Lifestyles - Tony Ward

Former 'European Rugby Player of the Year', Tony Ward, believes balance is the key to fighting an expanding girth.

The magically gifted ex-Irish fly-half has shed more than two stone since Christmas in a determined strategy to reclaim old shape and energy levels.

Now Rugby Editor with the Irish Independent and a co-commentator for RTE television, the 45-year-old Ward reveals "I just decided at the start of the year that I wanted to lose weight.

"And the one thing I feel that has really worked is striking a balance between exercise and diet. Basically, I try to have a run most days of the week in a field beside where we live in Loughlinstown, certainly five. And I play indoor soccer on Sundays.

"In terms of diet, I've just changed things to suit my metabolism."

Two years ago, a friend of Ward's — former Offaly gaelic football manager — Tommy Lyons — encouraged him to have a go at the famous Nutron diet that served Offaly so well during the course of their Leinster Championship win in '97.

Ward admits that he is, instinctively, sceptical about most diets, dismissing them as 'fads'. But the Nutron diet did encourage a degree of discipline that he now believes is standing him in good stead.

He explains "I haven't had milk in over 18 months, in fact I consume very few dairy products now. I seldom eat bread. That may sound like quite an imposition but I have to say I'm finding it relatively easy."

During his prime as a rugby player, Ward also played League of Ireland soccer and admits he faced an "on-going battle" in trying to reach a weight suitable for both sports.

"A lot of my problems at the time were down to ignorance" he recalls. "I mean I honestly wish I knew then what I know now about diet, nutrition and all that. Basically, the ideal weight for rugby was too heavy for soccer and vice versa."

Married to Louise, Ward has four children aged between seventeen and three. Now that he has shed two stones in eight months, he does not envisage returning to old ways.

"I don't eat sweet things at all which is just as well" he observes. "I've never had a sweet tooth. But, what I have cut out is savoury things, crisps and the like. Also, once a week, I go for a 45 minute run around Rathmichael with an old friend of mine, Jimmy Greeley. So I’m taking exercise most days.

"I'm delighted with the way I feel now. And that’s what it’s all about I think. Feeling better about yourself."

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