20 Questions on Health & Fitness: Cork All Ireland-winning camogie star Ashling Thompson

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Cork All Ireland-winning camogie star Ashling Thompson

Cork camogie star, Ashling Thomspon
Gail Bell

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

Every day is different, so my morning routine can vary a lot, but I always try to get at least seven or eight hours' sleep. I always check my phone first thing, then get up and have breakfast. If I'm at home for the day, I will usually tidy up around the place and keep myself busy.

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

Breakfast? Breakfast is porridge with fruit and linseed or flaxseed sprinkled on top, then eggs with avocado and tomato.

Lunch? Lunch is usually a salad of some sort, eaten with chicken – and eggs with avocado and tomato, if I didn't have time to eat these at breakfast!

Evening meal? This will normally be some sort of fish, with rice and greens.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition is extremely important for me, both mentally and physically, because of my sport. When I eat well, I feel good and I perform better. I wouldn't exactly tailor my diet, but I eat as healthily as I can, as often as I can and I maintain a good balance of protein, carbs, etc. Eating a diet that's tailored to the extreme adds frustration to maintaining a healthy diet, for me personally, anyway.

4 Best meal ever?

It has to be avocado and feta (add chicken and a cup of soup) from TwoFifty Square in Rathmines, Dublin. Everything I love is right there.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Yes, I’m afraid it is pastries. I am very partial to a nice pastry. Everyone needs to treat themselves from time-to-time.

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

I tried one once and never again – I was never fond of following rules, as, for me, it just takes the fun out of eating in a healthy way. Taking everything in moderation is essential, so I go with the flow and eat what works for me to stay in shape.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Yes, multivitamin and fish oils every day. Plenty of water as well.

8 How do you relax?

As much as I love to keep busy, a 'chill' day is definitely needed every now and then – nothing better than chilling on the sofa to catch up on the latest TV shows. Taking some time to relax with friends is always a good way to unwind as well. If it's January, you don’t want to be burned out by September.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – everyone needs a night out every now and then.

10 Stairs or lift?

That depends; preferably, the stairs, mainly because I'm impatient.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Each day changes, based on that week’s requirements. Sometimes, we might have recovery sessions, cardio days or on-pitch training, depending on what’s going on in the season. Most days, I try to start with a good breakfast and always have a Red Bull before kicking off the day's workout. I get plenty of water in throughout the day and make sure to balance my meals well with a good lunch and dinner. Camogie training can be intense for an amateur sport, and we could be training five or six days each week, so I stay well rested, well hydrated and always try to avoid injury. I also try to run every day for 20 minutes.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Don't think about it, just do it! So many people talk to me about the ‘thought’ of working out when, in truth, the thought of something is the worst part of it. Even if you are just starting out, do what you can each day and eventually it will become routine – stick to it, as it has so many benefits to overall wellbeing. Fitter people are healthier mentally, and they’re also happier.

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

Over the years I have seen major improvements in different areas of my fitness and I always try to continue pushing that and improve my strengths. Sport performance has come such a long way and I try to analyse my weaknesses, as well to work on them throughout the year. In pre-season training, I would say I'm at a 6. My goal is always to reach peak fitness, come championship (10).

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

I haven't tried many alternatives, but I'd love to fit in the time for alternative therapy – I’m open to all suggestions if it makes me feel better and perform well. Our training always varies throughout the year and I do try to mix things up, especially to be a well-rounded player on the pitch.

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

School sports were always happy times for me and one of the main platforms to success in my sporting career. Being part of a team was such an amazing feeling, no matter what sport I tried. I fell in love with it and eventually came to camogie – there’s such a passion for the sport in Cork that I’ve always been drawn to it. I believe schools should put more emphasis on sport as exercise is so important, especially when you are younger.

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

I think hitting rock bottom after a car crash which severely impacted my mental health really changed my life. My road to recovery was getting back into sport, exercising more and improving both my mental and physical health. That change in lifestyle lead me to adopt the ‘never give up’ attitude, whether I'm in the middle of a game or just having a bad day.

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

Never give up. Be selfish. Be your best self. Start unknown, finish unforgettable.

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

Nobody in particular, but I am inspired by a wide variety of successful sportspeople and teams, from the Black Ferns to Conor McGregor.

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

I usually get to bed around 11pm which gives me about seven to eight hours sleep. Rest is essential.

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

Towards my own, yes, but I tend to worry about other people's too much.

:: Ashling Thompson is a Headstrong Hero for mental health and an athlete ambassador for Red Bull.

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