The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I – week 6!

24 Feb

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I



Friday 24th Feb – 9 stone 12 lbs

Body fat 16%


Week Six

Training day twenty-one:

Friday 17th Feb. Andrew.

Body fat was good but if I was to focus on the number on the scales, I wouldn’t be as excited. Not only have I learned that this is simply one measure of your health, but I also see in the mirror and in my clothes that I have lost quite a bit of weight. My belt is another notch up, my skinny jeans are not bursting at the seams and I look pretty good in my gym gear. The wobbly bits are firm and my over silhouette is leaner.

Training today I noticed something new while lifting weights star fish style. I spotted my shoulders in the mirror, or should I say my ‘Delts’. There was distinct definition and I liked it!


Training day twenty-two:

Sunday 19th Feb. Alex. Boxing.

I have a new found respect and admiration for all the parents out there. Saturday night was a ‘sleepover’ with a 3 year old and a 7 year old. Needless to say, there was little sleep enjoyed! I also admire mothers who manage to stay in shape. I am aware that a sleepover is a special occasion and home baked chocolate brownies and cookies are not necessarily the norm, but it is difficult not to nibble the leftovers and lick the spoon.

So, regardless of my exhaustion, boxing with Alex was as hard as ever and as always, included the introduction of another novel form of punishment. This time it was a rope ladder on the floor for me to skip, sprint and dance along while boxing and sweating and all for the amusement of the assassin himself.

Again, I surprise myself and manage to complete all reps in my sleep-deprived state. Fitness constantly shocks me and I am trying very hard to focus on the post-training elation, which generally feels utterly unobtainable when on the way TO the gym.


Training day twenty-three:

Monday 20th Feb. Andrew

I have recently been promoted and my new job involves a much higher level of responsibility and alas, more stress. Usually when people think of stress relief they think of lounging by the pool or soaking in a bath, but honestly, the best method of relieving tension is weight training. The physical exertion exorcises angst and the mental focus eases the chaos in the mind.

Today I did squats with a bar, not just a bar mind, a heavily weighted bar. These are hard! Andrew also decided to throw in a few extra maneuvers, just to punish me. On the one hand I am flattered that trainers can see I am fit enough to handle extra sets, but on the other hand, I hate them for it!


Training day twenty-four :

Wednesday 22nd Feb. Michelle

Today I learnt a new language – and I told a lie!

Last night I had a glass of wine. I told my trainer that I didn’t drink anything. I lied!

It was a special occasion with a particular group of friends that we rarely manage to get together with. I was good with my eating, avoiding rice and requesting greens instead. I ordered the non-creamy sauces and dodged the naan bread and dessert. Feeling complacent and with a hint of entitlement, I poured a small to medium glass of white wine accompanied by several (about 5) glasses of water.

I am sorry The Edge, I apologize for the lie and I feel terrible about it but really, the joke is on me!

The language I learnt today was Body Language. No matter what your voice says, no matter what your head says, no matter how much you convince yourself, the body will always tell the truth. Today I was less strong, I was tired and sweated like a monsoon rain. At one point Michelle actually asked me ‘was I sure I didn’t have a drink last night’. The body reveals what the head tries to hide.

Now I wish I never had that pointless glass of wine – It is just not worth it!


Training day twenty-five:

Friday 24th Feb. David – Final Body Fat analysis after 6 weeks of training.

Jan 13th – 10st 7lb,

Today  – 9st 12lbs.

I was 22% body fat and I am now 16%

Since I first visited The Edge and met David, he has changed my life. I was never very good at exercising and especially loathed the gym. He has taught me to look at my body in a completely different light and has educated me on the inner workings of the machine that I exist within.

I want to be part of this fitter, leaner, stronger lifestyle; I want to feel light and happy. I do not miss hangovers, frumpiness, self-loathing and guilt.

They are all superb trainers and the philosophy in The Edge is utterly upbeat, healthy and challenging. To constantly push further, aim higher and try harder is not only good for the soul, but good for the ass too!

I will miss the camaraderie in the Edge and will make a point of keeping up a level of training. Even once or twice a week with the guys will keep me on the straight and narrow.

