Derval O'Rourke's small steps and tips to wellness

“Each of us lives only one life: make sure that it really is the best life it can be.”

WE KNOW Derval O’Rourke as a three-time Olympian, a bestselling author, a player development manager and, of course, mother to little Dafne, but now the former professional athlete reveals another side — Derval O’Rourke, the philosopher.

In The Fit Foodie, which hit the shelves yesterday, the former world champion sprint hurdler shares her own wellness philosophy and gently nudges readers to take small, but positive steps to improve their health and fitness.

“Each of us lives only one life: make sure that it really is the best life it can be,” she writes in a follow-up to her bestselling venture into the publishing world, Food for the Fast Lane.

This book focuses on food too, but it’s also very matter-of-fact and practical, offering ordinary, time-challenged people simple tips on how to eat well and move more.

And Derval O’Rourke knows all about time pressure. She may have retired from the track, but she says she’s still “plate-spinning” and racing against the clock.

Derval O’Rourke enjoying one of her salads from her second cookery book ‘Fit Foodie’.Pictured alongside the former Olympian is her much-loved labradoodle, Berlino.
Derval O’Rourke enjoying one of her salads from her second cookery book ‘Fit Foodie’. Pictured alongside the former Olympian is her much-loved labradoodle, Berlino.

“In life, there are two things that money can’t buy: time and health. I try hard not to be wasteful with either,” she says. 

That about sums up what’s on offer in The Fit Foodie: it’s a no-nonsense guide to eating and exercising well that won’t waste your time.

Her choice of recipes might be rather traditional, but with names such as ‘five-minute muesli’, ‘laid-back lamb tagine’ and ‘jogger’s chicken stew’ (prep time; 30 minutes tops), they will appeal to those who want to make healthy, nutritious meals quickly.

As O’Rourke explains: “[This] is about making good food an easy part of your everyday life so you can be as energised, active and fit as you need and want to be.”

She is also an inspiration to those who might lack confidence in the kitchen. 

She said the highest compliment she received about her first book was that it helped people to learn how to cook. That’s exactly what she wants to do with this book too.

She says she’s a self-taught home cook who started from “a very low knowledge base” a little over 10 years ago.

“Take it from me, if you can read and then watch cookery skills demos online and then just go for it, you can become a decent home cook,” she says.

The Fit Foodie is full of tips to help you on that journey. It also has advice on stocking the freezer and the store cupboard — “if you see delicious, healthy food on offer, buy in bulk; this will do wonders for your health and finances” — as well as some pointers from dietician and performance nutritionist Sharon Madigan.

“Even small changes in what and when you eat can have big effects on performance, health and energy levels,” Madigan says.

Some of her top tips?

Cook from scratch: There is no magic health bullet but cooking your meals from scratch can deliver most of your nutritional requirements.

Colour is key: Including a rainbow-coloured range of food in your diet will increase your chances of meeting your vitamin, mineral and antioxidant needs.

No guilt: Don’t do guilt. If you have a treat, enjoy it and move on.

Don’t eat too little: If you are exercising and training, you need extra fuel. Make small changes to your food intake to take account of what’s going on in your life and you will feel more energised.

Don’t be a hero: Don’t try to make changes all at once. Make dietary and training changes gradually.

The Fit Foodie shows you just how to do that. There are healthy eating tips, a guide to getting more active and even cooking and workout playlists. 

‘Till I collapse’ by Eminem is on the workout list, but you’ll be glad to hear that O’Rourke says sometimes, cake really is the answer.

She doesn’t keep junk food in the house — “I would be far too tempted to eat it” — but she says she always has the ingredients to make a cake in her larder.

“Sometimes a bit of baking and a slice of homemade cake is just what you need. Life is too short not to make a cake every now and then.”

The Fit Foodie by Derval O’Rourke is published by Penguin Life, €20.99


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