Week 1

A four-year-old’s drawing of me as a sumo sized, obese ‘Daddy’ has prompted me to join a get fit 12-week course. The picture of ‘me’ with my mouth agape, beside a stick thin Good Woman and the artist, The Whirlwind Princess, troubled me, shaking me from my complacency. Around the same time Robbie Farrell, a weight, health and lifestyle consultant based in New Ross, ambled into my office and offered me the opportunity to partake in his 12-week programme. This was moments after an optician had recommended large sunglasses for me as they looked great ‘on people with massive heads’. Having hummed and hawed, I resolved to give Robbie a call. As a foodie who has never joined a gym or committed to any regular exercise beyond five-a-side football on a week-night, I was daunted by the prospect. I rang Robbie up and met him for an assessment which involved a little paperwork in which I outlined certain aspects of my physical health.

My blood pressure was taken and came in perfect and my weight, 174 lbs, was good also. Robbie, who works with his business partner Keeley Clayden, said my weight may not decrease substantially by the time I complete the programme, but I would lose body fat, providing I commit myself to do more exercise and eat better. The idea was about making me happier and that sounded good to me. His very affordable one-on-one programme involves me filling out a diary every day, in which I outline what I have eaten, drank, what exercise I have undertaken, my urine colour, what is stressing me out and what snacks I have munched on.

As someone with a sweet tooth who enjoys wine, beer and anything that has sugar in it, I was terrified. Like many people I always wanted to commit myself to a fitness programme. I developed a gut in my late twenties and despite getting into tennis, soccer, running and ground hurling in fits and starts, I never managed to shake it. It’s not that I’m vain, (OK I am a bit), but it’s more that I want to do this for me to prove that I can do it. It’s easy when you have children to say you’re too busy all the time. I’ve said it so much that my two-year-old has started repeating it when I ask him to do something. There is always a window, be it first thing in the morning, on a lunch break, late at night, or on the weekend, when exercise can be achieved. I have made a start by walking the kids to creche every morning. My next challenge is to start availing of the windows aforementioned.

As someone who can be like a sloth on Valium on weekends, it will take the effort of my life to stick to my new routine over the coming weeks. Robbie assures me that it won’t be too taxing and his easy manner has me convinced, but I worry. In terms of getting happier, this is something I need to work on. The first thing that needs changing, temporarily, is my playlist. Listening to shoe-gazing music á la John Grant, Protomartyr, Neil Finn and Jeff Buckley, needs to be replaced by more exercise-appropriate music by Curtis Mayfield, Bruno Mars, anything with a beat. I heard Tina Turner’s Simply the Best while in the bank earlier. That would work. Or Eye of the Tiger!

Week 2

The world of fitness has opened itself up to me, dear readers, and I, for one, am transfixed. Friday saw me get my itinerary for the first fortnight of my 12-week weight, health and lifestyle journey, from Robbie Farrell, of the appropriately named, Weight Health Lifestyle, (WHL), training centre in New Ross. To get a look at me in action prior to this, Robbie asked me to go along to a circuit training night in the local YMCA Hall in New Ross. Now the last time I heard YMCA it involved some angular dance moves and dodgy clothing. I arrived in the hall not knowing what to expect armed with Robbie’s kind warning to only do as much as I felt up to on my first night. On arriving I saw two huge ropes, a ball, a balancing wobbly thing, lots of benches, weights, a skipping rope and other strenuous looking things.

Before I knew it I was waving the ropes around up and down and from side to side like they were strings of spaghetti. I was doing high knee motions before going on to sit-ups, stealthily moving sideways with a band around my legs, crab-like, jumping over yokes – all but high-fiving the trainers. Dormant for so long (make that forever), the athlete in me was reborn. Then I hit suddenly the wall. Robbie’s sage advice had been cast aside in a foolhardy flush of youthful braggadoccio. Crumpled in the foetal position, deeply regretting the lasagne I had eaten before going to the class, I realised that it was better to take it easy and rejoin the class, albeit at a much slower pace, with my dignity intact.

