Monday 11 December 2017

Little black dress challenge: Get in shape for Christmas

Week 1 of your exercise plan: Develop your strength and condition your body with our pre-festive workout

Siobhan Byrne has developed a Christmas 500 challenge
Siobhan Byrne has developed a Christmas 500 challenge
Dietitian Orla Walsh
Prisoner squat 1
Prisoner squat 2
Push up 1
Push up 2
Flutter kicks 1
Flutter kicks 2
Burpee 2
Burpee 3
Chicken breasts

Welcome to week 1 of our LBD challenge, with dietitian Orla Walsh and personal trainer Siobhan Byrne.

In order to make the Little Black Dress challenge interesting, I have devised a workout that I like to call the Christmas 500 challenge, writes Siobhan Byrne.

So what's it all about? It's about developing your strength and conditioning your body by challenging yourself each week to a new block of exercises with more repetitions until you finally reach 500 repetitions total on the last week of the challenge.

These workouts will help you to not only shape up, but once you are following Orla's food plan, you will be all set to shed those pounds and feel in great shape just in time for the party season.

Let's start with an overview of the plan. Each week you will have four exercises to do. You will complete each exercise for 10 reps during week one. When you have completed all exercises - that's one block, now repeat that five times. You will do this exercise plan three times a week.

Each week the exercises will change and the repetition ranges within the blocks will increase but you will always complete the blocks five times.

How to track your progress? As most of you who read my articles on a weekly basis will know, I'm not fond of hopping on the scales too often, as we can get too caught up with our weight and get easily frustrated if we don't notice a drop in those numbers. Choose a day once a week for weighing in and measuring yourself with a tape measure. Take measurements from five points - top of the shoulders, across the bust line, across the navel, at the widest part of the hip line and, finally, the top of the leg across the thigh at the largest part.

Work hard and best of luck in your challenge!

The workout: Week 1

10 reps of each exercise then complete the block of exercises 5 times

Prisoner squats

1/ Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and lock your fingers behind your head.

2/ Bend at the hips and knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and then push back up to the starting position and repeat.


1/ Start on your toes, or knees, with hands under the chest and back flat in a plank position.

2/ Lower yourself to the ground and then back to start position. Keep the back flat throughout.

Flutter kicks

1/ Start on your back with your legs straight out in front, slightly off the floor and your arms by your sides.

2/ Raise one leg straight up a few inches from floor level, then raise the opposite leg and continue raising your legs in scissor-like motion.


1/ Start in a press-up position.

2/ Then jump your knees into your chest while keeping your hands on the floor.

3/ Jump to standing position and then jump up with your hands in the air, then return down and then jump feet back out to start position.

- Siobhan Byrne

Week 1 of your nutrition guide

IH HNorla03.jpg
Dietitian Orla Walsh

Dietitian Orla Walsh gives advice  on what and how much to eat  in order to achieve your goal

When trying to lose weight half of every meal needs to be vegetables or fruit. Keep your vegetables and fruit colourful and varied to maximise the health benefits that you'll deliver to your body. The vegetable portion of your meal should take up the same amount of space on your plate as two clenched fists.

The next biggest portion of your meal needs to be lean protein. Protein feeds your muscles and bones, which are responsible for the bulk of your metabolism.

When you lose weight you want to lose predominately fat, otherwise you become a smaller version of yourself rather than a leaner version. Protein helps you to hold onto your active tissues during the weight-loss process.

The protein portion of your meal should take up the same amount of space on your plate as a clenched fist.

Treat carbohydrates like petrol for a car. The further you drive, the more frequently you take the car out, and the faster you drive, the more petrol you need. Carbohydrates are a bit like that - tailor them to your activity levels.

Include a little bit of carbohydrate at each meal to feed your brain, and increase, depending on how active you are.

Aim for the carbohydrate portion of your meal to be the smallest portion on your plate and a little less than a clenched fist.

The key to weight loss is never being hungry. Make sure to have a glass of water between each meal and a small fibre- or protein-based snack. Handy snacks include a small handful of nuts, a piece of fruit or natural yoghurt.

- Orla Walsh


Quick breakfast option:

On the run - make a Parfait

* Place into your bowl 200g quark, 1 banana, 1 handful of pecans and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Or, prepare breakfast the night before

* Overnight oats: Mix ½ cup oats, ½ cup milk, ½ cup Greek yoghurt with 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 handful of blueberries and vanilla extract. Leave overnight in the fridge and eat cold the next day.


* Vegetable soup with a wholegrain seeded pitta, chicken, red pepper, cucumber and spinach leaves

Dinner: (serves 4 or 2 dinners + 2 lunches)

Chicken breasts

* First marinade 4 chicken breasts in 2 clove garlic (crushed), 1 tsp rapeseed oil, the juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 tsp of dried thyme.
* Place 2 tins of drained and rinsed butter beans in a blender with 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp of dried rosemary. Blitz and season with salt and pepper.

* Heat a hot griddle pan to cook your chicken. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. When you flip the chicken to cook the other side of the breast, start to heat your butter bean mash in a saucepan.

Serve with a simple salad such as rocket, grated carrot and cherry tomatoes or no-chop, minimal preparation vegetables such as mangetout and babycorn.

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