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Me and my health: Pamela Ballantine on her lifestyle

Published 19/04/2016

Crisp lover: Pamela Ballantine
Crisp lover: Pamela Ballantine

The 58-year-old host of Friday evening's UTV Life, who lives in Belfast, says walking and the sound of sea are key to good health.

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

A: I walk up to four miles two to three times a week, and this morning I was up in Craigantlet.

My girlfriends and I walk regularly and it's usually somewhere near to where each of us live, so we vary our route between Bangor, Holywood and Craigantlet depending on the weather.

I used to swim a lot and still love it, but pools now are nearly all part of a gym with monthly membership fees and I prefer to pay whenever I go.

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

A: I had diverticulitis 10 years ago and ended up having eight inches of my intestine and sigmoid colon removed.

I was on my way home from a holiday when the excruciating pain started and I couldn't wait to get through the night to go to the doctor the following day. My GP said he was shocked I had endured the pain and sent me to hospital immediately where I was put on antibiotics for an infection, then had surgery.

The first thing I was asked at the hospital was if there was a history of bowel cancer in my family - which didn't make me feel too good. Then, just over three years ago at a routine check-up it was discovered that I had a huge mass of fibroids which was equivalent to the size of a 20-week pregnancy. I suspected there was something there but it wouldn't have been found had I not gone for a check-up.

I had a full hysterectomy and felt much better after the surgery. The mass had pushed my body out and I had no visible waist - my body was just straight up and down. Thankfully, I am well after both of these issues.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: My diet is healthy usually, but having recently spent three days in Spain followed by three days at Aintree - I'm glad you didn't ask me that question then.

I have cut a lot of fat out of my diet so breakfast now is oat bran with fresh strawberries, raspberries or bananas or I add fruit to fat-free yoghurt, or porridge.

For lunch I will eat a wholemeal wrap with chicken I roasted a day ago and homemade chutney. I always promised myself that even though I live alone I will not eat a 'ping' dinner (ready meal cooked in the microwave), but will make a hot meal.

I love roast chicken dinners and make a big pot of tomato soup which can also be used as a sauce to go with rice, pasta or a baked potato during the week.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: If I have had a night out I will crave something comforting to eat, so I would have pizza. I also love cheese and onion crisps - they are my downfall. I heard about the new gin and tonic crisps and I need to find out where I can buy these.

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

A: I don't smoke but I do drink. I haven't had a drink in five days now. But I am so easily led - I will be watching a TV show like The Good Wife or Scandal and if they are pouring a glass of wine on the screen I will think to myself 'that looks good'. Mind you, a GP once congratulated me on drinking everyday as it is better for your body if you intend to go out drinking at the weekend - it's less of a shock to the system. When I was at Aintree I stuck to gin and tonics and I was fine - I don't know how many units are in alcoholic drinks but I know what I can handle. Always top up spirits with lots of tonic and drink lots of water.

Q: Do you take health supplements?

A: I take Paradox Oil as I have osteoarthritis. Previously I had to get steroid injections in my shoulder to relieve the pain, but since I started taking Paradox I don't have to anymore.

I also take a calcium supplement everyday. Because I've been cutting fat out of my diet the Paradox is important as your body needs a certain amount of fat.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I work for myself, so it is easier to have a balance. This week was quiet to begin with then ended manic.

The way I relax, though, is to read or watch TV - my Sky TV planner has only nine per cent of space left on it because I record so many TV series. My favourites are American cop shows and thrillers.

I have recorded all of The Night Manager which I have yet to watch and I love dramas such as Grantchester. I'm a fan of soaps too and never miss an episode of Neighbours or Emmerdale.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Not too well. I love getting eight hours sleep a night but it doesn't happen that often. My sleep patterns never seem to be regular - with nine hours one night and less another when I will toss and turn during the night and have nightmares.

I am terrible for keeping things in my head so I will wake up at night and remember something. For this reason I keep a notepad beside my bed and scribble things down. I don't turn the light on, so the scribble is barely legible the next day, but it helps me get back to sleep.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Age is just a number so I don't worry about it at all. While age is easy to deal with, your body's failings are not.

As I now have osteoarthritis now I can feel it when I am out walking. I can't leap about the way I used to.

My party trick was doing the actions to the song YMCA with my legs and I can't bounce up quite as quickly as I could previously.

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

A: You cannot beat getting out in the fresh air or drinking water. I am one of those people who drink two litres of water everyday.

I also love being near the sea, especially in winter when there is a strong wind and the waves are crashing in. There is something about the power of the sea that just makes me feel alive.

Belfast Telegraph

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