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MMA fighter Leah McCourt: 'My meals are all very healthy so I stay fighting fit'

Me and my health: Leah McCourt

By Helen Carson

MMA fighter Leah McCourt, (24), who is European and World IMMAF and IBJJF champion, lives in Saintfield with her daughter Isabella, (6).

Do you take regular exercise - and if so, what?

I train two to three times a day for MMA, which is a full contact combat sport involving a mixture of martial arts including Jiu-Jitsu. The sessions include strength and conditioning with sparring, which is part of my cardio work out. I also run outdoors up to four miles twice a week and swim whenever I can. I'm not sparring at the minute as I'm recovering from hand surgery.

What's the worst illness you have had?

While I haven't had any bad illnesses, I have been injured twice in the past year and required both hand and knee surgery during that time. The operation on my hand was 10 weeks ago so, apart from sparring, all my usual training goes ahead. The knee injury was sustained last February and I had to have surgery on my cartilage.

How healthy is your diet?

Because I am sponsored by The Skinny Kitchen in Belfast, all my meals are provided for me, so they are very healthy with carefully balanced amounts of protein and all the nutrients my body needs for my training regime. Breakfast is avocado with bacon and eggs, while lunch is usually fish. Dinner is chicken or steak with potatoes. During the day I snack on protein shakes.

Any bad habits?

Tea and biscuits... any type of biscuits, but not if I'm coming up to a fight. Sometimes I feel low on energy so that is when I will reach for the biscuits as a snack.

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

No to both. I've never smoked and don't drink at all now - I am too busy with training and fighting. I used to drink, but I don't any more.

Do you take any health supplements?

Every day I take vitamin D3, B, fish oils and female multi-vitamins. These are an important part of my training regime and I believe they are essential to my fitness levels and wellbeing.

How do you take time out?

Spending time with my daughter Isabella, having days out. We go to the beach or places like the zoo. As I train in the morning and the evening I can be with her during the day. I don't really take a set time off from MMA, like a week off on holiday, but we do have plenty of time together.

How well do you sleep?

Not great, to be honest - it could definitely be better. I go to bed about 10pm but won't fall asleep until 11pm, then I am up at 7.30am with Isabella. Thinking about training when I go to bed is usually what keeps me awake. Very early morning training sessions are unusual for me, although occasionally I will have a 6am start doing sprints with trainer Ian Young.

Do you worry about getting old?

No, not really. I worry about getting better at my sport and recovering from injury, but not age. I am too young to think about any procedures such as Botox for wrinkles... it's just not something that is on my mind.

What is your go-to product or habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

Green shots and Aveeno moisturising cream, as I have very dry skin. I have recently started using Japanese collagen masks for my skin on the recommendation of a friend, which I hope will benefit it.

Leah McCourt runs an MMA class for women at Fight Academy Ireland in Poleglass. Visit dojos.co.uk for more details of the women's class. Follow Leah on Twitter @MissLeahMcCourt and her Facebook page

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