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Life

The Commitments star Andrew Strong answers 20 questions on health and fitness

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: singer and star of iconic Irish film The Commitments, Andrew Strong

Andrew Strong in action at last year's Dalriada Festival Picture: Paul Faith
Gail Bell

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

I normally wake up at 7:30, have a coffee and then check my emails. At eight o'clock I will wake up my son and prepare his breakfast and lunch. I bring him to school when I'm not on tour.

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

Breakfast?

Some mornings I'll have porridge with a banana and other mornings I'll just have a slice of toast with marmalade with my coffee.

Lunch?

Lunch varies and it can be anything from a sandwich or a salad to a bowl of soup.

Evening meal?

Again, it varies but we love to eat oven-roasted vegetables, roast chicken and lots of fish. Normally we would only need meat once a week – sometimes, as a treat on a Friday, my partner and I would have steak and chips with fried onions, chestnut mushrooms and a peppered sauce to celebrate the weekend.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Nutrition is extremely important – in the morning it's good to eat oatmeal as this is very good for lowering cholesterol, and also fruit, as the natural sugars give you energy to start the day.

And it's the same at lunch and dinner time ... I try to eat fish, and lean meats with less fat. Don't get me wrong, fat is important for flavour and I think it's perfectly fine to have – in moderation.

4. Are you a calorie counter?

Not really, but I am aware of how many calories there are in potato chips, pizzas Chinese food and stuff like that. I am aware that those foods contain quite a few calories, but, again, as I said, everything in moderation is fine, especially when combined with exercise.

5. Best meal ever?

One of the best meals I always enjoy and one that I cook myself is a fillet of beef on a bed of fennel which has been oven roasted in marsala wine and butter. First, I gently fry shallots, garlic, porcini mushrooms and then set aside to cool down. When cool, I'll combine all together with cream, one handful of Parmesan cheese, egg yolk and chives and place these on top of the steak before cooking in the oven for eight minutes. Once cooked, the steak is placed on top of the fennel – it's a lovely dish and a real showstopper.

6. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Yes, I love jelly babies and I use my son as an excuse to buy them.

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

I have been on diets but I find now, as I get older, exercise is key to a good, balanced approach. You can't be too hard on yourself and you find people have a tendency to put more weight on while on some diets, which just ends up making them miserable. I think exercise and moderation are the watchwords here.

8. Do you take health supplements?

Sometimes I may take a Berocca Vitamin C tablet.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I like to have a beer and also a glass of wine with a meal is good too – but, preferably a cold beer straight from the fridge.

10. Fruit or fry-up?

Both..... you can't beat a good fry-up either, but a lot of people don't know that if you grill instead of fry, you don't have all the grease and it can amount to fewer than 500 calories. Again, this is something I would not eat every day, maybe once a week on a Sunday with my family.

11. Stairs or lift?

It depends if I'm in a hurry or not; if I am, then I would take the lift. Overall, I would say 50-50 each way.

12. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I try to get to the gym four days a week and my workout will usually consist of 40 minutes on the cross trainer, 30 minutes on the treadmill, followed by some light weight lifting. On other days, I may just go for a swim; it just depends how I feel. I do try to keep my cardio in shape as I find, as a performer, this really helps.

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

Well, of course I would like to be a 10 but, I think, realistically, I would give myself a seven.

14. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Walking is my best tip as it's easy to do and you can do it anywhere – 25 minutes of your day can make a big difference to your health.

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

The first time I played rugby was with my school and we were playing against Kilkenny. I went to score a try but, not knowing the rules completely, instead of scoring a try, I scored a touchdown. Needless to say that was my nickname in school thereafter – touchdown.

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

No, not so far...

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

Everything in moderation... I think moderation is the key to a healthy and long life.

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

I have a lot of respect for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters, as they are incredible athletes. A prime example of this is Conor McGregor. It's great to see somebody who has worked so hard all their life to then see their dream come true. This is a true testament to what we can all do if we really want to achieve great things in life.

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

Nowadays, I go to bed between 10.30 and 11 o'clock. I feel if I get a good solid six hours sleep, this can help me get through the day.

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

I don't think too much about this, to be honest. At the end of the day, we're all on a one-way ticket with no return and I've accepted this.

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