with the bulge, ciggies and addiction to junk food as tough as snooker
Five-times world champion on how he deals with his cravings for Mars bars and smokes.
12 November 2014
Ronnie O'Sullivan won his first tournament of the season when he produced a 10-7 win over Judd Trump in the prestigious Champions of Champions' tournament last Sunday in Coventry. O'Sullivan made breaks of 137, 78, 80, 87, 134, 139, 70, 70 and 109 to collect the trophy and a £100,000 cheque for a second successive season. Trump described O'Sullivan's win as the greatest performance he has witnessed in any professional sport. But Ronnie's life is far from plain sailing as he explains to Eurosport's Desmond Kane in his latest exclusive blog about dealing with everyday temptations.
One of my greatest battles in life is not who I am playing at snooker, but making sure I don't put on weight.
I think everybody loves their grub and I'm no different, but the problems begin to mount up when you are sitting alone and decide to start comfort eating.
I don't want people to think everything comes easy to me. I have to fight my inner demons like everybody else. For me, there was an addiction to cigarettes, chocolate and soft drinks.
I recall sitting in my hotel room in Shanghai around about eight weeks ago smoking 20-30 fags a day.
I lost 5-3 to Alan McManus in the first round, and I wasn't feeling too hot. I was eating Mars bars, Snickers and chocolates every night with a can of Coke when the unpleasant realisation hit me: my legs were chaffing at the top.
I've always been prone to putting on weight, but this was just a horrific sensation.
I looked around at a lot of the other snooker players, and thought I really had to take action.
A lot of them were looking a little tired and frazzled as well. This was probably down to constant travelling to competition after competition, but also diet, lifestyle and fitness levels.
Apart from walking around a table, you can spend a lot of time in a seat as a snooker player.
Was this how I wanted my life to be? The answer was a resounding no.
We live in a culture where obesity is an epidemic. It is an illness when you see how overweight some people are. Food and drink can become as much of an addiction as any drug. It is quite depressing really.
You can either be a victim, or refuse to let yourself become part of that culture.
I was really unhappy with how I felt physically and mentally. I was in a depression, and it was time to make some big changes.
I know a lot of people have this battle between work and finding times to feed the soul with things we like to do for fun. But you have to challenge yourself. I would urge people reading this blog to get out there and do some exercise.
There is no feeling comparable to a good work-out. Don't overdo it, but just know that it will be beneficial to enjoying your life to the full.
Rather than eating chocolate bars for fun and turning into me wearing a suit of myself, fun for me is now running, going to the gym and doing cross country races. Or any races that involves getting out there in the fresh air.
I just like to run as fast as I can. In order to do that, I need to have some stability in my life. I have given up travelling to every competition so my work/lifestyle balance is a lot better.
It has been a major decision, but one that I don't regret.
SNOOKER IN SAFE HANDS WITH SELBY, ROBERTSON, BINGHAM AND CO
I admire a lot of the guys such as Stuart Bingham, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson, who would probably play for free if they could. They just love playing, playing and playing.
Snooker is in safe hands with those guys. And I know deep down it is better to play as many competitions as possible because it makes you a much stronger player.
But I value my health and having time to pursue my hobbies which in turn make me feel happy inside my mind. If the mind is healthy, the body should be healthy.
Since that day in Shanghai, I have changed my eating habits drastically. And I'm off the cigs again.
I now write a food diary about what I'm munching every day. Everything that goes in my mouth goes on to that list.
It stops me from eating bad things as I don't like the thought of writing anything bad on that list. Sounds a bit bizarre I know, but whatever works as they say.
I've replaced fry-ups with haddock and poached eggs. I've swapped Chinese and Indian takeaways for mackerel vegetables and sweet potatoes.
I've swapped chocolate for fruit and yoghurt.
At first it was hard. I still had cravings for chocolate and crisps. For the first two-three weeks it was a real challenge, then slowly the cravings went.
