20 Questions on Health and Fitness: Pamela Ballantine

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Television presenter Pamela Ballantine

Pamela Ballantine, best known as a presenter with UTV, is partial to Tayto cheese and onion
Gail Bell

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

Every day is different as to what time I get up; it all depends on what work I am doing that day. I have to lie on for a while after I wake (just to get behind my eyes, as the old saying goes), then I catch up with the TV news, have a shower and eat breakfast.

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

Breakfast? Usually porridge or oat bran with fresh fruit. Sometimes I'll have a banana on wholemeal toast or yoghurt and fruit. If I have time at weekends, I might make bacon and scrambled or poached eggs. I don't drink tea or coffee at that time of the day.

Lunch? At lunch-time I would probably have soup or a salad or sometimes an omelette.

Evening meal? Anything from mince steak or chicken, to stir fries or pasta.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, it is. Our bodies need fuel, so I try to have a balanced diet which includes fresh fruit and vegetables every day.

4 Are you a calorie counter?

No, I couldn't be bothered, simple as that. Life is too short to count calories; there are always more important and fun things to do.

5 Best meal ever?

I have been lucky enough to travel all over the place and I've had some amazing meals. I cannot pin-point one in particular, as I love all types of food. I have to say, though, our chefs in Northern Ireland are right up there with the best and I love eating out. I love it when they try different combinations of flavours that you wouldn't normally expect to be put together but which really work.

6 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Thankfully, I don't have a sweet tooth but I do love crisps, especially Tayto cheese and onion which are a favourite.

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

I have done all sorts of different diet programmes – nothing like the cabbage diet or anything like that – and they worked at the time, but then my discipline slipped and the weight went back on. However, a couple of years ago I joined Slimming World and lost nearly two stone which I have managed to keep off.

8 Do you take health supplements?

I take Paradox Oil for my joints as I have osteoarthritis, and also a calcium/magnesium supplement and soluble vitamin C tablet every day.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – I am partial to a gin and tonic and I love Champagne on special occasions. My favourites are Veuve Clicquot and Billecart Salmon. I definitely hope to crack open a few bottles at Christmas.

10 Fruit or fry-up?

I like both, but obviously not on the same plate.

11 Stairs or lift?

Stairs – but if it's over 10 floors or I'm running late, it has to be the lift.

12 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Not daily, but I am fairly active. I walk a couple of times a week and I do Pilates a few times a week as well. I would like to do a bit more.

13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are; how fit would you like to be?

I think I'm a 6, but I'd like to be an 8.

14 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Keep active. A friend of mine has a poster that reads: 'It doesn't matter how slow you go, you are still going faster than the person on the couch.'

15 Do you have a memory from school sport / PE days you would rather forget?

Oh God... I hated gym classes – aertex shirts tucked into my blue school knickers. I was useless at hockey (that ball hurt) and I was always last to be picked for rounders and found netball boring. On the positive side, I liked football and rugby, but they didn't play those at my girls school.

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

I had a Randox health check and even though I knew I could lose a few pounds it was seeing my weight and dimensions written down in black and white and explained by a health professional (I had highish blood pressure) which made me take stock. That is when I started losing weight and I feel so much better now.

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

Look after yourself, as no-one else will. My mum always used to say, 'Get a good night's sleep and you will be all better in the morning' no matter whether I had a sniffle or the measles.

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

I think Dame Mary Peters is amazing. She oozes health, has a great sense of humour and always has a smile on her face.

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

I always try to get to bed on the same day I get up – that rarely happens so it is usually around midnight when I put my light out. I do try to get eight hours, but that doesn't always happen.

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

Oh yes – but I hope to be around for a very, very long time to come.

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