On Friday Robbie told me my fate: Exercise six days a week for around one hour each day; eat more berries, nuts and good stuff; lay off the sausages, iced buns and cake; cut drink down to four units a week (must Google this!); do warm up and cool down exercises, and core exercises. It was the last one that got me. Sitting there it all seemed very doable, but then the fear set in. What is a core exercise my lazy brain started asking, the echo getting louder and louder. Is it like coring an apple? Robbie quickly showed me how to do some, including the plank, a pelvic tilt and a few more. No apples in sight.

Doing the plank for the first time I could feel ever fibre of my being shake uncontrollably for the ten seconds I managed. I found myself out for the first of many 5 km walks that night followed by some more exercise. Saturday I had a little less to do and Sunday was a day off. Having done treble my usual amount of exercise over the previous days I felt great on Sunday. Was it possible that even I could move from my unconscious, lazy routine into active, conscious exercise? Over the weekend I faced numerous challenges. The ‘Ah feck it’ impulse kicked in several times, whereby I almost, but didn’t, justify allowing myself a freshly baked bun or some of the kids’ leftover ice cream, (such a shame to throw it out!). All the Easter eggs neatly lined up in a row in the supermarket whispering dark chocolate secrets in my ear as I passed was rough, but I got through, pretty much. WHL’s absolute focus is long term weight, health and lifestyle changes to ensure that each client can live the life they want to live. They have their work cut out with me!

Check out David’s article in the 22nd of March Edition of the New Ross Standard!

Week 3

SUDDENLY everything is food. Calories jump out from the hitherto unseen back of packets in the press and fridge. I even had a dream in which the world’s best dessert chefs were coming up with fantastic pastry creations: Croquembouches, impossibly giant lemon meringue pies , Valrhona chocolate pies. Like a man deprived of one of his senses, I have a hyper sensitive nose to compensate. Little snacks and ‘sins’ in Slim World parlance are avoided, but sometimes scoffed. Berries, nuts, dried fruit, nothing bad, but each one feels like a defeat especially when you’re not hungry. What’s happening to me? The latest culinary treat, the Crème Brulée French toast, combining two of my favourite things, pops up no my Facebook feed as if to mock me. I am in a battle and I can’t see daylight. What did I do with my time before this? What a difference 90 minutes exercise a day can make.

The food part is way harder than I imagined. A disappointed feeling slakes my tongue as I resist, resist, resist, while Wilde’s famous quote: ‘I can resist anything but temptation’, rings in my ear. Buoyed by my trainer Robbie’s assessment that I had a healthy diet, barring the buns, ice cream and cakes that I fall prey to in moments of weakness, I was sure I could cope, but I forgot one other, indelible side of my persona: my hatred of waste. I’d sooner lick my daughter’s abandoned half-full plate clean than see a scrap of food wasted, and as for chocolate, I can never bring myself to empty the neatly-wrapped Christmas biscuits into the bin, even the horrible ones ‘in case the guests arrive’. There is a fine line between being naïve and being an idiot: a line I thread every day. While on my blue yoga map one night during my ‘Feel the burn: Saison en Enfer’, I had the brainwave to cook some food that was nearly going off.

As I’m supposed to eat kidney beans, red meat and onions, I decided to make a pot of chili con carne. Having prepared the veg, added some spices and opened the tins of tomatoes, I threw the meat in and bob’s your uncle, back to the mat located around the corner down the hall – about five feet away as the nose smells. My olfactory senses on overdrive even on Robbie’s very forgiving diet, I caught a whiff of the bold aromas emanating from the La Creuset as I tried to do a plank manoeuvre. For the uninitiated this involves raising yourself up off the ground while lying on your forearms and staying put for one minute, all the while feeling your stomach shake like mad.

30 seconds in I couldn’t resist the urge to tamper with my recipe, having picked up an off note in the densely scented air. I reached for the Bournville chocolate tin with its reassuring warm colours, redolent of childhood, and tipped a bit in. Unsatisfied with my increasingly Mexican creation, I tipped some more in, but a block of cocoa managed to end up submerged in the gloopy mixture. By now all this cooking was eating into my exercise time. Having remedied the situation by throwing in loads more stuff: black pepper for heat, lime to counteract the heat and turmeric, because it’s good for you, I returned to my mat and attempted a side twist plank on my weaker side, collapsing under the strain. I stuck at it, (the exercise that is), licking my lips, and left the food to cook having learned a salutary lesson.

