Portballintrae lifeguard Beth Montgomery: I've challenged myself to hit 10k steps a day without fail – in rain, hail or snow

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: RNLI senior beach lifeguard, Beth Montgomery from Portballintrae

RNLI senior beach lifeguard Beth Montgomery
Gail Bell

Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

Honestly, I'm not much of a morning person. I'm the type to set about three or four alarms just to give myself some extra snooze time. I crawl out of bed and head straight for the shower, grab a quick cup of coffee and some daylight in the garden before rushing out the door for work.


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

Usually overnight oats or a bowl of granola with yoghurt and fruit.


A salad of some sort with chicken and avocado. I'm also a big fan of a bowl of soup and a sandwich.

Evening meal?

I like to change things up in the evening. I usually make a meal plan at the start of the week to save me having to put any thought into what to have each night. Some of my favourites include Thai red curry, fajitas and chilli con carne.


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

I try to eat as healthily as I can and maintain a good balance of fruit, veg, protein and carbs. When I eat well, I feel good. That said, chocolate is a complete weakness of mine and I hate to admit it, but I usually can't have a cup of tea without a square or two. I try to get most of my micronutrients through my diet, but I do take magnesium, omega-3 fish oils, vitamin D3 and occasionally whey protein for an extra boost after a big session in the gym.


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

No, and I can't imagine it would go very well if I were to try. I'm all for everything in moderation, so I tend to just go with the flow and eat what works for me.


Weekend treat?

Usually on a Friday or Saturday evening, my boyfriend and I treat ourselves to a takeaway pizza. This is followed by whatever ice-cream is on offer in the supermarket – Haagen-Dazs salted caramel is hard to beat.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

For years, I was very into CrossFit, but unfortunately a knee injury – for which I'm waiting surgery – has put a hold on that. For now, I'm just doing what I can in the gym and keeping up with my running and swimming. Getting in the sea for a dip or a surf or heading for a walk with a good podcast or with a friend definitely helps clear the head.


Best tip for everyday fitness?

Increase your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) – aka any exercise you do that isn't an active workout. This includes taking the stairs or parking further away at the supermarket. I'm a big advocate for steps and I spend my 30-minute patrols on the beach marching between the red and yellow flags (while keeping people safe, of course...).


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

One of my favourite things about school was sport. I was the child who was always getting out of class to participate in some kind of sporting competition. I tried to be part of as many sports teams as possible. I used to get excited when sports day came around. I was (and still am) very competitive and liked to win.


Teetotal or tipple?

I enjoy a wee G&T, particularly a Malfy pink grapefruit with tonic.


Stairs or lift?

I'm usually quite strict with myself on this – always the stairs unless I have a reasonable excuse...


What book are you currently reading?

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before by Dr Julie Smith. I've recently discovered that you can borrow ebooks on a library app and it's been a total game changer.


Best Netflix?

I recently completed The Night Agent – it's pretty jumpy, so might not be for everyone.


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

Probably my need for connection. Also, the ability to keep myself easily amused when things I liked to do suddenly weren't accessible.


Any new skills or hobbies?

I have recently qualified as a physician associate after deciding in 2020 that I wanted to go back to university and retrain. I am waiting to start a job this month and I am very excited to get started on this new career path.


How do you relax?

A big walk and a takeaway coffee.


What are your goals for 2023?

Instead of making a few big goals for 2023, I made a list of 12 things I wanted to work on at the start of the year. I pick one at random at the start of each month, such as work on flexibility / mobility. On top of this, I wanted to challenge myself to 10k steps a day without fail – in rain, hail or snow.


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

I try to make sure I am in bed before 10.30pm and lights out by 11/11.30pm at the very latest. I definitely think the nights I get to sleep before midnight make for a better, deeper sleep.


Biggest gripe or regret?

When people don't return their shopping trolley...


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Apart from a change in career path and wanting to work in healthcare, they haven't changed particularly.


Has coronavirus – or any health epiphany or life event – changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Coronavirus and a few recent life events have definitely re-affirmed my values and priorities in life. I try to be a positive person and I'm extremely grateful for my family, friends and health. I believe you should be your best self, show compassion, work hard and look after the people you care about.

:: NLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland saved 13 lives, aided over 450 people and responded to over 300 incidents last summer. The service runs along the Causeway Coast as well as Co Down. More information at