Health Q&A: Holly Hamilton on resilience, city breaks and missing live sport

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Greyabbey-born BBC Breakfast sports presenter Holly Hamilton

BBC Breakfast sports presenter Holly Hamilton is from Greyabbey in Co Down
Gail Bell

Holly Hamilton – I've really missed my gym as it's where I go to burn off energy and put the world to rights


Up and at it – what is your new morning routine? How has it changed?

I'm one of those irritating ‘morning people’ – which is probably a good thing when your alarm goes off at 3:45am to start work. At that time of the day, I'm normally straight into work mode – checking emails, social media and finding out what's changed overnight. I've usually left out what I'm going to wear the night before as my brain isn't quite up to that at 4am – I might end up on air wearing a hoody and leggings.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

I try to grab a slice of toast and maybe a banana and cup of coffee For ‘Part Two’, I’ll have poached or scrambled eggs on toast with tomatoes.


In summertime, lunch is always a salad or something light, but in autumn and winter, it's hard to beat a bowl of hot soup and some wheaten bread.

Evening meal?

Typically, some diced chicken thrown in a pan with some vegetables, usually accompanied by sweet potatoes or salad.


Have you been able to work from home – if so, how have you found it?

During lockdown, we weren't able to be in the office for large chunks of the week which I found really difficult. I know plenty of people who have really enjoyed the benefits of working from home, but I personally found it quite lonely and missed my work colleagues and the sense of ‘normality’ of being in the office.


Best/easiest lockdown meal?

I've reached for the frozen pizza many times over the past few months and regret nothing.


Weekend treat?

Anything I don't cook... so eating out or ordering a takeaway is definitely a treat. There's a restaurant near my house in Manchester which does the best burgers and sweet potato chorizo croquettes.


How have you kept physically and mentally fit during lockdown?

I've really missed my gym as it's where I go to burn off energy and put the world to rights, but my husband [BBC broadcaster Connor Phillips] and I managed to turn our garage into a bit of a makeshift gym. Thankfully, we already had a lot of equipment in place because the only thing harder to get hold of than gym equipment was flour.


What has been your daily outdoor exercise?

I've really started to enjoy running – and walking. There's a running track not too far from my house which I didn't even know existed and now it seems to be one of the most popular places in my village.


How do you relax?

The gym was always my place to go to relax and it feels like that aspect of it is missing. Gyms have reopened but I’m still not comfortable returning just yet due to Covid. I’ve not been drinking over the past few months, but ideally, my favourite way to wind down would be a glass of white wine and catch-up with a good friend.


Teetotal or tipple?

Teetotal at the moment…


What book are you currently reading?

The former England captain Dylan Hartley’s autobiography The Hurt – it’s a real eye opener in regards to the harsh nature of international sport – particularly rugby.


Best Netflix?

I’ve just finished the final series of Schitt’s Creek which had become a real staple and I’ve now started the new series of Good Girls which is a great show.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself?

I think we’ve all surprised ourselves with our resilience. If you’d told me a year ago what 2020 had in store, I probably would’ve thought I couldn’t cope.


On a scale of one to 10, where have you been in relation to cabin fever and where are you now?

At its worst, 10 – I really struggled with having so little to do and being stuck in the house.


What are the three things you missed most during the beginning of lockdown?

I suppose I better say my husband! He flew back to Belfast to start his new show with BBC Radio Ulster just before the lockdown was imposed. We thought it might be for two weeks but it ended up being eight. I also missed my friends and live sport which is a huge part of my life.


Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are fully lifted?

I’ve found myself longing for a city break – to go exploring, surrounded by people. My first priority, though, will be getting back to a match... football, rugby or a golf tournament.


Biggest gripe?

Thoughtless drivers – when people cut me off or drive out in front of me without acknowledging me, that really winds me up.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Being cut off from family over the past few months has really underlined how important they are, so I intend to spend more time with them when this is all over.


Any new skills or hobbies?

I would love to say I’m now a star baker but sadly that’s not the case. I did a couple of Instagram live cooking sessions during lockdown for a bit of fun. One was with some members of the Ireland hockey women’s team – but my attempts were poor to say the least. I think social media put a lot of pressure on people to 'do something' during lockdown and 'make use of our time'. I quickly realised that just getting through it was enough.


What would you like to see change for good when this is all over?

I’ll be happy if the general public have learned to wash their hands properly.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I wouldn’t say it’s changed my attitude to my mortality but it’s certainly made me worry more about those close to me. The constant rule changes and restrictions have made it a very difficult time for a lot of vulnerable people, so while it’s important to keep yourself and others safe, we need to remember to be kind too.

BBC Breakfast celebrates its 20th birthday tomorrow (October 2) and is on BBC One daily from 6am.

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