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Me and my health: Lynda Bryans discusses her lifestyle

By Helen Carson

Lynda Bryans (54) is a lecturer in journalism at Belfast Metropolitan College. The former UTV presenter is married to Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt (58) and they live in Castlereagh. They have two sons, PJ (21) and Christopher (18).

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

A: Teaching can be a sedentary occupation, so I bought myself a bike at Easter through the Cycle To Work Scheme. Thanks to the Comber Greenway I can cycle to work most days, although I probably won't during the winter months. When I was in my 20s and 30s I was quite fit and took part in a triathlon and was a strong swimmer, so I'm hoping the cycling will help boost my fitness levels. I also do a lot of heavy gardening - cutting all our hedges and chainsawing up logs.

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

A: Depression - without a doubt. I became clinically depressed when I was expecting our first son, PJ. At that stage I didn't know what depression was, because no one really talked about it - I thought I was losing my mind. I can't remember much now about that time as it affected my memory and I couldn't concentrate on anything. I got to the stage where I couldn't even cry anymore - I was just empty. It robbed me of one of the most special and important times of my life when my first child was born. It was the worst time of my life, but depression is not forever, you can get well again.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: Pretty good this time of year when it is easy to eat fruit. We try not to eat fatty or processed foods at home and have fish twice a week. I try to avoid bread as it makes me feel bloated and don't have any fizzy drinks at all. I take the Slimming World advice to fill as much of your plate with vegetables as possible, but I do like some sweet things - and won't say no to dessert.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I don't make any time for breakfast in the morning, but drink a lot of coffee - if I don't I'm like a bear with a sore head. I usually take a salad into work for lunch and usually don't eat again until late at night when Mike gets in. So, I'm probably guilty of eating too late.

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

A: I don't smoke, but when Mike is cooking, I will have a glass of wine. My tipple is red wine, with Italian and Spanish being my favourites, particularly Rioja. I'm a big fan of Hendricks gin with slimline tonic.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: I take very high doses of vitamin C when I feel a cold coming on - up to 4,000mgs. I believe there is definitely something in this school of thought, as outlined by local documentary maker Michael Beattie in The Vitamin Movie, which is about how taking mega doses of the vitamin could be good for your health.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: By getting out in the garden and sawing up some logs. I love being outdoors and it's so easy to do, you just step outside and you're there. I also enjoy spending time with good friends and just having a laugh.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Very well and I love waking up naturally, so I don't have an alarm clock. I won't sleep well if one of the boys is out, as I'll be waiting for them to get home safely.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: No, but I worry about the impact of getting older and suffering from Alzheimer's disease or losing my faculties. My parents are both in their 80s now and are very active - they go dancing twice a week - and I hope my old age will be like that, too.

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

A: Making sure I create 'me time' in my life. No matter how busy life gets, Mike and I always keep the weekend for our family and we often have both sets of parents over for Sunday dinner with ourselves and the boys. Politics is 24/7, so we try to get an occasional weekend away, so we can spend time together without mobile phones.

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