Health3 Kids Later...Body Under Construction. - Fiona O'Donnell | Health | Nutrition | Performance

September 1, 2021by Fiona O'Donnell0

I remember my first pregnancy like it was yesterday. All I wanted was sour cream on pizza (yes, that was a thing) and profiteroles. Unfortunately for me, I indulged in my cravings. When my oldest was born 9 months worth of cheat days later I was, as my mother would put it, grand and strong. I didn’t stress. I had a beautiful baby boy and all was right with the world. When a friend came to visit 6 weeks later, she said to me “Fiona, you could fit two arses into that tracksuit” (Thanks for that Jen…sincerely). That was the push I needed to get myself on track both for my health and from an aesthetic perspective. I didn’t feel comfortable in my body two sizes up from usual.

So, I started walking. Every morning when the little man got a little cranky, I put him in the very sophisticated 3 wheel walking/running/mountain climbing system I had bought and I would hit the road. I started at 15 minutes. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but I had a newborn baby in the house. I was getting little sleep and I knew that when he slept, it was my only opportunity for a kip. Exercise time was not my priority but I did try to fit it in every day. As the weeks progressed and I started to get more sleep, I began to walk everywhere and genuinely enjoy it (up to this point – I had been a sloth….slow moving and an advocate of energy conservation). Fast forward to 6 months post partum and I was back to my pre pregnancy weight, albeit with a very different body shape. Fast forward another three months, I was pregnant with number 2.

As you can see, the cycle continued until I had no.3.  What actually forced a change was when my uncle started running. The way he spoke about the endorphin release, the conversations he would tell me about all happened while he was out running and I thought “That sounds amazing”. So I started running. It hurt. Actually it hurt a lot. But every day, I went out and I tr20170718_114430ied. If I knew then what I know now, the experience would have been far more enjoyable and I guess thats one of the reasons I do what I do now. Its so that I can help others where nobody gave me guidance. I called myself a jogger, when in actual fact, I started in exactly the same place that every Olympic athlete who ever ran started. This picture was taken with a disposable camera so I don’t have a digital copy, but it was at the start line of the New York Marathon in 2010 – 1 year after my diagnosis of kidney disease and 10 months after I had my third baby. I got there. I did it because I persevered and I stuck with it despite it being difficult. Despite finishing it very slowly and burning out after my fastest 1/2 marathon to date, I loved every second of it and I wanted more. What happened next changed my life.

As I told you already, I was a ‘jogger’. I didn’t go fast so I wasn’t a ‘runner’ (this was going on in my own head) so I would never have booked a running camp ause I thought I wasn’t good enough. Imagine that. Ok, hold on. Let’s backtrack on that for a second. Imagine taking your best friend, your mother in law, your sister, your boyfriend and telling them not to try something because they aren’t good enough. If the didn’t high five you in the face with a chair, maybe they should have. If you wouldn’t say it to them, why would you say it to yourself (AGAIN – these are the lessons I have learned that I want to share with you). Back to the story……So, I WON a trip for two to a running camp in the Alps. I couldn’t believe it. Thats the luckiest thing that has ever happened to me, least of all because I won something. While myself and my husband were on this trip, I suddenly began to realise (as we got proper coaching) that we were actually


quite good runners. We weren’t very fast, but with the right coaching, the potential was there to really improve. Not only that, but being surrounded by amazing people for the week, all with the same ideas as us, all with the same goals and all with the one intention and focus of being the best they could be for themselves, was the eye opener we needed to change our lives and our lifestyles. This one week was really what we needed to find our way.

From there, my attitude changed completely. I stopped focussing on whether my clothes looked ok or whether I had a little roll over the top of my sports bra and I started to focus on my running times. Then I began to look at ways that I could improve my health and fitness so that my running would get better and the topic of nutrition came up. Up to this point, I had always eaten healthy food. I cooked most of my own food at home from scratch – I knew what was healthy and what wasn’t. But there were lots of things that I was doing wrong. I was eating lots of healthy food – but the problem was the ‘lots’. While the food was healthy and nutritious, it was also calorie dense which meant that despite my training, I didn’t lose a pound. That can be very demotivating. So, again, I decided to make a change and I went back to University to study my Masters in Nutrition and Exercise Science. I qualified as a pilates instructor and eventually, I gave up my job as a Clinical Physiologist and made the switch to helping people full time with their health, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle goals. I entered a bodybuilding competition and while I enjoyed it, I quickly became disillusioned with the steroid use that I saw in the field (even though I was competing in the Natural or drug free division).


My husband has gone from a non-exercising 70hr a week working Doctor to an Ironman with amazing work/life/train balance. I am at home with my 3 kids, organising fitness and running holidays with these beauties (Olympic and Commonwealth games medalist, Liz Yelling; British running coach Vicky Unsworth; European Cross Country Champion Hayley Yelling). I’m travelling all over to share what I can with anyone who wants to listen.

Along the way, I also developed a serious set of abs (they are temporarily on holidays while I spend the summer eating icecream) and despite currently being on the waiting list for a kidney transplant (small matter), I am the fittest I could be considering the circumstances.


I have surrounded myself with the most amazing people who motivate me daily and whats even better is that my kids are watching closely and they are beginning to join in the fun. Isn’t that what its all about? So this is me and my journey so far. If you want to follow my instagram for some food or training ideas, click the link. Otherwise find me on facebook or twitter.

I said earlier that I had made lots of mistakes during my fitness journey. Its taken me 13 years to find my way and I finally feel like I have arrived. If you want to get involved in the #sustain programme so that you can forego all those unnecessary mistakes, contact me through my contact form or check out the information on my website.

Thanks for reading folks – be sure to hit subscribe so that you get updates with all my latest recipes. xIMG_1902


Fiona O'Donnell

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Copyright by Fiona O’Donell. All rights reserved.

Copyright by Fiona O’Donell. All rights reserved.