I am eternally grateful to The Edge and will continue working on the maintenance of this newly well oiled machine.


I ♥ The Edge


The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I – week 5

17 Feb

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I


Friday 17th Feb – 9 stone 13 lbs

Body fat from 18.22%


Week Five


Training day seventeen:

Friday 10th Feb. Andrew.

Following an extremely disappointing Body-Fat with David, I was prescribed a “sweat-fest” with Andrew. How lovely! When the scales show an increase and the body fat level has risen, it’s difficult to feel upbeat about a training session. It is clearly a hormonal situation but it’s disheartening.

Also, I have been here before and there tends to be a period where the body plateau’s. It’s generally short lived and a sudden drop will follow. Right now I will just motor on!


Training day eighteen:

Sunday 12th Feb. Alex. Boxing.

I don’t like Alex anymore! He is like some sort of evil genius, the villain in my quest for the greater good! Even though the entire point of regular exercise is to gain a better level of fitness, Dr Evil decides to describe in detail how he will punish me for my growing strength and energy.

One of his tools of torture includes a “Death-jacket” Ok, I christened it that, but it’s apt. It is much like a life jacket except in place of built in buoyancy aids, there are built in weights. Yes, if you fell off a boat in this jacket, you are going down! Like I said, Lex Luthor and his kryptonite jacket!

I am aware that I am referring to myself as Superman but sometimes Supergirl is just not enough!


Training day nineteen:

Monday 13th Feb. Michelle.

This was one of those sessions that blind-side you. Just when you think it can’t get any harder, they throw in some 1 + ¼ squats with weights, some chin-ups, and some sitting squats. Imagine sitting on an invisible chair with your back against the wall, hold that for 1 minute, but around 10 seconds into it, have a trainer push you down about one inch. This is where the term “feel the burn” must have originated. Thighs on fire! All this AFTER pressing, bending, swinging, and crunching.

It is times like this I question balance of the universe.

How can a moment’s pleasure, i.e. scoffing a Big Mac, warrant this much pain?

Note to self, it’s not worth it!


Training day twenty:

Wednesday 15th Feb. Andrew.

Yesterday may have been Valentine’s Day, but there was no love in The Edge today. I started well, with a quick photo shoot for the Herald. I wore a little make up and got myself into various challenging positions all the while struggling to remain serene and in control. Then we trained.

I simply cannot understand why women wear make-up to the gym. Within minutes my eyes were stinging with the mascara that was now streaming down my face. My pores were strangled with foundation clogging up the only outlet for the gallons of sweat building up behind them. And, in truth, the make-up takes on a frightful drowning clown appearance.

There is zero point in trying to look good while in the gym. Training is about looking good everywhere else.


Side note:

Body fat was a good experience this Friday. The scales show my weight has returned to its pre-Hormonegate level and my body fat has reduced. The reductions are marginal compared to 2 weeks ago, but it’s quite a drop compared to the fiasco last week.

So, lesson learnt – don’t panic when you have an off week, especially when hormonal, even if the very reason you’re freaking out is because you’re hormonal, don’t let hormones make you hormonal…


The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I – Week 4

10 Feb

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I



Friday 3rd Feb – 10 stone or 64 kilos

Body fat from 19.5% to 18.6%


Week Four


Training day thirteen:

Friday 3rd Feb. Andrew. Death Circuits. Enough said!

I am beginning to weaken. This is when the novelty begins wearing thin and boredom sets in. I have not had a drink in over a month and my mind is drifting into languid reveries of a nice Valpolicella Ripasso, cheese and crackers and even a chocolate treat (and I don’t have a sweet tooth)

This is the most testing time and my only solution is to just block out all those thoughts, ignore the very existence of cravings and compartmentalize these temptations. I must not even look at the sweet shelf in the shop, the salad lunch must be eaten before I have time to slip up and munch something naughty.

So, keep calm and carry on.

