Ready, Get set, Go ... Your 4 week shape up plan for summer
Your summer fitness plan starts here. Follow our four-week programme of workouts and healthy eating for a leaner, fitter you
Welcome to our four-week Shape Up plan. We've teamed up with Kathryn Thomas, the host of RTE's Operation Transformation, and her team at Pure Results Bootcamp, personal trainer James Brennan (pictured below) and nutritional therapist Jen O'Callaghan, to devise a programme exclusively for Sunday Independent readers. Follow it faithfully and this time next month, you'll be feeling and looking healthier, stronger and fitter - and you should have dropped between 6-8lbs into the bargain.
Here's how it works. James has devised three workouts a week, each roughly 40 minutes long, to suit any fitness level from those just getting off the couch to the dedicated gym goer. Week 1 also includes a seven-day eating plan to wean you off sugary treats, alcohol, coffee, dairy and gluten, boost your veg uptake for the four weeks, but still keep you satisfied so you don't dip into the biscuit tin. Each week Jen offers tips and recipes to keep your tastebuds turned on and help you make the transition to healthier eating.
Our expert panel offer their advice on common health and fitness dilemmas, while TV host Nicky Byrne, Olympic athlete Derval O'Rourke, GAA footballer Philly McMahon and broadcaster Lisa Cannon reveal how they stay lean and keen.
Before you start
Clear out any food triggers from your cupboards and fridge before you start, whether that means crisps, chocolate or ice cream, and stock it with the ingredients you need to follow the plan. Having everything near to hand means you will be less likely to give in to the temptation to go off piste. Scale down on your coffee intake and make the switch to herbal teas - that way you will be less likely to have withdrawal headaches.
What to expect
It won't be too easy. James intends to push you, so each week he ups the ante with more reps, and higher intensity workouts. "You have to go outside your comfort zone if you want to change something," he says. "You might be a little sore, the exercises will challenge you so if you don't get it first time, repeat the exercise again, just take a step back and repeat.
"The whole purpose of the four-week plan is to challenge you so each week you can expect to be changing and adapting. The body is very responsive to change. People end up plateauing, that's why it's important to change your workout week after week. Train the same and you'll remain the same."
Set up a support system
Kathryn's advice? "Make sure you have support at home whether it's your husband, wife, child, or a friend to check in with and keep you accountable over the next four weeks. That could mean they come home early, and mind the child so you can do your workouts or having your partner clear out the cupboards, get the shopping in with all the food you need. This will be fun if you have the right support system in place."
Kathryn should know. Not only has she hosted Operation Transformation for seven years now, but three years ago she set up Pure Results Bootcamp offering week-long health and fitness programmes. She has seen again and again how people can take control of their health by simply sticking to a sensible exercise and eating plan.
What's going on in your head is crucial to the programme. Kathryn says: "A negative mindset changes everything. We see it all the time on Operation Transformation and at our bootcamp when people say, 'Kathyrn, I've never run. I've four kids and my boobs are too big. I can't do this.' And four days later they're running. I call it the light bulb moment. It's when those 'I can't people' become 'I can people'. It is magic. It's all about how you perceive yourself because your body is ready to push through and it's getting your head to believe that your body is capable of doing so much more than you give it credit for."
Best foot forward.
Your 4-Week Shape-Up for Summer
Preparation is Key
So you've already achieved the toughest part of this Shape-Up Plan - mustering up the motivation to get fit and healthy for that well-deserved summer holiday. But before you start, there are some important factors you need to tick off your checklist
They will ensure that not only do you see the best results for all your effort, but that you stay safe while you follow the plan. Here are the main things you will want to consider, or do, before your first workout.
1 Consult With Your Doctor
Before starting any type of fitness programme, whether it is geared towards building muscle or consists simply of regular cardio sessions, it's important that you consult your doctor first to make sure you are healthy and ready to exercise. If you've had any health concerns in the past, now is the time to get them straightened out. Tell your doctor what you are planning to make sure you don't have any special considerations you need to take into account.
