Life

Soprano Aoife Miskelly answers 20 questions on health and fitness

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast soprano Aoife Miskelly

Aoife Miskelly – my guilty pleaseure is crisps, I guess because I'm Irish and we're addicted to potatoes
Gail Bell

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

My routine varies depending on whether I am in rehearsals/doing performances or not. Normally, I wake up around 8am and bring the husband breakfast in bed (he knows how privileged he is). After which I'll do some singing practice and then head to the gym for a 5km run, some rowing, cycling and then some work admin.

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

Breakfast? I'm a total cereal fiend and always combine at least three combinations in one bowl, topped with blueberries, raspberries and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

Lunch? Salads in summer, invariably with a decent chunk of cheese (love cheese) and homemade soups in winter.

Evening meal? My husband is a fantastic cook and can spend literally the whole day in the kitchen cooking an evening meal. I take on the role of counter-top hoover, tidying around him while he goes about his work. Some of our favourites are home-made curries from a great cookbook called India by Meera Sodha, or a six-hour slow-roast pork on a Sunday.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, I really like vegetables and fruit and have much more of a savoury tooth than a sweet one. Having said that, my vice is crisps, especially peanut ones which are thankfully quite hard to find in the UK.

4 Best meal ever?

While on holiday in Sicily, we found an amazing fish restaurant down a little alleyway in Siracusa and enjoyed seven courses, along with the futile stares of a stray cat.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Crisps – being Irish, I suppose; we are helplessly addicted to potatoes.

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

Not inteniontally, although in 2016 I spent two months working on an opera in Japan where it was very difficult to find bread and I lost half a stone.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Only when I'm feeling under the weather.

8 How do you relax?

I like to hike and be in the outdoors. Getting up a mountain always clears my mind.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Oh definitely a wee gin tipple. It's not the best idea to drink alcohol and be an opera singer, so I'm a bit of a lightweight (cheap date, according to my husband), but I do enjoy a glass before/with dinner a few nights each week.

10 Stairs or lift?

Stairs, definitely.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

When I'm not in rehearsals, I aim to hit the gym three times a week for a 5k run, 2k of rowing and 5k cycle.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Walk when you don't absolutely have to drive or take the train/tube home to the stop before yours and walk the rest of the way. Listen to podcasts to occupy your mind.

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 as fit as I've ever been. I took up running last year as I had to fit into my wedding dress and definitely feel the benefits, as much mentally as physically, of being able to regularly run 5kms. Out of 10, I would say I'm about a six or seven and don't mind if I stay there.

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

I would definitely try alternative treatment if I needed to, yes.

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

I enjoyed PE at school and was in the netball and volleyball teams. Spending every summer in Cushendall in the beautiful Glens of Antrim, we played a lot of golf growing up as children and my immediate family are all a bit golf-mad. My absolute sporting love, however, is tennis. I've always wanted to join a club and get some proper coaching. I adore the sport, both as a spectator and player, and it's on my bucket list to go to Wimbledon.

16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle? Giving up chocolate and sweets about 16 years ago made a massive difference and I don't miss either.

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

A teacher at school told me once, ‘the more you put in, the more you get out'. Simple, but true.

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

I like positive people with a ‘can-do' attitude. I'm inspired by people who overcome difficulties and make the most of things.

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

It varies, depending on whether I'm in performance, rehearsal or downtime mode. When performing late into the evening, I would usually go to bed around 1am and surface a little later than usual, perhaps at 9.30am. Otherwise, bedtime is around 11pm and I read a chapter of a book before conking out.

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

It's not something I think of, to be honest. I just try to enjoy my life day to day and don't focus on what is inevitable in, hopefully, 40 or 50 years' time.

:: Aoife will be performing in the Ulster Youth Orchestra's 25th anniversary concert at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on Saturday August 25. For tickets call 028 9033 4455 or see ulsterhall.co.uk

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