Q&A: Carrie Neely talks tea, toast and 'chocolate in bed' mornings with her daughter

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Carrie Neely, founder of Belfast art and design consultancy Art Loves

Carrie Neely, Belfast art consultant and founder of Art Loves
Gail Bell

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

I'm a night owl, so my husband is my alarm clock. He gets up and gets ready for work early and walks the dog before waking me to get the kids ready for school. The first thing I do is make a coffee before getting myself ready and rousing my three kids. After that, it's normally a mad rush to get out the door on time. I do the school run for my youngest two and then come home to check emails before walking the dog with my oldest, and then I start work around 9.30am. My oldest son has autism and ADHD and is often too anxious to attend school for more than one lesson a day at the moment, so I have moved my office to my home so I can accommodate his daily needs.

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

Breakfast? I drink coffee all morning until around 11am and then I make poached eggs with ham.

Lunch? As I'm not really hungry at lunchtime, so I tend to have a light snack at around 2pm. Bread kills me, so it's normally protein based or fruit/salad/soup.

Evening meal? Steak with salad is my favourite meal, but we also have meals like stir fry with chicken and prawns, or fish, vegetables and wholemeal rice. My husband makes a mean fresh pasta sauce and we would have that once a week. I try to avoid potatoes unless I'm doing a roast.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes – I am currently undergoing tests to see if I have coeliac disease as my B12 is very low, so I have to be careful with gluten.

4 Best meal ever?

Aside from the tasting menu at Deanes Eipic, it was definitely the tea and toast after giving birth.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Salted caramel anything… I also have 'chocolate in bed' mornings with my daughter.

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

A year or so after my third child was born, I was not happy with my weight and decided I could not blame it on the kids any more, so I used the ‘My Fitness Pal' App and got myself a personal trainer. It took around six months to see the results.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I have been very tired recently and have had nerve pains and pains in my ribs and hips in the mornings, so I had blood tests done which showed I was not absorbing B12 and my folic was low. I am currently having B12 injections every other day. Aside from that, I am also taking folic acid.

8 How do you relax?

Yoga and reading. I do yoga four-to-five times a week and it's sacred to my mind and body. I wish I had more time to read; a day in bed reading would be amazing, but unfortunately it only happens if I am unwell.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – but can't handle the late nights so well now.

10 Stairs or lift?

Depends how many floors and how long I have waited for the lift (I am quite impatient).

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I walk the dog every day which means my day starts with half my steps done. I use an Apple watch, so I can't avoid keeping an eye on it, as it tells me to get up if I have been sitting too long. I also do yoga as many times as I can each week.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Do at least half an hour each day of some form of exercise. Sometimes I just have a bounce on the kids' trampoline if I cant get to the 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 would say I am around a six/seven.

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

Yes, I actually studied reiki around 20 years ago and more recently psychic reiki and I had kinesiology when I was young which warned me off wheat. I really believe in alternative therapies and would be happy to try anything.

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

I enjoyed sports at school, especially running and athletics. I was a gymnast as a child, so trained after school most days.

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

When I hit 40, I definitely upped my game fitness-wise, but I still need to make some lifestyle changes. One biggie is smoking – I just cant kick it. I also had a bit of a shock a few weeks ago when the doctor told me I had to have B12 injections for the rest of my life.

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

My friend, Lauren, who is a personal trainer, showed me that you don't have to do two-hour work-outs to get results and how making the right choices food-wise can make all the difference.

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

I don't really follow anyone, fitness-wise, but I have a huge admiration for yogi Tibetan monks who are strong in mind and body.

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

Normally around midnight. I love a wee lie-in at the weekend.

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

I haven't really thought about it until recently when I started to feel unwell. Mostly, though, I just focus on today and enjoying what I can of it. I probably should think more about tomorrow, but I'm too busy with the here and now.

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