When I am on my own, without a personal trainer, I have a method that gets me in the gym. While I am telling myself that I really don’t want to go, that it’s not fair and I don’t have time, I have a headache, or I’ll go tomorrow, I actually begin putting on my tracksuit, packing my gym bag and getting over to the gym.  Before I know it I am there. Basically, by the time I have finished my internal whinge, I have managed to get ready and go to the gym. Once you’re there, there’s nothing else to do but train.


Training day fourteen:

Sunday 5th Feb. Alex. Boxing.

Not using my brain, I decided to get back in the saddle following an 8-week hiatus from horse riding. It is a relatively new hobby and I love it! The only problem was that when I returned on Sunday, I was given the oldest, laziest most sluggish donkey in the stable. He refused to do what he was asked which meant my rising-trot was extremely hard work on my legs. Needless to say, when I arrived at The Edge a couple of hours later and expressed my woes to Alex, he completely ignored my complaints and carried on as normal. The one thing that surprised me however was that I was very much capable of completing the ever grueling boxing circuits.

It seems the mind needs a little time to catch up with the body.

When you realize that you are getting fitter, well, it’s a very nice feeling indeed.


Training day fifteen:

Monday 6th Feb. Ciaran.

Right now I am distracted with various developments in my non-training life and felt that the hour in the gym was an inconvenience in my busy mind.

What I was forgetting was the unexpected side effect of this level of training, i.e. the positive impact it has on the mind too. I am not just referring to looking great in your skinny jeans, or even feeling more energetic and strong, but it also benefits your mental health.

Each session releases endorphins (the happy chemical) and reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) so naturally, you feel better, but really, what works for me is the accidental meditation.

Once warmed up in the gym, the mind is completely focused on the task at hand. It just happens, it’s organic and inescapable. The only thoughts during that hour are either the counting of reps or the muscle that is aching. There is no room for any thoughts of anything else in your life. When the session is over my mind feels like it’s just had a deep dreamless sleep and is alert, sharp and fresh.


Training day sixteen:

Wednesday 8th Feb. Michelle.

At this stage it’s a bit of a no-brainer. I don’t bother complaining to myself anymore and I just get on with it. I once read somewhere that it takes 6 weeks to form or break a habit. I am beginning to see how this may be true. The training is now an integral part of my weekly routine and I don’t have any real emotion attached to it anymore. It’s a bit like going to the supermarket, it’s just something that has to be done. But, that by no means makes training boring. The challenge is ever present and the intensity is increased as your fitness improves. Michelle, the evil siren, threw in her own ‘death circuit’ just to remind me that there is still jelly in those legs!



PS. This Friday (10th Feb) Body Fat was a most unpleasant experience. I have done nothing different all week. I have eaten my greens, fish, seeds, eggs I have drank gallons of water, dodged alcohol and trained my ass off!

Alas, this week there is one profound difference in my body. I am menstrual!

David assures me that the scales and my body fat are merely reflecting fluid retention and hormonal imbalances. It is a very frustrating example of the ultimate power of hormones.

Be warned, if there is not a monumental improvement by Friday 17th Feb, everyone better get out of my way… 

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I – Week 3

3 Feb


The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I



Friday 27th Jan – 10 stone 1lbs or 64 kilos

Body fat from 20% to 19.5%


Week Three


Training Day nine:

Friday 27th Jan. Andrew. The newbie in the Edge. Only in Ireland would a personal trainer, a man who punishes you to within an inch of your life, who can be cold and cruel while inflicting pure torture on your very soul, only he would request I don’t refer to him as Andy. His mother would kill him!

Another circuit of lunges, presses, and Burpees but also included are excruciatingly frustrating hanging chin-ups. This is where you are hooshed up to hang by hand, head above the bar, for 30 endless seconds. I will never again criticize tennis pro’s and their squeals on the court. My unintentional roars of frustration were a source of great amusement in The Edge.

Also included in this pain fest was my old friend nausea. It eventually passes but there are several minutes, during and after, when breakfast says hello again.

Very tough indeed!


Training Day ten:

Sunday 29th Jan. Alex. I approached my weekly Sunday boxing class with a slight swagger feeling confident that I knew what lay ahead and although it would hurt, I would see improvement. We started strong and I was beginning to feel invincible with my pounding uppercut and swift left hook.

