It’s week three of Ciara McDonnell’s weight loss plan. She dropped two dress sizes – and she’s loving it.
Week three is my favourite week so far. It begins with the amazing news that I have lost just over two kilos.
This is especially amazing because I have just returned for a weekend away with my mother, where I may have imbibed a tequila or two. Or three.
My friend Aoife gets in touch with me to show her support of my fat-fighting ways.
She completed a brutal body transformation a few years ago, so I pump her for advice.
She assures me that during week three or four, something will click, and I won’t want to die anymore while at the gym.
Surprisingly, she is right. This week is spent absolutely killing it in the gym.
The weird thing is, I like it.
Now that I have proved that I can do squats and lunges and not fall over, I am allowed to play with the big kid’s weight machines.
I get to bench press, which makes me feel like a proper body builder, and I achieve what was totally unattainable during weeks one and two — a squat with an Olympic bar across my shoulders weighing 20kg.
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.
Eddie tells me I am a boss, and to be honest, I agree.
My diet is going well.
I’m still finding the sheer amount of meat an effort (I used to eat meat once a week), so I am thrilled when Brian and Paul come up with a super delicious chickpea burger for me to try.
Even better, the whole family like them.
I am like the Mary Poppins of snacks, toting a seemingly bottomless handbag of almonds, rice cakes and tiny pots of hummus around with me for fear that I would die of starvation.
While shopping for a dress for an upcoming wedding, I discover that I have lost almost two dress sizes. The sheer joy this gives me can’t be matched.
I fizz all over the dressing room, boring the attendants with stories of my ‘journey’.
I have become THAT person, and I’m not even sorry.
I finish the week feeling full of energy.
This week has shown me glimpses of what’s to come if I keep this exercise business up.
I am starting to see definition in my arms, and my waist is back to the way it was in my 20s.
Mostly, this week has been so good because I feel happy, and it’s a new kind of happiness.
It’s the kind of happiness that I think comes from starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.
It’s a kind of happiness I want to hang on to.
See next week’s Weekend for week four of Ciara’s six-week programme.
Follow Ciara’s journey on Twitter @ciaramcdonnell3.
At Home Workout
Push-ups are basic strength-building total body exercises that strengthen the upper body and improve the core strength.
Several muscle groups in the chest, arms, shoulder, triceps, back, and neck work simultaneously during a push-up.
Push-ups are performed in a prone position, which can help develop a good posture.
Set your hands at a distance that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Depending on your strength and experience, you can either do them on your toes or on your knees.
Keep your shoulder in line with your hands.
Keep your back straight, with a neutral spine.
Keeping your hips forward bend your elbows through full range of motion and push back up while keeping your core nice and tight.
Training is going brilliantly.
Not only is Ciara’s strength and fitness improving each week, we have also seen massive improvements in her posture, mobility and flexibility.
Even though l have given Ciara a corrective exercise programme for at home, l still include some of this work in our sessions.
I base our exercises around areas that we need to focus on.
I start our sessions with a warm-up routine to raise the heart rate, activate the muscles and mobilise the joints.
Depending on what we are focusing on in that session, l usually begin with compound exercises.
These are exercises that incorporate more than one muscle group at a time, and put the most stress on the body.
From here we have some specific exercises set out for that session that we cover, before l finish with some core and conditioning to the end of most session.
Each week we are looking to progress our training, how we perform the exercise, the weight we use and our level of fitness.
Ciara’s third week of training went very well.
She is making massive progression in the gym, and her nutrition is going very well, she is losing weight and inches everywhere.
She is enjoying it more and growing in confidence with each session.
Perry Street’s Chickpea Burgers
Ready in minutes and full of flavour, these veggie burgers are a great way of introducing one meat-free day to the weekly menu.
400g chickpeas can, drained
Zest of 1 lime, plus juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
Small bunch coriander, chopped
100g grated carrot
1 medium red onion, ½ diced, ½ sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
4 small whole-wheat buns
1 large tomato, sliced
Natural yoghurt or crème fraiche
1. In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, lime zest, juice, cumin, half the coriander, the egg and some seasoning.
2. Scrape into a bowl and mix with 80g of the grated carrot and the diced onions.
3. Form 4 burgers and press the remaining grated carrots onto both sides and chill for at least 10 minutes.
4. Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot.
5. Fry the burgers for 4 minutes each side, keeping the heat on medium so they don’t burn.
6. To serve, slice buns and fill with a tomato slice, a burger, a few red onion slices, cucumber slices, a dollop of chilli sauce and the remaining coriander.
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