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Me and my health: MLA Claire Hanna on her lifestyle

By Helen Carson

South Belfast SDLP MLA Claire Hanna (36) lives in south Belfast with her husband Donal and their two daughters, Eimear (4) and Aideen (2).

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

A: I started doing the Parkrun at Ormeau Park a year ago and get out for a run about three times a week. It can be hard to get into a routine with my schedule as a politician and as a mum with two young kids, but I really love it.

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

A: I have been really lucky with my health. The worst thing I have ever suffered is an ear infection, which I am prone to, and I've never been in hospital, except when I had my two babies.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: Pretty healthy, as I don't eat a lot of meat and there is plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in my diet. I never skip meals and mostly eat at regular times.

Q: Any bad habits? 

A: Snacking on treats between meals, such as chocolate and crisps. When I am working late or have to attend an evening function it's hard to resist just grabbing something quick. I have caffeine pretty much under control and don't drink tea or coffee after mid-afternoon.

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

A: I don't smoke, but I like the odd drink - although I don't get much a of chance for the latter with two small kids, as I don't get out very much. When I do, though, I will enjoy a glass of red wine, a pint of Guinness or a craft beer. I'm not much of a drinker, though, maybe one or two, but very infrequently.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: I depend on Berocca (a multivitamin) - I think I'd expire without it. Maybe it's psychosomatic, but it just seems to give me an instant boost. I will take a Berocca if I am going out, rather than alcohol.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I really find the Parkrun - which is only half an hour - so enjoyable. Running is excellent for mental health and it really clears my mind. I also love hanging out with my children - they are brilliant. They don't care about politics, or if you've had a challenging day, they just want your attention.

Q: How well do you sleep? 

A: Pretty well, most of the time. I probably don't get enough sleep and have to switch off completely before I can doze off for the night. I'm not great at getting up in the morning at all.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: No, I don't. My mum, Carmel, hasn't had great luck with her health and has had cancer a few times, so I do worry about keeping well. I want to be as fit and healthy as I can so I will be around for my children, and that is the best motivation to exercise and eat well. Age happens to us all, but I believe in enjoying life and doing all the active things you can, while you can.

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

A: I don't bother much with skincare products - I'm actually rubbish at make-up - I keep a jar of Vaseline to use as lip balm and that's it. Luckily, my two older sisters are great and make sure I have lots of lotions and potions to look after my skin. They will buy me great beauty items at Christmas and on birthdays. I do try to drink a lot of water, though. When it comes to feeling well, I think the Parkrun is such a tonic - it's not about elite running but getting together with other people and being part of something which has a great sense of community.

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