On January 6th, 2013 I was a guest on Near 90.3fm’s Relaxation room, an archive recording of the show should be available in a couple of weeks but until then please enjoy this transcript of the questions & answer session we provided to listeners:

EDIT: Listen to the full show here: http://www.mixcloud.com/ColmMarren/the-relaxation-room-january-6th-2013/

What are the best small snacks to have during a busy day when you cant fit in a full meal/lunch? I’ve found nuts to be the easiest but is there any other decent alternative that packs protein?


I find that the best solution to meals on the go is to bring some tupperware with you & eat until satiated. There’s nothing to say that a “snack” has to be a specific food. Feel free to pack up chicken, turkey rashers, and any other type of meat you enjoy for a good snack. Also dont neglect vegetables, at present I’m an absolute fiend for a good batch of baked broccoli, I keep it crunchy & add spices, it tastes just as good as any salty packaged snack to me. I also love kale chips, but kale seems to have left the majority of shops in my area, perhaps it’s out of season. Anyone with any inside knowledge on that let me know in comments.


Is the couch to 5k a good start for weight loss? Just how important is diet vs exercise?


I dont think that jogging is the most efficient way to lose weight, you run the risk of repetitive stress injuries on the ankles, knees & hips and the metabolic response isnt as optimum as you would get if you adopted a good compound weight lifting programme, see below:


Of course jogging is better than nothing, but my advice would be to sort yourself with a solid resistence & mobility programme if you want to see the most benefits.

On to your question of diet vs exercise, diet is infinitely more important. You cant train away a bad diet by working your arse off. I’d liken it to buying a car & putting in cheap oil or the wrong fuel, you’re just not going to run as smoothly. Another way to look at it is that you’re going to be working out for maybe one hour every day, assuming you sleep for at least 8 hours that’s potentially 16hours every day where you can mess up your goals with a bad diet & only one hour where you can set it right with a good workout. In my estimation diet is 85-90% of any health & fitness related goal you achieve.

What are some ways to get more vegetables into my diet?


My first thought is that you dont enjoy the taste of certain vegetables if you’re asking for ways to get them in on the sly. My advice is that you take advantage of foods that you do enjoy to mask the taste. I like to throw vegetables into omelettes, especially leftovers. It’s a great way to hide unpleasant flavours by covering them with the delicious taste of eggs. This also works really well in smoothies, the taste of blueberries, raspberries, & whatever fruit you enjoy can easily mask the flavour of something like spinach, kale, avocado, lettuce, cucumber etc making it much easier to shoehorn extra veg into your diet. It’s not impossible to get more than half your recommended daily intake of fruit & veg by the time you’ve finished your first meal if you’re smart about it.

I’m doing the leaving cert this year so obviously my spare time is severely limited. I no longer play any sports although I do try to do a 30 minute jog once a week. So basically I was wondering what kind of decent workout could I do in the house or in my garden that’d be enough to keep myself from becoming unfit?


I’d say if you’re looking for a decent at home workout your best bet is to master some basic bodyweight exercises such as pushups, pull ups, squats, lunges, planks. You may have to invest in a pull up bar that can be placed in your doorframe or use a goal post at your local football pitch but as long as you’re doing some sort of pulling you should be fine. Too many people forget about their back when they’re working out at home so I want to emphasise how important it is for your posture & your overall health to focus on your posterior muscles.

In regards to jogging my advice would be to cut down on the long sessions as they’re really counter productive in the long run (see Gary’s answer above). Try to get out onto your local football pitch & try doing 8-12 sprints of about 50 yards or so. Make sure you let your heart rate come right down before you start each one & really go as fast as you possibly can, much better than a long jogging session in terms of muscular activity & metabolic response.

This next message wasnt read out on the show as the person who asked it got the wrong number, luckily he got in touch via this facebook page after the show had ended & his question was answered.

The question I had was about gaining weight. Not the common fitness problem I’d guess. I’m 22 year old male, pretty slim frame and I’d like to build body tone and muscle mass and generally gain weight in healthy ways. Any tips?


If you’re looking to add some decent quality mass you need to increase your overall calorie intake, if you’re the type that doesnt tend to put on too much fat you can make it a solid 3:2:1 ratio of protein:fats:carbohydrates.

Your protein can come from all sorts of sources such as chicken, fish, steak, nuts, eggs.

Your main sources of fats are again red meats, eggs, nut butters (almond especially), avocados, oily fish, coconut oil, olive oil etc.

Main sources of carbohydrates should be your sweet potatoes (the orange ones), green veg, berries etc.

I’d also recommend getting a solid compound weightlifting programme on the go, I spoke about exercises that are more “bang for your buck” on the show in relation to bodyweight training, but if you have the money to afford a gym you should definitely join one (I operate out of a ben dunnes here in Santry & the rates he’s offering are next to nothing).

The main exercises you should be looking at are:



Pull ups

Shoulder Press

Bench Press

Horizontal pulling (barbell rows)

In addition Stephen replied:

Also forgot to mention that I’m vegetarian but you’ve included plenty of meat free foods for the different dietary options there so thanks for that

If you’re a vegetarian that will cause some problems, the main thing to keep in mind when you’re a veggie is to avoid living your day on sugar spikes & “pick me up” carbs as I call them. A solid base of fatty foods & non-meat protein should keep you satiated & give you some decent nutrition to build upon.

If you’re on a budget things like almond butter can be a bit pricey, I buy mine from bulkpowders.co.uk who are probably the best value almond & peanut butter around.

We had a giveaway after the show had ended, anyone who asked a question had their name put in a hat with the winner receiving a free PT session or an online diet & exercise routine. Gary Cardiff was the lucky winner this time, but we may do this again so keep your eyes on the page for more free fitness tips as well as ways to win some free coaching in the future.

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