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My week in wellness: A 27-year-old software engineer who plans his workouts with 'military precision'

This week’s diary writer made some big lifestyle changes during the most recent lockdown, and now runs almost daily.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Live, TheJournal.ie’s wellness diary series.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of their mental and physical routines every day for one week – what their stress levels are like, how much activity they fit in (or don’t fit in), and how much sleep they get.

Each wellness diary is submitted by readers just like you. When reading and commenting, bear in mind that this is simply an account of a week in someone’s shoes, and their situation may not be relatable for everyone.

If you’re interested in submitting your own How I Live diary, email wellness@thejournal.ie with your name, age, location and a few lines about your current health and wellness goals.

This week, we hear from a 27-year-old who has taken up running to boost his mental resilience – and has lost some weight in the process.

Option 2A Final

Occupation: Software engineer for a large American company
Age: 27
Location: Dublin
Who you live with: My mam, my younger sister and her dog, Poppy

In college I would have been a very active person who worked out and trained in Jiu-Jitsu regularly. But fast forward two years and a desk job, skipping my training and eating canteen food meant I had gained 16kg (2.5 stone). 

I also noticed during this second lockdown that I was not as mentally strong as I had been during the first one. I work from my bedroom and over time I ended up in a sort of mini solitary confinement of my own making.

I had to do something about it so I took up running and have started to plan out my days with the military precision of a Late Late Toy Show under Covid restrictions. I have lost 14kg so far.

Daily activity levels: My workday is very sedentary, aside from walking the dog in a nearby park. But once work finishes at 5pm I’ll go for a run or do an at-home exercise circuit.
Stress levels: Never really high at all unless work is very busy. 
Eating/drinking habits: I only eat two meals per day and tend to stick to the same things each day. It’s what works for me. My breakfast Monday to Friday is eggs or microwaved Weetabix and toast. Dinner comes after my evening workout, Saturdays I’ll have a takeaway with my girlfriend and Sunday is whatever her Mam is kind enough to make me. I’m not much of a drinker, and my girlfriend likes to say she can drink me under the table.
Sleep quality: I am a very light sleeper and my sleep quality is not great. I can’t lay in bed for long at all on the weekends.
Self care: My workouts are a must as I am an extremely energetic person, and without exercise I am the most annoying person in the world. I’m just too hyper. Myself and my girlfriend love a sea swim too.

Tuesday

7:20am: Alarm number one doesn’t even open my eyes. Alarm two wakes me and gets me up. I walk to my desk and power on my laptop and screen. I brush my teeth as my computer is turning on, come back and check my emails. 
8:15am: My morning coffee is always the strongest, I call it my ‘hitter’, because, as the name suggest, it hits me.
10:00am: Breakfast is the same as always! Five eggs (two whole, three whites) and two toast. Plus a large glass of water and a dissolvable vitamin c tablet.
12:50pm: I call the dog to get her excited for her daily walk. I use my doggy voice thinking she can understand me. ‘Are we going on a walk? Did you bring your leash? Where are you, c’mon c’mon we have to go’. I never eat during this time and I need the exercise so I have added dog walking to my daily routine.
1:40pm: We arrive home and I immediately go upstairs and just lay on my bed until 2pm.
5:15pm: I finish work for the day and start rearranging my room for my workout. I begin with a 20 minute yoga YouTube video. It’s just great to wind down! After this it’s kettlebell cleans, resistance bands, incline push ups, ab roller and various ab routines. I do six sets, 20-25 reps of each exercise per set. By the last set I am absolutely drained, sweat is dripping off me. I head to the shower. 
8pm: My girlfriend has arrived and we sit down to watch the Great British Bake Off. We never eat this late but she was late from work. I made dinner today. Sweet potato fries, sweetcorn, turkey burgers and a million condiments.
9pm: Baby-faced Peter has won the Bake Off.
11:30pm: Bedtime.

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Wednesday

7:50am: Alarm wakes me. It used to be a very harsh noise but I’ve changed it to something a little softer and honestly it was the best idea I had in ages.
8:15am: Coffee time. My mam is already on her phone chatting away to one of my many siblings – I have five sisters and a brother in Australia. I can almost guess who’s on the other end of the phone just from how she speaks. 
10:00am: Breakfast is the same as yesterday. I prop up my phone on the table and get my new briefings for the day, going between different international news outlets from Australia to the UK. I like to be briefed on current events around the world.
12:50pm: Poppy and I head out on our walk. 
4pm: Team call at work. We each take turns listing our projects, problems and upcoming deadlines.
5:45pm: Time for a run. I park my car near enough to the entrance to the Castleknock gate of the Phoenix park. From my car to the gate at the opposite end of the park and back is 10.6km, so that’s my daily route. I started the second lockdown with the goal of running 8k. I started with walking lap after lap around the park and then turned to running.
7:00pm: Dinner today is mushrooms, spinach and turkey burgers.
9:00pm: I watch one episode of a ten part series called Raised By Wolves, my lockdown project.
2am: Bedtime. I spent my night working on a small mobile app project that I’m doing on the side, one I’m hoping will help sole traders who have been hit by Covid. I only wish I started much earlier.