HOW I LIKE TO SPEND MY FREE TIME BETWEEN COMPETITIONS
I now run virtually every day running between four-eight miles. Over all types of terrain and surfaces. I then hit the snooker club for three hours practice.
Once the practice is done, I'll go to the gym for the second workout of the day. I don't do the gym every day, but probbaly two or three times a week.
This workout is used as active recovery. It is giving the running muscles a rest, but at the same time still getting the body strong and fit. Keeping the body in decent nick is a great feeling.
This is what I call a treat for myself. This is what I call feeding my soul.
Some people like to cook, some people like to collect stamps. Others like to play chess. Some people like to go fishing. I like to run and go to the gym.
MY AIM IS TO BE THE GREATEST PLAYER TO PLAY THE GAME IN THEIR 40s
I'm heading for my 40s next year. Where has the time gone? I'm not old, but I'm certainly not young.
Snooker is a great way to make a living, but I have to remember that it is only ever about giving me life choices, a decent lifestyle and a proper upbringing for my kids.
It gives me direction in my life. I only realised I needed the direction snooker brings to my life when I took my year out.
I was in danger of becoming lazy, and decided that I had to start playing again. Fortunately enough, I won the world title when I came back last year. But I don't think I could get away with that again.
I think all our perspectives on life changes, but I need to keep talking to myself to tell myself that this is the right course of action. Achieving the right balance is a constant challenge.
I know without my health and happiness, I have nothing in my life. This is how I make it right in my mind. I didn't know my life was in danger getting out of control until I was sitting in my room in Shanghai smoking ciggies and coughing like an old man. That's when I knew I had to get my act together.
WE CAN ALL LEARN A LESSON FROM ALI CARTER'S OUTSTANDING ATTITUDE TO LIFE
I just want to say it is great to see Ali back in action.
When I first heard the news about his battle against cancer, I was gutted for the guy.
He's had nothing but bad luck with his health.
But it shows tremendous character to come through what he has. He's always been a feisty competitor on the table and he has used those qualities in coming through his latest battle with cancer.
The standing ovation he received at the Champions Cup was great to see. It is great to see the public getting behind him. Again it gives perspective to life and what really matters.
I hope he is allowed to keep a low profile and get his health back to being 100 per cent. It will be hard as I know people will want to hear the story of what it has been like for him.
But I just hope he gives his body and mind time to get back in sync and strong again.
He needs to look after number one. Everything else will take care of itsself.
I NEEDED TO BE AT MY BEST TO RECLAIM CHAMPIONS CUP
What a week I had in Coventry.
It wasn't ideal preparation considering I was in China for nine days only four days before I was due to play in Coventry.
Given all that, it was a fantastic week. Once I reached the last four, I felt I was into the business end of the competition. That is when I needed to find another gear which I only seem to find when I'm into the business end of big competitons.
It doesn't always happen, but deep down you know it is going to take special performances these days to win any event.
I played a good solid game against Ding in the semi-finals. He made me work for it and I was happy at how I closed the match out from 4-4. I made two big breaks in the last two frames. It is always nice to finish in a strong fashion
Judd was probably playing the better snooker of anyone leading up to the final so I knew I had to be on my game. It was a great game to be involved in. We both scored heavily, both played good safety and both played to a very high standard.
It was great again to finish off the match with two big breaks. I led 8-3, but it's never easy being in front by so much in a long match as you know your opponent does not have much to lose.
What normally happens is they start going for their shots without worrying about the consequences. You are just trying to make the score look respectable.
So having all that thrown at me, I was very happy that I played my best snooker at the end of the match when it really mattered.
I've been in that situation before being behind 8-2 to both Stephen Hendry and John Higgins, both times winning six on the bounce to equal at 8-8 only to lose both times. I knew that things can change quickly, and that it is never over until it is over.
I'm really happy to have a win on the board so early on in the season, and will look forward to the rest of the season. I'd be looking forward to the rest of the season whether I'd won in Coventry or not.
It is the game I love. Winning is just a nice bonus. I find that is the best way to approach life and snooker.