This week, in our Friends of The Happy Pear series, we catch up with fitness queen, Siobhan O’Hagan. A personal trainer and online coach, Siobhan originally studied maths in college, however, her passion for healthy living and training encouraged her to leave her nine to five life and change career.
She is now a fitness inspiration to more than 90,000 followers on Instagram, and has completely transformed her body and her life. Earlier this year, Siobhan competed in the Republic of Ireland Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (RIBBF) Spring Classic and walked away with a much-coveted second place title.
We were delighted to have Siobhan visit us for a Swimrise recently, so we asked her all about her life as a fitness fanatic and how she keeps on top of her health. This is a great interview, that we hope you’ll enjoy!
Tell us about your morning routine, Siobhan?
One of the best things I’ve achieved in my career, is being able to wake up without an alarm! I like to wake naturally, which is usually before 6am. I will make a coffee before writing in my journal, reading, and maybe some light cardio, before switching on emails and social media.
What is your favourite meal of the day?
My post-workout meal! I love the feeling of training really hard and then filling up on carbs and protein to help recovery. I feel like I’m really nourishing my body.
Keeping fit is obviously a big part of your life. What is your fitness routine and what do you love about exercising?
I mainly do weight training so I go to the gym 4-5 days per week and train a different body part each time. I love doing heavy compound lifts. There is nothing better than beating your previous record on squats, bench or deadlift! Sometimes I add in some HIIT training, but resistance training is always my priority for body composition.
You left your 9-5 job to pursue your passion for health and fitness. Do you have any advice for those looking to start their own business or follow their dream?
Life is too short not to be doing something you love! My best advice is to ignore social norms. It is ok to change jobs until you find something you love doing. Forget about climbing the ladder and focus on being happy. I stopped chasing money and started chasing happiness, but the money came anyway.
You recently competed in this year’s RIBBF Spring Classic. What was the experience like and would you recommend it to others who are thinking of competing?
I really, really enjoyed my competition prep, which even surprised me. I had an amazing coach and we both agreed that we would make prep fit around my life, rather than changing my life for prep, while also maintaining a healthy diet. I was able to travel and enjoy social occasions, while still doing really well.
However, the real challenge is post-competition. It’s hard to put into words, but, basically, you start feeling fat even though you know you’re not. I’m still trying to get my head around it! Deciding to compete is a huge, huge decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I see too many girls doing it way too early in their ‘lifting career’. It should be about showcasing the muscle you have spent years building. If you don’t have the muscle there, you will just end up dieting unhealthily and rebounding worse.
What do you do to look after your mental health?
I always focus on doing what makes me happy and being the best version of myself. I do meditation and journaling to really focus my mind daily.
How important is sleep to you?
I think sleep is a huge factory for health and for an even body composition. I’ve always been an early riser but I will try get to bed early. I aim for 8 hours sleep but my body will wake naturally before that. Previously, when I have been really stressed and getting nowhere with training and nutrition, I was able to link those times to when I was getting little sleep. Now, no matter how busy I am, I try make sure to get a good night’s sleep.
Do you have any beauty tips for our readers?
I think it’s common knowledge that you are what you eat! I recently returned from a crazy holiday and my skin was suffering and I craved lots of colourful vegetables! I always advise all my clients to drink lots and lots of water too. I aim for at least 4 litres a day!
Is eating healthily important for you and why?
Yes of course. When I eat well, I feel good and train well. I spent years under-eating and overtraining – trying to be skinny. I finally learnt that the trick is eating to train, rather than training to eat. I love fuelling my body like a well-oiled machine that can train heavy and recover well.
How do you stay healthy while travelling?
It is very easy to slip into ‘holiday mode’ once you get to the airport but I try and remind myself that I can enjoy myself without unnecessary weight gain. I always bring my own food for the airport and plane. I try to keep active when I’m away and will usually find a gym or just do lots of walking. I will have a healthy breakfast and lunch, and then let loose a little for dinner. I also don’t believe in over-restricting yourself to the point where you are missing out on life experiences. Even on my competition prep, I enjoyed travelling and weddings without whipping out lunch boxes at every meal.