Then Alex decides to break me.

On one end there’s a giant elastic band wrapped around my mid-riff, on the other end is Alex pinning my feet to the floor. Then come the crunches. Fighting against a thick rubber band, a personal trainer and gravity, he successfully made a monkey out of me!

Despite the vitriol with which I describe the boxing class, it is an incredible workout and the time actually flies by.

I am ashamed to admit it but, somewhere, deep in the pits of my inner sado-masochist, I actually enjoy it…


Training Day eleven:

Monday 30th Jan. Michelle. My first girl-on-girl action. Warning to any men or women who are going to The Edge – Do Not Be Fooled By Her Pretty Face. This woman is as unforgiving and brutal as any personal trainer, male or female.

A small part of me wants to kick her little ass for being so young and gorgeous, but I reckon she would take me in a fight!

Our session was tough and included the usual no excuses, no short cuts but a few laughs.


Training day twelve:

Wednesday 1st Feb. David. Spring is here! I felt it in my step too and for the first time, did not feel like complete death at the end. I managed to get closer to successfully completing a chin-up than ever, albeit with the help of another oversized elastic band (and a helping hand), but it felt like the real thing. Turns out Muesli was a mistake so I won’t be eating that yummy breakfast again – at least not until I am in the maintenance phase. Hard work as ever but invigorating!



As this is the halfway point,  I feel it’s appropriate to explain some of the science behind this method of getting fit.

David has furnished me with some info about the behavior of the body and areas that are targeted during training. The Trainer’s are not interested in making a woman skinny and boney; they are about strength, conditioning and health, and personally I would prefer to have a lean, defined body than a skinny rickety frame.

Saying goodbye to wobbly bits and being firm and toned is a great feeling, and for me, the physical strength is empowering.

The Reason behind the weekly Body Fat Analysis:

The next time you find yourself crying on your kitchen floor because you dropped the sugar bowl, or screeching like a banshee because your partner left the milk out. Ask yourself first, what time of the month is it, and second, what is it about your period that makes you psychotic?

The Edge creates a hormonal profile for all clients (yes, men are included) as they respect and understand the effect of hormonal fluxes on all round health and well-being.

So, in a very simplified breakdown, the reason my hip is pinched with a caliper is to measure the insulin levels in my body. If my muscles are full of insulin, it turns to fat in that area.

The fat on your back indicates your tolerance to carbohydrates (if you don’t want back-boobs, you must PUT-THE-BREAD-AWAY!)

If it’s your stomach, believe it or not it has a lot to do with stress and sleep. A good night’s sleep does wonders for your bodily functions and will aid weight loss. That’s my favorite part. More sleep = better body!

Basically, the philosophy at The Edge centers on an all over lifestyle choice. There is no point in eating junk food and training like a maniac. There is also no point in starving yourself and getting no exercise. It’s a balance that is actually quite easily achieved.

My particular program, like all in The Edge, is designed to suit my capabilities and it is altered as I become stronger and leaner.

Put it this way. This week I lost another lb, I lost another % body fat and I gained a Kilo in muscle mass. In 3 weeks I have lost 7lbs but if we take into account the body fat % loss, the weight loss (on the scales) and the muscle mass increase, I have actually lost the equivalent of closer to 1 stone!

And I feel great!

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I – Week 2

27 Jan

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf and I

Week Two:

This week I have begun a food diary. This is a great tool in keeping control of my eating and also helps my trainer to see if there are certain foods that may be affecting me in a positive/negative way.


Friday 20th Jan – 10 stone 5lbs or 66 kilos

Friday 27th Jan = 10 stone 1lb or 64kilos

Body fat from 20% to 19.5%

Training Day five:

Friday 20th Jan. David. Body-fat.This is the dreaded weekly weigh-in and body fat measurement that tracks my progress. Once my shoes, all jewelry and anything on the body that may possibly register as a 1/100 of a pound are removed, I hold my breath and step on the scales. Next, a small velvet lined wooden box is opened and out comes the loathsome caliper with a sort of barometer attached. This will pinch all the areas we suck in, cover up and squeeze tight. There are measurements of the front armpit fat, the belly button and the under-the-boob extra roll etc, etc, embarrassing, embarrassing.

