Interview with Editor of Stephanie O’Quigley

Looking at the new craze of fitspiration over thinspiration overtaking the world today, it really seemed obvious to check out the movement from a media point of view. Diet and fitness blogs can be seen all over the social sphere, including here at home in Ireland. I wondered what a blogger in the field had to say about it all. Co-owner and editor of Stephanie O’Quigley is the writer of the Diet and Fitness section of the popular Irish blog, and has been through her own weight loss journey, coming through to write about the popular issues on Irish girls’ minds today.
Q) You’re a big advocate for eating right with everything in moderation on the site, and always have plenty of details about food types. How important do you think it is to know the details of what you’re eating? (Calories, nutrition etc.)
S) It really depends on your personal goal for your health, like if your goal is to lose weight, you would be focusing on calories. Not counting calories, just being aware of them. If you want to maintain your health and really get healthy it’s vital to educate yourself on your food, me myself, I have no formal training in nutrition or dieting or anything, everything I know is from the internet or newspapers. I just think you really owe it to yourself to research things properly, like there are two sides to everything on the internet and you can’t trust everything you see straight away, you need to make sure to know what’s right.
Q) Are calories or nutrition more important? Do you count calories or look at how much protein or fibre is in the product for example?
S) For me, it’s all about nutrition. I am interested in calories but to be honest, when you pay attention to your nutrition properly, the calories all just fall into place. I always think of that healthy eating plate map, where it has the sections for your meat and your veg and all that, and really if you just try and stick to that, it’ll do you good. Eat natural and include plenty of variety, that’s what nutrition is for me.
Q) Can the research go too far where it takes over your life?
S) I think the main problem you get with that is just clouded judgement, people not knowing the facts that they really need. I’m just going to go there, I think programmes like Weightwatchers are sources of that, they don’t really give you the education you need. Their stuff is processed, and it goes off the point of real nutrition. In Weightwatchers you’re only thinking about the points of each meal, you’re not thinking about what you need. I mean, I’ve known friends on that who would be able to have 3 points for their dinner, and a cookie is 3 points so they’d have a cookie for dinner. There’s no merit in that, what good is that doing you?
Q) Do you think during your weight loss journey you had more so being skinny in mind or getting to a place where you were healthy and fit?
S) This really sounds really bad, but just being honest I actually didn’t have a goal weight in mind when I started it all. I did have problems with stuff like an underactive thyroid and so I’d had an interest in nutrition from the start because of that. I just didn’t want to cut out anything; I wanted to be able to sustain the change, because it honestly was a total lifestyle change. Everything changed for me, my sleeping pattern, even relationships, everything changed, definitely for the better. I would really say that you need to be prepared for change, and it is a slow process, it’s not easy. The only way for it to work is to be sustainable.
Q) When getting the questions from girls visiting the site, do you find that more so recently, they’ve been asking about how to tone areas up or eat healthier, rather than just tips on weight loss?
S) I rarely get messages about fat loss actually, I think girls nowadays aren’t looking for a skinny role model or aspiring to be like that, it’s all about the healthy girl now.
Q) Are you more of a gym person or work out at home person?
S) I’m definitely a gym person; I do most of my workouts there. I do like to go running outside, especially now that the weather is getting better, but I know that’s not for everyone.
Q) In the gym, do you see a lot more girls doing weight training now rather than cardio?
S) Definitely, I see so many fit looking girls going for those circuits rather than just on the cross trainers. You can really see that they’re toned and athletic, they’re really doing everything to get to that stage.
Q) How easy is it to get obsessed with the health aspect of life?
S) Well I don’t really see many girls getting to that point, like out of my group of friends I’m definitely the only one that health is a real way of life for. If you look back on media fashion trends in the last few years, in 2004, 2005, around that time, it was the skinny trend. Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, they were so skinny, they looked so unhealthy, and anorexic, it was such a bad message to be sending out. It could possibly go back to that but I really don’t think so, how can we go back after learning what we know now, and seeing the new way of sexiness that we have now? To name names, I see girls like Kellie Donegan out there, who just looks amazing, and she looks so healthy and fit. Louisa Sissman is another, she’s so fit and toned. That’s the new version of sexy, the new look to aspire to nowadays in the media. It can go a little too far, you can see it especially with this whole trend of big asses. You take Kim Kardashian, her bum is absolutely huge, it’s too much, yet that’s the goal for a lot of women. Women’s assets being taken out of proportion like that is one danger definitely.
Q) Have you heard of many people turning towards a vegan or vegetarian diet for health reasons and would you ever consider that yourself? Do you see much benefit?
S) I can’t see much benefit, no. I mean I’m not a huge meat eater myself, I eat a lot of vegetables but that’s not consciously to not eat meat. I would worry about vegan diets, as I don’t see how they can get the kind of nutrition that non-vegans have. I remember my own brother was setting up to run a marathon in Paris, which is a huge feat, you need a lot of prep for that, and he turned to a vegan diet a couple of weeks before, and I was so worried about him! I thought it was going to be really bad for his performance and was worried what would happen, but thankfully he was fine. Some people do have it figured out, if you look at Rosanna Davidson the model, she’s a vegetarian and actually qualified in nutrition so she knows what she’s doing. If you’re educated properly, it should be fine.
Q) Now that you’ve lost your goal weight, are you more focused on strength and health now?
S) I’m really more focused on keeping sustainable now. I eat clean now and stay focused on staying healthy. I’m really determined about it, I always find that people discouraging me, or even just having a temptation to stray off it brings back motivation, it makes me want to work harder at it. Eating definitely affects your mood; I always make sure I eat to feel good. I don’t really want to be muscly but definitely strong, and I go to the gym to keep my heart healthy. I feel I have to exercise, it’s just part of me at this stage. I want to be the next Donegan!
Q) Finally, what are your top tips on staying healthy?
S) Focus on yourself. Don’t try and compare yourself, and understand that it’s a slow process, it takes a long time. Even if you go off track, always always go back onto it. That’s the real secret to being successful with it, with anything really. If you keep going back, you have to end up healthy don’t you?

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