20 Questions: Michael English on limescale in the water and skipping a Gordon Ramsay dessert
Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: 39-year-old country star Michael English, who launches his Irish tour tomorrow at The Ulster Hall, Belfast
1: Up and at it – what is your morning routine?
As soon as I wake up, I check emails on my phone for a few minutes. I don’t reply to them; I just want to know if anything is urgent. Then I get up and drink a pint of water. I used to drink water from the tap, but after ruining three irons recently with the amount of limescale in the water system, I now drink from a bottle of water. I wouldn’t eat anything for around half an hour, then I have breakfast. If I’m not touring and have the day off at home, I might go for a ride on my bike or have a swim.
2: What might you eat in a typical working day for...
Breakfast: Fruit, poached egg and brown bread toasted.
Lunch: If I’m at home, I have a salad, but if I am performing later that evening, I have a dinner at lunchtime, then don't eat for the rest of the day.
Evening meal: I try to eat healthy meals and I enjoy fresh fish, potatoes and vegetables. Last night I made a spaghetti bolognese. I do enjoy cooking when I’m at home but that’s a rare treat. If I’m dining out socially with friends, I love to eat Indian and Thai food – something that’s not easy to rustle up at home.
3: Is nutrition important to you?
Very much so and I’m a firm believer that you are what you eat. If I eat healthily, I work better and have more energy. I do a lot of driving and I feel less tired if I’ve eaten healthily that particular day.
4: Best meal ever?
When I was working in London my friend took me to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in Claridge's where I had, without a doubt, my favourite meal to date. I had pork belly for starters and a beef dish for mains. I didn’t have dessert – it’s not that I was watching my weight, it’s just that I just don’t have a sweet tooth. I’d definitely go back to this restaurant as it was so good.
5: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Sometimes, the very rare time, I would stop off for a takeaway on the way home from a gig and order a chicken burger and chips.
6: Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?
I’ve never been on a diet to lose weight. I did have high cholesterol levels at one stage. I was 5.5 and was supposed to be under five, so I made a conscious effort to read the nutritional content on packaging in the supermarket until my cholesterol level went down.
7: Do you take health supplements?
8: How do you relax?
I enjoy reading and read every day, even when I’m in the car – though, obviously when I’m not driving! Even when I get home really late from a gig, around 6am, I would still read a chapter as it helps me to switch off and go to sleep.
9: Teetotal or tipple?
I enjoy a pint of Guinness once or twice a week.
10: Stairs or lift?
I always try to take the stairs, especially if I’ve been driving for a few hours and arrive at a hotel as it helps to stretch my legs.
11: Do you have a daily exercise regime?
If I’m not on the road, I try to swim or cycle. Unfortunately, I can’t have any set routine as I’m touring a lot, but when I’m home, I definitely do exercise every day as it helps to clear my mind and it’s great to get a bit of fresh air when out on the bike.
12: Best tip for everyday fitness?
A little bit and often – like eating meals. I don’t believe in binge-exercising.
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 like to be a 10, but I’d say I’m a seven at the minute.
14: Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?
I haven’t, as yet, tried any but I wouldn’t rule it out if I needed it.
15: Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?
I loved school sports as it was escapism from studies and it was always great craic kicking a ball around the school yard.
16: Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?
When I was young I had asthma and my doctor recommended swimming, so I swam every single day – except for Christmas Day – for years, until my asthma was cured. This meant getting up early every morning and having a swim at 7am before school.
17: Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?
Eat healthy and drink loads of water. You are what you eat.
18: Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?
I’m not into fitness programmes but being a Kildare man, horse riding is extremely popular and I admire the passion and dedication of the jockeys who are on a strict regime trying to maintain their eight stone weight.
19: What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?
I don’t have a ‘normal’ bedtime routine as I’m touring all over the country but even if I don’t get to bed until four or five in the morning, I always ensure that I get seven hours' sleep.
20: Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?
I believe in God and have a strong faith. I say a prayer whenever it comes into my head – for example, if someone I knew was sick. I keep rosary beads with me in the car too, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly religious.
:: Michael English will be performing with Brendan Shine at The Ulster Hall, Belfast, tomorrow night (ulsterhall.co.uk) and at the Millennium Forum, Derry, next Wednesday, October 17 (millenniumforum.co.uk).