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Your New Year diet & fitness overhaul

Extreme diets and punishing or time-consuming fitness regimes are not sustainable long term. If you want to overhaul your diet and fitness, focus on making gradual, achievable changes that become healthy habits and part of your everyday life

Paul Dodd, personal trainer at Clayton Hotel, Liffey Valley

  • Try and make sure you’re eating every 2-3 hours – the body will store instead of break down foods if you leave a window of more than 3 hours without eating.
  • Keep hydrated and drink plenty of water during the day and not just during workouts, aim for at least 2.5 litres a day.
  • Try and avoid sugar in the mornings, the likes of fruit, sugary cereals, sugar in tea/coffee. If you start your day with high sugar foods it’s all you will crave for the day.
  • Prepare your food for the day the night before, get yourself a few good quality lunch boxes and cook your meals the night before and store it in the fridge.
  • Control your portion size – measure in handfuls, for example, a handful of mixed nuts, handful of pasta, handful sized chicken breast.
  • For serious results avoid alcohol altogether. If you are heading out keep your fat intake as low as possible during that day. As soon as you have a drink the body stops breaking down the fat to start breaking down the alcohol, storing the fat.
  • Aim for 6 meals a day – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack – and maintain a window between meals of 2-3 hours.
  • Have protein with every meal – get to know your protein intake and how much you need, ideally 1g per kg of body weight for healthy weight management.
  • Don’t avoid fats – eat healthy fats found in nuts, avocados, fish, peanut/nut butters, eggs, olive oils etc.
  • Load up main meals with as much veg as you want, all vegetables are good but sticking to greens is best.
  • Introduce green tea into your daily routine – it’s a natural fat burner.


Gráinne O’Driscoll runs Grá For Fitness offering corporate, private and public pilates and group fitness classes

  • Switch white bread, pasta, rice for healthier wholegrain versions.
  • Batch cooking is great, providing meals for a few days. Keep kitchen standbys e.g. eggs, frozen veg, tins of tuna, beans, lentils.
  • Stuck for recipes? Find a healthy foodie / chef and follow their YouTube demos.
  • Be boring – have the same thing for breakfast every day. Avoid sugary cereals. Healthiest options include porridge and eggs.
  • Food diaries or apps such as myfitnesspal can be very useful to get a handle on your food intake.
  • Be mindful at mealtimes. Eat slowly. Stop when you’re 80% full.
  • Switch your daily latte or cappuccino for an americano with a splash of milk. Those milky calories add up!
  • A glass or two of wine every evening can quickly become a habit, leading to weight gain and disrupted sleep amongst other issues. How about just a couple of evenings a week?
  • Exercise –a brisk 30-minute walk at lunchtime, or perhaps you can introduce a pilates or yoga class at work? What about running, hiking, cycling? Mix it up. Try and get something in each day.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of eight hours sleep a night for your health. Switch your devices off an hour before you go to bed.


Dr Ross Anderson and Dr Mark Campbell of the Department of Physical Education and Sport Science at University of Limerick (UL).

Don’t give up
“Everyone who starts in January wants to do 10 things at once,” says Dr Campbell. “They want to run 10k, train for the marathon, lift loads of weights and have a six pack and they want it all now. One of the important things is to start slow and to have one or two small, reachable targets”. Dr Anderson says a brisk walk, cycle or light jog is a good starting point.

Think of your goal
Whether your overall goal is to eventually climb Mount Everest or simply to have a slightly slimmer summer body, try to visualise this aim whenever you feel like giving up. “It’s about trying to find the reason why you’re going to the gym,” says Dr Anderson.

Track your improvements
Write down everything that you do every day in relation to exercise. If you start to lose motivation, look through this notebook and consider how much you’ve already achieved. “This logging of training or time spent in the gym is really important motivationally, so you can see where you were,” says Dr Anderson.

Get help
Getting professional advice will change the way you train and is a great way to ensure you maintain your fitness and exercise program. “Technical help can be really useful, particularly for running so you don’t feel as sore afterwards,” Dr Campbell says.

Sarah O’Meara and John Hendrick from Club Vitae in Clayton Hotel, Liffey Valley

Move more
Whether that is a walk in the evening or chasing with the kids, you have to start somewhere. Emphasise quality training over quantity.

Eat more
Starving yourself will provide short-term success but it is not healthy and if you are exercising more it is important to fuel your body with the right foods. “Taking a more detailed approach to diet like looking at your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake can help motivate you to achieve your goals,” says John Hendrick.

Mix up workouts
It is important to vary training so you don’t become bored. “Find a plan that best suits you and your goals,” says Sarah O’Meara.

Buy real food
Stock up on vegetables and proteins as healthy alternatives to junk food.

To achieve your fitness goals you will need plenty of rest. Try and get 7 hours a night.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Set small achievable goals for weight loss or muscle gain and this will help you to achieve your overall fitness goals. “Anyone looking to take fitness to the next level should look at their progress over the last few weeks or month,” says John.

Healthy hotels
Travelling with work can disrupt your routine and diet, so choose hotels that provide a gym and healthy food options so you can stay on track.


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