In Conversation with Mr Jonny Holland

In Conversation with Mr Jonny Holland

Mr Jonny Holland: I am a former professional rugby player with Munster rugby. After retiring from the game at 25, due to a hamstring injury that refused to recover, I completed a post graduate degree in Applied Sports & Exercise Nutrition.

During my time as an athlete I focused a lot on my nutrition and doing as much as I could to lead a healthy lifestyle and achieve my goals. Professional rugby gave me the exposure to top class coaches in all areas including nutrition, sports science, mental skills and balancing my lifestyle.

Educating myself in nutrition allowed me to combine my practical experiences at an elite level with science to achieve my goals beyond my rugby career.

My aim is to be able to help as many people as I can with particular focus on Performance Nutrition & Coaching; Recovery from injury & illness (nutritionally and mentally); Resilience & adapting to change.

We all know exercise along with good nutrition is good for our well being. HOWEVER, is there a chance that we can over exercise at expense to our health?

Yes definitely. Most people don’t fall into this category so don’t be fooled and use it as an excuse. But I would certainly be someone whose discipline falls short by exercising too much. Exercise, in a gym or outdoors, is a stress on the body. Your body will overcome that added stress and become healthier, fitter, stronger by learning to deal with that level of stress. However, you want to add health and not overload stress too much. There are also times when your kids might be sick, you get less sleep, projects are due in work. Whatever the added stress is you might need to reduce stress in another area and exercise can be one of them. 

How important is a good breakfast in the morning and can you give me an example of what you would advise/ suggest as a good breakfast? 

Breakfast is an individual thing but you should be consistent with it. If you are someone who needs breakfast to start the day off well and continue healthy eating habits for the rest of the day then it is very important. With the intermittent fasting craze these days some people are learning that they might not be hungry in the morning and can control eating later in the day if they consistently don’t have a breakfast. It is basically missing a meal and having more calories to eat in other meals. 

Porridge with some milk, berries and some nuts/seeds can be a great start to the day. An omelette with some veg and bacon medallions or smoked salmon can be a great one too. 

Getting on the road early can be a tough one. A lot of people like to wake up and have a coffee, get in to work and have breakfast there. A protein shake with fruit or a smoothie with Greek yogurt, berries and a banana are good drinkable options. Overnight oats or a Greek yogurt pot can be a handy one that can be prepared the night before and taken on the go too.

Do we overthink our nutrition?

Yes, 100%. Most people don’t need to delve into some of the detail that they try to. A lot of conversations are over complicated. Sticking to the basics will be enough for 80-90% of the general public.

Sitting is the new smoking – do you agree?

Sitting can be problematic for posture and for reduced activity. Sitting is unfortunately a necessity for a lot of people in work situations, smoking isn’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be active when you get home, at lunch breaks, or during the few breaks you can take during work. Doing some activation work in the gym and focusing on ‘pulling’ exercises can be very beneficial. Some people compound sitting by doing a lot of ‘pushing’ exercises.

It is easier in the summer to get some activity after work and correcting the all-day sitting that occurs, during the dark winter months it is tougher to get out but it is something most of us should focus on.

I wouldn’t compare them. Smoking should never be an option in my opinion.

What is your top goal setting tip?

Goal setting is something that not a lot of people actually do. When they do it they don’t make it specific enough to achieve these goals. Make it challenging but realistic, specify what numbers you want to achieve (if you can), put a timeline on it. For example, ‘I want to lose weight’ would be much more effective as ‘I want to lose 2 pounds in 4 weeks’.

And write them down, where you can see them or where others can. Don’t be afraid of the pressure. 

Have you a favourite book?

I don’t really have a favourite book. ‘The Secret’ is one that had the biggest effect on me because I read it at the start of a very long rehab process which helped my mindset. I’m about to start ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker which has been highly recommended and in an area of increasing interest so it should be good.

What would a good day’s nutrition for a sedentary worker look like?

Nutrition for everybody is very different. Calorie needs are dependent on height, weight, activity levels, genetics and gender but a general guide is to keep protein high, eat whole grains and high fibre carbohydrates and unsaturated fats.

Breakfast: Poached eggs with avocado on whole grain toast
Snack: Fruit
Lunch: Chicken breast with stir fried vegetables in olive oil
Snack: Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
Dinner: Lean mince Bolognese with tomato passata, vegetables and whole grain spaghetti. 

There are many alternatives, that’s just one example.

If you could only bring three things to a desert island for a week what would you bring?

Chloe (my girlfriend), a BBQ and spider repellent!

Jonny provides one to one and online support:
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