holding it at chest level.

Floor dips

1/ Start with your hands on the floor, or on a step, with your fingers facing your back, no more than shoulder-width apart, and your knees bent with feet flat on the floor.

2/ Dip your body down by bending the elbows. If you are using a step, keep your back close to it. Then push back up to start position never fully locking the elbows.

Plank jacks

1/ Start on your toes and hands with your arms straight, back flat and your feet together.

2/ Then jump your feet out to the sides without moving hand position. Immediately jump back to the middle and repeat. Keep your back flat throughout.

Diamond crunch

1/ Start by lying on your back with the soles of your feet together, knees out to the sides and your arms raised straight up over your chest.

2/ Then simply raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Lower the body back down to start position and then repeat movement. Keep the soles of the feet together throughout the exercise.

15 reps of each exercise then complete the block of exercises 5 times. For beginners do 10 reps, 5 times.

Week 2 of the LBD challenge

Taking the LBD challenge: Leslie Ann Horgan

Leslie Ann Horgan

There is, I’ve discovered, a massive gulf between following a diet plan and ‘trying to be good’. In the past, when I’ve been ‘trying to be good’, I’ve turned away offers of sweets or cakes and resented having to do it. I’ve looked longingly at friends enjoying crisps or chips and felt deprived. ‘Trying to be good’ only ever lasted a few days before, inevitably, I’d give in to being bad.

Following a proper diet plan for the first time in my life, however, has been something of a revelation. I don’t feel deprived or resentful or any negative emotions. Instead, I feel as though I’ve made a positive choice, to eat healthier, balanced meals.

Much as I’ve enjoyed getting back into the routine of making my lunches and dinners, I normally eat out regularly. So, instead of feeling as though I was denying myself a social life, I went ahead as normal — but made healthy restaurant and menu choices.

That, too, was easy to do: skip starters and desserts, eat protein and vegetables for mains, drink water instead of beer (although I did allow myself one on Saturday night). I even had tasty Sunday carvery of cod and cabbage — just without the three types of potatoes.

The exercises are still exhausting but I’m noticing an improvement, which is a real encouragement. Even back in the days when I was fit enough to run 5km and do the splits I could never do a press-up, so instead of the closed-grip version I’m struggling along with the regular ones. It hurts like hell but I’m persevering.

On both fronts, instead of ‘trying to be good’ this week I’ve just been, well, good — and it feels good too.

Leslie Ann Horgan is editor of Weekend Magazine.

Check in next week to see her progress in the LBD Challenge

A sample of Leslie Ann’s food diary



Breakfast: Alpro soy yoghurt (small pot), banana.

Lunch: 1 hard boiled egg, tomato, spinach, cucumber, mange tout, courgetti with basil pesto.

Snack: carrot sticks. Orla says Snacking on veg is a great idea. Every extra piece of veg in the diet results in more weight loss over time, so keep up the good work.

Dinner: salmon sushi box, 2 pieces salmon, 8 pieces salmon with white rice and seaweed. Orla says Seaweed is a great source of iodine, which helps support the thyroid gland which controls our metabolism. Dairy and fish also a good source.


Breakfast: Alpro soy yoghurt (small pot), banana.

Lunch: 1 chicken fillet, half avocado, spinach, tomato,  cucumber, red pepper, kidney beans.

Snacks: pecans. Orla says When trying to lose weight, be mindful of portion size. 1 handful of nuts is 1 portion.

Dinner: smoked salmon, scrambled egg, half avocado, 2 Ryvita crackers. Orla says Avocado is a great source of heart healthy fats. Half an avocado is the correct portion.


Breakfast: Alpro soy yoghurt (small), banana.

Lunch: baked ham, 1 boiled egg, spinach, tomato, cucumber, red pepper, kidney beans. Orla says Beans contain soluble fibre which helps to fill people up and keep energy levels stable in the hours that follow the meal.

Snacks: sugar snap peas, carrot sticks.

Orla says Crunchy veg are ideal between meals.

Dinner: salmon, broccoli, sweet potato fries. Orla says Eating oily fish like salmon once per week helps keep the body healthy thanks to its Omega 3 fats.


Breakfast: banana.

Lunch: cod and cabbage.

Snacks: apple, carrot sticks, 1 rice cake. Orla says Protein snacks can help you feel full for longer. Try a carrot stick dipped in hummus, or peanut butter on an apple?

Dinner: baked ham, 2 soft boiled eggs, mushrooms, spinach.

Health & Living

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