Singer Michael Kerr: Being active clears your head but being in the pub with a Guinness is a pretty great way to relax too
Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast singer-songwriter Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr – I try to eat food that has at least some nutritional value and is home-cooked but I'm no saint
Up and at it – what is your morning routine?
My morning routine goes something like this: coffee, then some more coffee, then opening all the windows in the house, then checking my to-do list for the day. I don't like to rush myself too much when I get up; I'm a slow starter.
What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?
Weetabix with cinnamon, honey and banana. I'll sometimes have a fry.
Grilled bacon, poached eggs and brown toasted bread (sometimes, sausage rolls).
Chicken and mashed greens, although at times, it changes to pizza, KFC, McDs or the chippy...
Is nutrition important to you?
Yes, I try to eat food that has at least some nutritional value and is home-cooked, but I'm no saint. I only learned of the real benefits of eating proper food in my 30s, but like anything, its all about balance and a nice, greasy sausage roll is hard to beat sometimes.
Best meal ever?
I was travelling through Mexico last year and our group stopped at a house just outside Mérida where a local family cooked home-made Mexican food for tourists. Their spread was the best thing I'd ever seen or tasted.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Apple tart and custard – which never seems to be provided as a dessert in restaurants.
Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?
Yes, I needed to lose a stone a few years back, so I went on an 'eating diet' where all I ate was the good stuff like chicken and greens, but no sugar and bread etc. The weight fell off, but it's hard not having the vices you're used to. When I have a full day of gigging, I indulge myself and justify having fast food all day, instead of packing a few sandwiches, but kicking out habits like that can make a huge difference.
Do you take health supplements?
No, I just stick to a balanced diet.
How do you relax?
Walking relaxes me and being out in the fresh air. I used to think that lying on the sofa watching TV was relaxing but I've learned the importance of making the effort to be more active is by far more relaxing as it clears your head. Being in the pub with a Guinness is pretty great way to relax too.
Teetotal or tipple?
Guinness and more Guinness please, but only once a week. I can't deal with the hangovers these days, or the guilt.
Stairs or lift?
50/50. Anything more than six or seven flights of stairs will turn into a sweaty workout.
Do you have a daily exercise regime?
I don't have a daily routine but I do three gym classes per week, play football twice a week and have one PT session per week. And I walk the dog every day in the park.
Best tip for everyday fitness?
Every set of stairs is an opportunity.
On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?
I'm probably a six, but anything more than seven would be too much of a sacrifice for me. I may one day want to go full guns blazing with fitness, but not right now. As long as I'm fit enough to play my football, Im happy, I wouldn't want to run a marathon or anything – I'm one of those people who doesn't get why people run marathons.
Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?
I'm open to anything, within reason.
Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?
I played loads of sports during school days, mostly football, which I still love. In school, it was all GAA, which was OK, but soccer was my preferred sport. If there was a sport I'd have loved to have played, though, it would have been rugby. I'm built more to play that game, I think, but I was never brought up around it. It was considered a Protestant sport and my school didn't allow it (or soccer), which is all nonsense, if you ask me.
Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?
Yes, I had an episode of panic attacks and anxiety in my early 30s which triggered a lifestyle change. Once I started going to the gym and eating properly, the panic attacks and anxiety disappeared. It took a while but it worked and no meds were needed. I'd challenge anyone to do that if they're going through anxiety and panic attacks, instead of taking short-term medication fixes. I wish our NHS could afford gym membership, as it would help those sort of issues but, like anything, people need to help themselves.
Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?
If you're stuck in a rut and unhappy for some reason but don't know what to do, start at the gym.
Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?
There are no real real fitness people that I look up to, but Joe Rogan [American stand-up comedian and mixed martial arts commentator] seems to sum up life pretty good when he says, 'Just get up and do something'.
What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?
Being a musician and playing late gigs, I get to bed for 4am and get up at around 10/11am. Trust me, I've tried to get up earlier, but it leaves me jaded all day and playing gigs is hard with a lack of sleep. Seven hours is my number for sleep.
Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?
Yes, I think so. You can upgrade your life so much by making simple decisions/changes to your food and fitness. Death is coming to us all, but you can be the best version of yourself.