Me and my health: Kyle Riley on his lifestyle
The 41-year-old from Co Meath is a singer/songwriter of children's music and is touring Northern Ireland this spring. He is married to Brigid (40) and they have two children, Eoin (8) and Aisling (5).
Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: Yes, I do 30 minutes of high intensity interval training five days a week. That doesn't include my hugely active music classes and concerts that are full of jumping, dancing and, of course, singing. I've found that I need to keep up the regular exercise to give me the energy and support to deliver my high intensity children's shows for those little boppers and rock toddlers.
Q: What is the worst illness you've had?
A: Pneumonia - twice. I wouldn't recommend it. The sense of not being able to breathe or get enough breath is terrible. I thought I just had a bad dose and kept running my classes and shows. I'd come home after singing and feel like someone had beat my torso with a bat. It was the only time I ever cancelled a performance, touch wood.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: I was very overweight as a child - in fact, I weighed more at 13 than I do now. My wife was key to helping me understand how to develop a proper diet and good eating habits. That diet has changed over the years, but I find now if I eat a diet that is focused on plant-based foods I feel better. I keep my animal-based products to less than 10%... a good portion of that is black pudding.
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Q: Any bad habits?
A: I've spent most of my adult life trying to break bad habits, but I still get weak for a caramel slice. The sweet tooth can get the better of me sometimes. More problematic is my love for coffee. I could drink coffee all day, only for it to keep me up all night. I do keep a tight lead on my coffee consumption though.
Q: Do you drink and smoke/if so how much?
A: I don't smoke and if I have a drink it would be a little nip of whiskey on very special occasions.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: Over the years I've tried various shakes, meal replacements and energy drinks, but frankly, nothing beats a healthy diet and plenty of water. I take a daily multivitamin and a probiotic supplement. Sometimes I take cod liver oil too, but the one we've got at the moment is just a bit too fishy for me, so it's been getting overlooked. My immune system strength is really important since I'm in contact with lots of little ones who often have snotty noses.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: Exercising has become a very special time out for me. I get to focus on myself and the task at hand. It's actually key to my mental health. I also spend as much time as I can with my kids when I'm home. There are days when I may not feel I've got the energy they demand, but instead of fighting it, I throw myself into the moment. It's a great distraction from the rest of the world. I also take an hour each day to read a book. Sometimes you need some paper between your fingers, a little black pudding for the mind.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: Not great. I tend to be a light sleeper, but I do aim for seven to eight hours a night. It's getting easier as the kids get older. Thankfully those often sleepless nights and broken sleeps are a thing of the past for a little while… until they become teenagers.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: As a young man I worried about getting old or trying to get everything done. The older I get the less I care. My dear friend, the late Ulster actor and playwright Sam McCready, believed age was just a number and didn't represent the vitality of the person. At 82 he was still writing, still painting and still inspiring. I have always taken that to heart and not let age be a hurdle to life. To grow old is a great honour and more should be made of it. I will say this… it does take a bit longer to heal.
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: Water. Lots of water. If I haven't had enough water throughout the day, I can feel it. It's essential for my singing that I stay hydrated as well.
Catch Kyle Riley's Sing To Me Tour (aimed at under eights) which features songs from his 2018 release of the same name at: Marketplace, Armagh, March 9; Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry, March 16; Ards Arts Centre, April 6 and Ranfurly House, Dungannon, April 25