Weight Health Lifestyle, (WHL), are unique in what they offer in that they adopt a holistic approach to weight loss focusing on weight; gain identification, management and loss. Robbie said: ‘We delve into the world of the individual to enable us to identify the root cause of weight gain by focusing on lifestyle factors that contribute (food consumption, stress, hydration levels, sleep patterns, motivation and energy levels) to weight gain. Armed with this information, and combined with results from a Nutritional Deficiency Assessment and Body Composition Analysis (including; Body Fat Percentage, Visceral Fat Rating, Muscle and Bone Mass, Caloric Intake, Basal Metabolic Rate, Body Mass Index, and the dreaded Metabolic Age) the team design a Weight Loss Programme that is specific to that individual’

Week 4

HEART monitor. Check. Skipping rope. Check. Lucozade. Check. Week 3 of my self obsessive weight, fitness challenge has been tough as I try to stay on the straight and narrow, while all around me (The Good Woman especially) giddily indulge in post Lenten debauchery. Easter wasn’t easy.

Dairy Milks were melted in my house during the week to be oozed over jam buns. I’ll say no more. Meanwhile I was chewing on Macadamia nuts and dried mango, sipping green tea. The closest thing I got to Easter Sunday bliss was a bit of lamb, with spud and veg.

Outside my little world of exercise and diet, it transpires that there is a lot going on in the lives of people around me, but I don’t care about that. Like a grumpy Incredible Hulk, without the monstrous muscles, I go around the house and office with mug of herbal tea in hand, talking about myself.

I’ve become a reality fitness diva, who is boring the hell out of everyone else. Colleagues, who once were enthralled with my sugar free, alcohol (almost free) diet and exercise regime, now roll their eyes and turn their chairs away. The Good Woman who is busy herself with yoga, work , minding the children, washing clothes and her smartphone, understandably has not brought her world to a shuddering halt to facilitate my grand vanity project. This is completely intolerable to me, especially when I’m in my Mr Hyde mode in the evening, before my job and before I start doing my exercises. I digress. I have not achieved the goals set for me and am OK with that, so herein lies a big problem.

The hardest thing is getting the balance and timings right. I’ve learned to my peril that starting my exercises at 10 p.m. on a work night, (or any night for that matter) is not a good idea. Considering it takes me an hour to do the warm up, 5 km jog , cool down exercises and shower, and an hour to complete three rounds of core exercises, as I currently need a break between each go, I didn’t get to bed until 12:30 a.m. after my half hour of relaxation in front of the telly.

The good news is that I’ve come on leaps and bounds at my Saturday Park Run, stopping only twice now on the 5 km circuit where in the past I would have to stop four times at least. Instead of bombing it around the course trying to get to certain leafy landmarks, I’ve learned to control my breathing better. The benefits are also evident in my indoor soccer where I have more energy. Basically I’m finally learning the benefits of a good diet, sensible eating and more exercise. The tasks that Robbie of Weight Health Lifestyle, (WHL), have set me have been difficult, OK, almost impossible, particularly the core exercises. My heart monitor doesn’t lie and isn’t broken, so I have to run harder to stay within my allotted heart beat parameters.

Robbie said: ‘We delve into the world of the individual to enable us to identify the root cause of weight gain by focusing on lifestyle factors that contribute (food consumption, stress, hydration levels, sleep patterns, motivation and energy levels) to weight gain. Armed with this information, and combined with results from a Nutritional Deficiency Assessment and Body Composition Analysis (including; Body Fat Percentage, Visceral Fat Rating, Muscle and Bone Mass, Caloric Intake, Basal Metabolic Rate, Body Mass Index, and the dreaded Metabolic Age) the team design a Weight Loss Programme that is specific to that individual.’

