1 - Can you describe exactly what you do as an athlete?
I have been into sports from a very young age, starting initially at the age of 4 with Irish dancing which I proceeded to being a national Irish Dancing Champion at the age of 13 winning many awards along the way. As I got older my interests turned to Camogie, for those of you in the UK this is an Irish team sport (Hurling for Men, it is called Camogie for Women) where we use Hurley sticks and a ball (sliother) and score points (hitting the ball over the bar) and goals (hitting the ball into the goal). I played this sport at a high level up to my late teen years and represented my County Dublin on numerous occassions. So I guess you can say I was always competitive.
In 2013 after taking some time off training and becoming very unhappy in my skin after a large amount of weight gain I began lifting weights and fell in love with it. I made a very drastic body composition transformation and I competed in my first bodybuilding show in 2014 and have competed in 6 shows since then improving on my physique each time. I qualified as a Personal Trainer and run a very successful online business where by using my life coaching qualifications I help others to transform first their minds and in turn their bodies. It is such a rewarding profession.
I am a fully qualified primary school teacher and have taught for 7 years also but I am persuing my passion for fitness and life coaching at the present moment.
2 - How did you get into training and competing?
As I mentioned above I was always active as a child, but as I was studying for my Leaving Cert ( A Levels ) I became so focused on my grades that everything else went to the way side. I achieved great grades, 4 A's and 3 B's, proceeded to achieve the college course I wanted and began my teacher training and college lifestyle but in the process I became really out of shape as I didn't look after my health and let that slip so I was totally unhappy.
In 2013 I decided enough was enough and I got a personal trainer, looked after my diet and began to watch my body change over the course of a year. I then was so intrigued with competing and as a person who always likes a challenge I decided I was going to compete and I did so in October 2014 and have continued to do so since improving on my physique each time I have stepped on stage. From a personal development and mindset point of view once you have made the progress show to show that is what matters in such a subjective sport and being so happy in the process is key!
3 - Can you describe the struggles you've faced along your journey so far?
In life nothing is ever plain sailing. There are always challenges and obsticles to face. These I believe are tests to see how much you really believe in your vision and in where you want to be.
In terms of setting up my business there was a period of 2 years where I was up at 4am doing my life coaching and mindset study, followed by a 6am cardio session as I was in prep for a show, then it was straight to work from 8am- 4pm and then I would go straight back to the gym for my weight session,more cardio and home by about 6pm where I would need to eat, prep my meals for the following day. Then around 8pm I would do my online client check ins and plans until 10pm quickly grab a shower, pack my gym bags for the following day and try and be asleep by 11pm in order to get 5hours sleep.
This was a struggle, I was so tired, I had no social life, but I knew I was going to have a successful business as a result and the struggles were worth it. Anything worth having in life demands hard work and sacrifice. The fruits of all the hard work always shows in the end. This endless work allowed me to build solid business, apply for a career break in the knowledge that I could support myself and persue my passion being fitness, health, mindset and changing lives.
My road took me to Spain on my own for 3months where I lived, worked, trained, studied life coaching and the Precision Nutrition course. Here I also worked on myself day in day out and I attribute the person I have become today to this period of isolated work on myself for my own my own future.
Challenges are part of life, we must embrace them, we must not spend time focusing on the problem that faces us but instead on the solution to the problem. We must draw on the positives and learn from the negatives. We all have goals and with sheer determination, belief, drive, honesty, integrity we will achieve them but it may mean being flexible in the method you have chosen to go about achieving them. Always keep the goal but be willing to adapt the method in which it becomes your reality.
4 - What advice would you give to anybody else facing a life changing situation?
My advice is always this, we get one shot at life and the most important thing in life is to be happy, content and fulfilled. It is about living up to your own potential and accessing everything that is available to you when you believe in yourself. I feel the most important commodity in life is time and wasting time being unhappy is never going to serve us so we must follow our passion, do what sets our soul on fire, make a plan, believe in yourself and live the life that you love.
