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Me and my health: Marie-Louise Muir on her lifestyle

By Helen Carson

The 47-year-old, presents the Arts Show on TV and radio for BBC Northern Ireland. She lives in Belfast with her husband Johnny and their two children, Catherine (11) and Rebecca (8).

Q: Do you ever take regular exercise - and if so how much?

A: There is no way of getting out of it - I don't take regular exercise. I realise it is time for me to start investing in my future health by exercising and I do think I should be going to the gym or swimming, but I never seem to find the time to do so.

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

A: I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2004, which is similar to Crohn's Disease. I discovered afterwards that it is passed down the female line of my father's side of the family. I take medications now and I changed my diet to help alleviate the symptoms. I need regular examinations but apart from that it is a manageable illness and it doesn't stop me doing anything. My husband, Johnny, is a vegan and this has helped me adapt to a healthier diet. There is no dairy in my diet now - although I still enjoy the odd bacon bap.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: Because I suffer from colitis, my diet is very healthy - I'm not a big fan of chocolate or crisps. But it is easy to fall off the wagon, especially if it's a long day of filming and I've had a 6.30am start. I eat a lot of beans and pulses, which are great from a nutritional point of view. I'm not a saint, though, and have a tendency to consume a lot of caffeine and I do enjoy the odd glass of wine.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I love strong black coffee - but because of my colitis I stopped taking milk in tea and coffee. When I drink a lot of coffee I can feel the affect it is having on my body - I get heart palpitations, so when I get to 4pm in the day I have to force myself to drink water.

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

A: I like the odd glass of wine although I don't drink during the week as it is all too easy to reach for the wine to de-stress. If I'm out I might have the odd gin and tonic. As I have gotten older, I know my body just won't bounce back as quickly as it did 10 years ago. Now that I'm in my 40s it takes longer to recover. As a radio presenter, I have to be on form everyday. I have never smoked - I think I swerved that one. I see so many of my friends now trying to give up - using patches and vaping away.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: As well as my meds, I take Evening Primrose Oil, calcium and vitamin D - so it takes quite a while in the morning to get out the door. I take EPO because of my age and it is believed to be beneficial if you suffer from hot flushes, while I take calcium for my bones as my diet is dairy-free while vitamin D, which is known as the sunshine vitamin, is a good pick-me-up for your mood as well as being good for skin, hair and nails.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I have recently started playing the cello again. I had previously played at university when I was 19, so I had to relearn it. The reason for this was I was involved in a Radio 4 documentary about growing up in Northern Ireland, so I had the chance to revisit the Youth Orchestra which I was involved with. When I am playing the cello it is time for me, there are no demands on me from work or two small children. So instead of falling asleep in front of the TV, I have real time out - and I love that my children hear me playing - even if it is only some scales. I feel it is a real health benefit because it is so therapeutic.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: I have always loved my bed, so I sleep very well. I tend to sleep eight to nine hours a night during the week and I hate the sound of my alarm going off. If I'm worried about something, it may disturb my sleep, but I just close my eyes then I'm back to normal. My youngest daughter Rebecca is like her dad and doesn't always sleep well, so she ends up in with me or I end up in with her at times.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: I would worry more about having my mental and physical health as I get older. Aside from colitis I have been lucky not to have other illnesses. Now, though, I an conscious that this is the time to start looking after myself. My mother is so able and independent and is a great role model to our family.

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

A: I think having a good laugh. I work with a great bunch of people and there are times when we just howl with laughter - it can be at something silly on the internet. I genuinely believe that laughter and surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh is good for you.

  • Marie-Louise Muir will present a special tribute to literary giant, Brian Friel on The Arts Show this Thursday, BBC Two NI, 10pm

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