Week 5

I’M floating like a butterfly this week having learned that my grand vanity project is paying off. I lost six pounds and 3 per cent of my body fat in my first three weeks doing the Weight Health Lifestyle 12-week programme. My metabolic age has also reduced from 33 to 27 and other vital stats are also down. I feel lighter, fitter, more productive, like the Radiohead lyrics, but said in a more animate voice. At indoor soccer I am banging in goals left, right and centre and my running has come on leaps and bounds. It hasn’t been all hard work either.

At my consultation meeting on Tuesday when I learned of my fantastic results, Robbie told me that I had gone above and beyond the call of duty by exercising until after midnight (once). Eight hours sleep is vital to the programme so no exercise after 9 p.m. for me, unless I really want to. I’ll be hitting the roads for a walk at lunch and another walk in the evening. Instead of spending an hour on core exercises, it will be 20 minutes maximum and I only have to do what I can manage.

All good you say. Well yes, if not for my weekend of binge drinking. A trip home to Kerry is always fraught with pints and dangers. Factor in a year’s absence and a reunion with two of the hardest drinkers I know, my chances of sticking to my four unit maximum of alcohol were always going to be slim. As I exited the pub at 5 a.m., having spent most of the night in the smoking area, I sensed trouble the next day, what with a 5 km park run scheduled for 9.30 a.m. Needless to say the park run was missed, but I’ll get to that later on.

My preparations for this trip had been military like in their detail. I had everything packed the night before and sacrificed one night in Kerry to do my run and core exercises. On Friday morning on my way to Kerry I even stopped in a shop to buy a new yoga mat so that I could so some exercises after I arrived. Several hours of traffic jams later and exercise was the last thing on my mind. Before long I was seated at a French restaurant reading a menu with enough calories in the starters alone to satisfy an elephant. My options limited, I opted for something substantial.

I had one glass of red wine, then another, bringing me up to my limit. This was at 8 p.m. I said I’d only have one more drink before making my excuses and going home, but then a friend was late and wouldn’t be arriving until midnight. I supped my pint, but then pints were bought for me and rounds initiated. Brandy and vodka was downed so that before I knew it a month’s units were used up. A few crisps and cigarettes completed my binge-fest. I awoke the next midday with a queasy feeling.

After a month of being extremely good, I had done the dog on it and was left wondering was there any way back. I mustered the strength to go on a long walk and ate healthily for the rest of my break, with only two more beverages chalked down, Guinnesses of the creamiest variety. On the drive home I regretted overdoing it and wondered if I would ever be able to do a core exercise or a run again. Sunday being a day of rest I took it easy that evening and stayed within my limits, opting for the turkey dinner over the lamb with stuffing, in a show of superhuman willpower

Week 6

I was pictured with a cigarette in my gob in last week’s column. I do not advise smoking to get fit. I don’t smoke, barring on the odd marathon session, which usually happens once a year and I don’t plan on smoking for the remainder of my 12 week programme. Week 5 saw me push myself to the limit as I continued my programme, despite the fact that I had a stag in Carrick-on-Shannon to stomach on Saturday. The circuit training class on Wednesday was great craic, with Robbie playing some old school tunes befitting a man of my age, i.e. The Killers and Michael Jackson. I have been occupying this fleshy mass of muscle and bone for 38 years and it is only now that I am putting it to work. Amazing!

On the stag we did hovercraft racing, buggy racing and shooting which was great. People remarked that I was looking in good shape as we tucked into our dinner. I went as healthy as possible on a stag and stuck to the lamb, sheepishly avoiding the steak, chips and peppercorn sauce offering. I still managed to get through a fair bit of red wine, bottles of beer and pints, but took my leave early letting the young fellas continue to party the night away with the hens. Sunday morning was a cracker so I got out at 9.30 for a run to the amazement of the other stag-goers. Run, in this sense, is a euphemism, but I was moving and sweat was pouring out of me so I’ll give myself that much. As the other stucked into fry-ups, I went for the fruit bowl option having learned from Robbie that half a sausage remains in your stomach, helping to form a nicely rounded tyre.

