I consider myself a fairly recent convert to the world of #fitfam – that’s “fit family” in social media wankery, FYI – and a fairly wobbly one at that; I ate a Mars Ice Cream yesterday and am considering a trip to Eddie Rocket’s this weekend (because honestly? It’s tough to stay motivated all the time).
But one of the most interesting things about my fitness journey – with all of its ups, downs and obligatory hastags – is other people’s reactions. A lot of the time, I feel like deciding to get fitter and eat well is treated a bit like if I’d sat my family and friends down and announced I was joining the most hated family in America. Is it really that tough to understand the fact that I’m now working out regularly and eating (mostly) clean food made from fresh, raw ingredients?
Well, apparently it is – because there are a whole host of misconceptions that people have when you first get into this almost-Paleo lifestyle. Need some of ’em cleared up? Here’s the low-down.
You must eat a lot of porridge
Um, nope – I haven’t eaten oats since about November, two months after I started training with Niamh at Lift. In the early days, I’d have the occasional banana smoothie with oats in it – but since just before Christmas, we’ve been doing a much lower carb plan, so oats – and bananas, for that matter – are out. Sorry to disappoint, but there’ll be no #proats on my timeline.
In that case, you must eat a lot of eggs!
Wrong again! It’s not that I have anything against eggs, but actually, they don’t agree with me – and while they’re a good protein and fat source, if I have eggs for breakfast I feel hungry again pretty quickly, and my tummy tends to react quite badly. Mostly, my breakfast consists of a protein source in the form of meat (steak, minced beef, chicken or bacon) and vegetables – although I will confess, this week has been a protein-pancakes-and-nut-butter kinda week. (Oh, and since I no longer eat oats or bananas, I make mine with three eggs and two scoops of Nuzest protein – although it’s vegan, that’s not why I buy it. Unlike a lot of other protein powders, it makes pancakes really fluffy and delicious.)
Steak? For breakfast? That must be so expensive!
I’d say I have steak for breakfast once – maybe twice – a month. Mostly, I go for minced beef fried with cumin and chilli seeds, with some kale or spinach on the side. It’s delicious and keeps me fuller for longer (like the lies people tell you about cereal).
Ugh! How do you eat meat at that hour?
With my teeth. Chew, chew, chew. Honestly, this is a weird question. Like, how do people eat creme eggs? How do we eat raw fish and call it sushi? Meat for breakfast is delicious – and really, the question should be, how do we eat processed sugar for breakfast, and coat it with cow’s milk? Weird.
Do you eat a lot of protein bars?
No. I eat a lot of clean food made from fresh, raw ingredients. Protein bars – though some of them are delicious – don’t really fall into that bracket, and while I might have one a week, I don’t make them a regular part of my life. The ultimate aim is to avoid processed food – not to find new ways of inserting additives into my diet.
Ah, so you must get your protein from shakes, right?
I take a protein shake after every lifting session I do, so, depending on the week, I maybe take between four and seven. I wouldn’t take two protein shakes in a day, and if I’m not lifting – or I’m just doing something like Pilates or yoga – I won’t bother. Since you’re asking, I like Kinetica; it’s Irish, made by the same company that owns Dubliner cheese (which I also love but, like eggs, doesn’t really agree with me).
I found this great recipe for vegetable fritters you should try!
Er, thanks – but I’m not a vegetarian. My meals consist of pretty much half and half protein – lean meat or fish – and vegetables. I tend to avoid pulses (lentils and beans) and all grains, and because I’m lazy, I try to avoid complicated recipes. Have you got any recipes for beef fritters I could try?
I want to try this new restaurant – but I guess you can’t eat there…
Why? Is it McDonald’s? Do they serve only a selection of bean stews, deep fried in sunflower oil and coated in gluten? The truth is, there are very few restaurants I won’t eat in – the worst offenders are Italian joints with a heavy emphasis on pizza and pasta, but hey, guess what! If we go there, I’ll get a big salad or, if I feel like a cheat, I’ll have a pizza. Don’t you worry your little head about me!
Aren’t you worried all of this protein is going to make you mad… muscular?
Let’s just clear something up, before we get into this: for a female, getting muscular – and I mean really, visibly muscular – is really difficult. It requires a really low body fat (mine’s currently around 21%, and we’re talking low teens), a lot of weight lifting and a seriously strict diet. (For any doubters, check out TV3’s Ireland’s Fittest Mum, and watch Louise Quinn weighing out her cashews for her morning snack.) The second thing? I would love to be super muscular. I think being really strong is something to be proud of, and shows not only how much work you’ve put in, but just how controlled and dedicated you can be. I don’t really care if you think muscles are “unfeminine”; until my vagina stops working, I won’t worry. (But thanks for your concern.)
Isn’t it really boring?
This is such a subjective question, it almost doesn’t deserve a response – just an eyeroll. But as I’m in the mood to be generous, I’ll do you a favour: yes, sometimes it’s boring. But my life pre-Lift was sometimes really boring too. When you eat Eddie Rocket’s all the time, even a chocolate malt seems boring occasionally, right? When I find myself getting bored, I mix it up: I go from minced beef at breakfast to chicken; I take myself for a steak on the stone for dinner; I go to one of my favourite clean eating restaurants and go slightly off-plan with a clean treat. (And, y’know, I think getting drunk is really boring; I couldn’t get through two episodes of Better Call Saul without falling asleep. Each to their own.)
Got any more questions about clean eating, working out or being smug on social media? Just ask!