Once prodded like a basting turkey, the upshot of this humiliating ordeal is that each week, the results are positive. By pinching and prodding all the lumpy bits, he can tell me whether I need to increase or decrease my sugar, carbs, greens, proteins, whining and whimpering. I had lost 1% body fat and 1 kilo.

Then we train! The crotch-bashing machine was back in play, as were the gruesome lunges. The mere mention of ‘Military Burpee’s’ makes my spine turn to jelly. They are utter horror! And so another near death experience in The Edge!

 Training Day six:

Sunday 22nd Jan. Alex. Again we boxed. Already I am stronger and am beginning to develop some stamina. I didn’t need to put my head between my legs in order to stay conscious, but it was by no means any easier. The trainers have an uncanny skill in assessing your utter limit and pushing you right to the brink. I have a decent punch in my right arm but my left is as useful as a swinging length of string. Boxing challenges the whole body trying to hit hard while bouncing around, concentrating on combinations and cardio. It is a high intensity session where boxing, burpees, crunches and push-ups are drilled at high speed. I am a pacifist and would never join an army, but boxing feels very much like military initiation!

Training Day seven:

Monday 23rd Jan. David. Walking in to The Edge always involves a level of giddy trepidation. I know I will suffer but I also know it will end with a certain elation. On this sunny winter morning David suggests we do Body Fat again, now I feel nothing but anxiety. As it turns out, this particular pinch made me very happy indeed.

David has trained me in the past and can read my body like a copy of “Training for Dummies”. He knew I should have lost more and lo and behold, since Friday, another 2 kilos! I was feeling very smug indeed.

David is like a one-man pit stop; he knows exactly where and when I need a tune up. Yes, I realize I am comparing myself to a Formula 1 racecar, a Ferrari may be a stretch but I don’t see why I can’t be a well-maintained vintage Ford Mustang.

The training session was hard, as always, but a little less crucifying than previous days. All in all, my favorite day so far!

Weight on Monday 23rd Jan = 10 stone 1lb or 64kilos

Body fat 19.5%

Training Day eight:

Wednesday 25th Jan. Brendan. Although Bren is a lovely guy, he decided to punish me for referring to him as a very polite trainer. This he is, but little did I know that in this testosterone factory, to be deemed polite is a slight on their machismo?

I really should know by now that the occasional ‘please’ and ‘well done’ is somewhat hollow when you are punished for failing to lift those weights in those crippling final reps.

Punishment in the form of more reps is quite simply torture, BUT there is method in this cruelty. The mere threat somehow finds that extra push and that primal urge based purely on will and those weights somehow make it one more time. It is a psychological and physical battle but strangely enough, it feels a lot like meditation. When your mind spends an hour solely focused on the body, it’s amazing how refreshed your brain feels after.

It is impossible to train to any degree of success when you’re mentally preoccupied, but the challenges faced in The Edge will very quickly introduce that focus.

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf and I

20 Jan

The Herald, The Edge: Clontarf, and I

Where I’m coming from:

Two years ago I was introduced to a man that I would grow to both love and despise, for the same reasons and in equal measures. He would eventually transform me into the woman I always wanted to be, all the while ordering me to get on my knees, lie down, jump up, push harder and generally, be different.

He is my Personal Trainer.

This time last year I was knee deep in table plans, RSVP’s and ribbon. It was the build up to my wedding in May and the best gift I could possibly receive (apart from my husband’s hand, of course!) was from the superstar Personal Trainers at The Edge Clontarf who awarded me an incredible prize of 12 weeks personal training.

I literally worked my ass off weight training 3 days a week with Matt, my trainer, plus a couple of extra days in the gym, coupled with a healthy and very balanced eating plan the weight fell off and the muscle built up. I lost 21lbs/9.5kilos and felt 18 again. It was extremely hard work but it was also the single most rewarding challenge I have ever taken on.

Alas, my honeymoon in Sicily included lots of pizza and pasta and the following months passed with a guilty conscience and an expanding waistline. I didn’t let myself go completely, but there was a marked difference between the Fiona Bride and the Christmas Fiona.

