Balance in Our Everyday Lives

Homeostasis is an essential part for our health.  But, in order to promote a body in balance our mind needs to contribute. Choices we make in regards to stress reduction, healthy nutrition and regular exercise helps keep an imbalance at bay.

IMAG0188Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. Managing stress is about taking charge of our thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way we deal with problems. This isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Identifying our true sources of stress, we have to look closely at our habits, attitude, and excuses.

A regular diet rich in plant foods, fish, and lean protein boosts overall health and clearly helps protect against heart disease and diabetes. However when it comes to exercising inadequate nutrient intake deprives the body of the energy needed to perform, the carbohydrates necessary for glycogen replacement, the protein needed for tissue building and repair, and the micronutrients necessary for normal metabolism and maintenance of body homeostasis.

EilishThe health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore and the benefits are ours for the taking, regardless of our age, sex or physical ability. Our body needs regular exercise, the right food, lifestyle and mental attitude to achieve its true health potential.

Picture of my sister (survivor) and two of her girls out on a walk yesterday in California :)

Cardiovascular Exercise: Are You Getting Your METs?

To reap all the benefits cardiovascular exercise (walking, cycling, swimming etc.) can provide, you need to be sure that your fitness routine is providing you with the right number of METs. Group walk

METs are the rate at which our bodies use oxygen (metabolic equivalents). If you accumulate >15 METs every week, then you get significant benefits in terms of fighting cancer. Studies have shown as little as 9 MET/hrs of physical activity over a seven day period increases survival rate for breast and bowel cancers.

Your fitness level has a direct impact on how many METS you expend per minute. So let’s say it take you 16 minutes to walk a mile, your pace is 3.75 miles per hour, which corresponds to 4.3 METs per hour. If you walk 3 ½ hours over a seven day period you will accumulate 15 METs for your week.

I will be giving exercise and nutrition talks for patients, families, survivors and health professionals during breast cancer awareness month as part of my pro-active educational programmes  One of these talks will take place Thursday, 16 October 7:30pm–9:00pm at Good Counsel G.A.A. Club Davitt Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12.  This event is special for me because it takes place in my own home town.

Hope to see lots of familiar faces :)

FREE EVENT – ALL WELCOME Marie Murphy_Breast Cancer Awareness Month_Save the date

Please contact Marie at if you would like a customised training programme.

Nutrition & Cancer

Healthy SaladA good cancer diet is similar to a cancer prevention diet. The main differences are that people undergoing chemotherapy may have higher nutritional needs and poor appetites. It is very important to eat the most nutritious foods you can get. A diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, and low in fat, high in fibre is cancer protective.

Cancer treatments may decrease appetite and lower the ability to digest food which may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients. Focus should be placed on getting enough calories to keep up strength and eating a healthy a diet as possible to boost the immune system to help deal with possible nutritional deficiencies.

Think of the Irish Flag ‘plenty of green, white and orange fruits & vegetables. Make sure your diet contains plenty of low-fat protein, such as cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, and mackerel) beans, and white meat chicken or turkey.

Protein rebuilds muscle and tissue which is particularly important when your body has undergone chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Good fat such as olive oil and omega 3 oils including flax seed oil and fish oil are important, while processed fats and oils, such as Trans & hydrogenated fats in margarines and fats used for baking should be avoided.

Keep well

Cancer fighting foods and drinks

Benefits of Water Soluble Fibre Foods

Meal Planning

Ireland’s 2014 Report Card

Based on the results from Ireland’s 2014 Report Card on physical activity in children and youth, physical activity levels remain low in Ireland.Running on sand dunes

  • Overall Physical Activity Levels D-
  • Organized Sport Participation C-
  • Physical Education D-

The estimated contribution of physical inactivity to the burden of disease in Ireland was estimated at 8.8% for coronary heart disease, 10.9% for type 2 diabetes, 15.2% for breast cancer, and 15.7% for colon cancer.

To see change in these types of statistics we need to have Physical Activity part of our National Schools curriculum.  All children and youth should have the opportunity of a ‘quality’ experience of school-based physical activity and sport.  At least 4 hours/week of sport and physical activity during school PE would be acceptable.

