'Blonde Nuala' Sue Collins: I hope that my job of making people laugh helps

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Sue Collins of comedy-musical trio The Nualas

Sue Collins of comedy-musical trio The Nualas
Gail Bell

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

I don't have much of a choice in my morning routine as I have four kids and a dog so they dictate. Usually, I'm up around 7.30, then it's a kick-bol***ck scramble, making lunches, finding socks that match and screaming at the kids to wear helmets.

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

Breakfast? When I finally get the kids out the door to school, it's a deep breath and a bowl of porridge with fruit and yoghurt and a coffee before rehearsal with The Nualas.

Lunch? I tend to eat light on lunch so I can enjoy a good dinner; usually it's soup or salad or, if I'm in a hurry, it's sardines on Ryvita.

Evening meal? The whole family sits down every evening together for dinner, so it's the most important part of the day and a ritual in our house. I'm proud to say we don't do TV dinners. Our favourite meals are spag bol, chicken stew and roast pork – basic, wholesome food. Unfortunately, I don't have time for the [TV chef Yotam] Ottolenghi cookbook...

3. Is nutrition important to you?

It's fairly important, but not an obsession – I think balance is the most important thing. I'll be good during the week and then let myself off the hook at weekends and enjoy a pizza and a glass of wine (or three).

4. Best meal ever?

I ate in Patrick Guilbaud's Michelin-starred restaurant in Dublin once and it was heavenly.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I don’t have a sweet tooth really; my guilty pleasure would be cheese board and a nice glass of red and I will admit to loving a bag of Tayto if I’m being naughty.

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

I used to go on diets but I genuinely don’t think they work. I don’t believe in restricting yourself, you just feel worse. If you want some chocolate, just have some – but not the whole bar and not every day. I keep an eye on my calorie intake during the day and I did lose a stone in Weight Watchers a couple of years ago, which I kept off, so that worked for me.

7. Do you take health supplements?

I don’t take much – vitamin C when I remember, and, if I’m feeling run down, I’ll take a multivitamin.

8. How do you relax?

I like to chill out with the kids and [husband, actor and son of Dubliner Ronnie Drew] Phelim, watching my favourite programme or a good movie – we stay in a lot. I also meditate when I can; I started about 15 years ago and it’s fantastic.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – I love a few drinks, but I try and stay off it during the week, if I can. It’s difficult in our business, especially if you're at an opening of a show when it will inevitably end up with a drink in the pub afterwards.

10. Stairs or lift?

You know, I always try and take the stairs... unless I’ve had a few drinks – then it’s probably better that I take the lift.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

At the moment, it’s a few stretches and a walk with my dog in the morning.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

For me, it's get the yoga mat out and do 15 minutes' stretches and all-over body exercises like the plank or press ups, then a good, fast walk. To be honest, you don’t really need to be a member of a gym.

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

I’m probably about a six. I’d like to be a bit fitter, and I would love to get involved in a sport or maybe a dance class, as I love dancing.

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

Yes, I am a firm believer in homeopathy. Most people don’t have much time for it but after years of sinus pain I found a homeopath who really helped me with the pain and I never looked back.

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

I don’t have great memories of school sports – I’m not particularly sporty, but I was made do hockey. I never liked it, so I always pretended it was 'time of the month' pretty much every week.

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

No, fortunately not, but my parents both died of cancer in their 50s, so it does make me very aware of lifestyle. I don’t smoke and really try and make healthy choices when I can – you only have one bash at this life thing, so I’ll try and stay around for as long as I can.

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

I’ve read a lot of books on mental health and stress. Stress is the biggest killer. If you can stay happy and positive, it has a huge effect on the body.

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

People who have fought illness and come out the other side inspire me, and also people in the media – look at Eddie Izzard and his marathons.

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

I am early to bed most nights, mainly because of the kids and the early start, but when I’m gigging, obviously it’s later. Sleep, though, is a big priority for me – can’t get enough of it.

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

I think so, most of the time, anyway. I’ve lost a few friends to cancer in the last few years and it’s heartbreaking to see. I’m more aware now, as I get older, that life is fragile and I feel very lucky that I’m healthy, happy and involved in something I love to do. It’s a cliché, but every day is a gift if you’re not in pain or facing something very stressful or you have a sick child or you don’t have a roof over your head. I hope that my job of making people laugh helps too.

:: The Nualas will be appearing at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, on March 18. Sue will also be performing with The Dirt Birds at the Waterside Theatre, Derry, on May 12.

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