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The sky’s the limit! Damo’s epic journey towards becoming a lean, mean sky-diving machine!

Damo is a man on a mission here at ACLAÍ Health and Performance, Cork… but not just ANY old mission….

One of our hardest working clients, Damien Cahill (aka ‘Damo’), is on a mission to be a lean mean, skydiving machine in 2014. He has committed to keeping a diary for 6 weeks, and this is the first week of entries. Damo’s goal is to take to the skies at 15% bodyfat by July 2014. With hard work, commitment, and support of the ACLAÍ Health and Performance team, Damo is on the road to glory! Below is his daily journal to date!

And so it begins… Monday, January 6th 2014

And so, after having a few handy pints of stout Saturday night and my last Christmas ham sandwiches yesterday, I start 2014’s attempt at healthy eating. Stage 1 was breakfast. I decided to skip it due to favouring a few more minutes in bed listening to the rain. I now remember that skipping breakfast is never a good idea, as despite several glasses of water in work it’s now 11 am and I think I am going to die of starvation. Add to that our colleagues in the Dublin head office had a welcome back  breakfast, and our office not to be left out had scones, jam and chocolate croissants delivered.  Having lived in France for a few years, I love croissants as each buttery bite takes me back to the warm Mediterranean breakfast table. However, chocolate in a croissant just ruins it for me. Temptation 0 Damien 1. Roll on lunch……

One of the major obstacles in my path is my work life. Travel and business breakfasts and lunches are going to be something I will have to navigate carefully. I had a business lunch today in Douglas, and did the best I could. Vegetable and Herb soup was up first (which was gluten free) and unfortunately 2 slices of brown soda bread which I also ate( Temptation gets a score on the board and brings the game to a tie. Food being in front of me ends up being eaten! That’s just the way it is!  Avoidance has to form part of my diet. As a main course I had 3 slices of boiled bacon, carrots, parsnips, broccoli and green beans, with butter on all! Then a side plate of lettuce, tomato and red onion salad with a tasty mustard seed dressing. I’m stuffed but have I overdone it?

Thankfully my kryptonite of profiteroles weren’t on today, so dessert was easily avoided. I was always a fan of savoury food over sweet, but in the last few years dessert has crept in to my social eating habits. No potatoes and no issue with that. I’m in the Aclai Gym later at 6pm so this is it now until about 7.30, so I pop in home on the way back to the office to take some lamb steaks out of the freezer. Meal planning will be a crucial part of my success or failure over the next while.

Disaster struck when I got home after training, meat that was in the freezer had gone off somehow! I hadn’t gone to the supermarket but it was ok. My housemate said he would bring me something back from the chipper as he was going. Temptation strikes again. Luckily 140g of low fat bacon medallions and 2 eggs, the entire contents of my fridge, made a buttery omelette and helped me to avoid the ultimate fail on day 1. Later I hit the cinema to see Anchorman 2, and a bottle of water was the treat. My mate Liam and I then went into the lions den, McDonalds in Douglas!! I could smell the awesomeness of the food. I guess this is what a recovering alcoholic feels like in a bar. After 2 cups of tea and a catch up we left without any junk food consumed. It was nervy enough but we’re both on the wagon for January, so there is help out there!

Tuesday 7 January

Once again, the weather didn’t inspire me to get up earlier and have a cooked breakfast. Christmas at home was quite a luxury compared to the real world that I live in. I did however have a breakfast today, and felt much better after. An orange, a banana, some grapes and apple were called for and did make a huge difference to the start of my day. I’m drinking a lot of water which I hope will help with the hunger pangs. I really need to get my appetite back in check after increasing it over the last month or so. The coast was clear of pastries at work, today is looking better for the midday slump. Lesson learned on skipping breakfast.

Again at lunchtime I was in a hotel for business. I again opted for the “healtier(-ish)” dish. Herb crusted baked cod with a side salad and carrot/broccoli veg. I covered the veg in butter, (which is well advised by Ciaran O’Regan) and munched my way through this delicious feast. One of my colleagues was so impressed they even offered me the salad from their plate which I obviously accepted. One chip, a single chip, made its way onto my plate and in true crack-addict style I ate it. Temptation is my problem, I fully accept that. But everyday my experiences are teaching me that at this stage of my recovery avoidance is the only way. If it’s on my plate or in the cupboard I will eat it. I have to go cold turkey, and there’s no turkey left!

I spent the afternoon in a conference, and at 3pm tea was served. Has anyone else had the homebaked cookies in the Maryborough Hotel? I hadn’t but they are good, and as I dipped 2 into my tea I felt dirty but I couldn’t help it. To be honest I normally don’t eat biscuits but I reckon the scars of Christmas are still too fresh. All I wanted was something sweet!

After work I did some shopping, determined to prep a few days worth of good food. Having forgotten that I had a steak and pork chop for dinner I may have bought more than I needed. As I prepared a stew, soup and a roast chicken for the next few days I cooked tonight’s meal. A medium strip loin steak, a large pork chop and leek and onion sautéed in butter. I topped it off with a small bowl of stew because I love chicken stew and there was a whole pot sitting there, looking at me. At least now I have good food waiting for me in the fridge so hopefully tomorrow will be a day of abstinence, free from the temptation of the outside world as I eat all 3 meals at home. I had a glass of red wine before bed, not that I wanted it but you know…cholesterol and all that!

