Life

'Sitting in an infrared sauna at 80 degrees for 45 minutes was an interesting experience'

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Fionnuala Toner (29), vice-captain of the Northern Ireland senior netball team which finished 15th in this year's Netball World Cup and is ranked ninth in the world

Fionnuala Toner from Belfast, vice-captain of the Northern Ireland Netball Team
Gail Bell

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

On a week day, I wake up around 7:30 and I know I shouldn’t, but I do check my phone in the morning – it’s my alarm, so it’s hard not to. I get ready for work and leave to be in the office for around 8.30 most mornings, sometimes with a coffee stop on my way. I usually eat my breakfast in work, so that allows for some extra sleep time in the morning which is always appreciated.

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

Breakfast? Porridge with bananas and honey in the winter and yoghurt with fruit in the summer.

Lunch? I make my lunch from dinner the night before, usually. It can be anything, but I like stir-fry or slow cooker meals as they are super easy to make.

Evening meal? This depends on whether it is a training night or not. For nights when I have training, dinner is usually a snack and then maybe an omelette when I come home. Non-training nights, I try to make dinner and enough for lunch the next day and it depends how stocked my fridge is!

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, it needs to be – I think playing high-level netball and the frequency and intensity of training, combined with working full-time as a manager in Deloitte, means I have to eat well and have maximum energy for training, games and my job.

4 Best meal ever?

Christmas dinner is hard to beat and it only happens once a year, so I don't tire of turkey and all the trimmings. The rest of the year, I love most Thai dishes and it's my favourite type of food when eating out.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Tea with treats is probably a guilty pleasure, especially after a long day at work or after a tough training session. An M&S store is my 'go-to' place when I'm feeling in the mood for some really tasty ones.

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

No and I don’t think I would ever be able to stick to one as I like my treats too much.

7 Do you take health supplements?

I take an iron supplement as I don’t eat a lot of red meat. Apart from that, I don’t take anything else – we do use recovery powders for after games or tough training sessions in order to replenish our bodies as quickly as possible.

8 How do you relax?

Netflix, tea and treats... I rarely get time to do much relaxing during the netball season, as a rule, but when I do, watching something on Netflix is one of my favourite ways to unwind.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple, but drinking alcohol rarely happens because of my work and netball commitments.

10 Stairs or lift?

Lift on the way up, stairs on the way down... I live on the fourth floor of a building, so I think that’s a fair balance.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

This depends on the time of year and whether we're in 'season' or not. When in-season, my week consists of a mix of training, strength and conditioning sessions in the gym and then games at the weekend. Outside of that, I love getting a spin class fitted in – and Reformer Pilates if there are enough hours in the day.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

No matter how fit you are – try and do something active for 20 to 30 minutes most days.

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 a seven right now and the aim is always to be a 10 – if not above it.

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

The closest thing to alternative therapy I have ever tried is an infrared sauna. Sitting there in temperatures of 80 degrees for 45 minutes was an interesting experience, to say the least.

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

School sports were very happy times for me. I played basketball and netball throughout school, so I missed quite a few classes for games and I recall that we had some very successful teams.

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

I started playing basketball when I was six years old and netball when I was 12, so my life has always been filled with sport. I also swam competitively for a number of years – until the 6am training time was put forward and then I retired...

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

I would say, take and do everything in moderation. I think if you apply this to all aspects of life, you will have a healthy lifestyle without having to think so much about it. I don’t believe people who say they never eat chocolate or sweets, as there will always be times that a little bit of chocolate is exactly what is needed.

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

I don’t have one person that inspires me, but there are a few sporting personalities that I always envy for their approach and dedication to their chosen sport. Laura Langman is the New Zealand netball team captain and she has an incredible engine and works to the limit in every game she plays in – and then takes a 10k run the morning after the game.

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

I try to be in bed for 11pm most nights, so I can get at least seven-plus hours sleep. I always know if I don’t get enough sleep, which means an early night for me the following evening.

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

Probably not, as I try not to think about it...

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