Singer Amanda St John: A 300-foot car plunge makes you think about mortality
Gail Bell asks expert and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Co Antrim singer-songwriter, Amanda St John
1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?
I usually start my day with some morning mediation music and positive affirmations to help me with positive thoughts and energy for the day. I love a coffee first thing and generally check my emails/social media once I'm up. I go out for a run a few mornings a week too.
2 What might you eat in a typical working day for...
Breakfast? I'm trying to get back in shape, so breakfast is generally porridge, coffee and fruit.
Lunch? Lunch could be something plain and simple like a tuna or chicken salad.
Dinner? For my evening meal, I like chicken or salmon, served with vegetables and rice. In between meals, I tend to snack on peanut butter and rice cakes and I love biscuits with my coffee, but I'm trying to cut down.
3 Is nutrition important to you?
I try to eat healthily and include as much fresh food as possible in my diet, but I'm not overly strict. I do like to have home-cooked meals, though, rather than convenience foods.
4 Best meal ever?
The first time I had red snapper – on a beach in Thailand!
5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I have such a sweet tooth, so cakes and biscuits are always a guilty pleasure, although I do love wine, so I should probably include that as well...
6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?
I've been on hundreds of diets, some of which were successful. However, I've recently discovered that my weight is strongly connected to my self-care and stress levels. I'm an emotional eater/drinker, so when I'm stressed, I eat more convenience food, drink more and also have less time to exercise. I've really embraced my health/fitness as part of a new self-care regime this year, as I had reached burn-out and my weight had crept up again.
7 Do you take health supplements?
No, I just try to aim for a good balance of fresh fruit and veg in my meals.
8 How do you relax?
I live by the beach and it totally relaxes me, whatever my mood. I'm a big advocate of mindfulness and mediation too, which I feel is a great way to switch my brain off and live more in the moment.
9 Teetotal or tipple?
Definitely not teetotal.
10 Stairs or lift?
It depends on which floor I'm going to but more often than not I'll take the stairs to work on my steps target for the day.
11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?
I try to achieve at least 10,000 steps a day. I love to be outside in nature, so I walk every day and either run or go to the gym a few times a week.
12 Best tip for everyday fitness?
I've learned the hard way that I need to be committed to looking after myself if I want to be happy and healthy. Fitness isn't something that you do when you have extra time – you have to make the time because you are worth it. Remembering this helps me stay motivated when I'm feeling lazy, as I don't want to quit on myself.
13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?
Since I've stepped up my fitness regime over the last year or so, I'm definitely getting fitter. I can run 5k a few times a week (which I used to think I could never do) but I'm definitely not as fit as I'd like to be. I'd maybe I'm say a six or a seven.
14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?
I'm a pure hippy at heart and I love alternative therapies like reflexology, reiki and mind therapies such as NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). They have helped me so much over the years.
15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?
I was very sporty as a child so they are all good memories.
16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?
Over the last few years I've been under quite a lot of pressure and after my dad passed away (in December 2018) my whole body and mind went into shut-down. Then, I found out I had severe damage to my vocal chords and was told that there was a big chance it may be permanent. I had to take five months off singing and a few months off all my other teaching work and have complete voice rest. After a total lifestyle change which included changes to my diet, getting more exercise, chill time and sleep, as well as various therapies, I am finally starting to feel like myself again.
17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?
Listen to your body... I'm learning to listen to what my body (and mind) needs and I'm definitely allowing myself more time to enjoy life.
18 Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness/attitude to life?
I really admire people like Tony Robbins, a life coach who recognise that mind and body health are so closely connected.
19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?
I'm rarely in bed before 12, so I could definitely do with more sleep.
20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?
After two near-death experiences – one when I had meningitis and was critically ill aged 17 and another after a car crash when I was 32 – I kind of feel that when it's your time, it's your time. In the accident, my car came off the road and plunged almost 300 feet down the side of a mountain outside Ballycastle. I was unconscious with no pulse when the emergency services arrived and I remember fighting to stay alive and vowing to start singing again and pursuing my dream if I survived. I believe that if you live a good life and are proud of who you are as a person, you'll have no regrets and won't fear death.
:: Amanda St John's, new album, The Muscle Shoals Sessions, can be purchased at amandastjohnmusic.co.uk – tour details on website.