I have found myself getting excited about fitness again after a short break since the end of May. As you all know i seem to find being an extremist really easy, but to live in moderation an impossible task. I cant explain why that is or why i can take on impossible tasks and why i struggle with the simplicity of living in balance. The exact definition of Moderation is as follows ‘The avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behaviour or political opinions.’ I think that is pretty spot on, i’m extreme in all aspects of my life.
I enjoy taking risks and making myself as uncomfortable as possible, that probably doesn’t make sense to you reading. Why would anybody purposely make their own life difficult? Well i guess i have just embraced and adapted to always having to work hard for things, it has become a part of my character and my journey. This extremism doesn’t just apply to my current fitness endeavours but to all aspects of my life. I have made a conscience decision to make an extreme effort in being moderate by taking a year to find equilibrium. That means no bodybuilding for the foreseeable future and no extreme diets. Instead i am going to focus on being healthy and happy every single day. I want to take my own advise for once, make long term changes and make my fitness and eating habits an enjoyable lifestyle. This September i will find myself on a five day Trek of Machu Picchu as the face of the Trek4Life campaign 2015 with The Irish Cancer Society , and this is to be the perfect catalyst for my new lifestyle change. The funny thing is my plan is to have no specific plan, which will be a weird change for me. The only focus is to have fun, be healthy in a relaxed manner and also to build up my cardiovascular endurance. Having asthma i found climbing Glendalough’s Spinc and the wicklow way quite challenging in sections, specifically the steep upwards ascent beside a gorgeous waterfall followed by over 600 perpendicular steps. There are a two other organised climbs planned ahead of Machu Picchu, but i aim to make the trip as enjoyable as possible by being organised and as fit as possible. Unfortunately i am not the superhero that people think i am, yes i am tough and yes i will persevere in the face of difficulty. My body is as strong and as fit as an ox, my mind a portal of strength and focus, but the reality is i have weak lungs and i find cardio very difficult. It can be quite frustrating but like all other muscles they can improve. I think a rigid fitness plan would really conflict with the whole idea of climbing Machu Picchu, i want to keep it is as colourful and as free as the surroundings that i plan on exploring.
Trek4Life training / Glendalough
As you can imagine i was pretty pumped for the first organised training hike with Irish Cancer, the weeks seem to be flying by and the big trek getting closer. My goal is to not only climb Machu Picchu but to also raise €5000 for the charity. Yes there is something pretty exciting planned for the fundraiser, which i will be announcing very soon. Our first training hike was an adventure up the beautiful Glendalough hills, up the wicklow way. It took about an hour to drive from Dublin, through Blessington and towards Hollywood. I was really excited, as i haven’t got my fitness rhythm back since competing in the IFBB European Championships five weeks ago. Ill be honest and say i thought i would find it quite easy, turns out a combination of asthma and a couple of weeks off the treadmill did not go in my favour.
What i packed
- Large 1.5 ltr bottle of water
- Lunch box of brown pasta, pesto and salmon which i prepared that morning
- Jar of overnight oats (Left overs from my breakfast)
- Rain jacket
- Hiking boots (€19 from Lidl)
- Hiking socks
- Zip hoodie
- Spare socks and a spare t-shirt
- Inhalers (Essential)
What i should have packed
- Less food
- Two small bottles of water rather that one large bottle (You want to be able to grab the bottle quite frequently to stay hydrated, my bottle was so large i had to stop to take my large bottle from my backpack. This was really annoying and inconvenient)
- Sports cap
- A good camera
- Flask of hot water for a herbal tea during break
The trek was beyond beautiful and i was obliged to stop regularly to take in the surroundings and to also get some photos. The trek was a total of 4.5 hours, the first two being pretty steep and strenuous. The first part of the trek including an ascent past a waterfall, stunning forest views followed by endless wooden steps. There were a couple of moments where i thought the difficult upwards trek was finally over and we had reached the highest point possible, but i was quickly proven wrong and the steps continued endlessly. When we finally reached the highest point, i was so relieved and so were my lungs. We continued to walk for a further thirty minutes, where we found a cute bridge and then stopped for lunch with the group. It was quite chilly here, and really could have done with a warm drink but hey i survived. The trek continued downwards through the reminisce of an old mining village, down rocks and through more rough forest areas. Apparently there are a range of treks to suit every level of fitness, ours being the longest of the options. By the end i had swollen hands and feet, i’m not too sure why. I found the entire trek to be simply delightful, refreshing and a bag of fun. What an unbelievable way to spend a Saturday, and to think we have these amenities at our finger tips. At times i felt like i was in a scene of Lord of the rings, it was that incredible. My first training hike has made me think about how i going to approach this non planned fitness plan. Here is what i have come up with;
- 1 spin class a week
- 3 1 hour sessions on the treadmill (All uphill of course)
- 2 weight training sessions a week (Full body endurance sessions, using high reps)
- Continue to eat regularly (Every 3 hours)
- Eat more vegetables and fruit (Nothing off limits)
- Focus on health rather than shredding
- Focus on eating a varied diet
- Continue to eat limited amounts of processed foods, alcohol and dairy
- Continue with supplements like vitamins and minerals
- No planned cheat meals but allowed treats on occasion
What is even more cool about my adventure to Peru for Irish Cancer is that i wont be heading alone, which i thought was going to be the case. I would definitely consider her a relatively new friend, after meeting only 9 months ago, but what makes it pretty special is the fact we originally met through charity work. Ciara is so much fun, full of chat and so ambitious, and to say i am thrilled to have her on board is an understatement. Join us as we raise €10’000 together for the Irish Cancer Society. We have undertaken a pretty big project together to raise the money, and are looking forward to announcing it. I also better not forget to thank Ciara for taking such beautiful photos of our training hike in Glendalough, shes a pretty handy person to have on a hike. Good laughs and excellent photography skills, what more could you ask.
I hope you have enjoyed my first post, i hadn’t intended on publishing anything for a little while. Glendalough was just so much fun and has really given me the boost to get back into my normal day to day of being fit and healthy. You can find more information about the Trek4Life campaign below, also welcome all question relating to the hike up Glendalough