As we passed a cake shop just before leaving Carrick-on-Shannon I couldn’t resist, buying a meringue as big as a donkey’s head, stuffed with cream, a strawberry tart and a chocolate eclair: all for the important people in my life back home: The Good Woman, The Whirlwind Princess and The Little Fella. I did imagine myself tucking into all three, but held back and managed to get them as far as my in-laws house in Gorey, before forgetting them for the final, most important leg of the journey back to New Ross.

Afflicted by some stag related injury on Monday, I took a step back in my programme and limited my exercise to walking to and from the car and toilet pretty much. The weekend had taken a toll on my 38-year-old frame, but I was encouraged when someone I had never met before remarked that I looked like I was 28! My joint paint in my neck and lower back has dissipated also so things are looking up.

Weight Health Lifestyle Consultants work with clients throughout their journey and are there to monitor, guide, support, motivate and help each client every step of the way. The focus is long term weight, health and lifestyle changes to ensure that each client can live the life they want to live. Robbie said: ‘We also work with sports clubs to devise team fitness testing, programming, training and assessments to help teams reach peak fitness by the start of the new season. Each programme is player specific with Body Composition Analysis and Nutritional Deficiency Assessments conducted on each player, with nutritional programmes designed to fill deficiency gaps.’

Week 7

Not that my editor meant it upon hearing of my bold plan when he said: ‘It’s not like you can give it up after a few weeks and just have to tell your family and some friends.’ His faith in me has been rewarded seven fold so far. Like the annoying guy on the indoor soccer hall with the shin guards and the latest gleaming soccer kit – that I never was I hasten to add – I’ve bought the gear, the heart monitor, the tracksuit, skipping rope, gum, socks, shorts and improved my diet by buying loads of dry and fresh fruit and one cal cooking sprays. Nevermind the fact that you practically have to empty half a bottle of these sprays into a pan to avoid burning the salmon or meat thrown into it.

Robbie’s scales prove it is all of worth as I’m down a further three pounds, this after a stag and a weekend running around after children while The Good Woman enjoyed four days away in Amsterdam on a hen. Parenthood is a form of fitness.If single life is an endless vista of boredom and opportunity to be bored or idly entertained; parenthood is a panorama of jobs to be done and people to be minded. More often than not the person who isn’t minded is the parent which can be very difficult for some parents of a more selfish demeanour, I’m well informed. T

rying to accommodate my new exercise regime into this has proved strangely easy and extremely satsifying. Often accused of being unable to multi task, I am now able to do dozens of things in sequence, which is almost the same thing. As adults we make about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions per day. In contrast, young children only make about 3,000 decisions each day. What the statistics don’t tell us is that their decisions often presage hundreds of our decisions. Take, for instance, the simple act of leaving a permanent marker on the bureau on your watch. That can result in about 1,000 decisions having to be made afterwards. Or discovering that your son has turned the dial on the mysterious whirring box commonly known as the washing machine. Another few hundred decisions.

Having easy-to-follow exercises, completed within set, manageable times, makes the job of working out as much of a break as the 9 to 5 job! There is no boot camp mentality where you feel you’re fire fighting your way through the day. It is busy, but when things crop up like a doctor’s appointment, a stag, a wedding or a prolonged visit to relations, the targets are missed, but that’s life. The simple act of getting out for a jog, or taking out the yoga mat and doing some push ups is fantastic in itself. The diet part means you have more energy and you are more inclined to want to exercise, so it all works. I’ve even refrained from buying the weekly bottle of plonk, realising that half of it will end up thrown down the sink as The Good Woman is more sipper than glugger – Bath would’ve been more her scene.

Weight Health Lifestyle are unique in what they offer in that they adopt a holistic approach to weight loss focusing on weight; gain identification, management and loss. Robbie said: ‘We delve into the world of the individual to enable us to identify the root cause of weight gain by focusing on lifestyle factors that contribute (food consumption, stress, hydration levels, sleep patterns, motivation and energy levels).’

