We often look to celebrities when it comes to health and fitness. When Angelina Jolie announced in 2013 that she had undergone a double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, testing referrals for the mutation doubled in the following two months. Likewise, when Jade Goody went public in 2008 with her cervical cancer diagnosis, attendance for cervical screenings jumped 70%.
Between Gwyneth Paltrow’s health brand Goop, Jennifer Aniston’s yoga practices, J Lo’s water intake, and Meghan Markle’s avocado toast, there are also plenty of everyday practices being picked up from the famous.
We chatted to four high-profile Irish people about the number one thing they do to stay healthy.
“Since the start of the first lockdown, because I was at home every morning with the boys, we got into a habit of making a smoothie every day. I’m really surprised that I’ve kept it up. Before I’d usually be running out the door early and I wouldn’t even have had breakfast. I’d have a coffee and then not eat until the afternoon, which is such a bad habit but it was just my routine,” says businesswoman and mum-of-two Pippa O’Connor Ormand.
“When the boys were smaller I was probably just running on adrenaline all the time. I spoiled them by making them things like fruit salads throughout the day but I wasn’t doing the same for myself so I’ve made changes to do better for myself in terms of eating.
“For the past year, literally every morning, I’ve made myself some sort of green or berry smoothie and I feel all the better for it. I’ve had my daily dose and anything after that is a bonus.”
The POCO founder usually puts spinach, coconut water, pineapple, banana, flax seeds, or avocados into her smoothies. When it comes to her sons, Ollie (8) and Louis (4), she can’t be as inventive with the blender.
“They wouldn’t be as adventurous as me with all the greens but I do slip a bit of spinach into theirs and I’ll put strawberries or honey in it as well. I’ll also put some Weetabix or oats in. Louis can be a bit hit or miss with breakfast so I feel better knowing at least he’s having the smoothie.”
To make sure she’s prepared, Pippa buys the ingredients in bulk during her weekly shop. “There are so many things you can just have in the freezer as well, like spinach. You just need to make a conscious effort. When you go to the supermarket just keep yourself in mind as well as the family,” she says.
“It’s something simple but it has made a huge difference to my energy and my skin. That combined with drinking at least two litres of water a day. I was on the go so often and I’d have a coffee and then I might have another and before I knew it it was 2pm and I’d realise I hadn’t drunk any water. It’s so easily done.”
In terms of keeping mentally and physically fit, Pippa takes to her bike. “I don’t do exercise classes or anything like that, I never really have, but I walk at least three times a week and I got a bike last year and I really enjoy it. It’s probably the main thing I do for my head,” she says.
“I think we’ve all gotten a bit of a wake-up call since the pandemic hit. We reassessed and so many better habits have come out of it. It’s definitely taught me that I don’t need to be rushing everywhere. I can still be productive in a smarter way – and have my breakfast.”
For blogger and entrepreneur Rosie Connolly, working out is her number one priority for staying healthy in mind and body. Her preferred methods are running, weight training, and yoga.
“For me, the number one thing is working out at least two to three times a week and aiming to get my steps in each day,” the 30 year old says. She’s a big fan of fitness trackers and finds her own Fitbit device helps to keep her moving.
“It keeps me motivated and it also encourages me to get moving in the evenings. Whether it’s a run, weights, or yoga, it’s just important to me to move.”
Keeping active also helps Rosie with her mental health. Between launching her clothing brand 4th Arq, working on collaborations, and looking after her son Harry (6), daughter Remi (2), and stepson Reuben (8), life can get stressful.
“I never really understood the link between exercise and mental health until recently but for me, exercise is about keeping my head clear and ready for the busy lifestyle I lead. No matter how I’m feeling, I always feel clearer in my mind once I’ve worked out,” she says. “Without making time for myself each week, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to cope as well with the day-to-day stresses of life.
“You don’t have to make things complicated. Just getting a 15-minute walk in is enough to boost your endorphins and clear your head.”
Architect andstar Hugh Wallace finds that eating between certain hours works best for his diet.
“I only eat from 12 o’clock in the afternoon to 8 o’clock at night and I drink at least three litres of water a day. I hate breakfast. I get up and just have one coffee in the morning,” the 64-year-old says.
“If I feel I want to eat something before lunch I’ll have maybe a handful of nuts or an apple and I’ll have a chicken salad or a simple wrap at 12pm. Because the tummy is resting for quite a period, I’m never hungry before then.”
For dinner, he goes for in-season vegetables and fish from his local fishmonger.
“I make sure that I eat lots of fresh vegetables. I try to reduce the amount of meat I eat and I’ve also started eating a lot more fish because I’ve found a great fishmonger in Rathmines. He has fresh hake and cod, it’s brilliant to put on a hot barbecue. I love vegetables on the barbecue as well: aubergines, courgettes, peppers,” Hugh says.
“At the odd moment, I give up and have a couple of bars of chocolate, or I might be really naughty and have a slice of HB Raspberry Ripple.”
“It’s important to find whatever it is you can be consistent with. You’re better off doing something 80% right continuously than 100% right for a day or a week,” says fitness guru Rob Lipsett.
“Mine is getting in a resistance training session every day and going for a walk outside. I’m not always consistent with my diet but exercise is one thing I’m consistent with. It’s like my daily meditation.
“I’ll get up on my laptop and work in the morning and I’ll have a gym session planned for the afternoon to add routine. I can lose track of time and be all over the place a little bit so scheduling a workout helps. I don’t push it seven days a week. Some days I’ll take it easier than others but just getting that piece of exercise is paramount for me.
“The things I do stay to healthy are different from others but that’s the beauty of fitness. Everyone has their preferences and what may work for one person might not work for another person but you should always keep an open mind to other people’s approaches.”
Walking outdoors especially helps Rob with his mental health and he would urge everyone to take the time to get outside whenever they can to unwind.
“Health isn’t just about the gym. There’s a huge carry over between mental and physical health. The two are so closely linked in my opinion. I always say that there’s no point in being the richest person in the graveyard. Health is more important than money, work, anything. It should come number one in life.”
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