Ursula Walsh aka Momfitnessdiary, is one of Ireland’s top bloggers. She has around 100,000 fans across her social channels and has established somewhat of a cult following, particularly on Snapchat.
Fans tune in everyday to get in-depth diet and exercise advice from Ursula who is a qualified health and nutrition coach. She’s great at educating her followers about how to eat well and is known for going the extra mile to motivate others to get into exercise, following her own five stone weight loss.
As a wife and mother to two young boys, we wanted to ask Ursula about Christmas in her home and find out how she stays on track at this time of year.
Tell us a bit about what Christmas is like for you?
We used to go to my mother in law’s house, but since last year we have decided to celebrate Christmas in the comfort of our home to let the boys play with their presents from Santa.
From your blog and social media accounts, we can see that you like to eat very healthily – do you keep this up at Christmas?
What I always say is I do cheat but I don’t binge. I think a lot of people get very confused between the two. So although I do have chocolate, I don’t eat the whole box.
As for Christmas day, I do whatever I want. One or two days over the holiday is ok – it won’t do much damage. The rest of the days I have little cheats but zero binging!
We also know that you eat mostly vegetarian meals, so what kind of meals do you eat on Christmas day?
Well I only started being a vegetarian on January this year, so this is my first Christmas as a veggie. To be honest I am very confused as to what I am going to eat because my husband has ordered already a 15 pound turkey!
He is a traditionalist and I don’t expect him to give up one of his favourite meals of the year when he doesn’t share my views on animal protein. So I think I will make for myself some lasagne or a pastry quiche type of dish and a lot of roasted veggies and all the typical Christmas side dishes.
Do you incorporate any Mexican traditions into your Christmas celebrations?
In Mexico we usually have dinner on the 24th, and we used to do that but now I am 100% Irish and do what Irish people do. Aside from that, my traditions are very similar to Irish as I come from a very Catholic family. So everything else is the same, which I love.
What about your family – how do you keep your boys healthy at this time of year?
I have always been very strict with them in terms of food. They have never had McDonalds or any type of take away.
It’s very important for me to keep them healthy as colds and flus are very easily passed in play school. So I make sure they have a nutritious breakfast, packed with fruit, oats, seeds and nuts. Followed by a midmorning snack, a complete dinner with proteins and vegetables and I always make them a vitamin C smoothie for whey come home from the playgroup to keep their immune systems healthy.
They are incredibly healthy themselves. The other day I made them buns with all the good stuff (sugar, dairy, butter, etc) and they asked me for an apple instead! They love to eat healthy themselves and they follow by example.
What advice would you give to any parents wanting to keep their children healthy at Christmas?
I would say to make sure to give them plenty of fruit and vegetables throughout the day. Allow them to have treats on top of the essential foods and avoid giving them fizzy drinks. Wrap them well, and a vitamin C supplement is always helpful.
Do you still keep up your gym and exercise routine over Christmas?
I exercise up until the 23th December and after that I take a completely rest until the 2nd of January. I think those 2 weeks are essential to rest, eat, spend time with the family, have the fire on and forget about fitness. I will still cheat on those days, but as I said before I don’t binge!
Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2017?
2017 has to be the year to set up my own business. As I am now qualified, I am looking to open up a clinic to give consultations to people who want to have a better relationship with food. That’s my biggest goal and I am focusing on that at the moment.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to kick start a healthy new lifestyle in 2017 but doesn’t know where to start?
I think the major problem we all go through when trying to change our lifestyle is not having structure to our days and weeks. So my first piece of advice is to plan. Plan your meals, plan your shopping, cook according to your plan.
Then have a plan of what days you are going to go to the gym, and stick to that plan.
I think is also very important to start slowly, if you want long term results. If you start to go the gym five times a week and starve yourself, you will just give up.
It’s essential to eat plenty of good foods and ease yourself into a routine. Star exercising three times a week, doing whatever you feel comfortable doing and then, step it up as you feel better along the way.
And my main piece of advice is to have a weekly cheat meal. A cheat meal gives you something to look forward to and will motivate you to stay healthy with your meals during the rest of the week.
Having lost 5 stone, what is the biggest thing you have learned since beginning your healthier lifestyle?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that avoiding carbs is not a good way to lose weight; you need them and you can still change your lifestyle while still having plenty of them. And, also, we don’t need as much animal protein as media, and other fitness advocates makes us believe.