20 Questions on Health and Fitness: Personal trainer Aamir Ishtiaque

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast personal trainer and fitness model Aamir Ishtiaque

Belfast personal trainer Aamir Ishtiaque is World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Pro (WBFF) title holder
Belfast personal trainer Aamir Ishtiaque is World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Pro (WBFF) title holder Belfast personal trainer Aamir Ishtiaque is World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Pro (WBFF) title holder

1. Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

Each morning I wake up at 5.30am and pour myself an extra strong black coffee. I quickly respond to any emails and social media messages, before having a quick shower and then it's off to work for my first client at 6.30am. My food is usually prepared the night before, so it's just a matter of lifting it out of the fridge before heading out the door. Preparing my meals in advance stops me from choosing foods that don't fit my dietary requirements.

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

Breakfast? Eggs and smoked salmon with plenty of spinach. I prefer to keep carbs for later in the day, as carbs at breakfast make me tired and I find myself hungry before lunchtime.

Lunch? Depending on my diary, if I've trained in the morning I will have some carbs for lunch. This can be anything – potatoes, rice or pasta. This is always accompanied by some lean protein source such as chicken, tuna or steak, with fat removed. If I haven't trained, I will simply reduce my carb portion and fill up on more salad or vegetables.

Evening meal? This is always varied and usually depends on what I've eaten that day. Since I track calories, I have to eat up the remainder of my daily allowance. A lot of the time I have to eat large amounts of food at this stage as I never find enough time to eat during the day with my busy schedule. This way I don't under-eat. Some people might think eating too much at night is bad for weight gain, but this is a myth. It doesn't matter when you eat – as long as you're staying with your calorific goals, you can control your weight very easily.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition is more important to me than training. Without correct nutrition, I can't perform at my optimum, whether that's with my clients or my own training. It also affects my sleep greatly. Hydration is also very important. I consume a minimum of four litres of bottled water daily. My nutrition is so specific that I will tailor my daily calories depending on whether I am training that day and, furthermore, what body part I am training. My leg sessions are very tough which means I consume more food, especially, carbs, on this day.

4. Are you a calorie counter?

Yes, and I think most people should be counting. It's very easy to do once you know how.

5. Best meal ever?

Fillet steak and triple fried chips with peppercorn sauce. I take the wife out every Saturday night and I order this every single time. Deanes Meat Locker is a top choice at the minute, followed closely by James Street South.

6. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I love ice cream... who doesn't? Maud's has to be my favourite.

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

I don't like to refer to anything as a diet, as I prefer to call it a nutritional protocol. A diet doesn't sound sustainable to me, whereas a nutrition protocol is something that is tailored and specific to each individual and their requirements. We all have to live!

8. Do you take health supplements?

I take multivitamins and fish oil tablets and that's it. The rest come from my food.

9. Tee-total or tipple?

Tipple for sure – everything in moderation, right? Hence, the weekly Saturday night 'cheat meal' where anything goes.

10. Fruit or fry-up?

Fruit for sure – a fry-up makes me feel sick... although, if it was grilled, I'd be more inclined.

11. Stairs or lift?

Stairs always, I don't have the patience for a lift. I don't like standing still or waiting around, I'm also a very impatient driver, ha-ha.

12. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I train five times a week and focus on a different body part each week. I train with heavy weights, but they're kept under control throughout. It's taken me 10 years to get to the stage I am at and I don't want to risk injury by being careless. I also do a lot of sprint work between weight sessions. Flexibility is also vital, as are the sports massages and ice baths to help recovery.

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

Fitness means a lot of things to a lot of different people. For me, fitness is being able to carry out all my daily activities without undue fatigue. With that in mind, I would class myself as super fit. However, if you consider fitness as being able to run or lift weights, then I can comfortably play football with friends, whether that's indoor or outdoor, and I can train as hard as anyone in the weights section. So yes, I consider myself to be fit.

14. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Ensure you're enjoying the process. If you don't, you won't continue with it. Additionally, if you're training hard, look after yourself by getting massages and ice baths or doing yoga.

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

Nothing comes to mind, but I was a useless swimmer. I remember always struggling through and being so competitive – it's hard to accept being useless at something.

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

Thankfully, not. I've always had a real passion for health and fitness. However, working with clients who have had serious injuries or illnesses is a constant reminder that I need to continually focus on improving myself and my knowledge.

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

Exercise is better than any medication you can be prescribed.

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

I have a lot of admiration for Christiano Ronaldo. He gives 100 per cent in everything he does on and off the pitch. He's much older now but still trains to improve himself. He also gives plenty to charity and stays humble regardless of fame and success.

19. What keeps you awake and do you think you get enough sleep?

I am very ambitious and hope to one day be in a position to help everyone in some way shape or form, whether that is through exercise videos on TV – so that keeps me awake at times, although I do get enough sleep.

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

I accept one day it is going to happen and, as a result, I live each day to the best of my ability. I just hope to leave my mark with everyone who reaches out to me for help.