Week 8

THICK skin is demanded in my profession. You get lambasted for what you write about people, sometimes even when it’s positive. You are considered a failed writer, a hack, a nosy busybody and much worse. The criticism can be such that it can make you very wary going in to work on a Tuesday morning. You aim to please but the target is sometimes missed and you get it in the neck. Knock on wood this hasn’t happened me for some time now, but I have been coming under fire in the sanctity and peace of my home. Out of nowhere the Whirlwind Princess came up with a humdinger the other day, saying: ‘Daddy, you’re on a diet so you can’t have a baby in your big belly.’ Notwithstanding my physical inability to give birth, there was pregnant humour in her observation of me and my diet.

Somewhere amidst the superhero fantasies, visions of treats, playdates and the whole wonderfully alive ephemera of a four-year-old child’s mind, she has absorbed my new dietary routine. Being young, she is open to all kinds of food so she too has benefited from my new healthy food fads. A pumpkin bar here, a banana bread bar there, the blender was even dusted off and a smoothie with chia seeds, a good 80 berries and bananas, was made and scoffed.

Now in my eight week I’ve hit my stride and I can do everything on my get-fit check list almost without thinking about it. The cool weather is great for getting out for a run and what a great time of year to be out and about smelling the country smells like gorse, with its distinctive coconut smell, and fresh cut grass.

My latest great challenge is my wardrobe. I have a wedding this week and the pants I got taken out are like clown pants on me now. My belt needs a few new holes (on the right side!) and my wedding ring is starting to slip from my index finger. Considering I lost it five years ago on honeymoon in a pool, only for it to be retrieved by a hotel pool attendant, I’ll be steering clear of the pool at the hotel.

Looking into the wardrobe once made for a depressing vista. Crumpled slim fit shirts told my story of excess. I also recoil at some of my sartorial choices of yesteryear. The good news is my clothes are no longer wearing me, I’m wearing my clothes. People are complimenting me on how well I look. In typical Irish form many follow the praise by saying: ‘Don’t lose anymore weight,’ as if it would kill me!

The 12 week challenge has given me a new found celebrity which of course has gone to my head. I expect people to start honking their horns in support as I go on my lunch run and to high five me on the street. Amazing what a good lung full of oxygen can do for the mood!

Weight Health Lifestyle (WHL) work with clients throughout their journey and are there to monitor, guide, support, motivate and help each client every step of the way. The focus is long term weight, health and lifestyle changes to ensure that each client can live the life they want to live. WHL’s Robbie Farrell said: ‘We also work with sports clubs to devise team fitness testing, programming, training and assessments to help teams reach peak fitness.’

Week 9

Donald Trump is in with a chance of being the leader of the ‘free world’. Jon Snow is alive. 2016 is only one third of the way through and it has already become the year of the unbelievable.If you had asked me this time last year if I would ever have undertaken a fitness programme I would have had to be helped off the floor from a laughing fit. The unbelievable can happen and does happen every day. I write a column about fitness. Unbelievable! Why not see what unbelievable thing you can achieve?

When I had my initial consultation with Robbie Farrell of Weight Health Lifestyle, he presented me with some forms to fill out including one about my stress levels. At my consultation on Thursday morning he asked me to fill out the same form and the results were unbelievable. I had highlighted 11 areas of stress in my life eight weeks previously including: increased breathing, worry, negtive self-talk, feeling overwhelmed, rapid talking, yawning, muscle problems. On Wednesday I was down to three. Unbelievable what exercise, more sleep and a better diet can do for you!

At the weekend I attended a family wedding and I was able to enjoy a few glasses of wine, great food and I even sampled a few sausages. The fruits of my 12-week programme are that I can enjoy the odd splurge because I am doing regular exercise and have shed enough body fat to keep me trim. A golden rule of journalism is to never use two words when one will suffice. There are notable exceptions to this. In my week 8 column I made a horrendous error of Freudian proportions. In my haste to describe my inability to give birth I wrote that I was physically unable to procreate. My editor wife lost several pounds laughing her head off when she read it and I hope many of you, my dear readers, also got a good belly laugh at my expense.

