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Me and my health: Comic Jake O'Kane on his lifestyle

By Helen Carson

The 55-year-old comedian lives in Belfast with his family. He loves walking on the Cave Hill and enjoys a good cup of Northern Ireland tea.

Q: Do you take regular exercise - and if so what?

A: I try to get out for a walk a couple of times during the week. I injured my back 30 years ago when I was a powerlifter - I was the Junior Irish champion at one stage and weighed 15st when I was about 17, I was a big pup - so the gym is out for me. I have tried swimming but I keep sinking; seriously I can't swim as I suffer from asthma and you weren't allowed into the pool at swimming lessons when I was at school if you had it. My favourite place to walk is the Cave Hill as it is one of the most beautiful parts of Northern Ireland.

Q: What's been the worst illness you have had?

A: My back injury as I had to have an operation to remove two discs. I had two long stays in hospital and three years of constant pain after it. Thankfully I remained active yet the medical advice at the time was not to be. I was young and it was only my stubbornness to reject the doctor's orders which has kept me mobile.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: It is a lot healthier than it used to be. I was diagnosed coeliac five years ago as I had been very ill and lost a lot of weight. Pretty much everything I was eating was bad for me - biscuits, bread and carbs. There are lots of tasty gluten-free products now, though, and I never break my diet. The best thing was discovering rice cakes - thank God for rice cakes.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Tea - I love my tea. I'm on the caffeine-free tea at the moment and have just cut out fizzy drinks, too. But there is nothing better than a good old cup of Northern Irish tea.

Q: Do you drink and/or smoke - and if so how much?

A: Neither. And I just never got into drink.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: I buy vitamins, put them in the cupboard, then open the door and look at them. Then by the time I go to take them they are two years out-of-date. I probably should be taking supplements but what annoys me is one minute a certain vitamin is good for you, then the next it isn't - it's very confusing.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: Walking on the Cave Hill. For some reason I always seem to meet nice people when I am walking here - it must be something to do with the altitude. And a walk is great for clearing your head - it is the best form of meditation.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Intermittently. I am not a great sleeper which is a problem - I could go without food and just about anything else, but I need my sleep. You couldn't come near me if I haven't had a good night's sleep.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Not in the least. I am looking forward to reaching old age and I don't understand people who are worried about getting older. I think women are under pressure to stay looking young. When I was in New York once we went into the Plaza Hotel for tea and it was full of women of a certain age - it was obvious they all used botox. The expressions on their faces looked like ones of constant surprise - God love them. My opinion on this is to take what God gave you.

Q: What is you go-to product/habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: Drinking water. And we definitely don't drink enough. That and walking; I used to love the gym when I was younger but now it is walking.

  • Jake O'Kane will be performing at the Cookstown Comedy Festival on Friday, June 17, 8pm, at the The Burnavon Arts Centre alongside Terry McHugh. Over 16s only. Tickets cost £18.50 from burnavon.ticketsolve.com

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