Belfast Fashion Week's Cathy Martin: Move and drink plenty of water my tips to stay healthy

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Cathy Martin, director of Belfast Fashion Week

Cathy Martin, director of Belfast Fashion Week – I do Body Pump three to four times per week at my gym
Gail Bell

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

I wake at 7am and quickly check my email inbox from bed before getting up and preparing my five-year-old daughter Valentina’s lunchbox and breakfast, and making myself a smoothie. I don’t like to leave the house untidy, so generally I will make beds and do the breakfast dishes before I leave for the school run and gym.

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

Breakfast? My breakfast depends on my hunger levels and how I am feeling when I wake up. Some days I eat very little in the morning – maybe a banana and some peanut or almond butter, some days an omelette with spinach, some days scrambled eggs and a slice of smoked salmon.

Lunch? I usually eat a salad or a soup for lunch.

Evening meal? At home we eat a fresh sea bass (pan fried in butter) with greens (butter steamed and usually laced with flaked almonds, pine nuts, chopped hazelnuts or something else nutty from the pan). My daughter loves fresh pasta with freshly made tomato sauce.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, it really is, although I am a gourmand as much as I am healthy, but it is nice to have the balance. At home and in work I will eat healthily most of the week – my soups, salads and fish/veg combo with very few carbs if I can help it. If I go out for dinner, though, I will have a starter and the chateaubriand and a pudding or cheese board.

4. Best meal ever?

My partner Paul and I ate in the restaurant of Alain Ducasse in Paris last year and it was pretty awesome, but I have had some really cracking meals in friends’ homes too.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Tayto cheese and onion crisps – they’re the business.

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

Not really, but I changed my diet and lifestyle overall about three years ago to cut out most white carbs and I rarely eat any processed food at home. I learned to do that a long time ago from my mother, who ate pretty much organically all her life.

7. Do you take health supplements?

Yes, I take a few every day – digestive enzymes for my gut, Milk Thistle for my liver and chromium for blood sugar levels.

8. How do you relax?

There is nothing nicer than lying in the shade on a warm, sunny day, reading a book.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

Looking back, I drank a lot in my 20s and 30s, as did most of my generation, but have pared back over the last six or seven years. Now I drink the odd glass of really good wine with dinner, if we’re eating out, and maybe a nice Shortcross and Fever Tree tonic or two.

10. Stairs or lift?

Stairs, unless I have Valentina or heavy bags with me.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I do Body Pump three to four times per week at my gym, Virgin Active in Holywood. It’s a licensed, one-hour class to music in which you lift weights. I feel very ‘pumped’ after each class and, on the whole, I feel a lot stronger.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Move... they say sitting is the new smoking – and I am guilty of sitting a lot; I’m at my computer about 10 hours a day.

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

I think I’m about a seven and I would love to be at nine. I would love to be able to run marathons or do city-to-city cycle challenges.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I love alternative and complementary therapy. I remember having a mosaic verruca for two years and no amount of burning off at the doctor’s would work. Then I visited a homeopath who gave me a course of Thuja which cleared it up in two weeks. Another time I went to see hormone health coach Maria Rafferty about eczema and she used acupuncture on me and it worked a treat. I also do yoga and have had Reiki, hypnotherapy, reflexology, and aromatherapy at various times.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

They were happy times; I don’t remember getting any first places, but I did love the whole atmosphere of sports day and being outdoors.

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

I had a stillbirth in 2011 and the infection which led to my baby dying had entered my bloodstream and was potentially fatal to me. I had no idea and just felt a bit 'fluish'. I have both consciously and subconsciously taken much better care of my body and appreciated it a whole lot more since then.

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

Drinking plenty of water is the best advice I would pass on. I write a beauty column and blog and so many women ask me how best to moisturise their skin and I always reply by first asking how much water they drink in a day – it really is the best moisturiser ever, as well as being a lubricant for our digestive systems and pretty much everything else inside.

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

I love Kim Constable and Tiffany Brien, both local girls who are about being strong, real and healthy at the same time.

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

I’m not a massive sleeper – five or six hours is about all I ever get and I know that is not enough.

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

I have lost both parents – my dad 16 years ago and my mother just last year – as well as a child (through stillbirth six years ago), so death and the physical pain of grief is always a bit raw if the right triggers are pushed. It can be so debilitating, but I chose to harness the grief and live my life to the full while I am lucky enough to enjoy the gift of being alive on this wonderful planet.

:: Belfast Fashion Week 2017 runs from tomorrow through to Sunday (October 26-29) with designer and high street fashion on the runway at St Anne's Cathedral. For details, visit

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