Another way to lose weight is Weight Health Lifestyle Circuit Training classes which have moved to St Mary’s Secondary School in New Ross. They take place on Monday’s at 7 p.m. for one hour and on Wednesday’s at 7 p.m. also for one hour.

Robbie said: ‘We take medical conditions into account to ensure that each client is equipped with a safe and efficient plan to help them reach their target goals. Do you play take part in physical activity and want to gain an advantage over your competitors? Or want to improve your own fitness levels? WHL Consultants work with athletes on a one to one and group basis to help them reach their true sporting potential. We design sport specific training programmes and personal training programmes that fit around the athlete’s lifestyle to ensure that athletes maximise valuable training sessions.’ Each sports programme is player specific with Body Composition Analysis and Nutritional Deficiency Assessments conducted and nutritional programmes designed to fill deficiency gaps.’

Week 10

The video game Frogger has a lot to answer for. Playing it endlessly as a child allowed the froggy protagonist’s movements to filter into my subconscious. Ever since I’ve been taking leaps in my life. Mostly the leaps have proven positive. Alcohol-induced leaps, not so much.

A funny thing occurred to me recently as I was running around the misty countryside of Northumbria in Northern England. It was 8 a.m. and I was running past hedges teeming with rabbits and fields filled with sheep. I realised that I was enjoying my latest leap, the one into exercise and fitness. I know some people are saying, ‘look at that b*******, how dare he do this and make me feel bad about doing nothing.’ Well I was that person doing practically nothing for years, save watching Game of Thrones, Masterchef, snooker and whatever else was on telly.

A recent survey carried out in the UK shows that children spend on average 17 hours a week in front of the idiot box and that wasn’t even including tablet time and gaming system distractions. At least when I was young sitting in front of my Commodore 64, Atari or Sega Megadrive, it took so long for the game to load up that I was forced, in my impatience, to engage in some other thoughtful activity.

Back to Northumbria, lovely part of the UK. I think I was the only one at the wedding party who got to see the rolling countryside and some local towers and villages outside of the cocoon of the wedding venue. I had my heart monitor and my watch with me but I wasn’t really bothered with technology as I took in the sights, smells and sounds of my new-found running track. It would have been interesting to see my heart rate as I ended up resurrecting my stress levels of old when we got caught in heavy motorway traffic on our way to Newcastle Airport for our return trip home. Living in Wexford the worst traffic you’d be used to is a dog crossing the road or school rush hour which delays you by two minutes.

One hour into what should have been a 15 minute journey and I could feel myself levitate off the seat with stress. Somehow we made the airport desk in time to check in, after much running and lifting of children and bags.

Having completed the Hike to the Hook in south Wexford the previous weekend in glorious sunshine, when I felt truly privileged to be on this green earth, I was glad I had maintained some form of exercise. I had planned on doing the 20 km walk, but The Good Woman, who has only recently embaraked on her own get-fit mission, was daunted so we opted for the 12.5 km option from Fethard-on-Sea instead. My training paid dividends and we made it to the lighthouse within two hours where a festival was under way. After a 10 km run at the weekend and a few long walks with The Good Woman and The Whirlwind Princess and The Little Fella at the park and on the beach, I’m back on track as I head into my final few weeks.

Weight Health Lifestyle Consultants work with clients throughout their journey and are there to; monitor, guide, support, motivate and help each client every step of the way. The focus is long term.

Week 11

THERE was a guy knocking a ball over the net with effortless brilliance at Roland Garros court in France yesterday. ‘He’s an inspiration and confidence type player which explains his up and down results,’ one of the commentators opined. That perfectly summed me up as at that particular moment, in this my penultimate week of my 12-week challenge, I was supposed to be on the other side of the glass door, in a world of exercise, skipping to be exact. That was due to be followed by a run to start my week on the right footing. Munching on my lunch I couldn’t help but smile as Lukas Rosol battled his way to win point after point against last year’s champion Stan Wawrinka in a David versus Goliath encounter.

