Not my best angle
I was always fairly active, cycling, hiking, swimming, weight lifting, playing squash etc., but my diet up to very recently was atrocious. I’d eat a sausage roll for breakfast, taco fries mid week during the day, big doughy chicken rolls with garlic sauce, pretty much anything to feed the cravings. During the day I’d eat that sort of crap and then I’d have a big dinner when I got home and I’d munch away on crap during the evening, washing it down with fizzy drinks. When I look back at my 4000+ calorie a day diet it makes me feel ill thinking about it, and however fat I got, it would have been a hell of a lot worse has I not being doing some sort of fitness work. I guess food is an addiction like any other and the more sugary things you eat the more you crave and the cycle continues ever worsening. I think I was at my worst at close to 18 stone (115kg) in the pic above.
When I had abs.
The thing is, as a kid I was pretty fit, especially in my teenage years, I was a pretty good swimmer in school being a silver medal winner at the school gala breast stroke finals in 6th standard. In secondary school I really got into the cycling and did very well for Waterford Cycling Club winning a rake of trophies at a time when there could be upwards of 100 cyclicsts in any given race. I had a few bike accidents then so I started doing Tae kwondo with Keith Barry (yes the mad fishing magician from Waterford, who married my sister subsequently). I got up through the grades quickly to black tip (one grade before black belt) and won a senior national championship in this sport in 1994. To support the tae kwondo I did quite a bit of weight training at the time and got in very good shape at a time I didn’t really even know what a carb was. In the pic above I was about 12 stone (76kg).
The downwards spiral happened in college, I started smoking, drinking having fun and by the time I was 25 I had pretty much stopped all sports, got my 9-5 desk job and settled in as a married man and begun my family life. I packed on the pounds steadily over a 10 year period. The odd diet, the odd bit of training here and there, but nothing to the level I was at as a youngster and my diet was certainly a lot worse. I did give up the smoking successfully after our first child was born which gave me some chance I guess. However, I thought my life as a fit person was simply over, I was getting pains in my feet, chest, feeling horrible a lot, not so clear thinking, and I was on a fairly grim path.
My wife Nicola and I at Machu Pichu
About 2-3 years ago my wife came up with the idea of doing the Inca trail challenge and I immediately agreed as it is a place I had always wanted to visit. So we took on a once in a lifetime challenge, in aid of the Red Cross, to visit Peru and take on the Inca trail and visit Machu Picchu. I bought a set of hiking boots and began hiking up the comeraghs in Waterford. I was pretty crap at first but after a few months I really began seeing improvements and got to a point where I could climb up to about 2000ft in 30 mins without stopping. I lost a good bit of weight and gained a lot of fitness but it was seriously tough. I completed the high altitude trek and felt good about myself again.
I started thinking about other forms of training, getting the bike back out, working on muscles, getting flexible and gave myself the challenge of cycling to coumshingaun (40 mile round trip), doing the hike up to the lake and swimming the lake (800m) and not too long after the challenge in Peru I achieved that personal goal with a good friend of mine Kieran O’Sullivan. After that day I felt anything was possible.
Toys for big boys at Tactical Fitness SC
Kieran suggested that I go to Tactical Fitness SC in Tramore to do the caveman training circuits and I said I’d give it ago. That’s when I met Gan the man, The Ganster, Gansai, Gandalf otherwise known as Ian Power. He took one look at me after that first caveman class and said to himself “I won’t see him back here again!” (he told me this today). I started doing the Saturday morning Strenght and conditioning class and was sore for days after each session but I kept at it, eventually adding in a second day and then a third day. The body started responding and I started taking supplements such as protein, and vitamin d3 and omegas and started looking at my diet. I spent a year at this and it transformed me to a large degree, the pains in my feet and chest went away and I began feeling strong, but I still didn’t make the real breakthrough until November of last year.
In November, Gan asked me to give the Kettlebell Sports Training a try so I entered the Connacht kettlebell championship competition, more for the fun of it than anything else, and did some serious training over 6 weeks for a competition in Galway. I entered the 95+ KG category lifting 2x16kg bells and competed and won against 2 other competitors. I weighed in at just shy of 100kg on the day (still no lightweight).
Immediately after Christmas Gan encouraged me (I had no choice in the matter) to pick up the 24kg bells with the aim of completing a 10 min competition in Tramore in February, the AIKLF National Championships. In January I could only lift the bells for 2 mins before calving so it was a big ask. I also had to get the weight down to under 95kg for the competition and managed to do it just before the competition and weighed in at 93.5kg for the weigh in. I completed 43 reps and had to drop the bells at 8 mins but it proved a lot to me. My performance got me a place on the Irish team for the upcoming European Kettlebell Lifting championships being held in Wexford so I have been training hard since Tramore to get the reps and time up. Only last Saturday I managed to complete the 10 mins getting in 61 reps, which is a massive personal achievement and hopefully I can improve upon that performance in the championships.
I managed to get through Tayto Park without eating a single carb!
I’ve changed my diet too now and have gone completely Paleo (meat, nuts, berries, veggies, and no carbs) for the past 2 weeks and counting and the weight is now down to about 14.5 stone (92kg) and continuing to drop, I hope to hit my target of 14st (89kg) by the championships, which should leave very little body fat left. It’s been a long and tough journey to this point but unbelievably rewarding.
In conclusion, the main point of his post is really to give huge credit to Gan Power from Tactical Fitness in Tramore and my training ‘butty’ Kieran O’Sullivan for their encouragement and support. Thanks to the Kettlebell Club in Tramore, Waterford I’m back competing at a very high level in a new sport that I enjoy and I’m continuing to improve at on a weekly basis. I couldn’t recommend the club and sport more highly and if anyone out there is consider changing their lifestyle please just get up and give it a go today. Don’t waste anymore time thinking about it.
It’s never too late…
Ps Nicola, thank you for being so supportive and patient with me over the past few years.