In order to achieve amazing things and really tap into the person you want to become you must be willing to leave what is comfortable, take risks and do what makes you happy. One question I always ask myself is what is the worst that can happen? A lot of people settle because of fear of failure, or fear of what other people will think of their choice. My advice is live life for yourself , when you look after your own happiness it is only then you can add happiness to other peoples lives.
5 - How hard is it balancing your social life, work and training?
This certainly is a very difficult thing to do especially when you are prepping for a show and this is a place I made plenty of mistakes in the past whereby I neglected family and social occassions with sheer food anxiety but I have learned a lot from these past failings.
I have learned what matters most and that time needs to be balanced to be really fulfilled. This means making a conscious effort for loved ones even if it means bringing a meal with you if you are in the middle of prep. Time is so valuable and something we cannot get back. For me I am blessed that I can work my own hours, this means I schedule my day to suit me, but as I have mentioned above it was not always this way. I had to work very hard to get to this place. I am able to make time for seeing people whenever it suits them as I just free up my work and work around their schedule.
When you are prepping for a show there are often numerous sessions to be done in a day, working for myself meant that I could do my cardio as I pleased this time round but in previous preps I had to really plan out my whole day around my work to ensure everything got done. It didn't lend for time to socialise and so relationships definately suffered as a result.
I feel fitness should add to your life and bring health, happiness, vitality and energy into your existance. If it is damaging to important relationships and people in your life it is not a lifestyle that can be maintained. With the majority of clients I work with the most important thing we do is estabilish a plan that suits their lifestyle that they can adhere to and that adds to their existance and energy as apposed to takes away from it.
Right now I am not in prep so things are a lot more laid back. I still do cardio because I feel it is not just a tool for fat loss but it is an essential element for overall health, fitness and wellbeing both physical and mental.
I am much more relaxed about my food eating mostly 80% wholesome foods and allowing for 20% of things that I fancy because while training and fitness makes me happy so does socialising and eating nice food and spending quality time with loved ones. Again as I have said before time, experiences, memories and moments are something we cannot get back and we have to make the most of life. It is essential for overall wellbeing not just a physique.
6 - Describe a typical training week for you...
I currently weight train 5 days a week and I do low intensity cardio 45 minutes-1hour 5-6 days a week. I am extremely sedentary in my day to day living due to my work being laptop based. This means I need to get in some movement and if the weather is nice I will walk outdoors but if not I will do the stairmaster or incline walk on threadmill. I use more Interval style training when I am prepping for a show.
My weight training sessions I like to focus on tempo and really feeling the muscle contracting and working and will never load the weight if it sacrifices form. I like to lift as heavy as I can with good form in my compound lifts for around 8-12 reps and then for the rest of the workout I focus on supersets, drop sets and high volume blood flow sets.
I don't have set days for training per say I like to listen to my body and rest when it needs rest but typically I will do 2 lower body workouts with a mixture of hamstring/glute/quadricep work and 3 upper body days.
Sometimes after cardio I will do a tri-set on shoulders or glutes maybe 1-2 times a week for 10 minutes.
7 - What are the toughest parts of your training regime?
I always like to challenge myself on my leg days so high volume sets on my legs can cause a lot of burn and pain but always worth it in the end!
Interval training is also very challenging but again the endorphins released afterwards really make it worth it.
8 - How does your nutrition help with recovery and progression?
Nutrition is absolutely key for progress with body composition goals and also with performance goals. Ensuring you are eating sufficient fuel to support all your training is essential for recovery. I ensure that I keep my protein intake nice and high and varied to ensure a range of amino acids are available to help repair cells in order for the body to recover and grow. I also ensure that I have adequate essential fatty acids to support hormone health and carbohydrates are the fuel source I find my body works well off so I like to keep them in most of my meals each day also.
9 - Can you describe a typical day's eating for you?
