Life

20 Questions on Health & Lifestyle: Marty Clarke

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: former Down star and Australian Rules player, Marty Clarke

Former Down star and Australian Rules player, Marty Clarke. Picture by Hugh Russell.

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

Rose, our two year-old, wakes us everyday at 7am. I get Rose dressed, while Anna makes breakfast, then we all eat around the table and mornings are pretty relaxed.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast?

A bowl of All-Bran every morning. I would like to eat more in the mornings, but I find it hard to eat early in the day.

Lunch?

A sandwich or roll with chicken and salad.

Evening meal?

Chicken, steak or turkey with plenty of greens. I do miss outdoor barbecue cooking as I did a lot of that when I lived in Melbourne.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Pretty much my whole adult life my diet has been monitored. Countless body composition tests while playing professionally in the Australian Football League and at County level with Down have meant I have always been very conscious about what I could and couldn’t eat.

I always found this incredibly challenging mentally, as I always believed if you trained hard enough, you could eat what you want. However, to be the best athletically, this simply isn’t possible. Vegetables are a massive part of my diet and I try and incorporate them into most meals.

4. Best meal ever?

The Great Jones Restaurant in Newcastle is my favourite place to eat out and I've had too many great meals in there to name just one.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Pizzas and pick 'n' mix sweets.

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

As mentioned previously, my whole life has been dictated by a fairly strict diet in order to meet the requirements of professional sport. I was always fairly diligent and followed it strictly, as it was a real sign of how you looked after yourself away from the sporting fields.

In saying that, it was never anything too crazy – more a balanced diet, with increased calories post-training and games. Again, vegetables were an important part. I don’t think people can eat enough green vegetables.

7. Do you take health supplements?

As I am managing my health condition, Addison’s Disease, I take daily medication (Hydrocortisone), but apart from that, I don’t take anything as I believe a balanced diet should provide everything your body requires.

8. How do you relax?

Anna and I love to go on holiday. While we lived in Melbourne we got on two holidays per year, but its been more difficult since we had our little girl. Walks on the beach or in the forest are something we love doing with Rose and our little dog, Bella.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I actually don’t drink tea at all... every now and then I enjoy a craft beer.

10. Stairs of lift?

Definitely the stairs as I am a firm believer in the small things that can help people make health improvements on a day-to-day basis. Taking the stairs or parking in the furthest car park space away from your work or shop can allow very busy individuals to achieve health benefits without having to join a gym or club.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Now that I'm finished playing, I have put a gym with a rowing machine and treadmill, along with some weights, in the garage. Anna and I try and get out there a couple of evenings per week.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

See Question 10.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I had always been very close to 10 from about the age of 16. It was my barometer for how much I could achieve on the sporting fields. If I pushed myself to the limit at training and doing the extra individual things, I knew it would translate to on-field and indeed off-field success.

Recently, I've dropped to a 7, but I have just retired from playing and been diagnosed with Addison’s disease.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I have a very open mind and tried a lot of alternative therapy while I was living in Melbourne. One of my closest friends in Melbourne practices reiki and he did healings on me numerous times.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I have very happy memories from playing Gaelic football at Grange Primary School and then at St. Louis, Kilkeel. Getting out on that pitch after class with your mates was fantastic and I was blessed to have played with some fantastic players and fellas over the years.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Despite my major diagnosis, I haven't drastically changed anything and, while I respect Addisons Disease, I am not going to completely alter my lifestyle because of it.

17. Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

It's not specifically health-related, but a coach at Collingwood (my AFL club) often said "If we aim at nothing, we will hit it every time". I would regularly think about this statement. Little targets like trying to read more or do more for charity are good ways to give yourself a direction.

Achieving as high a classification in my degree as possible and trying to learn as much GAA coaching/management skills as possible are current longer term goals I am aiming for.

18. Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

I was drafted to Collingwood in the same year as current captain, Scott Pendlebury. Right from Day One, he was a role model. His attitude to training, preparation, diet and overall outlook on life was inspirational.

It got to a stage where I would ask myself "what would Scott Pendlebury do?" if I was faced with a temptation or challenge of some sort. It's no surprise he has had a decorated career.

19. What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep? 

I tend to go to bed about 11pm. I think most people with children can agree that there’s never enough sleep, but, thankfully, Rose is a great sleeper, which is totally down to Anna’s ‘night time routine.’

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

I believe life is there to be enjoyed and cherished and certainly some little sacrifices are required to make it as healthy and happy as possible.

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