For me the French Open marks the beginning of summer. I was never one for the great debate about when summer should start and when it should end. The sight of the red clay baking in the sun is enough to get me into a summery mindset. I was always an ‘inspiration and confidence’ type player. Spanish and French students who used to come stay in our house every summer would attest to this. It was Andre Agassi and Ivan Lendl (and possibly Monica Seles) and not Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic who inspired me at the time. As is the case on the great stage that is the Roland Garros court, so it goes in life and although I didn’t have a great start to my 11th exercise week, I plan to bounce back tomorrow.

Last week’s weigh-in was encouraging. After a wedding and a night out, coupled with my team’s loss in the Europa League final and the ensuing hangover from that, I wasn’t exactly feeling like Conor McGregor – more like the UFC fighter Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, who weighed in 24-pounds overweight last week.

The amazing news is that my weight has dropped from 173.4 lbs to 163.1 lbs in ten weeks. My Body Mass Index has fallen from 25.2 to 22.3. My Body Fat is down from 19 to 14.2, my Body Water Percentage is also going in the right direction, up from 55.3 to 59 and my Metabolic Age has dropped from 33 to 23, perhaps accurately reflecting my maturity age!

With the fine weather I have dusted off the barbecue and that film of complacency I had about how clean and well kept my garden and house was has been burned away, leaving me with a mountain of work to do. But back to the barbecue. I have been eating sizzling burgers in (heaven’s forbid) burger buns and have enjoyed a few beers sitting in the sun listening to Bowie and Iggy Pop.

The summer wardrobe has been a source of much annoyance as my t-shirts are now like tents on me and my shorts are hanging off me and have fallen off in the local pool on occasion. With a holiday coming up in June, I have to go shopping again and that will only be the start of it, that is, once I can tear myself from the couch and leave the tennis for the pros, while I hit the roads.

Weight Health Lifestyle Consultants work with clients throughout their journey and are there to; monitor, guide, support, motivate and help each client every step of the way. Their focus is long term weight, health and lifestyle changes to ensure that each client can live the life they want to live.

Week 12

I actually did it! 12 weeks of living and now I can do nothing. Ok, that’s the wrong attitude to have but if ever was proof needed that I require clear goals and constant monitoring, it was Wednesday night after my final weigh-in. For 12 weeks (Ok 11 and a half, I was good, very good, mostly). Very little booze, apart from that night in Kerry and the stag and a wedding, the diet of Derek Zoolander pre Milan fashion show, the exercise regime of a man on a mission. I clocked up around 250 km on my heart monitor watch, running and got back into swimming. I started watching what I was eating, forgoing late night pig out sessions save the occasional spoon of peanut butter spread on a rice cracker if I was completely over indulging.

Certain booby trap foods like burgers, sausages and chips were avoided with hitherto unseen willpower. Such foods are gateway foods to other bad sugary addictions like ketchup, relish and more ketchup and relish.

Before I had no clue how much sugar there is in food I previously loved. The first ingredient on the aforementioned sauces is sugar and there is also sugar in lemon meringue pie, ice cream and cake, who’d have known? I enjoyed the circuit training classes and learned a lot about the importance of stretching every chance I get as the body is a temple even if mine was more Leaning Tower of Pisa than Taj Mahal until I got some sense over recent weeks.

I had some low points, getting sick in a bin after overdoing it on one occasion and making a beetroot smoothie. However, there were far more highs than lows and I’ll be back as the even more muscular bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger famously once said.

One thing I realised is that I have paid zero attention to my body probably since Biology class, which I failed, in 2nd Year. It may have been on the curriculum in 3rd Year but no bells are ringing.

Through Weight Health Lifestyle’s programme I’ve learned about the importance of doing what you can and not overdoing training. Eating lots of protein rich foods after training is another great tip, along with getting eight hours sleep, parking the smartphone at night, getting out for a walk in the sun on your lunchbreak at work and getting out for a run a few evenings a week. My challenge has received a great response and even though I didn’t break any records, I tried something and it worked and as with all such leaps in life this is something to be celebrated!

Weight Health Lifestyle Consultants work with clients throughout their journey and are there to; monitor, guide, support, motivate and help each client every step of the way.