This article is part of a series of articles on food and fitness for February 2021 on Scoreline.ie. You can find the full list of articles here. KCLR Live presenter Eimear Ní Bhraonáin shares her food and fitness journey over the past few weeks as she shakes off 2020 and embraces 2021 with a fresh outlook.
In a way, I think staying on a “diet” for the rest of my life would be easier than “maintaining” my weight. You see, I’m an all or nothing kind of person. I’m either running the ring roads, lifting kettlebells in my sitting room at night and snacking on almonds or I’m knee deep in a spice bag and a bottle of wine.
I have never been good at moderation. The older I get, the more I realise that moderation is the key to everything and I desperately want to unlock that door for good. I know what I am supposed to do now… Move more and put the fork down. Sounds simple, right? It’s a lot easier than counting calories and banning foods, you’d think.
However, when I’m not dieting and just trying to maintain a healthy weight, I have discretion. For me, that can be a dangerous thing. Each time, I come away from a diet or health kick and gradually release myself into the “real” world again, I learn something. I pick up good habits but admittedly let some bad ones creep back in.
What have I learned this time? Sometimes the simple things work best. Walking, for instance. Pre pandemic, I found it boring and never had the time. Quick cardio workouts would see me burn more calories or running for half an hour. However, the way the world has slowed down and the fact that I don’t have to attend so many events in the evening (charity fundraisers, launches and the usual meetings we cover in the media) means I have more time.
I can slow things down and I’ve finally started to enjoy walking. You don’t need any fancy equipment. You’re less likely to injure yourself and all you need to do is put one foot in front of another. I bought some waterproof hiking boots too on sale in Regatta when Shaw’s reopened over Christmas so even the muck on the Barrow track can’t stop me now.
The other thing about walking is that it’s a lovely way to interact with people and notice what’s going on around you. I’ve seen my surroundings in a whole different light since I started doing walks within my 5km area. I’ve passed some of the homes on the Killeshin Road or Athy Road countless times in the car but never really “seen” them. You start to notice snowdrops in somebody’s garden that you never knew were there before.
Getting to know your area
I feel like I’m noticing people more too and the goodness all around us. Like Sylvestra, a Lithuanian man who is picking up litter along the Barrow track regularly because he loves the place and hates to see people throwing their rubbish. Another man is Ronan, a Dubliner, who’s living in Carlow a long time and spends many afternoons with his litter picker rooting in the grass verges fishing out coffee cups that motorists have flung from their car windows. He’s usually accompanied by his little dog.
The feel good and wellness factor that these walks brings is just as important as any fitness aspect. For these good habits to be sustainable, I realise I need to involve the whole family. Not in a pushy way but to encourage everybody else as it’s got to be our new way of life.
I have a seven-year-old who would happily spend the day pottering from her bedroom floor where she plays with her dolls to the sofa to watch movies and munch popcorn. She would never ask about the outside world or look to go anywhere. She loves staying home and is relishing the lockdown as she doesn’t have to go anywhere at our insistence.
Despite this, when I order her to put on the runners, coat and hat, and we go out for a walk, she absolutely loves it once she’s up and out of the house. If she was given a choice, she’d never leave or get to enjoy the euphoria that cycling her bike brings in the wind or splashing in muddy puddles in Oak Park. I’ve learned to ignore the brief whinging and protesting and let her know we are going for our walk.
We all need to find something to sustain our fitness and our wellness for the next nine weeks. This lockdown is long, and it’s hard on the mind and body.
Walking, I now realise, is underrated. Some of you already knew this… and for those who don’t, give it a go.