Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Start at the beginning

Last week I was fortunate enough to be involved with the Northern Ireland U-17 team playing for the Syrenka Cup in Poland.

My role is the conditioning coach so I look after the players’ well-being in terms of nutrition, recovery and pre and post-match conditioning.

On this trip I was also looking after the welfare of one coach in particular who was looking to live a healthier lifestyle. So I said to him there is no better place to start than right here!


He was game for it but his goal of losing a stone in a week was very unrealistic. I started off by telling him it doesn’t matter where you see yourself in a week, month and year – you need to look at now. The reason I said this to him was because he had set unrealistic goals before thinking he would end up as ripped as superman in no time, and when he didn’t see the results he gave up.
Here is a bit of advice that I gave him.

Start your Journey at the beginning
It doesn’t matter how we get there, we all have to start from somewhere. Just because your best mate is in great shape by hitting the gym five times a week and eats little to no carbs doesn’t mean that’s what you have to start doing. Like I said last week, pick three things you need to improve on yourself and carry these out for a month. Hopefully you will see improvements in these areas and if not ask yourself why and try to solve it before jumping to the next problem.

Stay positive
Having a positive attitude can really help you meet your goals. Keep reminding yourself why you are trying to break all your bad habits and introduce new ones into your life. If you have a strong reason for reaching your goals then it will be a lot easier to stay focused and upbeat on the tasks ahead.

Build a support network
On this trip players and staff are with each other 24/7 so it is easy for me to guide them in terms of what they should and shouldn’t be eating. Even my mere presence means that the coach I mentioned earlier is less unlikely to slip up. In saying this you must also be positive and supportive of the choices they are trying to make. Shouting and watching them every time they eat can be very demotivating for someone trying to reach their goals.

Praise yourself
It’s only been a few days on this coach’s journey but already he is seeing and feeling the benefits. I reminded him offhow well he was doing and told him to be proud of that. There will be times when praise has to be really earned but when you know you have worked hard for something don’t be afraid to say well done to yourself.

Tracking is one of the best ways to find out how you are doing. You can track your health and fitness journey in a number of ways. You can start off by weighing and measuring yourself. I personally would place more emphasis on the measurements and try not to get obsessed with the scales. Track what, when and how much you eat each day and see where you can make improvements.

Track your daily goals each night and write out new ones each night if you need to.  The biggest thing to remember is that this is not a diet or a fitness programme for just six weeks. It is a new way of life. There will be times that you will need to train hard and be religious about what and when you eat, especially if you have a short term goal that requires this.


But small consistent changes starting with what is right for you, will leave you at a better place come the end of your journey.

Read the full story in this week’s paper, available in your local newsagents today or subscribe to our Digital Edition by clicking below