Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Me and my health: Frank Mitchell

UTV's Frank Mitchell is a firm believer in eight hours sleep per night, eating five a day and exercise to maintain a healthy glow.

The UTV Life presenter (43) has been a strict vegetarian since he watched a behind-the-scenes documentary on beef burgers that put him off meat for life. He lives in Belfast with his wife Helena and only child, daughter Laura (17).

Do you get eight hours sleep a night?

Absolutely, I make sure that I do. During the course of the week, I go to bed after the late news and weather on UTV (usually 10.45pm-10.50pm) and my alarm goes off at 6.20am every morning. I come into work at 8am and I'm on air on U105 with my radio show from 9am to 12pm, and then, I do the weather forecast at lunchtime. After that, we get ready for UTV Life and then I finish work at 6.30pm.

At the weekend, I won't wake at 6.20am but I will be up by 8am. I get up as soon as I wake up — I certainly don't try to go back to sleep. I'm not one for lying in bed reading the newspaper or books or watching TV before they go to sleep; some people like that.

Early bird or night owl?

I see myself as someone who has to be on top of their game early in the morning. You need to be alert, bright and aware of what is going on. I'm not a great party person or one for staying out late, but I can be as equally alert late at night, also.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I'd like to think that I'm well capable of a gruesome visit to the dentist. Fellas don't know what a high pain threshold is — we've got it easy compared to women. I think the only time I had my pain threshold tested was when I went to an emergency dentist that I don't normally go to, I have to stress that this was not my usual dentist, and his drill slipped and cut my gum. Imagine if it had cut my tongue — the tool of my trade.

When was your immune system at its best?

I have to say that when I was playing (gaelic football) in the All Ireland Club final in the mid-Eighties I was probably at my fittest. I played for a Co Down club called Burren and we got to the Club Final twice and played at Croke Park and won both times. I was playing with very athletic, able footballers and I was a trim 11st 7lb at the time.

I'm 5ft 9in and my recommended weight for my height is just over that which is what I am today. Mind you, I was 13st at one stage, that was shortly after I married.

I was 19 years of age when I got married and I went away from sport when I was around 22, before I reached the All Ireland, and I managed to put an extra stone and a half due to a combination of good cooking and working very hard.

Have you ever experienced depression?

No, but I have every sympathy and understanding with people that do. I've managed to reach 43 years without experiencing it.

Old wives’ tales or as the doctor ordered?

I would go with the doctor. I think there's good advice to be had from other people and there's a lot of the old adages to be heard from days gone by. I believe if there's a health service available that you're paying into then it's only right that you avail of it.

When did you last visit the doctor?

That would probably have been three years ago when I was picked out of a hat to go for a compulsory medical through work. It was one of the employer's requirements. I didn't want to go, however, I'm glad I did as I was advised to take a fish oil supplement, it would help me keep healthy in later years, and I would never have got round to taking it if I hadn't gone.

Last time you were feeling under the weather — what did you do?

Good question for a weather man. I tend to find that if I'm at the very early stages of a cold I'm a great believer in Lemsip or any hot lemon drink. If you catch it early enough, it'll stave off the cold.

Do you calorie count?

I certainly don't calorie count, but I did eradicate chips, chocolate and cheese from my diet over the last four or five years as they're very bad for your heart. I was in my late 30’s at the time and I thought to myself, ‘I'm approaching 40 and I better reign back on the fat intake’.

I've completely stopped eating them now and I feel all the better for it.

Do you eat your five a day?

I have to say yes although it took me a while to get round to it. I've been a vegetarian since I watched a documentary on the making of burgers for fast food restaurants in 1988. I've never eaten meat since.

My wife said to me, ‘You're the only vegetarian I know that doesn't eat vegetables!' I was spending my time eating pizzas and things like that. The last few years I've been more strict about it.

Do you take any supplements?

The only health supplement that I take is fish oil (as it was recommended in the medical I underwent through work).

Do you exercise?

I do, but not to the extent that I did when I was playing football. I enjoy walking, running and cycling. I never think that I do enough. I never liked exercising indoors so I don't like the gym. I prefer to be out in the fresh air just to get rid of the dust of the day. I live quite close to Lady Dixon Park and the Mary Peters track.

Do you believe in the mid-life crisis?

When I get to mid-life I'll have to stop and consider that.

Organic or ready meals?

I'd like to think that I do pick the organic option, however, I'm not a champion of organic food. If I saw it in the supermarket beside the ordinary option I might opt for the ordinary. As for ready meals, you can't always avoid them for convenience. In an ideal world, you wouldn't want to be eating them all the time.

Is sex vital to overall wellbeing?

Well, it is part of the overall wellbeing, but it's just as important to look after the body itself.

Best advice ever received?

It would be that old adage about rugby — ‘You only get the ball occasionally. When you do you've got to run with it’. When I was lucky enough to get that ball it came in the form of a job at a pirate radio station at the age of 17 and ever since I have worked in broadcasting. Then, I went on to work with the BBC, Downtown and here at UTV.

I've tried to make the most of every opportunity as it came along. There's no point in wasting time worrying about things you have no control over. I think that sums it up.

Have you ever donated blood?

I have and I've also had my face on the back of the Metro buses for a number of months a few years ago as part of an advertising campaign for the blood transfusion service. I would encourage everyone that is able to donate blood to do so.

The Organ Debate — would you?

Yes, absolutely. I have the donor card and I would be more than happy for anyone to have any organ when I pass on.

Hair of the dog?

I haven't had to avail of it because I haven't started to drink yet. I've never tasted alcohol. It's a strange thing for a DJ/TV presenter not to drink in this line of business because of the social side to it. I think that if you don't start drinking between the ages of 18 and 23 then there's no point. I think you need to be tutored on the way you drink and if I started now I would only be making up for lost time.

Desert island must have?

Absolutely without a shadow of a doubt, it would have to be the pillow I've used throughout my entire life. I don't think I've ever slept a night without it. I take it with me on holidays and it's fabulously comfortable although probably very battered at this stage.

It's mature, gentle and soft it's like Pamela Ballantine.

Gráinne McCarry

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