WEEK 5: Ciara McDonnell's weight loss journey: The hunger games

It’s week five of Ciara McDonnell’s weight loss programme – and a wedding threatens to destroy her hard work over the past month.

Week five starts with a family wedding. 

The two-day event is filled with joy and jubilance and all the amazingly delicious food and wine that comes with it, and I indulge with absolute gluttony.

My trainer Eddie, who together with Brian Drinan and Paul Coffey from acclaimed eatery Perry Street Market Café is setting up a new concept in fitness called One Arena, is mainly supportive of my break-out. 

During our last training session before the wedding, he makes me promise to try to make good choices, but overall to enjoy myself.

My failures will not happen because of a weekend of overindulgence, he says.

They will come from eating the leftover waffles on my children’s dinner plates every night for a week, or forgetting to plan dinner and grabbing a takeaway instead.

I am building a new lifestyle, he explains, and it isn’t one where I have to live like a nun.

There are consequences to my actions, however.

It takes me almost a week to recover from the celebrations, and it is evident in my workouts.

I am tired and toxic and feel heavy and bloated — it is hard to be enthusiastic about lifting heavier weights, and I crawl through the first session of the week.

Our second session goes well, and I make sure that I am eating in an extremely clean fashion, with lots of green veg, ginger and garlic to purge my system.

The trouble is, I feel as though all of my progress has stalled.

My body seems to be ignoring the brutal exercise and diet I am on, and instead, is sporting a paunchy tummy and a bum that quite simply won’t get any smaller.

I sit down with Eddie towards the end of the week to discuss my lack of progress. 

I am near tears for many reasons — I have one week of my Hunger Games left and I am sure that I will have made little or no progress. 

I am suffering from extreme imposter syndrome and that, coupled with the anxiety that I will let Eddie, Paul and Brian down because I was stupid enough to party like a 20-year-old at a wedding puts me at the edge of reason.

Eddie explains that when we go off plan for a weekend out like I have, it can take a while for our bodies to come back to fat-fighting mode. 

He describes it like this: I have spent a month getting my body in optimum shape to lose fat and get fit, and by introducing alcohol over a weekend, I have flooded my body with carbs, and it doesn’t know which end of it is up. 

It will take a little while for it to come back to its new normal, but it will, he assures me.

I finish the week determined to smash my last week with One Arena. 

I am already feeling the panic rising about what I am going to do when all of this is over, so I do the first thing that comes to mind.

I go for a run, and surprisingly I enjoy it.

Clothes from JD Sports. www.jdsports.ie 

See the sixth and final week of Ciara’s six-week programme next week in Weekend.

Follow Ciara’s journey on Twitter @ciaramcdonnell3


At Home Workout

Mountain Climbers

This body exercise works the arms, legs, core and cardiovascular system.

Get into a full plank position with hands slightly wider than your shoulders. 

Keep your core engaged, draw one knee into the chest without lifting your hips. 

Keep alternating legs while keeping your shoulders over the your hands, back straight and core tight.


Eddie’s Assessment

Ciara’s busy life throws up challenges that affect the consistency of her nutrition and due to this, weight loss and inches lost have slowed down. 

However, I have reassured Ciara that consistency is key. 

If we keep training hard and eating right we will get to where we want to go.

Perry Street’s Healthy Granola

WEEK 5: Ciara McDonnell's weight loss journey: The hunger games

400g jumbo oats

Juice of 2 oranges (150ml), plus zest of ½ orange

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries

25g flaked almonds, toasted

25g mixed seeds

25g each pistachios (shelled), cashew nuts, cranberries

2 tbsp honey

To serve:

2 large oranges, segmented or figs quartered 

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. 

2. Put the orange juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half, stirring occasionally. 

3. Mix the oats with the orange zest and cinnamon. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the oat mixture into the juice.

Spread over the lined tray in a thin layer, drizzle with honey and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, turning the oats every few minutes.

Leave to cool on the tray. 

4. Once cool, mix the oats with the raspberries, nuts and cranberries. Can be kept in a sealed jar for up to one week.


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