During my eighteen years coaching high school track & field and cross country in California; students joining my team first needed to pass the ACSM’s (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines in prevention. If they did not pass first time out they trained with the team until they accomplished the goal and then they competed for their school.  At the same time I had concerns for the students who did not participate; who I knew at 15-17 years of age were not in a state of prevention of disease. It took five years in gathering data on my teams before my school changed its curriculum and physical activity became mandatory.

We have many of these types of students here in Ireland that need to meet the recommended guidelines for lowering their risks later in life.  It is up to us to give our children and youth the best possible outlook for their future.  As we all know Health is our Wealth

Let’s get moving!



Breast Cancer Awareness: 10 Tips in Starting an Exercise Programme after Treatment

  1. Get clearance from your Doctor before starting any fitness programme.
  2. Have a qualified Fitness Instructor design/guide your fitness programme.IMAG0226
  3. Walk a minimum of 3 days a week (advancing to 5 days).
  4. Incorporate resistance training 1 day a week (advancing to 2 days).
  5. Set a goal of 15 weeks to maintain consistency and see improvements in your fitness.
  6. Aim to achieve 15-20 MET/hrs/week within one year of starting your programme.


    5-10 MET/hrs/week 1-4 months

    10-15 MET/hrs/week 5-8 months

    15-20 MET/hrs/week 9-12 monthsIMAG0290

  1. Eat a healthy diet: high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, low in fat and high in fibre.
  2. Drink a minimum 1.5 litres of water a day (water is the most important nutrient).
  3. Keep a record of your training to see your improvements and help motivate you.
  4. A little a lot, is better than, a lot a little.  (To do something often you have to enjoy what it is you are doing).

How to avoid fatigue during training

Glass of water plus jug

Your daily intake will have a big impact on how you feel. Without a proper, balanced diet you can start to feel sluggish and are likely to become fatigued- so ensure that you eat healthy meals at the correct times as well as fueling before, during and after your workouts.

Poor hydration can adversely affect your mental as well as your physical performance. Staying hydrated helps prevent tiredness as well as lower your risk of injury. Have a water bottle within arm’s reach at all times.

To avoid tiredness ensure you get enough sleep. Your body needs sleep to recharge and allow you to continue with your training schedule as well as repair and rebuild your muscles.

Caffeine can cause restlessness and sleeping difficulties. Cutting down on the amount of caffeine you drink in the evening will help avoid a restless night’s sleep.

Stress is one of the most common reasons for feeling tired — so the most important thing to do is identify what is causing your stress in the first place. Taking a few days off or using different muscle groups, can make a big difference to your overall energy levels.

Fatigue is usually a temporary situation brought on by overdoing it on a particular day or group of days. Good lifestyle choices that include a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep management should eliminate long-term tiredness, but if fatigue persists then seek advice from your doctor.

Exercise & Nutrition Workshop

This past week I was asked to deliver a workshop on Exercise & Nutrition for teachers of SICCDA’s Afterschool Programmes which provide daily afterschool childcare to approximately 150 children living in the Liberties area of Dublin 8.

picture of woman's feet walking

Their programmes provide participants with homework support, nutritious snacks and enriching extra-curricular activities in a warm, caring, child-centred environment. Camps during school holidays provide participants with fun, meaningful activities which provide continuity for children, and facilitate childcare needs.

The sixteen teachers who attended my workshop operated from the following schools;

  • Scoil San Seamus CBS, Basin Lane
  • St Enda’s National School, Whitefriar Street
  • Francis Street CBS, Francis Street
  • Warrenmount Primary School
  • Scoil Treasa Naofa

It was a very positive experience engaging with the teachers over the course of the day. They found learning about the METs very interesting. All teachers took part in doing a fitness evaluation (1 mile walk) to see how their own fitness level measured up to the guidelines for prevention of disease. The sun was shining as we walked along the canal from Basin Lane to Rialto Bridge; all completing the course within 14 to18 minutes. So if see a large group of children walking briskly along the canal over the coming weeks you’ll know teachers are measuring their METs.

Changing our exercise routine

It’s a good idea to change your exercise routines because your muscles get bored with the same repetitive exercises.