Wednesday 8 January

So I start today with food in the fridge and meals prepared. Breakfast was a mushroom omelette, and it actually looked like an omelette. No cheese though! Having a breakfast is without a doubt how I or anyone can start the day off with a dietary victory, one which will seriously help win the daily battle.

I was really looking forward to lunch! I had some chicken stew left and it is my favourite! Basically that for lunch and also homemade soup and chicken salad for dinner made today a victory. Lesson learned. Find or make the time to prepare food, and the next day or 2 will be so easy. I know there’s food at home that is ready to eat in minutes and also it is GOOD food! I am out all day tomorrow and away then til Sunday, so I suspect today may be the only win day I have this week!


Thursday 9 January

Today again I start with an omelette! I could get used to these…If only they were instant and there was no washing up needed!

I was in a hotel all day today representing a company in the Employment appeals Tribunal. Your brain need to work fast so I cannot afford to be thinking about food…ie I can’t be hungry. Veg soup and 2 slices of brown bread was enough to keep me going through lunch, again thanks to a decent breakfast. My plan is to get finished at 430, get straight on the road to Dublin and have a proper dinner in the Hotel up there. I am in the capital for work tomorrow.

Unfortunately my plan didn’t work out. I didn’t get out of cork due to work until 7pm. I grabbed a steak sandwich in Cork out of desperation and ate everything, chips, pitta…all the things I wanted to avoid. It was a better alternative to McDonalds in Cashel and I knew I would die of starvation by the time I reached Dublin after 10pm. Fail!

Friday 10 January

Despite staying in a hotel and having a buffet breakfast I was adamant that I would at least try and avoid bread and croissants this morning! I had eggs and bacon with grilled tomato for breakfast…but I have to admit to one piece of black pudding and a croissant in the end! Too tempting. Week one has not been too successful, so I need to realise that!

For lunch I was back in the hotel, and thought that the lamb korma was the best option on the limited menu. It wasn’t fantastic but I did top up with veg and went easy on the rice. My mission for the rest of the day is to get out of Baggot St with out getting a burrito, it’s going to be tough! Tea in the afternoon was not accompanied by biscuits so I am learning….

For dinner I went to a restaurant in Swords with my brother. Getting myself back into check I ordered beef and vegetables. No spuds, no chips! There was stuffing on the plate though, so I ate it. Everything else I lashed on the butter so overall I was 50 50 on todays eating. Tomorrow I travel to Longford and Offaly for my alter ego as a skydiving instructor. That is a tough test of my diet as I am on the go all day, with only whatever I have with me to eat. The temptation of fast food and deli’s on these days is my greatest challenge. Unfortunately I am not prepared for tomorrow so its going to be a disaster…diet wise. The skydiving will be the easy part…….

Saturday 11 January

Today was not as busy as planned so I left Dublin later than expected, around 930. I still skipped breakfast and not having anything in the car with me was forced to stop on the way. This is one of my problems. I spend a sizeable portion of my week in the car, so not being prepared means I buy 2 sausages, 2 bacon, mushrooms and egg in a wrap! I know I could have gone for fruit but I hate hunger and when I am on the dropzone there is limited or no food available so not having something beforehand does affect my concentration. It’s fine when I am in my own place Friday to prepare but I have been on the road since Thursday! This is something I need to think about how I am going to address! I jumped and it was freezing! Then I travelled to another skydiving centre but the canteen was closed! No temptation here then!

Thank God for this mornings wrap. The next bite I had was at 8pm in Limerick! And it was a burrito! I almost made it home but hunger and a call from a mate broke me down and I gave in. It wasn’t the best burrito ever so that helps with future resistance but again, I need to make a serious plan to avoid these situations. Today’s eating was a disaster! I’ll not have a pint tonight as punishment!

Sunday 12 January

So I started my only day off of the week with a mushroom omelette. This was unnecessary as I’m having lunch back home today in just over 90 minutes but I am trying to stick to my 3 meals a day regardless of the timing!

For lunch I am in the most dangerous place for my diet…My mother’s house! This den of iniquity contains all those things I am trying to avoid. Crisps, sweets, bread, fizzy drinks. It’s like Disneyland for an addict like me. I did my best! For lunch I had roast chicken (breast), ham, carrots, Brussels sprouts (My new favourite veg!) cabbage and 2 small baby potatoes! I fell down on the raspberry jelly with cream…another kryptonite.

Later in the day I was taking a series of work related phone calls ( yes it’s Sunday) and I found my self on my 3rd sweet from a box of celebrations without even knowing it! I had tea, home baked brown bread with butter and ham as my 3rd square meal of the day and prayed I could get away from this place back to cork where there was less temptation to break me down!”

Watch this space for more ‘Damo’s Diary’ to come…



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