UTV Life reporter Rita Fitzgerald's vice? A heated outdoor swimming pool

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: UTV Life's roving reporter, Rita Fitzgerald

Rita Fitzgerald of UTV Life – my husband, daughter and I love special times together doing silly things and making memories
Gail Bell

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

I'm up at 7.30 with the family and organise a quick breakfast. I can't eat straight away, so it's a glass of water followed by a coffee. The family gather in the kitchen and have their breakfast – usually brown toast and fruit. Hubby usually does the school run on the mornings that I'm working. He is an architect with his own business, so that lets me do some chores before we head off to our day. Weekends are a different picture round the family breakfast table – that's when I make a nutribullet with fruit and spinach, then French toast with maple syrup and just chill.

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

Breakfast? Glass of water, coffee and fruit.

Lunch? If I'm in the office, it's usually leftover chicken and salad or chicken soup.

Evening meal? I enjoy hearty stews so I will make a big pot to last couple of days – my favourite at the moment is stew made with slow-cooked shin of beef and root vegetables.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, but to be honest, I have always enjoyed the taste of healthy food, so it's not something that I work at enormously. I love cooking and the most natural way of consuming nutrients is from whole organic foods, so I always want to cook from first principles. I like to use complex carbs in my dishes and whether it's a slow-cook stew or a quick-turnaround pasta, I always reach for brown pasta or wild rice.

4 Best meal ever?

It has to be lobster. I lived in France and Italy years ago and loved eating lobster there. But there's a great little cafe in Kerrykeel in Donegal where the husband gets the lobster from the bay just in front of the cafe – doesn't get better than that.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Oh, so many! I'm not a big dessert lover but chocolate in any form is hard to resist.

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

I'm not a fan of dieting. I was always thin growing up, so never had experience of dieting until recent years and do find it difficult now. I don't want dieting to be uppermost in my mind so, a bit like my exercise, it's fits and starts. I hate anything with 'diet' written on it – my idea of a diet is to simply cut back.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Not unless I am feeling poorly.

8 How do you relax?

Outdoor swimming (seasonal), then chilling out with a book and glass of wine.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Definitely tipple. I don't drink a lot, but I like to have a glass of good wine fairly regularly. I have a cocktail on the very odd occasion – but only one.

10. Stairs or lift?

Depends on how rushed I am....

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Not really, I exercise sporadically and do much more in good weather – I love swimming outdoors.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

I think I need advice on that one too....

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

Emm about a 6.5 – not great.

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

Yes, I am a big fan of everything from acupuncture to reflexology.

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

I was very sporty growing up and school sports was where I grew in confidence. I was very shy, so being picked as captain of camogie and netball gave me such a needed self-confidence boost.

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

Yes, a few years ago I realised that I needed to make changes in my life. Firstly, I pressed the 'stop' button, took a break from everything that I could, and took time to listen to myself. Getting the right sleeping pattern really worked for me which meant changing my hours at work. I embraced everything to relax, from reflexology to acupuncture and when I found a heated outdoor swimming pool in the city, well that was just fantastic. Swimming outside from about May through to October with leaves blowing into the pool and steam rising is a wonderfully peaceful and mindful thing to do.

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

I've met friends in recent years who are pretty clued up on what to avoid in products, so I guess there is no harm in educating ourselves on what's really in what we buy. The best thing is to buy real food and make it work for you.

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

Lots of people have inspired me over the years and I am thankful to have learned the balance of things. John and I have an eight-year-old daughter, Ellie, and we all love special times together doing silly things and making memories, whether it's a walk on the beach in Donegal or relaxing on the sofa at home being daft.

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

I go to bed about 11.30 and am up at 7.30 so, yeah, that's fine.

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

I think I do. There's not much I can do about it, other than live as happy and healthy a life as possible. We can't fight the natural cycle of life, but we might as well hop on for the ride however long it lasts.

:: Rita and presenter Pamela Ballentine will be back with UTV Life on Friday January 11 at 8pm.

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