As an athlete I’ve spent a great number of hours running.  One of the key elements to my training is keeping a variety to workouts.  When travelling I generally stay at hotels that accommodate a gym.  Not that I use the gym on every occasion but I like the idea of having the choice.

Marie in Co.Clare small

Checking out the weights in my hotel.

I recently travelled to Co. Clare and while I spent most of my time outdoors sightseeing I did avail of the gym in the evening.  I changed my mode of exercise to the Stair Climber machine, and decreased the duration which allowed increasing my intensity.

I followed the climber by doing free weights, a shorter version of my regular routine finishing off with light stretching before heading to relax in the Jacuzzi.

By changing things up, you stimulate muscle growth. Muscles get jump-started by new routines and you’ll see differences immediately.


You discover an entire range of new exercises when you change your routine, which also keeps you from getting bored.With the Easter break here take the opportunity to change your exercise routine and feel the benefits!

Working Towards a Healthier Diet

When it comes to eating healthy, losing weight or maintaining your current weight, you are more likely to be successful if you make small changes over time rather than changing your entire diet all at once. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of cancer and disease.  Here are a few simple changes you can do to work towards a healthier diet.

Start Your Day with a Good Breakfast

A nutritious breakfast gets you fuelled for the day and helps prevent you from binging later in the day. Easy-to-prepare breakfasts include cold cereal with fruit and low-fat milk, whole-wheat toast with scrambled eggs, yogurt with fruit, or porridge with raisins.

Eat Plenty of Whole Grains, Fruits & Vegetables Red and Green Apples
Try brown rice instead of white rice and whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  A cup of salad counts as one vegetable, so try eating a salad with either lunch or dinner (choose low-calorie, low-fat or fat free dressing options).

Stay Hydrated Throughout Your Day

A regular fluid intake from our daily diet is crucial to maintain good health.  Even if your goal is to lose weight, losing it through dehydration isn’t the way to go. Your body needs fluids to function and dehydration leads to other health problems. The average person needs to drink about 2L (8 glasses) of water a day. Keep in mind if you drink coffee (or other heavily caffeinated drinks such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi) you should add an extra glass of water for every glass you have.

Choose Lean Cuts of Meat and Poultry

For poultry, the leanest choice is white meat from skinless breast of chicken or turkey. If choosing beef, look for sirloin, tenderloin or round and if opting for pork try tenderloin or loin chops.

Try Lower- Calorie/Fat Versions of Your Favourite Foods

Don’t assume that you have to give up your favourite food like mash potatoes, when you’re trying to eat healthier or lose weight. As an alternative use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare it differently. For example, if your mash potatoes use whole milk and butter try remaking it with skim milk and a reduced serving of butter.

Watch Your Portion Sizes

Standard portion sizes may actually be smaller than you think. For example, one serving size of pasta or rice is equal to one half-cup and four ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.  Putting smaller amounts of food on your plate or using smaller plates is helpful (the more food in front of you, the more likely you are to eat it because it’s there).

Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand

It’s important to make healthy snacks available, especially when you’re at work, have a busy schedule or exercising. Keeping healthy snacks, such as fruits, veggies, granola, or low-fat yogurt, on hand will prevent you from heading to the vending machine or fast food restaurant for an unhealthy snack.    

10 Minute Fitness Workout

Get moving with this 10 minute workout

Are you looking to ease into getting in shape? This 10 minute resistance training routine can start you on the path to better health. But before starting this training plan, talk with your doctor if you’ve been sedentary for a long time or you have serious health issues.

The 10 exercises below (5 upper body and 5 lower body) are an introduction to the Murphy (MET’s) Programme. When starting this training plan you first need to learn the proper technique for each exercise. Choose weights that are light enough that you can lift 10 repetitions for each exercise (example 500ml water bottles or 2 cans of Heinz soup).

The first 3-6 weeks you are conditioning your body, working on bringing each muscle group through their full range of motion. Again, you are mastering the proper technique for each exercise. Once you have accomplished the first six weeks weights can be applied to the lower body routine.

For best results, try to do this training plan twice a week.

For more information on the Murphy (METs) Programme please see here or call 085 196 5468 to schedule a consultation with Marie.

MMP 10 minute workout

Older woman holding weights