9 months ago I started a lifestyle change which lead to me loosing now 30kg. Over the last 6 months people have asked me how I did it, and now that I am in a new city my friends and family are asking me if I am able to maintain my lifestyle change. Thus today I wanted to share how it is all going, what I am doing to maintain my lifestyle, and how I intend to keep fit in a new city.
How it is all going
Since moving to Dublin to say I have relaxed my routine and diet would be an understatement. I workout only on the weekends and that is limited to running in the park with a few free workout stations thrown in. I don’t own a car in Dublin and rely on public transport to get around which means I do walk quite a bit. To help make up for the lack of exercise I also get off the bus a few stops early and walk about an hour each day to and from work.
My diet is a complete other story. Chocolate Minstrels, pastries, scones, fried potato, bread and dips, hot chocolate and wine have all made a big appearance in my diet in the last month. But each week as I settle in to my new life a little more my diet slowly improves, and I am happy to say after a month of being here I haven’t put on any weight – if fact I somehow managed to lose a kilo or two!
What I have been doing to maintain my lifestyle
As I previously mentioned I walk a lot, on average I do about 5km a day just through walking to and from work. The first thing I did when I moved into my new place was to find the nearest park for me to run to/ around. In this case it was Malahide Castle and I was lucky in that a 5km running trail was already marked in the park with a number of basic workout stations based at intervals around the trail. However when I first arrived in Dublin I did not know this, and had already made a plan that at every park bench I would stop and do an exercise, for example:
Run to bench 1 – do 10 step ups on each leg
Run to bench 2 – do 3 sets of 10 triceps dips
Run to bench 3 – do 20 squats
Run to bench 4 – do 20 star jumps
Run to bench 5 – do 10 lunges on each
Then repeat until you were too exhausted to continue (or mum called) then walk back to the house.
Although my workout stations ended up being slightly different with the equipment provided by council it essentially worked a lot of the same core areas. This was a great workout and from walking out the front door to walking back in the workout session usually took me about 1 ½ hours, I ran/walked 9 – 10kms and burned about 1400 calories.
Since I started my healthy lifestyle kick I have been a stickler for breakfast, and when I say breakfast I mean eating something within the first hour of waking up. I don’t care if it is an omelette, a piece of fruit or a yoghurt but I really do believe having something (more than tea or coffee) within that first hour is really important as it does kick start your metabolism. It also stops me going into Anne’s Bakery on the way into work to buy a scone and hot chocolate like I did this morning as I was running late and forgot to grab my banana!
I also like to eat every 2 hours where possible, admittedly on the weekends I find this difficult as it can be hard to have access to good, healthy food. But when I am at work I always have a pile of carrot sticks, fruit, and a healthy pre-prepped lunch within easy reach. At the moment my go to lunch is a ‘Super Value’ Ceaser Salad with some lemon and herb chicken which I cook up at the beginning of the week and keep in the work fridge, it is quick, easy and very filling.
At night I try my best to stick by the rule of eating dinner 2 – 3 hours before going to bed. At the moment that means that by the time I commute home I have to eat straight away if I was to be in bed by 10/11pm at night. I also keep my meals very simple, you know meat and veg. I love potato, so I allow for one jacket baby potato with dinner. I find this helps with the potato cravings and means I do not get to a stage where I binge eat a truck load of fries.
I know, I know this sounds so, so boring… but this “boring” diet means:
a) I don’t really have to think about food or what I am going to cook which has been one less stressor in my life; and
b) It means I don’t feel guilty on the weekends when I go out for dinner or coffee with friends.
As mentioned I have fallen off the band wagon quite a bit though in the last couple of weeks with 3pm sugar hits and stress eating. Thankfully with keeping to the above diet and exercise as much as possible the effects of my 3pm sugar hits, stress eating and occasional breakfast scone and hot chocolate have been minimal.
Over the last week however, I have started to feel it is time to really get back in the habit. I have started to get tiered (even if I have enough sleep) and constantly bloated. When I exercise and eat right I am an extremely peppy, energetic person who always wants to be on the go. So if I am lethargic and bloaty that means my diet isn’t as good as it could be and/ or I am slacking off on the exercise. So this past weekend I worked on what I could put in place to improve on my current habits and maintain a healthy lifestyle in a new city.
I hate gyms, I went to the gym in Australia – but I am not a fan of them. I would much rather be exercising outdoors or at home than in a gym. In Australia, I had put together a few things at home to help me avoid going to the gym and I have started missing my old exercise routine. So over the weekend I went out and brought myself what I consider to be the must have home fitness equipment:
- An exercise mat
- A set of dumbbells, and
- A skipping rope
Back in Australia I live 5 min away from my work so I had plenty of time in the mornings and evenings to work out. In Dublin at the moment I spend on average 2 hours a day commuting (yesterday I spent 5 hours due to an accident in the Port Tunnel!) so being able to get my entire routine in every day and still have a life can be difficult. So when I can, I do all four exercises routines in one day – on the days when I just can’t manage it I at least do one of the three routines below.