For your resistance and core workouts you'll need a few small pieces of equipment; a set of dumb bells (a set to match your current ability, 2.5-4kg should be plenty), a skipping rope, a mat and finally a light or moderate resistance band. You will find these in a sports shop or at Argos. Start gently, and increase intensity gradually. If you're new to resistance training, familiarise yourself with the basics.
3 Track Your Progress
Figure out how to track your progress. It will give you a sense of achievement and keep you motivated to stay on track. It might be something very simple like taking notes in a journal, writing down the weights you lift and the foods you eat. You could also track your measurements - maybe even take before and after pictures.
"Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily" Epictetus
MEET THE EXPERTS
James Brennan is a committed trainer, working both with Pure Results Bootcamp and for his own private clients at The Gym in Monasterevin. He is dedicated to providing high-quality training to individuals and groups of all fitness levels. He specialises in weight loss, strength and conditioning and body composition. James has been involved in fitness and sport almost all his life and has completed his BSc in Sports and Exercise Management and further training in Nutrition for Physical Activity, Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer qualifications. He has a passion for soccer and competing in fitness competitions and currently holds a National C licence in coaching. His goal is to apply his experience and knowledge to help others better their lives through fitness.
Jen O'Callaghan is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Health and Wellness Coach with Pure Results Bootcamp. She is a member of the Nutritional Therapists of Ireland and also holds a degree in Environmental Science. Jen runs her own business, Everyday Nutrition, Fitness and Well-being. She has found practicing what she preaches on a daily basis benefits her own health and that of her clients. She reckons better choices come from education so she is passionate about spreading the word on all things nutrition and well-being. Jen continues to develop her knowledge about nutrition and health through her continued training with the Institute of Functional Medicine.
Giuseppe de vito
Professor Giuseppe De Vito is head of the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. His main research interest concerns neuromuscular changes in ageing and the role of exercise in treating those affected by disorders such as Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes. He has a long list of academic achievements to his name, including a PhD in Human and Exercise Physiology, and has held positions in Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde and, in Rome, at the University Institute of Movement Science. As a specialist in Sports Medicine, Giuseppe has in the past also worked as team doctor to the Italian Olympic Committee and understands the physiology of the athlete intimately, having represented Italy in the Modern Pentathlon himself.
Physiotherapist Audrey Redmond worked in London at the National Centre of Spinal Cord Injuries at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the UK for eight years and at the well-known King Edward VII Hospital Sister Agnes, which specialised in speedy rehab of joint replacements and sports injuries. Since then Audrey has gained further certification in Pilates training from beginners through to advanced level and prenatal and postnatal instruction. Her teaching approach is innovative and challenging. She is also a member of the National Osteoporosis Society of the UK, and is an advocate of the benefits of safe exercise as a preventative measure. She has huge experience in managing musculoskeletal problems related to the condition and runs twice weekly osteoporosis classes.
Performance psychologist Gerry Hussey has been working at the forefront of Olympic and international sport since graduating from Trinity College Dublin in 2003. In his role as performance consultant, Gerry has coached elite athletes for Olympic Games, Heineken Cups, European and World Championships. He brings an unrivalled wealth of honesty, experience and infectious passion to his work from golf to sailing and Olympic Boxing to corporate coaching. Among his current clients are the Irish Olympic Boxing team, Munster Rugby, Vodafone and many more. His work with the Irish Boxing team in the Beijing and London Olympic games has been well documented and acclaimed.
Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD is the UK's leading nutritionist specialising in women's health. She is the former President of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of Medicine and the author of a number of internationally best-selling books including her new book Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimers. Dr Glenville runs clinics in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Kilkenny and regularly visits Ireland to give workshops and clinics.
Kathryn Thomas hosts the successful RTE show 'Operation Transformation' but her passion for adventure and being in the outdoors was clear throughout her 10 years previously spent travelling the world with 'No Frontiers'. She has completed many challenges including climbing Kilimanjaro and the Himalayas, the Ironman, half-marathons and trekking in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Kathryn believes everyone, at some stage in their life, should accomplish something that pushes them outside their comfort zone. Having attended many residential camps worldwide she has seen the benefits they can give - not just physically but mentally and emotionally. She set up Pure Results Bootcamp so others could feel the benefits of a health and fitness kickstart as she has done.
Sunday Indo Living