Life

Biggest body improvements come when you're happy says fitness blogger Tiffany Brien

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Holywood's Tiffany Brien, a former Miss Northern Ireland, beauty blogger and creator of the Fit Body Bible brand

Tiffany Brien, creator of the Fit Body Bible health guide and fitness programme
Gail Bell

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

I’m not a morning person. My days can be hectic, so it can take quite a while to wind down in the evening and that usually means I get to bed late. I do try, though, to get every minute of sleep that I can before starting work in the estate agency the next morning. I start work at 8.30, but I aim to be in for 8. I wake up 7.30 and it's a case of having a quick shower, brushing my teeth, putting on make-up and then, finally, running out the door. Luckily, I live two minutes from my office. I will have my brekkie and coffee when I’m settled at my desk.

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

Breakfast? I eat two boiled eggs and a handful of spinach every morning, along with a (much-needed) cup of coffee.

Lunch? Lunch varies each day; sometimes it will be home-made soup or a chicken breast in the winter, but, in summer, it's nearly always salad. I may get my lunch from my local supermarket which has an amazing deli.

Evening meal? Being out of the house most of the day, I have little time to prepare meals, so, I buy healthy, prepared food from some of the best brands – perhaps a takeway salad – or else I'll do an omelette. During the week, I generally don’t get too adventurous, but at the weekend I will treat myself.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition is very important for me and I track my food so I’m aware of what I’m eating and how much I of it I am eating. I tend to stay away from carbs and refined sugar but I would never restrain myself from eating it altogether.

4 Best meal ever?

I love eating out in good restaurants. Belfast has so much to offer these days, with super venues for fine dining or just a casual bite. I recently had an incredible meal in James Street South, a legendary Belfast eatery in my eyes.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Pizza. I could eat it all day long. It’s my 'cheat meal' every time.

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

I tried every diet in the book in my time but, to be honest, I have found that none of them really work long term. I’ve seen the biggest changes in my body when I’m at one with myself and, most importantly, happy.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I don’t. It’s a minefield for me and I haven’t done enough research to know what I need to be taking. I probably should look into it...

8 How do you relax?

Ironically, by going to the gym, going on a hike up the Mourne Mountains or taking a lovely big run along the coast. That may not be everyone's idea of relaxing, but, for me, there is nothing better than plugging in my headphones and forgetting about what’s going on in my life.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – I’m a big G&T fan.

10 Stairs or lift?

That depends on which is going to get me to my destination the quickest... I’m always in a rush to be somewhere, so speed will always be the deciding factor.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Yes, I train five times a week – twice with my personal trainer and business partner, Ben Canning, and also two weights sessions on my own and one cardio session. I would also be quite active outside of my gym regime and I try to keep my steps up beyond 10,000 a day – even on my days 'off'.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Get a Fitbit and track your steps. After that, give yourself goals, like making it to the gym a certain number of times each week, or going for a brisk walk during your lunch break.

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 I'm around a seven. There's definitely room for improvement.

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

I would definitely try it. I am always open to people’s suggestions and recommendations.

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

I loved my schools days and PE time – I was that pupil who was a member of every school club and tried to be on every team, everything from hockey to netball, table tennis, athletics and cross country. I was so keen!

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

Ever since I can remember I have been this way, so nothing happened to make me change. I have always had an awareness of fitness and health, right from my primary school days.

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

You only get one body and one chance, so treat it with respect.

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

I’ve never looked up to anyone to motivate me. I have always tested myself to do better, to be fitter or to go quicker. The only competition, when it comes to health, fitness and attitude is yourself. There’s no point comparing yourself to anyone else; it’s your own personal challenge at whatever level that may be.

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

I am an example of what not to do... I get to sleep at around 1am, so, no, I probably don’t get enough sleep. But my issue is, I don’t sit down and unwind early enough in the evening in order to be ready to go to bed at a reasonable hour. You need that wind-down time, I think.

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

You’ll live the path you're given, so make the most of it.

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