Eat & Move with Derval O'Rourke: Reach your personal and professional potential

This week I’m sharing a fabulous steak recipe and a light lunch salad option. I’ll chat about reaching your potential in your personal and professional life.

Part of my work is speaking engagements. I speak on various topics but generally the theme is how to be your best self – this is how I motivated myself to reach a high level as a professional athlete and now how I stay motivated to be my best in my life post-professional sport.

January is always a busy time for this type of work, workplaces are hoping to motivate their staff and in turn staff are planning for a big year ahead.

I recently did four speaking engagements in the financial sector. It was really interesting for me to be immersed in a totally different industry for a few days.

I studied business management for my masters in the Smurfit Business School which meant I wasn’t completely out of my depth but at the same time it was great to be back in this environment.

I took a lot of learning from the few days.

There were a few themes that jumped out at me as relevant to all of us for this year:

1. Pension planning – what is your health pension?

Pensions are not the most exciting topic but they are really important and an area that most of us need to engage with. Essentially you are long-term planning to give yourself more financial security in later years. 

We all get so caught up in our financial health in every stage of our lives but yet we struggle to think of the little changes that make a difference to our long- term mental and physical health.

Planning to be financially secure into our later years is incredibly important but I feel its just as important to team this with a long-term ‘health pension’. What are the small ‘deposits’ you make each month that will give you a better chance at a healthier future?

When I retired from athletics one of the main questions I was asked was what am I training for now and I always found it really simple, I train to give myself the best chance at a long and healthy life.

I’m training for a great quality of life into my later years.

2. Quarterly and yearly targets —professional and personal

A theme that always comes up in the corporate world is hitting targets and being motivated. It’s one that is incredibly familiar to me after spending years as a professional athlete. In terms of work goals, I have my own ones but I always balance them with health goals. 

Yes, I’m ambitious with work but it’s just as important I’m healthy and not burnt out.

I believe everyone should set themselves a yearly health goal and have markers every quarter (March, June, September, December) that will help to keep you on track to reach your annual health goal.

Take a few minutes to consider what is your health goal for the year ahead.

3. Experience and experts — people deal with people

I’ve a lot of experience when it comes to healthy lifestyle and it’s an area I obviously love. I’m fortunate that lots of people engage with me about it and trust what I tell them.

However, there is a responsibility in that trust to make sure the information I give out is correct.

One of the skills I admire most in people is the ability to work with others and collaborate. No one knows everything and tapping into various experts is really essential whether that is for your work or personal goals.

In work it’s so useful to ask people who are more expert than you for their input.

Outside of work when it comes to your health make sure you are sourcing your information from people who are well qualified or work with a network of people.

Since launching my site,, one of the main ways I’ve been building it is to bring in experts who contribute their knowledge.

For me that’s the best way to work.

4. Work culture that works

My work is performance- and results-driven. I work for myself and if I don’t do certain things then I don’t get paid, it is really as simple as that. 

A lot of workplaces will place high value on targets which I touched on in point two but I would encourage all work places to embrace a work culture that works to encourage healthy balance.

What I mean by that is when you are in the office make sure that you are doing the small things that make a difference to your work/life balance.

Get out for a walk with colleagues at lunchtime, if it is crunch time in the office make sure to ask others how they are doing, be mindful of the types of office snacks that you bring in.

Whether you are the boss or not you can really contribute to a healthy work culture so just be aware of the positive impact you can make on your own and your colleagues’ health.

Most people want to reach their potential in work and I really feel passionately that to do this it’s important to care of all of you.

Keep that health pension in mind.


I recently attended the launch of a series of talks in Cork that will talk place at the end of February called Teen Talks Cork. They are for transition year students and will discuss health, nutrition, fitness and wellbeing. They are free for schools so please check out the website to get more info:

Stunning Steak and Sides

Let’s be honest meat got a bit of a bashing in January with all the talk of veganuary.

I’m unashamedly bringing you a stunning steak.

I adore a good steak and I’m lucky in Cork to have a great butcher in the English Market called Tom Durcan where I can pick up quality meat.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves: 2

Nutritional information:

Protein - 49g

Fat- 57g

Carbohydrate - 38.5g

Calories - 892.5

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

2 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tbsp. rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

1 large rib eye steak, preferably on the bone (14-16 oz.)

½ lb full fat butter, at room temp

200ml full fat cow’s milk

Salt and white pepper, for mash

6 cloves garlic, crushed

Handful fresh parsley, chopped

Few sprigs of rosemary, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Place sweet potato in a prepared roasting dish and put in oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the parsnips and simmer for 30 minutes or until the parsnip is soft.

In a large frying pan heat the rapeseed oil until very hot and season the pan with the sea salt and black pepper.

Place your steak onto the pan (if you don’t hear a decent sizzle your pan is too cold) and sear for about 2 minutes each side until nicely caramelised.

Place the steak onto a tray and pour over any juices from your pan, then place into the oven for 5-10 minutes depending on how well done you want it.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, cover with tinfoil and allow to rest while you get the mash and butter ready.

Mash the cooked parsnip and sweet potato in a bowl together with the milk, half the butter and then season to taste with salt and white pepper.

For the garlic and herb butter simply blend the garlic, parsley and rosemary together with some olive oil to create a paste then combine in a bowl with the remaining butter.

From here on it is just an assembly job and let the sharing commence!

Crunchy Broccoli & Feta Salad

If you’ve had my steak recipe the night before this is a perfect light lunch option.

This is a tasty, high-fibre salad. The raw broccoli and peppers have a lovely crunch that’s offset by the feta, and the chickpeas pack a lot of extra nutrition.

If you want to increase your carbohydrates, serve wholemeal pitta on the side.

This is a salad that’s easy enough to pull together in 10 minutes, but nice enough to serve to friends.

Prep Time: 10 min

Serves: 2

Nutritional Information:

Protein - 17.7 g

Fat - 9g

Carbohydrate - 24 g

Fibre - 9.6 g

Calories - 271

400g broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces

400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 peppers, deseeded and diced

75g feta, diced

For the dressing:

2 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tbsp. natural yoghurt

1 tbsp. lemon juice

salt and pepper

Place the broccoli, chickpeas, peppers and feta in a large serving bowl and mix well.

Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and stir well.

Top the broccoli salad with dollops of the dressing and serve without delay.

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