Life

Olivia Mehaffey: Fitness only gets you so far in golf – the rest is skill and practice

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Banbridge golfer Olivia Mehaffey who competed in last week's World Amateur Championships at Carton House, Co Kildare

Northern Ireland golfer Olivia Mehaffey – eat healthily, exercise and enjoy your life
Gail Bell

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

My morning routine usually changes, depending on what my day involves. I normally spend 10 minutes catching up with messages and email first thing. I'm naturally an early riser; I don't often sleep past 7am. I will eat breakfast pretty quickly as I'm either going to practice or to classes.

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

Breakfast? The food I eat changes, depending on whether I am competing, training or having a rest day. Normally, my breakfast would contain yoghurt, fruit, brown bread or turkey.

Lunch? Lunch could be anything – from a salad, soup or sandwich to chicken with rice. As a rule, I eat my lunch fairly speedily as I am on the go.

Evening meal? A normal dinner would include chicken, vegetables and sweet potato or rice.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition is especially important during tournament weeks. I try to plan what I am going to eat, based on the time I tee off. I may have to eat lunch on the course and, if this is the case, I need to make sure I won't get tired – or run out of energy. When I'm on the course I always make an effort to eat something every four holes in order to keep my energy levels up. This could be anything at all – from fruit to rice cakes or a protein bar.

4 Best meal ever?

Has to be my mum's roast chicken dinner.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Chocolate, of course. Chocolate has got to be everyone's guilty pleasure.

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

I've never a diet as such, but I have tried to cut things out of my diet... I realised my sugar intake was a little high and I was aware of this and so monitored my intake more frequently. This was successful and I soon noticed my energy levels were much higher and I wasn't flagging as much towards the end of the day.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I only take vitamin C as I try to get the nutrients I need from my daily food intake.

8 How do you relax?

I watch movies, have chats with friends and family members, go shopping, nap and read books. They all help me unwind and relax.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

I don't drink alcohol much, so I would call myself mainly teetotal.

10 Stairs or lift?

That depends on the situation – I try to always take the stairs when I'm at airports as I feel that on travel days you do nothing but sit around. On the other hand, after a long day on the course, it will be the lift, for sure.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I try to work out around four to five times a week during an 'off' week and I'll also do mobility work and stretch every day. During tournament weeks, my step count is high from walking a lot, but I work out less during tournaments as I am on the course for long periods at a time. During off season, I would say I have a lot more structure in my exercise regime.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Focus on steps or doing a little bit of fitness every day.

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

I think most people strive to be as near 10 as possible, but I would say I am around six. I'm working on getting that number up, throughout the off season. In my sport, fitness can only get you so far, as a huge amount of skill is involved and just spending time on the golf course.

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

I have had acupuncture on a few occasions.

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

I loved school sports; it was my favourite time at school and any activity or opportunity to try a different sport was a highlight for me. I played netball and hockey for the school teams when I was younger.

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

No, I have never had a heath epiphany. It's just been a gradual process, where something new comes up, technically, in my golf swing and requires more from my body, physically. At one stage, I was trying to work on a move in my swing which required more pulling strength.

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

I would say, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and, most importantly, enjoy your life.

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

For me, being a golfer and seeing so many strong women golfers, such as Lexi Thompson, is a huge inspiration to me.

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

I take sleep seriously and try to go to bed around 10 o'clock every night. During tournaments, if I have a 5am alarm or earlier, I could be sleeping well before that – maybe 9 o'clock in the evening, to ensure I get enough sleep. I like to go to bed early and wake up early. I have no problem falling asleep anywhere.

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

This is something that I have not given much consideration to, as I am only 20 years old, but I live a healthy and fulfilling life.

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