No Holding Back…

This is a topic that repeatedly comes up in conversation between friends and so I thought I’d try and get it down on paper.
I am originally from Kildare and went to school in Dublin. I played plenty of sports: hockey, tennis, swimming, horse riding. Admittedly I was below average at all of them and I’m not being modest or humble here, I actually was!

On being self-conscious

I was always quite self conscious and the first time this self-consciousness held me back was when I was 11 and was asked to trial for the local swimming club. All I had to do was turn up on the day and swim a length of the pool in each stroke. However, I wouldn’t go  – and all because my butterfly stroke wasn’t great. I remember my mum begging me to try, but I wasn’t going to budge. I have always regretted this  – not because I was ever going to end up in the Olympics but because I realise now the importance of just trying and of doing your very best. I am also aware now of how amazing it is to simply be part of a club no matter what level and to be surrounded by people who are so passionate, dedicated and motivated by what they do truthfully it is infectious.

Finding a Sport That Works

Seven years ago i moved “Whest”and made friends really quickly from all walks of life. One crazy night out led to me joining a boxing club in Limerick and that is where I really became addicted to pushing myself and my limits. I loved the intense training and discipline and when the opportunity to sign up for a charity boxing event came around I was there.
Twelve weeks of intense training, nerves, sparring, nutrition changes, adrenaline, and the biggest test having to jump into the ring and fight one of my best friends. I took part in a second charity fight eight months after I had my little girl, which was just as fun and a great way to help loose the baby weight.
Rowing is my current tonic.  When I think about rowing, the words exhaustion, pain, nerves, butterflies and peacefulness all spring to mind. No matter what is going through your head, being out on the water and not being allowed to talk in the boat is so calming, I would go as far as to say, a form of meditation. You use so much concentration and every muscle in your body is working. An added bonus is that my whole body shape has changed and I have never felt stronger.

Making Better Food Choices – Naturally

You also have to really look at how you nourish your body through training so I find the nutrition side very interesting. It forces you to be aware of what your body is telling you and gradually, subconsciously, you begin to make better food choices naturally. Still to this day one of the best training sessions was last May (in the thick of training for the champs) our coach pulled us aside to tell us we were getting too skinny and we had to eat more…. Put it this way he didn’t have to tell us twice!
My 3.5 year old proudly says “my Mummy is going to do exercise!”
I am also quite proud of the influence my training has had on my 3.5 year old, it is so normal to her that Mummy is going rowing or “going to do exercise” as she says. She knows the names of all the other ladies in my boat and the coaches. She came to her first regatta on Saturday and loved hanging out with everyone and the buzz.
For me personally being part of a team and club is key. There is always someone to train with and buddying up helps with the long, boring sessions.
One thing I have noticed both through boxing and rowing is that it doesn’t matter if you are not naturally gifted, if you give 110% your coaches will give the same and they have a knack of knowing just how far you can be pushed to achieve your best. And then like me you might even surprise yourself.

Don’t let anything, or anyone hold you back – especially if that someone is yourself.

Here are my top tips for making it work:

  1. Sharing babysitters with other people on your team to reduce costs.
  2. Find reputable clubs with qualified coaches, go to open days to get a feel of what is required and see if you can make it work for you and your commitments.
  3. To relieve boredom try circuit classes every once in a while and to keep your body guessing.
  4. Keep your fridge and freezer well stocked with healthy prepped snacks and meals.
  5. On days i cant get away from the house i set up little circuit courses in our sitting room and myself and my little one do reps like jumping jacks, the plank, mountain climbers and running on the spot.. She loves this.

Notes from the Ed

Helen is a busy mum, baker and blogger. You can follow her foodie posts over on or drool over her fab foodie pics on @keoghhelen!