Retail NI’s Glyn Roberts: There is nothing more satisfying for your physical and mental health than reaching the top of a mountain

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Chief executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts


Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

I have never been a great 'morning' person as I'm a bit of night owl. My morning is usually spent catching up with lots of emails, lots of coffee - and maybe the occasional bacon bap.


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

Most days, I go for brunch around 11 o'clock which keeps me going throughout the day.


If I do have lunch, it would be either soup, salad or a wrap.

Evening meal?

My mum bought me an air fryer which has made a big difference in terms of cutting down on oil in my diet. It's funny how people make such a big thing about how they now own an air fryer. Maybe it is an age thing. I now prefer sweet potato and avoid fried food as much as possible.


Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

I do look at fat and sugar content on food labels a lot more these days and I try to get my 'five-a-day' in as often as I can.


Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I try to avoid strict diets as I always tend to put weight back on again after the diet routine finishes. I now don't eat a lot of bread, dairy and potatoes which has made a big difference in keeping the pounds off. The air fryer has also helped, as I'm using less oil for cooking.


Weekend treat?

Tribal Burger buffalo wings - they kept me going throughout lockdown.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

Lockdown was a big game-changer for me. I now aim to get my 10k steps in each day and aim to fit in a gym session three times a week. During the pandemic, my 10k routine really helped my head space during some very difficult times during that period. I also got through dozens of audiobooks in the process. I have also rediscovered the Mournes and have completed all the peaks over the last 18 months. There is nothing more satisfying for your physical and mental health than reaching the top of a mountain. The Mourne Mountains are such a special place for me now and it is the best way to de-stress. As Edmund Hillary put it: "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."


Best tip for everyday fitness?

Take the stairs when you can, avoid snacks and get your 10k steps in.


Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I went to Orangefield Boys High which was a tough and occasionally rough school in east Belfast. I have vivid memories of being forced to do cross-country runs in all types of weather. It was tough at the time, but I now have fond memories of those character-building experiences. I also served for several years in the reserve forces which was a game changer for my fitness and character building.


Teetotal or tipple?

I enjoy a drink now and again - either a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Blood Orange gin with 'slim'.


Stairs or lift?

Stairs - every time.


What book are you currently reading?

Audiobooks are my big thing when doing my 10k steps. Leadership by Henry Kissinger is my current listen-to.


Best Netflix?

The Crown on Netflix and The Mandalorian on Disney. I'm also a huge Doctor Who fan and I adore Britbox which has every episode of the series.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself over the pandemic?

How interconnected physical and mental health is for all of us.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Developing a bigger interest in history. I sometimes regret not becoming a history teacher.


How do you relax?

By climbing Slieve Commedagh.


What are your goals for 2023?

To travel more and have more adventures. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is really on my wish list.


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

Getting eight hours sleep is key to my functioning well throughout the day. Overall, my sleep has improved because of my exercise regime and not using the iPad before bed.


Biggest gripe or regret?

Life is too short for regret. Live every day as if it is your last.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Being chief executive of Retail NI is challenging and demanding, but, above else, it is a fun role. I work to live and not live to work and maybe in the past I got that the wrong way around. My work-life balance has definitely improved.


Has coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Many younger and generally healthy people I know did not give serious thought to a sense of mortality until Covid-19 hit. The pandemic has brought into stark focus the fact that that a full and long life is not necessarily a guaranteed thing – so, enjoy the full life that you have now, and make a difference.