Side Scissors x 10 each side
Plank (min 30 sec)
One leg hip raises (min 1 min)
Side planks (min 30 sec each side)
Reverse crunches x 10
Sit-up twists x 20
Skip for 1 min
Repeat 3 times
Squats x 20
Overhead triceps extensions x 10 (4kg weight)
One arm shoulder press x 10 (4kg weight)
Rear delt row (2 types) x 10 (4kg weight)
Triceps kickbacks x 10 (4kg weight)
Skip for 1 min
Repeat 3 times
Criss Cross – or as I like to call them the “spread your legs” x 10
Russian Twists x 20
Heel taps x 30
Crunches x 20
Skip for 1 min
Repeat 3 times
9.5 km run or walk to Malahide Castle and back including work out stations.
These routines where created using two methods – researching different workout programs and from learning which areas of my body I wanted to work on; and based on the exercises I will do. There was no point in me putting push-ups into my routine because I knew I would never do them. I know I physically needed to have a fitness instructor standing over me to make me do a push up so I am not even going to pretend like I am going to do one. On the other hand I know that Exercise Two is my favourite workout routine and when I have the time I will do that twice a day.
I am big on planning, it’s what works for me. I am also a big fan of pre-cooking meals such as lunch. So over the weekend I made a basic spreadsheet outlining from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed what I eat or drink… I know, I know its sounds nuts but I find it helps me prepare for the day. To give you an example:
6am – Wake up make cup of black tea
7am – Eat omelette
9am – Banana and cup of black tea
11am – Carrot / cucumber sticks cup of green tea
12noon – Water
1pm – Ceasar Salad Lunch
2pm – Cup of black tea
3pm – Water
4pm – Berries and cup of green tea
5pm – Water
7pm – Make dinner
8pm – Cup of green tea
10/11pm – Go to bed
I also have some block cheese and coco pops bars at work for those days that I want a little more or to satisfy the chocolate cravings. While at home I currently have a jar of peanut butter, and if after dinner I am feeling like that little naughty snack I just grab a teaspoon of peanut butter and treat it like an ice-cream cone. It hits the spot and is great for protein.
Conclusion… I feel like I am writing a school report!
This lifestyle change plan has been altered from my Australian lifestyle plan. The weather here and lack of hills and mountains does make it quite difficult for me to be able to do the same types of exercises I did in Australia. In Ireland I am putting more focus into running as it is something I feel that if I move it will be easy to continue. I am also looking into joining a Saturday morning kayaking group; I have an app that shows me all the local hiking trails in the area and have been using it to go hiking on the weekends; I am going to try out a Pole Fitness class (although I am expecting it to be a complete fail); I am trying to meet other people like me who are into maintaining a healthy lifestyle; and I have changed the wine to vodka and cranberry.
I am not a fitness instructor and I don’t pretend to be an expert in exercise or diet. Everything I do or have learned and continue to learn has been from word of mouth, talking to nutritionists, talking to doctors, and my friend Google. I still need to learn a lot more about nutrition and about cooking and baking with healthy ingredients so I can vary up my meal options. But right now I have a plan which works for me, and as things change and I learn more so will my lifestyle.
From reading this you may think that all I do is spend all my time exercising or working on my diet and this type of lifestyle would not suit you, but I don’t. I do like being active and I don’t really watch television, so spending 3 hours a day on the weekend hiking or working out is fun for me. But I do do other things, like blog! Or go shopping, watch the rugby, go out to meet new people at Meetup groups, catch up with friends etc. and the more active I am the more active I want to be.
I really hope that my experience and detailing my lifestyle habits helps others
moving to a new city or really even those who haven’t moved help keep a healthy lifestyle in their city. I would really like to hear about other people’s experiences in keeping a healthy lifestyle when moving, or even if you have any recipes to change up my meals that would be great too!
Below I have listed some of the websites and apps I have used in the past to help me in case anyone is interested!
http://www.bodybuilding.com/ – Although it may seem to be for serious Body Builder type person this site has a lot of good video’s to show you how to do exercises but it also allows you to choose the muscle/ area you would like to work and gives you exercises you can do to work those areas.
http://www.kaylaitsines.com/ – Although I do not prescribe to this in its entirety (apparently I am also too old for this program as it is supposed to be for those under 25 years) I did find it had some great tips and exercises that I have incorporated into my workout.
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/ – this is an Australian government website which I found really helpful when it came to the basics of understanding food choices and the difference between potato and sweet potato.
https://au.pinterest.com/ – Pinterest!
www.meetup.com – MeetUp
My Fitness Pal