Johnny Cash tribute singer JP Mac: Boxing classes with my wife are tough but fun

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Co Tyrone's John Paul McCauley, aka JP Mac, frontman for award-winning Johnny Cash tribute act, Cash Returns

JP Mac whose Johnny Cash tribute act is currently on tour 
Gail Bell

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

I get up every morning when my wife Melissa leaves for work and then head straight to make myself a coffee – I don't function well without it. I sit down and go through my emails, usually with Frasier on TV in the background. I try to start the day off with some press-ups.

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

Breakfast? My breakfast is the same pretty much every morning and consists of coffee (I’ve recently started to use oat milk which I really like). I then have porridge with raspberries, blueberries, cinnamon and some flax seed oil. While I’m eating this, I will have two or three eggs on the boil for afterwards.

Lunch? If I’m at home working, I’ll make up some chicken, basmati rice and veg. If I’m out and about, I’ll pick up a chicken wrap or something on the hop – along with another coffee.

Evening meal? The evening meal might be something quick and easy like a chicken stir-fry if I'm at the helm in the kitchen, but if Melissa is making something, it could be chilli con carne or a slow roast.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition hasn’t always been important to me, especially when I was younger, but in the past few years I’ve changed my eating habits as a bad diet catches up with you eventually. Around five years ago I decided to take it more seriously as I wanted more energy on stage, so I tried various training camps and worked with some local personal trainers. As a result, I’ve increased my water intake and included more protein and less carbs in meals.

4 Best meal ever?

Three-piece dinner box at the local chipper would be up there. I’ve had some great meals throughout the years, but the one that sticks out was when I was in Latvia with a few of my friends and we stopped off at a very quiet restaurant in Riga. We experienced some amazing local food and complimentary courses in between meals.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Too many, to be honest, but top of the list are crisps, especially Sensations’ Balsamic Vinegar and Onion flavour.

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

I genuinely believe that moderation is vital, so diets are fine if you can stick to them to get to a specific weight, but afterwards, trouble tends to start. If you learn to eat a little healthier and eat something you like, but in smaller portions, I think it’s a more realistic option.

7 Do you take health supplements?

No, apart from a bit of vanilla-flavoured whey protein with my porridge in the mornings.

8 How do you relax?

After a busy weekend out with the show, or if I’ve been working during the week promoting the gigs, I like to throw myself on the sofa when I get home and put on Netflix.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – If I have a weekend off, I like to hit the town for a couple of social pints of Guinness with family and friends.

10 Stairs or lift?

How many stairs are we talking? I do make conscious decisions to take the stairs – which is sometimes forced if there’s a queue of people in front of me for the lift.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

As soon as I roll out of bed most mornings I would do some press-ups. My footballing days are long behind me, although Melissa and I have recently taken up boxing classes which is tough going but a lot of fun.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Don’t think about it, just do 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 think I would sit around the seven mark. Could be better.

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

Never say never. If I looked into something enough and was convinced that it was beneficial, then that wouldn’t be a problem at all.

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

I loved sports day when I was at school. I didn’t win a lot but I was very active when I was younger. I played a lot of football, every day. Again, I wasn’t the best player, but that didn’t stop me.

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

Around five years ago I found that I wasn’t getting around the stage as well as I was before and was beginning to sweat early on, during our shows. I saw a few photos popping up on social media of me during performances – let's just say, they weren’t the most flattering. That’s enough, I thought.

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

Don’t put any pressure on yourself. If you feel you need to readjust, find something that works for you. If something doesn’t, don’t panic, be open minded and you will find something that clicks.

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

Billy Connolly, who hasn’t been well for a while now, is an inspiring guy. He simply refuses to let his problems get him down. I find his outlook on life is brilliant.

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

Usually I get to bed around 10.30 or 11pm. I try and cram in a little reading as well and easily get my eight hours.

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

My mum would often wheel out the old Donegal adage: ‘Ye won’t go a minute before or a minute after you’re meant to’ –which is pretty true. I think my attitude would reflect most people's – I know I’m going to go, I just don’t want to go yet.

: John Paul McCauley, aka JP Mac, is currently performing in Cash Returns 'San Quentin' 50th Anniversary Tour which comes to the Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey, this Saturday – more dates at

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