Extras manager Emma Sweeney has no problem finding – and eating – her kids' sweets

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Emma Sweeney, manager of The Extras Dept, Northern Ireland's leading extras casting agency which supplies background artists for TV and film productions

Emma Sweeney, manager of the Extras Dept
Gail Bell

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

With two small children, my morning routine mainly revolves around them and getting them to school. My husband gets them washed and sorts them with breakfast, then I get them dressed and organised for the day ahead. We've recently moved house and are able to walk them to school and that is something that we all now love doing. Once I'm back to the house, I'll get my things together and head to work. I eat breakfast at my desk each morning.

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

Breakfast? Breakfast is usually a smoothie or some granola and yoghurt. If I'm not organised, it will be a croissant grabbed from the shop.

Lunch? Lunch mostly consists of leftovers from the previous night's dinner or a salad.

Evening meal? I love cooking, so having the family sit down together in the evenings for a meal together is very important for me. I tend to batch cook a lot, so we always have food in the freezer or leftovers for lunches.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, especially in relation to keeping the kids healthy and having a good attitude to food. I'm a fan of fresh ingredients – no frozen meals or sauces from jars, as that way I know what we are all eating.

4 Best meal ever?

It would have to be the meal at my wedding. We were married in Positano in Italy nearly 11 years ago and the food was unbelievable. I can't remember all the courses, but I do remember having lobster ravioli.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Kids' sweets – I'm a sucker for any sort of Haribo or other equally sugary sweets. I have to say, I have eaten the kids' stash on a good few occasions.

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

I haven't, I've always sworn that I will never go on a diet.

7 Do you take health supplements?

No, I don't take supplements of any kind.

8 How do you relax?

On the sofa with the fire lit, a bottle of wine nearby and a good film or box set on the TV.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

A tipple – I'm a walking, talking stereotype and love a gin and tonic.

10 Stairs or lift?

Depends on how high up I have to go...

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Thankfully, with walking the kids to school now, I do get a good 20-minute walk in every morning before work. That's my only real daily exercise – anything above that is a bit more ad hoc, usually when I feel I have excess energy in the evenings.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

I just don't have the motivation or energy every single day, so my best tip would be: Don't beat yourself up about it.

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'm a five. I'm not particularly 'fit' in my opinion, although I do try to look after myself.

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

I haven't tried it, but I would sometimes look at alternative therapies. They aren't really my thing.

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

I would rather forget all the memories of sports at school. I went to grammar school and achieving at sports was very important but I just didn't care. I used every excuse in the book to get out of school sports and I think, in the end, my teachers just gave up.

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

I did, it was three years ago when my husband and I went away for a night away without the kids. I saw a photo of myself and realised I needed to do something to change. I had gradually put on weight since having my children. I lost two stone and have thankfully managed to keep it off. I'm on a mission at the moment to lose a final eight pounds to reach my target before my 40th birthday in June of this year.

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

I think this is maybe the opposite of advice, but I watched my mum go on every conceivable diet when I was younger and that made me decide that I never wanted to go down that route. She finally found her flow with Slimming World a few years back and looks better than ever now.

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

I wouldn't say there is one particular person who inspires me, but my husband is very healthy, so that helps at home. In work, my colleagues all are trying to improve their health and eating habits too, so being surrounded by these people helps keep things in line. We recently just moved all our office snacks into a drawer away from our desks and that helps with any temptation.

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

Generally, bedtime is between 10:30 and 11:30pm and I'm a very heavy sleeper. It was something that irked my husband when the kids were small, as I often slept through their restlessness and waking up periods. I do need between seven and eight hours' sleep a night to function properly.

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

Yes, I think when you have kids the mortality of the whole family plays on your mind. It is something that worries me on occasions when you hear something in the news, but I try not to dwell on it.

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