WEEK 4: Ciara McDonnell's weight loss journey

Eating properly before exercise is half the battle, a lesson Ciara McDonnell learned the hard way on week four of her six-week weight loss plan.

We begin our fourth week of training by agreeing not to weigh or measure me until the end of the final week.

As somebody who could fluctuate by almost half a stone from the beginning of a day to the end of one (oh hi there, water weight, so great to see you!), this relieves me hugely. 

It also makes me focus more on our strength training than achieving my dream weight.

I’m training with Edward Finn, who will be opening up One Arena with Brian Drinan and Paul Coffey, owners of Perry Street Market Cafe, later this year. 

It’ll be a fitness centre like no other, focused on classes and personal training, with Brian and Paul’s team on hand to create healthy lunches and smoothies while you work out.

Our first session goes well, albeit in a far more hardcore fashion.

Eddie has (it feels) really upped our hourly sessions, and the crucial conditioning minutes at the end reduce me to a shaking, tomato-faced wreck, every single time. 


I make a huge mistake on day two. 

On several deadlines, I get up extremely early so that I can get a few hours of work in before the children wake up.

I down a cafetiere of coffee, and finish my article just as my boys are getting up for school and I spend the next hour or so running around, making breakfasts and lunches and generally shouting a lot.

So far, so normal.

It is only in the car at school drop-off that I realise I haven’t eaten breakfast. 

Slightly panicked, I stop at my local shop and pick up a high-protein yoghurt, thinking that this will fill me up and get me through the session.


Within 20 minutes of training, my eyes are seeing stars, and I can’t perform our usual exercises.

My body literally can’t do it.

I react by getting furious — with myself.

I feel like this is such a waste of my time — of Eddie’s time, and with only two weeks left of training, I want to get as much out of it as possible. 

I soldier on, but limp through the second half of the session, with no strength or will power left. As usual, it all comes down to food. 

In this case, it points to the need for any person who is training hard to see food as much for fuel as for delicious, tasty treats.

In this case, my body absolutely needs the carbohydrate injection I give it in the mornings — particularly if I am training that day.

Feeling so much physically weaker because of what I eat or in this case don’t eat, is a new feeling for me, and one that will have a lasting effect.

I fall head first into my porridge the next day, and stuff myself with a big omelette after training.

I keep seeing this Eat To Lose hashtag all over social media. 

Well from now on, cheesy as it is, I’m eating to win.

Clothes from JD Sports. www.jdsports.ie 

See the fifth week of Ciara’s six-week programme next week in Weekend.

Follow Ciara’s journey on Twitter @ciaramcdonnell3

Eddie’s Assessment

We have just finished our fourth week of training. 

The improvements in Ciara’s mobility, flexibility, and posture have allowed us to progress our training methods and exercises. 

With her increase in strength and fitness we are able to perform more advanced exercises and execute them better. 

I have increased the tempo and intensity of Ciara’s sessions, while trying to make them as enjoyable as possible. 

Ciara is also keeping on top of her nutrition, which plays such a huge part in Ciara achieving her goals. 

I would hope that Ciara is getting more than just a workout when she is training with me. 

I aim to support my clients as best I can with every aspect of their lives. 

I try to educate them on training and nutrition throughout our sessions, so they have the confidence and knowledge to keep going without me there. 

With two weeks left, I hope to continue to build on the good work we have done so far and strive for progression in all areas of Ciara’s training.

Get In Touch: To find out more or to enquire about personal training, email edward@onearena.ie  or go to Edward Finn Fitness & Personal Training page on Facebook.


Workout at home


WEEK 4: Ciara McDonnell's weight loss journey

The plank is another great full body exercise which works all the muscles in your core as well as your hips, bum and back. 

Having a strong core is vital because all of your functional movement comes through your core.

How to perform a plank?

Start by getting into a press up position. 

Bend your elbows and rest your weight onto your forearms and not on your hands. 

Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. 

Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine. 

Hold this position for the prescribed time.

Perry Street’s Saturday Night Curry

WEEK 4: Ciara McDonnell's weight loss journey

1 onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2-inches lemongrass, sliced finely

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp red curry paste

1 tin full-fat coconut milk

1 tsp fish sauce

500 g butternut squash or other hard squash, diced

4 chicken breasts, diced

2 tbsp mango chutney

To serve:

Fresh coriander, handful of crushed cashews

1. Start by making the aromatic base. In a food processor, combine the garlic, shallots, ginger, and lemongrass. Pulse to start, breaking down the aromatics into very fine pieces. 

Add 1 tablespoon of water to get everything moving. You may need to add another 1-3 teaspoons of water beyond that to end up with a paste. 

Be sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor so you get all the bits. You can also do this job with a mortar and pestle. 

Add onion and cook for 1 minute.

2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil. 

Once it starts to simmer, add base from above and 2 tablespoons red curry paste. 

Stir and cook this with the oil for 30 seconds.

3. Add the squash, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Bring the coconut milk to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. 

Cook the squash just until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. 

Then, add the chicken and cook 5 more minutes or until it’s no longer pink and cooked through. Add the chutney and taste.

4. Garnish with lime wedges, nuts and coriander. Serve with rice.


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