Paul O'Connell: "I eat about 25% of what I used to eat"
Ahead of taking to the stage at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin's Convention Centre earlier this year, to speak about the value of resilience on and off the field, Paul O'Connell spoke to us about the importance of sleep and how he keeps his kids eating healthily. Watch the interview above.
At the Pendulum Summit, Paul spoke about the importance of reinvention and adapting to change.
The Limerick man retired from rugby due to injury in February 2016 and was Ireland's third most-capped player behind Ronan O'Gara and Brian O'Driscoll.
A revered sports star, Paul played professional rugby for over 14 years. Naturally, we wanted to find out if the athlete had any wisdom to pass onto the general public when it came to making healthy lifestyle choices.
Speaking on the importance of sleep, Paul admits that professional athletes live a great life when it comes to napping.
"I always try to be in bed by 10 o'clock. Most of the guys I played with also tried to nap - you have a great life as a professional rugby player, napping during the day," he laughed.
"Certainly, from a professional rugby player's point of view, it [sleep] was really, really important. Just for recovery and to be mentally sharp. I just feel now that I'm retired I have a lot of bad habits. I sleep way too much now and I'd like to be able to get by on a little bit less but I can't.
"When I played, it was probably one of the most important parts of training and, [...] it was one of the places where you could actually get a jump on other people by being disciplined around it by making sure you got a minimum of 8 hours because, as a professional rugby player, you need it for recovery."
Fuel for life
When it comes to diet, it seems that we are always searching for the next trend whether it be low fat, low carb, intermittent fasting or juicing. According to the rugby icon though, it's simply about preparation.
"I think people have to figure out what's most important to them. If eating well is important to you, you actually probably need to sit down in the evening and plan your week.
"If you plan your week and you have the right food in the house, you'll probably avoid the bad habits and the snacking that causes problems.
"I used to eat loads when I was playing because I was always trying to keep weight on, I was always trying to be bigger as a rugby player and probably, since I retired I eat about 25% of what I used to eat.
"I think planning... if something is important to you like if it's training or exercise or it's eating well if you want to play golf during the week, or whatever you want to do, you have to plan it. I think that's the thing we probably don't do; we all want to eat well but we don't plan ahead."
The O'Connell Clan
At home Paul's son Paddy is now seven and daughter Lola is three - the family welcomed baby brother Felix to the world in November, 2017. We asked Paul how he and his wife Emily kept the kids eating healthily while juggling such busy schedules.
"We have a few dinners that we know that they'll eat; they eat salmon, broccoli, and mash. We know that if we've had a few bad days of eating, we know that they love that dinner and they'll always go for it.
"We try to keep treats to the weekend, try to get them to eat porridge in the morning, try to get them to eat a decent lunch.
"I mean, if you get porridge and a decent lunch and a decent dinner into them... if they end up eating a few treats around that, I think you're not doing too bad."
Taragh Loughrey-Grant & Sínann Fetherston