Meal 1: Oats with coconut oil & strawberries & lean steak mince & mixed veg
Meal 2: Smoked salmon with basmati rice & mixed veg (peppers, onions, cucumber, mushrooms)
Meal 3: Chicken coconut oil sweet potato & mixed veg ( brocolli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber)
Meal 4: 3 eggs, 4 egg whites & mixed veg
Meal 5: steak, baby potaotes and veg
Meal 6: Turkey burger, basmati rice & veg ( Post workout )
10 - What are your fundamental beliefs in relation to nutrition?
My beliefs are that food should be enjoyable and varied to ensure a range of vitamins and minerals are being received by the body. I believe no food group should be omitted as all food groups have their role and for the most part carbs are enjoyed by people and so even though there are no essential carbohydrates per say (and protein and fats can be broken down into glucose ) should be included in nutrition plans.
I believe that there is more to life than stressing about food and tracking every last morsel once you have a good grasp on portion size and your range for maintanance/ fatloss/ muscle gain there should be some freedom in making mindful informed choices when out and about and in social situations.
I believe the body doesn't run on a 24 hour basis so if you over consume in one day it is not the end of the world you can adapt the following days in line with your weekly target. I also believe there is no good and bad foods and that everything can be included in moderation depending on where the client is currently at in terms of their psychological response to a food. I feel that nutrition should be something that you can adhere to and that you can see yourself doing 6 months, 12 months and 3 years down the line. You should be able to work in social occassions and be able to live life as well. This of course depends on the goal when stage is in question for the period of prep it must be tight on plan but outside of this adaptations can be made.
11 - For "every day" people reading this, how important is nutrition to their goals?
Nutrition is essential to goals, but the word goals is the important word here. People need to work out what is their most important goals in life and they can then prioritise their actions in line with this. If performance is a goal then you must ensure you are fuelling the body adeuately for performance. If you fill a car with the wrong fuel source it will not run optimally, it will become sluggish and eventually break down and so the same goes for our bodies. We need to feed it well to be able to build muscle and in turn change body composition.
If fat loss is the goal, the body must be in a caloric deficit across the week/ month. This means that one must be mindful of their intake and allow for occassions if they arise and make adaptations to ensure the body remains over the course of the week in a caloric deficit.
The saying goes you cannot out train a bad diet and that is the truth. If you want results you need to be focusing on your nutrition. It is absolutely essential.
12 - Why did you choose Genetic Supplements over any other brand?
I have been using Genetic Supplements since I began my first ever prep in 2014. I am so confident in all their products as I have used them for such a long period of time and find them to be so effective. I also am so impressed at the high quality of ingredients in the products and the testing that is carried out in the labs also. Having a large client base it is very important that I recommend high quality products that I know will be money well spent for them and I could NOT recommend any other brand.
13 - How important is supplementation to recovery, health and progress?
I believe when nutrition is on point supplementation really adds to the recovery process and to optimal health. I believe in this day and age with all the pesticides and fertilisers on plants as they grow we can not be guarenteed to be ingesting all the vitamins and minerals in the foods we are eating. So supplementing with really good quality supplements really ensures that we cover all basis.
14 - What are your favourite Genetic Supplement products and why?
I have and use so many products all of which I think are amazing! To pick a few I would highlight:
Phosphastidic Acid as I feel this really helped during my prep with muscle protein synthesis and the help me build the lean tissue that I built over the last year.
I also have used DIM for the last 3 years and my lower body was always the last to come in and tighten up and this product helped significantly as it balances the hormones and reduces the level of Oestrogen in the body.
I love taking the Ultra Green Tea and TTA during a dieting phase for fatloss before cardio it gives me such a boost of energy and really helps me through my cardio sessions.
Gut health is of huge importance to me and for optimal fat loss also and to ensure that the body is working optimally so for this reason ProBio15 and also the BioCore Optimum Enzymes are fantastic.
15 - Give one piece of advice to the readers which they should keep with them for the rest of their life...
Never ever let anyone tell you you cannot do something, and that includes your own inner dialogue. Anything you want to achieve in your life you can achieve with hard work, persistence, consistency, determination, self belief and the right people around raising you up.
You become like the 5 people you spend most of your time with so choose wisely!