Declan O'Rourke: My mother sends me little philosophical nuggets fairly regularly

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keep them going. This week: award-winning Dublin-born troubadour, Declan O'Rourke

Singer-songwriter Declan O'Rourke lives in Co Galway
Gail Bell

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

AT PRESENT, most of my mornings are occupied with getting up at the crack of dawn – 7am – with our 21 month-old son, Arlen. If I don't respond quickly enough, once he's decided it's time to get up, he'll do things like sit on my head or hook one of his fingers into my nostril and try to start it like a lawnmower. It tends to get you moving.

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

Breakfast? Porridge, very plainly made, with water and a spoonful of honey thrown in. I add a few pumpkin and sunflowers seeds to mine, maybe a few hazelnuts.

Lunch? I'm vegetarian and a favourite thing of mine is the veggie lasagne from a restaurant nearby, but it's very rich, so you can't indulge too often. Sometimes, lunch could just be a boiled egg on a nice piece of toast.

Evening meal? Simple stuff that suits the baby works well for us too, as it's not too rich or complicated. Pastas and such are popular dinner choices, but I just discovered a recipe for a wintry vegetarian stew and it's 'rockin'.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

I just try to eat healthy and not think too hard about it. I did not go vegetarian exclusively for health reasons – in fact, the driver was more of a moral one, but health did come into it. I found I was getting a few sinus problems and chest infections and when that started to affect my work, I knew something had to change. I cut out the dairy and went vegetarian in 2013.

4 Best meal ever?

I was in Italy last year and there was a gorgonzola risotto with a kind of a caramelised lime peel sprinkled over it. Talk about tasty… wow! It was just off the charts. A chef, who has a great restaurant, Petronella in Kilkenny, tried to recreate it for me last year based on my description. What he came up with was gorgeous, but it wasn't the same. Fair play to him for trying, though; it was his own work of art with a fab pear puree thrown in.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I used to love dipping toast into sugary tea, but that's a throwback to my teens. Now it's herbal tea and more healthy fare, but a few years back when I was sick, I ate a stack of white toast – dipped in sugary tea – and it was just as good as I remember.

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

Never. I'm very lucky in that I don't put weight on very easily. Somehow, I am still the same weight as I was when I was 21. I've a different waist size though.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Yes, but not routinely. As a vegetarian, I've been told it's important to take some Vitamin B, so I try to get a bit of that in here and there.

8 How do you relax?

I watch a bit of something on TV (Netflix), but it's not very often. Believe it or not, I find performing on stage, playing, singing and talking to be my most 'zen' state.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Teetotal. I don't like the hangovers as I get older.

10 Stairs or lift?

Always the stairs, even if I'm tired and at an airport.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

No, but I try to do a bit when I can. Me and the boy have great fun all morning – there is a lot of unregulated exercise, rolling around, chasing, following instructions and trying to keep up with the drill sergeant. Some of it hurts. I also have a water rower (second-hand) and it's a lovely way to exercise.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Just do something.

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

I'm probably a 6 or 7 right now, but would like to be an 11...

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

I've tried various things, including acupuncture, dry needling and herbal remedies. A couple of close friends are Amatsu practitioners and I've also found this to be very helpful at times.

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

Hmm... I didn't like not being picked to be on the schoolyard soccer team during breaks which happened regularly despite my enthusiasm.

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

No, not really, just a 'parental' injury in the form of a burn in the muscle at the back of my upper leg. I'm still getting over it and it has made me work on my flexibility so it doesn't happen again.

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

My mother, who is very wise, sends my siblings and me little philosophical nuggets fairly regularly. I find little affirmations such as "If you can't find time, make the time" very powerful.

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

A friend of mine in Scotland told me recently that his dad – who is in his 90s – is off to India, doing 'hot yoga' three times a week. I find that inspiring. I think a positive and healthy attitude is akin to mental fitness and will certainly contribute to your physically fitness too.

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

I have the musician's bad habit of being very good at staying awake late. I'll still get in five or six hours sleep, though.

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

Generally, yes. I've always had a natural confidence in my health and the feeling that I will live a long, slow, and gentle life. But, as an older parent of a young child right now, I think I have a couple of rough years to get through first. My new fitness plan will help, hopefully.

:: Declan O'Rouke Live is at The MAC on Saturday November 9. Tickets via

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