‘Pilates and paddling are essential in helping me unwind’ - Siobhan Kearney of Menopause NI

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Siobhan Kearney, founder of Menopause NI

Siobhan Kearney
Siobhan Kearney of Menopause NI
1. Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

I set my alarm every morning at 6am and quite literally bounce out of bed. I start my day by showering, getting breakfast and, of course, having that essential cup of coffee. I open my laptop at around 7am and go through what I’ve planned for the day.

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

Breakfast? I try to keep it healthy with all meals. For breakfast, I love overnight oats and like to incorporate yogurt, chia seeds, mixed nuts, frozen fruits and protein powder. I focus on trying to increase my protein intake as this is important for my menopausal body.

Lunch? Something quick and easy like scrambled or poached eggs and toast.

Evening meal? At dinner, I enjoy eating lots of vegetables and foods such as oily fish, white meats, potatoes and sometimes red meat. All of these foods are fundamental for a healthy diet, especially at this stage of my life.

3. Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

I try to get all necessary vitamins and minerals through my diet. However, I take a vitamin D supplement daily as this is important for bone strength and therefore essential when going through the menopause. I also take a high-quality multivitamin daily and I get a vitamin B12 injection every 12 weeks for pernicious anemia.

4. Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I was interested in diets when I was younger. Now, I focus more on nutritional content.

5. Weekend treat?

I’m not really a ‘treats’ person unless it’s pink gin... The biggest treat for me is being able to unwind at the weekend. I like to treat myself by browsing around the shops and spending time with my family.

6. How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

Physical and mental fitness are closely intertwined. I walk with my friend three or four days a week and find this is a great way to get anything that I’m stressed or worried about off my chest. I also love kayaking and I’m part of Portglenone Paddlers. We go out on the river once a week. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the present moment and just enjoy beautiful surroundings.

After university, I was focused on getting a job and progressing my career. However, when I hit the perimenopause, my perspective surrounding work and the feelings of pressure and stress changed. Today, I trust the process and myself and don’t allow myself to panic

—  Siobhan Kearney
7. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Move every day, whether that’s walking, running, yoga, or Pilates. Make sure to do something for ‘you’. It doesn’t matter what age you are – you are future-proofing your body.

8. Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I have mixed memories of sports at school. I enjoyed the shot put… probably because I was good at it. I also enjoyed the collective effort and teamwork side of things.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple? I enjoy a pink gin and Slimline Tonic from time to time.

10. Stairs or lift?

Depends on how many floors… more than three and I’ll take the lift; less than three and it’s the stairs.

11. What book are you currently reading?

I don’t usually read, as I’m often too busy. I prefer to listen to music or meditate. On holidays, though, I read loads of books. I enjoy any genre, but my favourite is a good thriller.

12. Best Netflix/streaming TV?

At the minute I’m loving Married at First Sight Australia. I love shows that allow you to really ‘zone out’. I also enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory, Kin and my absolute favourite, Call The Midwife.

13. Any new skills or hobbies?

During lockdown, I discovered gardening. I love planting seeds and bulbs and making pots for family members. It’s so fulfilling, seeing what you have planted come into bloom. It gives me a great sense of achievement.

14. How do you relax?

I love spending time with my friends and family. I do Pilates on a Monday, paddling on a Thursday and I walk most days. I find these activities essential in helping me relax and unwind.

15. What would you tell your younger self?

Don’t worry - I spent a lot of my life worrying about what might happen in the future. I would say, build skills and resilience to look after your mental health and wellbeing now. Practise gratitude, self-compassion and implement the ‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’ every day. The overall advice I would give is to be compassionate with yourself and treat yourself as you would treat a friend.

16. What are your goals for 2024?

I want to grow my work within the menopause space, as this is a passion of mine. I’m a partner of the upcoming Let’s Talk Menopause in the Workplace event taking place on May 7, so I would say I’m making good progress on achieving this goal.

17. What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I get to sleep round 10 o’clock to 10.30pm. My target is seven hours’ sleep and I usually get seven to seven-and-a-half hours each night. Sleep is imperative for me to function at my best, so I really prioritise a good sleep pattern.

18. Biggest gripe or regret?

I wouldn’t say I have any regrets. I have made choices and decisions in difficult circumstances and I have thought through the consequences, but I feel I’ve always made the right decision at each point in my life.

19. Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

As I’ve gotten older, my priorities have definitely changed. After university, I was focused on getting a job and progressing my career. However, when I hit the perimenopause, my perspective surrounding work and the feelings of pressure and stress changed. Today, I trust the process and myself and don’t allow myself to panic.

20. Has coronavirus – or any health epiphany or life event - changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Covid-19 made me appreciate life and what a gift it is. It made me realise the importance of spending quality time with others and appreciating the life we have, as we won’t be around forever.

Siobhan Kearney will be joined by businesswoman and health and wellbeing enthusiast, Liz Earle, and journalist and menopause campaigner, Kate Muir, at the inaugural ‘Let’s Talk Menopause in the Workplace’ event at Belfast Cineworld Complex, Odyssey Place, on May 7. Details and tickets at