Diet Diaries: What Happens When You Ditch Sugar and Alcohol?

Sometimes big birthdays can give us a shake and push us to try something we’ve been putting off for ages. And with her 30th birthday fast approaching, Abi decided to bite the gym bullet and hire a personal trainer for six weeks. Her goal is to look and feel the best that she can as she marches into a new section on the ‘tick the box that applies to you’ piece of official forms. 

She’s sharing her gym journey with us;  the good, the bad and the results. You can catch up on her first article here and today she is back to update us on how she is going at the halfway point. And what is the question that everyone keeps asking her?


Crunch Fitness has literally become my second home over the last two weeks, and to be fair it’s a lovely home. Even if I can't mooch around in my onesie eating biscuits and watching Fair City in this home.

But I do have a swimming pool, all the latest gym equipment and there are fabulous people getting fit and healthy everywhere I look. But here’s the catch. I have to join these fabulous people four days a week, eat healthy, not drink alcohol or have sugar. With the BIG 3-0 only three weeks away, I’m trying to stay focused and positive but I can tell you that the last couple of weeks have had a few bumps in the road.

I’m going to be honest - the first week didn’t start out too well. I had the really bad cold that everyone in the country seemed to have. And so I took myself and my snuffles off to the gym to kick off my week with a weights session with Ula. If I could've had my way, I would've curled up on the sofa, in my fluffy pyjamas and my toasty socks, and ripped open a huge pack of Rich Tea biscuits. I've admitted quite a lot to you all at this point so I may as well keep going. I'd have watched a night of Ex on the Beach, (those people just make me feel better about my own life) and I would have abandoned all thoughts of the gym. But here's where having a personal trainer makes all the difference. My lazy fantasy that wasn’t an option because Ula was waiting for me and I couldn’t throw in the towel on the first day.

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But Ula eased me in gently and was very understanding. She also had a cold so we were both feeling pretty rotten together. And after the first session I was so proud of myself that I pushed myself to go again the next day. I did feel a little weak afterwards (and to be honest after a few sessions that week) but after chatting to Ula she knew from talking to me that I wasn’t eating enough during the day.

The idea of eating bigger meals during the day is an adjustment for me. I can see that it makes sense; why eat a huge meal at the end of the day when your body doesn’t have the chance to digest it? But I had gotten into the habit of only picking during the day and having a huge meal in the evening. It was only on the third day when I felt so weak on the way home that I realised that the meal plan is key.

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day according to my meal plan, has been a struggle. I’ve realised that I’m really a tea-and-toast kind of girl and having avocado, eggs and porridge first thing reminds me of when I was a child and my parents were trying to make me eat vegetables with my dinner.

But as the weeks have gone on, I’m trying not to be so hard on myself. If my breakfast is brown bread with green tea every day and and eggs only included every other day (plus I’m eating healthy for the rest of the day), so be it. Two out three isn’t bad (Ula will kill me for saying that). Dear God, don't tell Ula about the every-second-day-eggs. Oh lord, what have I become?


Another demon in the first week was my lovely friend sugar. You all know and love her, she comes in the lovely form of cakes, biscuits, chocolates, ice cream everything that makes you feel you’re getting a hug from within. She keeps you company at night straight after dinner and says well done on that tough day at work, have another biscuit.

Well she’s seen a lot less 'round these parts now and how I miss her. The first few days were a killer. My family is like any other Irish family in that even though you could be full to the gills from dinner, there is always room for a cup of a tea and ‘something nice’ straight after. And after 29 years, that habit was hard to break. I was doing well until some very attractive men in black polo necks came into my office, at the end of the first week, offering everyone chocolate (yes, I work in a place where this happens on a regular basis).

Since then I must admit that I’ve not doing so great on the chocolate front. Ula suggested that when I feel these cravings have a low fat yogurt or Quest Protein bar, as they have small amounts of fat and sugar.

But I struggled on and by the second week, I already felt better. I’ve more energy due to my better diet and being more active and I was surprised that I mentally felt stronger. I have been battling with myself constantly over what to eat, what not to eat, should I cancel the gym, but the fact that I’m getting through it makes me have a sense of achievement and I feel GREAT.


I’ve even started to motivate my friends by sharing a few of Ula’s tips, and some have started back in gym, which is fantastic. The one thing that I’m really happy about is staying off alcohol. At the beginning of this I thought ‘grand I don’t have anything to go to over the next three weeks so these three weeks with no alcohol will be a breeze’. But as the weeks went on friends were asking to go out, family dinners came up and work events. So I had two options stay at home and eat grass or go out and enjoy myself like I usually would. There was certainly a few ‘Why are you off the booze?’, ‘Are you sick?’ questions and I’m sure some even thought ‘Oh are you…….?’

No, people, I’m not pregnant. I'm just not drinking alcohol for THREE WEEKS. I’m guilty of the question myself; as a nation, we find it so alien that someone wouldn’t drink on a night out. And let me tell you I have not missed it. If I’m honest I’ve felt smug waking up the next morning knowing that the company I kept the night before may not feel as fresh as I was. I’ve seen a huge improvement in my skin too and I’m battling with myself again about whether or not to go back on it. I’ll keep you updated.

In my first article I said I didn’t really care about losing weight, it was all about getting stronger and fitter. But when friends and family say they seen a difference already, I'll admit that it did put a little spring in my step. I can already start seeing definition in my stomach which is really encouraging.

In terms of the workouts themselves, Ula has been mixing up my programme, which I love. I’ve been going to different classes each week as well so since I started nothing has been the same. Except for one class - spinning. I always stayed clear of those scary bikes that lay in the dark room but Ula said that it’s a class I must do every week. And to my surprise, I've found I actually enjoy it; it’s like a mini rave that you’re cycling around. At times you feel like you can’t do anymore but with the music pumping and Ula motivating you, energy that you thought you didn’t have just comes from nowhere. I skip out of the gym afterwards I recommend everyone to try it.

I’m now at the half way point and I’m feeling great. I’m still battling with the sugar, breakfast and with this weather it’s hard to remain motivated when I know I have to go outside. But I know I have Ula’s support and with her pushing me, I know I can reach the finish line.

And I just want to share one of my new, favourite recipes with you. It's for turkey meatballs and I find that if I make them on a Sunday, there is enough to get me halfway through the week.



400g tin of tomatoes


2 garlic gloves

1 onion

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste



500g turkey mince

1 grated onion

1 garlic glove

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp tomato sauce

1 tsp dried mix herbs

3 tsb Paxo bread crumbs

2 tsb of Frank Sauce/hot sauce (optional)

Salt and Pepper


Preparation Method:

  • For the sauce, chop the onion and garlic. Warm the oil in a sauce pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook for ten mins until soft.
  • Add the tin of tomatoes, dried herbs and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then simmer while you prepare the meatballs.
  • For the meatballs, put all ingredients into a bowl. I like to grate the onion so the meatballs don’t break up when you roll them. If the mixture is looking too wet you can add more breadcrumbs.
  • When all the ingredients are mixed, roll the mixture into equal size balls. Drop the balls gently into the simmering sauce and cook for 20-30 mins.
  • Serve with wholegrain rice if you are eating it for lunch or salad if it’s after the gym.



Do you have any tips to share with Abi? And why is it that as a nation we often appear unable to accept that maybe someone just doesn't want a drink tonight?

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