Karl Henry's foolproof plan to get in shape for Christmas: week two

How did you get on with last week’s worksheets? Did you put some time aside to plan out your goals for our five-week plan? Did you think a little about what you are going to do over these five weeks? I hope the recipe turned out well – cooking from scratch is so important!

Today I want to progress the discussion around health and set the food and exercise homework for this week. Remember – each week you will have homework to do, progressing week as we go along. Now, don’t forget to get your measurements done and fill in your spreadsheet from last week to track your progress. That idea of weekly measurement is crucial to your success so whatever you do, don’t skip this step!

Three areas I want to discuss:

⬤ Alcohol

⬤ Why to move as you get older

⬤ How to progress your exercise

Alcohol can often be part of an Irish diet, and – if consumed in moderation – you don’t have to completely give up your favourite tipple. I never ask my clients to give up drinking, instead I ask them to allocate one night a week where they can have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner – enjoy it, savour it and invest some time in choosing your drink, making it a far more educational experience.

Drinking heavily is bad for your health, your bodyfat, your weight and your waistline. People forget that alcohol contains calories, lots of them, yet it is harder to see the calories when you are drinking them.

Here is a rough guide to the quantity of calories in common drinks:

⬤ Glass of wine : 150 calories

⬤ Pint of beer : 225 calories

⬤ Pint of cider: 210 calories

⬤ Pint of Guinness : 210 calories

⬤ Spirit/mixers : 110 calories

Those calories are for just one drink. ONE. It can be scary to see just how many there are, especially if you are struggling to lose weight or body fat – drink less and you will see a big difference.

Below are some handy tips that will help you to get through those dinners and nights out as healthily as possible:

⬤ Never go out for a night out on an empty stomach

⬤ Always have a glass of water beside your alcohol at the table

⬤ Aim for a glass of water in between drinks and as your last drink

⬤ Go for craft and organics as much as possible

⬤ Aim for a pint of water before bed

⬤ Dioralyte can be very handy before bed too to help hydrate the body

⬤ Always eat breakfast the next day and make sure it is a healthy breakfast


Last week’s homework was getting you to move more and this week I will be building on that. You see moving will help you to lose weight, tone up, get fitter and improve your mood. But the best benefit of all is that you will age in a healthier way as well.

You can slow down the effects of ageing, as well as improving some common effects of ageing like arthritis and osteoporosis. Move more and age healthier – its a simple equation. Your body loses muscle tissue and gains body fat as you age, while your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories) also slows down.

When you have less lean muscle tissue, you are generally weaker, putting you at a higher risk of trips and falls. So, just like last week, you need to mix up your exercise. Aim for cardiovascular exercise, like the fast walks, and add in some resistance work, like squats. Combining both of these is an ideal way to really benefit from exercise and this week we are going to add in some stretching too, as a stiff body is one that is also at a greater risk of injury.

Now, let’s take a look at progression. When you start exercising, you see benefits quite quickly. Challenge the body and you will get results. .

This is crucial to remember if you use the 10,000 steps theory as a health tool. Those steps don’t make much of a difference unless they are challenging the body. 10,000 strolling steps, at a low intensity, while much better than sitting, really aren’t going to change your body or your fitness a whole lot. Walk faster, move quicker, challenge your body… and you will see change.

* Every week, Independent.ie features The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry, in association with Laya Healthcare. In this week’s podcast, healthy living tips from Ireland’s Fittest Family coach Anna Geary www.independent.ie/realhealthpodcast

Week two to-do list:

Get cooking…

1 Cook this week’s recipe of the week, hearty hotpot (above), and don’t forget to cook a large amount, so you can store a few portions in the freezer for when you need it


2 Four one-hour fast walks or runs. When you are walking, you are aiming for four miles per hour or 6.4km per hour – just remember to challenge the body .


3 To add to last week’s squats, I want you to try a 30-second straight arm plank each day. To do this, just put your hands shoulder-width on the floor, feet together and raise your body off the floor so you assume the classic press-up position. Now simply hold there, pulling your bellybutton in towards your spine.

Food shopping…

4 Do one large food shop for the week and make sure you have healthy snacks at hand wherever you go.


5 Take all of the technology out of the bedroom, allowing yourself 30 minutes before you to go to sleep as your time to read and let the body unwind, aiming to be asleep by 11pm at the latest (but ideally 10pm).

Remember : Water is crucial for health. Two litres a day is a good guide – aim for pale urine when going to the toilet


Recipe – Hearty hotpot




⬤ 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

⬤ 1 large onion, peeled & chopped

⬤ 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped

⬤ 300g mushrooms, roughly chopped

⬤ 1.5kg round steak,

chopped into 2cm cubes

⬤ 250ml red wine

⬤ 250ml chicken stock

⬤ 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

⬤ 4 large sweet potatoes,peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks

⬤ sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

2. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large ovenproof casserole or saucepan.

3. Add the onions and cook gently until soft, generally 8 to 10 minutes. Now add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for another minute or so.

4. Add the steak and brown it completely – this should take about 2 minutes – before adding the wine, chicken stock and vinegar and seasoning to taste.

5. Stir, then increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.

6. Remove from the heat, cover the pot or saucepan with a lid and put into the centre of the oven.

7. After 1 hour, put the sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water. Cook on a medium heat, at a simmer, until they are tender – about 15 to 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from the heat, drain, add a little salt and pepper to taste and mash with a fork or potato masher.

8. After 90 minutes of cooking, remove the casserole dish from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

9. Uncover the dish. Spoon the sweet potato mash over the stew in a thick layer and press the surface with a fork to make ridges on the top.

10. Place the casserole dish back in the oven for 20 minutes, until the mash is crisp and beginning to brown. Serve on its own or with a fresh, healthy salad on the side.

⬤ Prep time -15 mins ⬤ Cook time -2 hours ⬤ Serves 8

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