Now I am back, and through my collaboration with the Herald and The Edge Clontarf, I plan to show people the incredible results that can be achieved in only 6 weeks. It’s hard work, it includes sacrifice and dedication but I have learned my lesson this year. I will never feel bad about my body again!

The Herald is following 3 victims/volunteers over a 6 week period and will publish our results at the end. Watch this space!


Friday 13th Jan – 10 stone 7lbs or 67 kilos

Friday 20th Jan – 10 stone 5lbs or 66 kilos

Body fat from 21% to 20%

Week One

Training Day one:

Friday the 13th Jan. What a great day to start. What else happened on Friday the 13th? All I can think about is those poor souls who’s plane crashed in the Andes and they were forced to feed on their dead friends to stay alive, they flew on Friday 13th. And then there’s Jason, he butchered lots of buxom blonde’s and beefy jocks, albeit fictional, but there’s a reason the film uses that date.

My first training session in The Edge: Clontarf felt like Jason had drained all the blood from my body while beating me with an iron bar and chasing me at high speed in an oxygen deprived chamber. I was pathetic! David, my personal trainer, was impatient and pushed me to my limit but his expertise recognized when I was on the brink and allowed me to breathe. These little triumphs, i.e. permission to breathe, become as significant as curing cancer when in training in The Edge.

I did my best, which was weak and feeble, but began eating well immediately. I wasn’t going to feel nauseous, light headed, muscle cramp and sheer exhaustion just to negate the benefits with a mere baguette.

Training Day two:

Saturday 14th Jan. Alex, the baby faced assassin of The Edge! He is young, cute, fit and a genuine, lovely guy, but he will annihilate you. Boxing was the punishment of the hour and I was actually looking forward to it.

Be careful what you wish for.

Punching the pads, while bouncing around the gym trying to hit hard and focus on the combinations is great method in keeping your mind off the jelly forming in the legs, the vacuum being created within the lungs and the sudden inability to move your arms faster than the speed of Nana, at least for about 30 seconds.

Boxing is about strength and cardio, which, for an ex long term smoker, is the stuff of torture. We used the bag; we squatted, lunged, crunched and rowed. All agonising but the time flies by and after one hour, it’s done! It took my face around an hour to return to its former pale complexion and dinner would most definitely be fish and greens. I worked too bloody hard to ruin it in the seconds it takes to munch some fatty rubbish.

Training Day three:

Monday 16th Jan. Ciaran, The Edge trainer of the year 2011. They are pimping me about The Edge but it is all the same program that David has set. It gives me an opportunity to report on all their skills and to give a broad overview of the facility. Oh and to prove my theory that personal trainers are obviously of a certain sadistic, evil ilk!

Already I feel a little stronger, we did some more dreaded squats and lunges and I was very ungracefully arched over a monstrosity of a machine that works (and punishes) the “love handle” area while pounding the pelvic bone, and not in a good way. Ouch!

The laughs were loud as it always is in The Edge, they really are good guys, but nothing can drown out the shrieks of frustration when the two 6 kilo weights refuse to go higher than the top of my head. It’s not even just pain, it’s utter resistance and muscles just shut down refusing point blank to answer. This is the beginning of the inner challenge to get stronger and nail those presses.

Training Day four:

Wednesday 18th Jan. James, co-director of The Edge (with David) and a very buff and very bendy champion kick-boxer. He murdered me. I actually think a part of me died in the gym that day. I have decided it was a fat part of me that died.

The previous day I had a leisurely swim and sauna to sweat out any toxins I may be holding on to and felt refreshed and ready to tackle the weights, little did I know what awaited me in Clontarf that day. Not only was I subjected to squats and lunges with weights, but James thought it beneficial to give my abs several open handed slaps while I held my knees up and hung from bars. With a brain void of oxygen and focused only on staying alive, the only retaliation I was capable of in my exhausted state was name calling. They are tough guys though and don’t seem to take any offence.

Eating MUST remain uber healthy. I am not suffering this for nothing!


The Herald

20 Jan

The Herald