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Fashion designer Chloe Dougan: Exercise is easier than dieting as I just love treats

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast fashion designer Chloe Dougan

Fashion designer Chloe Dougan – I’m a terrible cook and don’t like spending time in the kitchen
Gail Bell

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

My standard day will see me wakening up around 7.30 or 8am when I immediately hit the snooze button (maybe twice). I love to sit and scroll through whatever notifications I have on my phone before I get out of bed, stick on some music and start to mentally prepare myself for the day. I’ll check my diary, make some toast (if I’m not running late), grab my laptop and bag and make my way over to my studio in the Duncairn Arts Centre.

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

Breakfast? I’m going to start off by saying I’m a terrible and very lazy cook and don’t like spending time in the kitchen. This is mostly because I can only make a few meals and, as I’m generally rushing about during the day, I like quick and easy food. That said, breakfast will be toast with peanut butter.

Lunch? Rice and tuna pot. It's so easy to make, keeps me full until I get home from the studio and perfect for a quick lunch between appointments.

Evening meal? I’m a big pizza lover and love this as a treat. My other half is a great cook and makes some great pasta dishes, so it’s hard to turn down a meal when someone else is cooking.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

I am my own contradiction. I love burgers and pizza, but complain when my jeans get tight. I realise it’s important to stay healthy but I have a real sweet tooth and find myself snacking on sweets and chocolate quite often. If I’ve had a particularly treat-filled day, I will try to replace it with some fruit the next day to balance things out.

4. Best meal ever?

I love Italian, so bruschetta and cicchetti – Italian tapas – are perfect for nibbling on. I love having a little bit of everything on my plate.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Crisps. I could eat 10 packets a day.

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

When I first moved out of home as a student, I put on quite a lot of weight (typical student: Dominoes pizza and alcohol diet). I quickly realised that I needed to make some changes, so started to walk to and from university, swapped the fast food for simple pasta or rice dishes and joined the gym. For me, exercise is easier than dieting as I love sugary treats and carbs, so going to the gym helped me get back in shape while still eating what I liked.

7. Do you take health supplements?

Echinacea tablets; I take them regularly and find they help prevent colds and boost energy levels.

8. How do you relax?

I love to take a few hours out of my working week to get creative for myself. I will make myself some pieces of jewellery or experiment with some fabrics. I also love a good series on Netflix to unwind with or I find a nice chilled-out walk can take my mind off a busy schedule.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I’m not a big drinker but I can be – very easily – persuaded to have a strawberry daiquiri or a Kopperberg. Anything sweet does the trick.

10. Stairs or lift?

Stairs – unless I’ve a tonne of dresses to haul up the stairs, then it's the lift.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

This past year or so I have been heavily focused on my business, so find it difficult to prioritise exercise and work. I rarely make time for the gym, but will definitely go for a long walk at least once during the week.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Challenge yourself, but be realistic with your time and goals.

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

I’d say right now I’m a three but at my peak, maybe a good seven.

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

I haven’t tried many but it’s definitely something I would be open to.

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

I loved cross-country and camogie at school. I loved the adrenaline of a race and would get very competitive.

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

Not something like an epiphany but I've benefited from small changes – I’ve recently changed to Coke Zero so I still get my fix without drinking a gallon of sugar in the process.

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

Echinacea tablets – my parents got me into them and they are affordable and a very easy way to make sure I’m looking after myself.

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

People who go from doing no exercise to finishing their first marathon. This is definitely something I want to do next year.

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

I would normally be in bed for around 10 or 11pm. I love my sleep and generally it doesn’t take me long to nod off. I’ll generally watch an episode of something for background noise to help me unwind and drift off.

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

Yes, I’m a big believer in keeping a positive mental attitude about everything. A good night's sleep and not eating too late at night are key for making sure the next day kicks off with a good start.

:: Chloe's latest design collection can be seen alongside those of other Ulster University alumni at the Ulster University Graduate Fashion Show at St Anne's Cathedral tomorrow evening. Tickets cost £15 and can be purchased online through the university website.

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