Thursday

7:20am: I check my emails first thing. My girlfriend and I are planning a move to Australia – my brother has a successful business there and has enticed us over to work. There’s an email from a visa application company looking for more documentation from us. 
11:00am: Today is a busy day with lots of issues to resolve on a project, I am working with two guys in the Dublin office to get things sorted. 
4pm: By now the project is working fine. We have an internal rewards system where we can send gift card points to one another and I send some points to the two guys who I was working with today.
5:10pm: Workout at home, no yoga today as I am rushed.
6:30pm: I arrive at my girlfriend’s house nearby and we walk her dog… half Labrador, half horse. He is the wildest dog I have ever come across.
11pm: Back at my house and it’s bedtime, I fall asleep after watching lots of Youtube videos from various creators I follow. The algorithm has me sussed out and always suggests cooking videos at nighttime.

Friday

7:50am: I’m up and already turning on my laptop and screens. I am energetic today as it is the weekend. 
8:10am: My mam is in the kitchen talking to one of my siblings on the phone. I make my ‘hitter’ coffee and return to my room.
10:00am: We don’t have any eggs left! I make some microwaved Weetabix. If you haven’t had this delicacy in a while I suggest you give it a go. Throw a teaspoon of sugar on top once they come out of the microwave, and a delectable sugary crust will be formed after the sugar heats and melts. 
12:50pm: Poppy and I begin our park walk.
4pm: I finish work! I get changed and almost immediately head to my usual parking spot to begin my run. My distance today was 10.54km in 57mins. During my runs I create mini goals. I see a tree or sign post up ahead and say to myself, “Run hard to that point.” After a month of running I have the second fastest 10K run in the Phoenix Park according to Strava. If you’re the person out there with the number one position, you better keep up. I’m coming for that record!
8pm: I arrive at my girlfriend’s for dinner and to watch the Late Late Toy Show. We go to a nearby pizza place and get a takeaway. For me the little girl with red hair, Saoirse, stole the show – she was very funny and didn’t take the smile off her face the whole time.
12am: Bedtime back home.

Saturday

8:30am: I awake to a message from my girlfriend asking if I want to go on a walk.
9:15am: We drive to the park. We do our usual coffee order: double espresso for me and some oat milk variation coffee for her. After the walk, we both head back to our homes. I make a breakfast of eggs, salmon, bacon and avocado on toast, a big breakfast for me. I help my little sister with some painting for the better half of the day.
7:00pm: I make dinner for both me and my sister. A chicken curry with rice and prawn crackers. I’m a decent cook, but this is all out of a jar. I wish I could make a decent curry.
9pm: I collect my girlfriend and we return to mine with some red wine to watch The Crown. I haven’t watched any other seasons but the Diana story is interesting.
12am: Bedtime.

Sunday

8:20am: Wake up! My girlfriend’s mam has asked us to drive her to visit her mother’s grave. I go to a nearby garage for fuel because the embarrassment of the idea that my car could run out of fuel with her mam in the car is too much. I pick up a couple of pastry sausage rolls from the garage, because it’s the weekend.
12pm: While we’re out we stop in a shop and pick up some Christmas baubles. I pick up a large scented candle for myself too, for my office/room. On the way home we stop and have a coffee in the car and share a sweet treat.
2pm: We head to my girlfriend’s house to do some Christmas decorating. 
5:30pm: Walk the half horse/dog wild thing on our usual 5k loop.
6:15pm: My girlfriend and her friends have all decided to meet at a nearby coffee shop for a socially distanced chat. I’m not a guy who follows his girlfriend around daily trying to be involved in every moment, but I actually haven’t seen her group of friends together since school. We all went to the same school and were in the same year. Not a single one of them has changed, they are all really nice.
7:00pm: We pass buy a nearby pub and get carvery dinners to go for us and her parents, plus a hot whiskey to go for my girlfriend. I, on the other hand, am driving.
10:00pm: Dinner and the last episode of The Crown. I usually head home about this time or just after. 
12am: I’m in bed by now but I won’t fall asleep until 12:30am. I watch some videos on YouTube.

Monday

7:50am: I’m up and powering on my devices while brushing teeth.
10:00am: It’s breakfast time and I have my usual eggs and toast, watching some Australian news segments. I don’t know why I tune in to Australian news so much, maybe because I plan on moving there or else because I just enjoy how outspoken the news reporters are. 
12:50pm: Walk with Poppy.
5pm: Work is finished. I get dressed for my run, and drop into Tesco on my way, buying food supplies for dinner.
7pm: I am home, showered and cooking. My run was successful, I didn’t feel tired one bit until the last leg. Dinner is salad with two chicken breasts, olives, tomatoes and spinach cooked in garlic. I eat my dinner alone in the kitchen and tune into a fight podcast from ESPN. 
8:30pm: I drop over to my girlfriend’s house to pick something up.
9pm: I’m home and onto the final episode of Raised by Wolves – it took me the whole lockdown to finish it.
12am: Bedtime. I watch a couple of fitness videos on YouTube before I finally put my phone down.

What I’ve learned…

  • Lockdown number two has helped me to create a routine. Going forward I want to continue this structure and build on it. I know now that a routine and as much exercise as possible is very important for me. I am now 2kgs away from my original weight in college and I feel much better. 
  • In the near future I’d like to pick up a new skill to help with my career, start more side projects and get back to Jiu-Jitsu.

Last week’s diary: A 32-year-old doctor who wants to get back into a physical shape she’s happier with>

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