Singer and musician Tommy Fleming: ‘I took life far too seriously when I was younger’

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Irish traditional singer, Tommy Fleming...

Tommy Fleming
Tommy Fleming says he has no regrets, though wishes he had invested in Apple in the 1990s...
1. Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

I get up around 8.30am, feed our two dogs and then set about planning my day. First up, is taking my supplements - I take every supplement known to man. I then brew a pot of coffee - my fuel injection for my pre-workout in the gym.

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

Breakfast? Protein shake and fruit with natural yogurt, seeds, nuts and organic honey.

Lunch? When I eat lunch, I might have soup and wholemeal bread.

Evening meal? If it’s a show day, then I skip dinner and have a late lunch - so lunch on a show day would be salad/soup, pasta/sandwich or a fish-based meal. After a show, I like to have sushi – it’s my absolute go-to meal.

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

Nutrition is hugely important to me. I take several supplements, including vitamins D, E and C, as well as omega 3, magnesium, B12 and gut health supplements. I find they are huge addition to my nutrition for sleep, energy, mental health and overall wellbeing.

I desperately try not to have regrets... I do regret, though, not investing in Apple in 1999. If I invested what I spent on Apple products, I’d be a very happy man today

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

I stopped doing diets years ago, but I went through the phase of Atkins, meat-free, calorie-deficit, to name a few… all with the same outcome: no energy, low mental ability and just temporary weight loss. Now I just eat healthily and enjoy treats, sporadically. Life is too short to diet and the results are always the same - they don’t work.

5. Weekend treat?

Sunday roast or a Chinese or Indian takeaway.

6. How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

I workout five mornings a week - gym for three mornings and 5km beach run for two – whatever the weather. Exercise keeps me mentally and physically fit - it’s a part of life for me and helps me face the challenges of the day ahead. In the spring/summer months, I swim in the sea.

7. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Hydration is hugely important - instead of buying expensive sports drinks, just add a pinch of salt to your regular water to replace electrolytes and salts lost during exercise.

Tommy Fleming
Tommy Fleming's tour comes to Belfast and Derry next week
8. Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I hated sports in school - except swimming. I loathed exercise, but as I get older and need to maintain a healthy weight, I find it has become hugely important.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple - I love a pint of Guinness, a good wine or a bourbon-based cocktail. I abstain from ‘tippling’ during touring - it doesn’t do the vocal cords or energy levels any favours. I look forward to the end of a tour when I can have well- deserved knees-up.

10. Stairs or lift?

Stairs, as often as possible.

11. What book are you currently reading?

My Name Is Barbra - Barbra Streisand’s autobiography. It’s an addictive read - seeing how one woman, who was never regarded as a typical Hollywood beauty, proved all the naysayers wrong and become one the most successful female artists of all time.

12. Best Netflix or streaming TV?

I have just finished Fool Me Once with Michelle Keegan and Joanna Lumley – fantastic.

13. Any new skills or hobbies?

I Iearnt about film editing during Covid lockdowns - a tool that is so useful for social media advertising and posts. I have also started playing guitar again. My fingers are in bits, but I’m so glad I stuck with it.

14. How do you relax?

I love to walk the beach during winter when it’s deserted - our two dogs, Jodie and Ted, are getting older and don’t walk as much as they used to. We have a campervan that takes us all over Ireland in the summer - sitting out in a wild, out-of-the-way place with a campfire, music, and a good wine cannot be beaten. I also find that gardening relaxes me - it brings me right back to nature.

15. What would you tell your younger self?

There are so many nuggets of wisdom I have learned over the years. I always say I am a very different man at 53 than I was at 23 - I took life far too seriously when I was younger and took criticism very badly. I would now say to a 23-year-old Tommy: ‘Take all advice on board, but don’t make any rash decisions.’ I would also tell my younger self to get a good solicitor and manager. I made very poor choices with management in my early career.

16. What are your goals for 2024?

To spend more time at home.

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

I get to bed around 10pm or 10.30pm. I try to get at least seven or eight hours’ sleep. I slept much better when I was younger - as I get older, my sleep is a little more erratic.

18. Biggest gripe or regret?

I desperately try not to have regrets - you can never move forward if you keep looking back. I do regret, though, not staying in college – and not investing in Apple in 1999. If I invested what I spent on Apple products, I’d be a very happy man today.

19. Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Yes - career was once my main priority but now my family, friends, health and quality time at home come first. Money has never been the end goal for me - I measure success on how the show is received, worldwide.

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

Over the past 10 years I have lost a number of family members - my mam and dad in 2012 and two of my brothers-in-law (both in their early fifties) to heart attacks. That was a wake-up call for us all. I now evaluate what I want to do rather than what I have to do.

Tommy Fleming will be performing at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on Friday February 16 and the Millennium Forum, Derry, on Saturday February 17 as part of his 2024 tour