"It is about health and wellbeing, not being skinny"

Caroline Whelan meets the Galway based blogger known as The Superfit Foodie

There are so many bloggers nowadays, there has never been as much information available about the topics which interest us. And the majority of people are concerned with healthy eating. And as a nation, we certainly need to be, as we are heavier than ever. Scary recent figures indicate that 85 per cent of Irish women will be overweight and 57 per cent obese by 2030 while around 89 percent of Irish men will be classified as overweight, with some 48 per cent obese.

So we would do well to pay heed to the advice of somebody like Aisling Harris aka The Superfit Foodie. The Salthill native has been building a loyal following over the past year and a half with her on-line posts on nutrition, fitness, and general wellbeing. She has a Facebook, and Instragram site and her own website thesuperfitfoodie.com

There is no doubt that eating well equates to a healthy body and in turn a healthy mind. The benefits of a good diet are there for all to see, when one eats well not only do you look better physically but there are a plethora of other benefits including increased energy and vitality and general well-being.

It is fitting that Ms Harris has entered the healthy living blogging sphere as she has a sporty background, having been a member of the Tribesman Rowing Club since the age of 12. She has won eight national titles and represented Ireland in the European Junior Rowing Championships. However on giving up the sport at the age of 20, she began to battle with her weight for the first time in her life. "When I was training hard, we had to eat a lot of carbohydrates for fuel. However it got to a stage where I was not enjoying the training any longer. Over two years I put on about two stone. It was a mixture of not training, being in college and drinking and eating takeaways. I was also studying and would always be having coffee and chocolate treats - basically just living the lifestyle of a typical student and just letting things slip. I was by no means massive about a size 14/16 but relative to what I had been it seemed big."

Losing weight

This weight gain led her to explore various exercise options to help her shed the excess pounds. She tried the gym but found it did not work for her. "I thought it was very lonely - I was used to doing a team sport and working towards a training goal with various competitions so I found it hard to motivate myself at the gym. It was around this time that I started experimenting with healthy eating recipes. I found taking pictures of them and posting them on-line would make me more motivated to make the food look good. As we all know, food is very visual."

Not having any weight loss look by going it alone in the gym, Pat Divily's gym in Barna proved to be her saving grace. "I was following Pat Divilly on Facebook. He was running a woman's personal training class, it was mainly weight training and circuits for eight weeks - I absolutely loved it as I was back training in a group. After that I started doing bootcamp classes three times a week aswell, we had a Facebook group so I felt I was part of a community again. Pat also recommended the Paleo diet which I followed religiously for three months and between that and the exercise I lost all the weight."

Encouraging others

The Paleo diet has a heavy emphasis on lean animal protein, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and does not allow for dairy products, grains or processed foods. Breakfast could consist of scrambled eggs and berries, lunch being salad or homemade soup and dinner something like chicken or steak with vegetables and sweet potatoes. Ms Harris does not follow the diet as rigidly now, she says she is a big fan of porridge in the morning and also has some treats but tries to ensure these are home-made 'clean' treats. Her daily diet is all documented on social media and on her website which encompasses tasty recipes and valuable training tips.

It gives her great satisfaction that thousands of followers are benefiting from her counsel. "I think what keeps most bloggers going is the positive feedback. I love when people tag or message me. I would love to make this my full-time job, I am moving to England in September to pursue a Masters in nutrition. I always say to people I am not qualified to give advice, I just outline what has worked for me but when I do the masters I will be qualified to advise. I am keeping my options open but I would possibly like to open my own nutrition practice or work in the area of health promotion. I want to keep building the blog and promote physical and mental health through eating well."

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