Country star Lisa McHugh: Contracting meningitis changed my attitude to health

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Irish country singer Lisa McHugh

I suppose I'm a workaholic says Irish country music singer Lisa McHugh, who lives in Enniskillen

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

I wish I could say I get up at the same time every day, but with being on tour continuously, it's very difficult to maintain a routine. If I have a few days off and I'm at home in between shows, I'll normally get up around 10am, check emails and social media before I shower. I'll then have breakfast and try to get some emails and paperwork done before I then go to the gym for a PT session. If I've had a gig the night before and didn't get home until 4 or 5 am, the above would all happen around 12 noon or 1pm

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

Breakfast? For breakfast I have organic porridge with berries and a small bit of maple syrup just to sweeten it.

Lunch? Lunch would normally consist of scrambled eggs and avocado or maybe a tuna salad.

Evening meal? I'll normally cook myself a meal from Joe Wicks' Lean in 15 healthy cookbook. My favourite is his sweet potato cottage pie.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, nutrition is very important, especially with having such a manic schedule all of the time and not getting a lot of sleep. It means my body can become run down very easily, as anyone's would, so I always make sure to take a healthy tonic every morning. I have also started taking Juice Plus capsules which consist of over 30 different types of fruit and veg in capsule form. These help to keep my immune system and energy levels up.

4. Best meal ever?

When I visited the Stratosphere hotel in Las Vegas, it was an incredible setting, but also, the fillet steak there was the best I've ever had.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Yes, I have a very sweet tooth, so I do love some chocolate now and again.

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

I wouldn't say I diet, as such, as I tend to detox my body every few weeks – especially after I've been away on holiday, or if I've been on the road and unable to eat as well as I'd like to. I feel it's good to cleanse your body every few weeks.

7. Do you take health supplements?

I just take my immune tonic and juice plus capsules every morning and night.

8. How do you relax?

I can only fully relax if I am out of the country. If I'm not doing a show, but still at home or in Ireland, I'll always find something to do, whether it's promotion for work, song-writing, working in the studio or doing photo shoots. I suppose I'm a workaholic.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I don't drink very often with working so much, but I do enjoy a glass of wine or a vodka soda with blackcurrant.

10. Stairs or lift?

I should say stairs, but if the lift is there, I'm definitely in it!

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I train with a personal trainer as many times a week as I can, usually no fewer than three or four days, and every session is different. However, if I can't get to the gym, I'll do a quick HIIT (high-intensity interval training) session wherever I am. It may look easy, but trust me, it's not – and neither is the day after you do it!

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Even a 15-minute HIIT, or a light jog every day, is great to keep up a good level of fitness.

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

I am not unfit; however, I would definitely like to work on it and become fitter and leaner. It's just finding the time to be able to do it is the problem.

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

No, I haven't tried anything else.

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

PE in school was one of my favourite subjects. I loved it.

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

Yes, probably, after I got very ill with viral meningitis a couple of years ago. It took an awful lot out of me and I got a big scare from how ill and weak I was at the time. After that, I decided I needed to build up my health and immune system a lot more and I think it was a bit of a turning point for me.

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

I don't recall a specific time where someone gave me great advice; I think it's more about how you feel yourself. I learnt not to take my health for granted after I got sick and that's why I try to stay as healthy as I can and promote a healthy lifestyle as much as I can to others.

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

With social media being a way of everyday life nowadays, it is incredibly easy to be introduced to new people all the time, obviously depending on your interests. I have a lot of interest in beauty and sport and I always like to keep up to date on the latest crazes and products online, so, because of that, I wouldn't say there is one person in particular who really inspires me. The likes of Michelle Keegan, Kelsea Ballerini, Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner and these kind of young, successful influencers are people I like to follow and keep updated on.

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

Every day is different. If I'm on the road, it would usually be around 4-5am and, if I'm off, it would be between 11-12am. I try to get at least eight hours if I can, but a lot of the time that's not possible, so I just get as much as I can and then nap on the road.

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

I've suffered losses in my life and I've learnt not to take anything for granted. But I guess when my time is up, my time is up and that's the way I look at it.

:: Originally from Glasgow and now living in Enniskillen, 29 year-old country star Lisa McHugh will be performing at The Farmer's Bash at The SSE Arena this Friday evening along with Derek Ryan, Robert Mizzell, Marty Mone and guests. Tickets at or

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