Panto ugly sister Gerard McCabe's guide to health and fitness

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: actor and Grand Opera House Ugly Sister, Gerard McCabe

Gerard in one of his many splendoured costumes
Gail Bell

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

Well, it depends really on what I did the night before. So, like, if I'm hanging like a bat from partying with celebs like Gareth Gates, Jayne Wisener, May McFettridge or Barra Best, then my routine would be up around noon and heading for brunch at Chopin in St Anne's Square. If I've had a nice relaxing night, or if I'm on the school run, I'm up 8am and off to McDonald's for breakfast. Although, whether I'm hungover or not, I'll always check my social media apps like twitter/Facebook over breakfast, then it's into the Grand Opera House to get ready for my beautiful transformation to Ugly Sister.

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

Breakfast? It varies a lot and I also skip breakfast a lot. I know that's bad – sorry. I love my Ulster fries, bacon and eggs sarnies and double sausage and egg McMuffins. I have porridge once or twice a week when my body tells me it can't do any more nice stuff.

Lunch? I love soup and a sandwich for lunch – any type, but it has to be a deal, I'm not paying for both.

Evening meal? If I'm in the house, I'll make pasta Bolognese, pizzas or pies from scratch, but during the shows it's usually Little Italy Pizza, Boojum or Long's fish and chips. If I'm out in a restaurant, I'll order steak or venison as a treat.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Not really; I pretend that because I jump around the stage sweating my joules off, that I can enjoy any food I want. Sometimes my body lets me know I'm due vegetables or a salad and I reluctantly submit to healthy eating for a day or two. I'm usually pretty balanced eater as I eat anything and everything.

4 Are you a calorie counter?

No, when I was younger I did the Atkins diet once and lost a stone, so I knew roughly back then what calories there are in things. They say every little helps, though, so I do buy lighter versions like light mayonaise, 33 per cent less fat cheese, half-fat creme fraiche for my curries.

5 Best meal ever?

I have it nearly every Friday – I do a wee steak night at Bia @ An Culturlann. It's surf n' turf, rib eye steak (cooked medium), with prawns, onion rings, skinny chips and peppered sauce. That's heaven right there.

6 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Too much cheese. Me and the wifey would do a cheese board once, maybe twice, a week, while bingeing on Netflix. I found this lovely one called Pie d'Angloys – it's like a creamy Camembert with the flavour of Epoisses, only cheaper.

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

As I said, I did Atkins once, lost a stone in a month and put it back on again over 3/4 months. I convince myself that when Spielberg phones with a role that requires me to be thinner, I'll be able to lose it. I swear. Just give me a couple of months.

8 Do you take health supplements?

No, not unless those wee yoghurt bio-vitamin, low cholesterol mini-drink things count.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

More like a triple with all these local gins that I have to support like Jawbox and Shortcross. Then there's the local craft beers, Boundary Brewing and Gallopers – I'm spoilt for choice and don't mind choosing.

10 Fruit or fry-up?

What is this fruit? Are you slagging me? My dad makes the most amazing fry – I blame him.

11 Stairs or lift?

Lift all the time – I lived all my life in bungalows, so my legs are not developed for stairs, unfortunately.

12 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I would love to but I hate the idea of gyms. I tried it once or twice after getting a great deal – £350 for the year – but I found it boring and expensive. I love football and used to play five aside two or three times a week, but that's only once a week now, which makes me sad as I really feel the health benefits from playing regularly.

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

I'm probably around a three. I would like to have a six-pack and cheekbones at least once to see if it leads to more work, acting wise, but I fear that ship might have sunk.

14 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Beating the head off Cinders every day in panto.. Failing that, a balanced diet and nice red wine.

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

All I ever remember at school was running around fields for what seemed like an eternity, getting lapped every 10 minutes by all Mr Perry or Mr Toal's a**e-licks.

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

Not yet, but I have a feeling it could be just around the corner.

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

I don't know if it's true, but apparently eating celery and pickled onions, not necessarily at the same time, burns more calories than they contain. My advice is: Let's find more foods like that for when we need a snack.

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

It's a tough choice; I'd love to have that wee diver Tom Daly's body or the longevity of Bruce Forsythe. 

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

I usually go to bed around 1am but then stay on my twitter/Facebook for another hour. I always try and get at least six hours sleep and will gladly sleep on until noon if I've no work or plans the following day.

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

I'm not the healthiest person but since I was a kid in Rainbow Factory youth theatre I always wanted to be an actor and stuck at it and it's paying the bills – finally. I have a beautiful fiancee and two class wee daughters. I can honestly say I've never been more content with my life and I'm enjoying myself and I think that is the only attitude that counts when you look to the future.

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