Newsreader Tara Mills: Life is precious and fleeting so make the most of every day

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: BBC Northern Ireland journalist Tara Mills

Tara Mills – consistency is key with exercise, so even if it’s only 20 minutes, do it and do it every day
Gail Bell

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

Our 10-year-old daughter has been our alarm clock for the last decade. Thankfully, she wakens up a little later than in the past, but it's still early – usually around 7am. She’s always been an early riser and I’ve had some (very) early starts playing with her while the boys snooze. Looking back we had (and still have) some quality time playing silly games and having cuddles. We all have breakfast together and on weekdays it’s the mayhem of getting ready and out for school and work.

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

Breakfast? For the past couple of years I’ve had the same breakfast every day – toast and peanut butter.

Lunch? Lunch is generally a salad.

Evening meal? Our dinner will be the usual family staples, with lots of vegetables.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes – I do believe we are what we eat and when we eat unhealthy foods we can feel really sluggish. I was lucky enough to go on a fitness holiday this summer and a lot of the focus was around food and eating more plant-based food to avoid serious diseases later in life.

4 Best meal ever?

That’s a tough one. I love food and have some great memories of meals my mum and dad made us as children. My dad took me for my first ever Chinese meal when I was a teenager and I loved it, so that is somewhere near the top of the list.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?


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

Not one that lasted more than five minutes... I’m not a big fan. I think diets are hard work and can be counter-productive. It's best to eat as well as you can afford to and avoid too much processed food.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I take a multi-vitamin, but try to get everything else from food.

8 How do you relax?

I’m trying to do more yoga. I’ve tried every variety over the last number of years, including Bikram (yoga practised in a room at 40 degrees) which I love, although I don’t find it particularly relaxing at the time.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Almost teetotal – I very rarely drink nowadays, but if I’m on holiday I might have a cocktail or two.

10 Stairs or lift?

Since the holiday mentioned above, I’ve been taking the stairs. I’m going to try to keep that going. One of the fitness instructors described exercise as a treat. It’s not what my definition of a treat would normally be, but I have his voice in my head every time I head towards the lift.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

We have a treadmill at home and I’m encouraging both my son and daughter to use it as well and hopefully as they get older they’ll come running with me. We’re also getting a puppy which will get us all out of the house a bit more for long walks.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

I was told by a trainer recently that consistency is key, so even if it’s only 20 minutes, then do it and do it every day. Hopefully the dog will help with that.

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

The holiday showed me I was about a five, but I’d like to think I’m working towards seven.

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

I’ve had acupuncture in the past and thought it was effective. I’ve an open mind when it comes to alternative therapy.

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

Definitely forgettable! I was never remotely sporty and have really awful memories of school sports – of standing at the side watching others play. I was more likely to be on stage doing drama and I suppose that’s the reality at school; you participate in what you enjoy, but I’ve been lucky to find sport later in life and really enjoy it.

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

Yes, I broke my leg when I was a student and it had a big impact. A week later, I developed a clot in my leg and the whole experience made me completely rethink my attitude to food and exercise. I changed my diet completely and stopped drinking coffee and fizzy drinks and noticed a dramatic difference.

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

I think finding what you love to do is key. I ran around 20 miles a week for a long time and loved the fact that you could do it anywhere and it was free.

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

I think my mum and dad have inspired me to work hard and play hard. They both worked full-time throughout my childhood, but we had brilliant holidays on the north coast and in Fermanagh. One of my sisters-in-law, Veronica, in particular inspires me. She has MS and has a pretty tough time of it, but in all the years I’ve known her, she’s never once complained and despite all the set-backs, she is one of the most positive people I have ever met.

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

I try to be in bed by 11, but on the nights I’m presenting the late BBC Newsline bulletins, it’s more like midnight. I’m lucky that I sleep really well.

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

My brother and his wife died within six years of each other (at the age of 42 and 48) and it knocked our family for six. I’m not sure if it’s given me a healthy attitude towards mortality but it certainly brought home how precious and fleeting life can be. And it reaffirmed my belief that it’s important to try to make the most out of every day.

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