Me and my health: Belfast author Anna Gray on her lifestyle
Belfast author Anna Gray (37) has just released her first book, Coming Out Of The Dark, where she shares stories about the darkest days in her life and how she overcame them. Anna has a partner, Paul, and daughter, Carmen.
Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: Yes, I take long walks a few times a week. I find walking works best for me - when I try and go to the gym I get easily bored. When I'm out walking I really enjoy nature and I find it calms and re-balances me. I also love salsa dancing, I used to teach it and find it's such good fun that it doesn't feel like exercise.
Q: What is the worst illness you've had?
A: Around 10 years ago I had kidney stones. The pain was comparable to labour for me and I couldn't move from the floor for over an hour until it subsided a little and I could call for help. After I came back from the hospital I was extra careful with my health and began drinking green teas and smoothies to cleanse my system. Thankfully, the kidney stones have never returned!
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: I would consider it very healthy - I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit and would rarely have takeaways or ready-made foods anymore. I make my own smoothies everyday and I cook a lot of fresh food from scratch. I don't have a sweet tooth, so don't snack on sweets or chocolates. My downfall would be savoury snacks - I like crisps far too much (especially Tayto!)
Q: Any bad habits?
A: Drinking too much coffee when I feel stressed or under pressure. Coffee doesn't suit me or my body and gives me the shakes. I know I should stay away from it but find myself reaching for it when I should be resting or drinking water instead. I find coffee brings me out in spots and actually drains my energy, yet somehow I still can't give it up completely.
Q: Do you drink and/or smoke? If so how much?
A: I rarely drink anymore - as I've got older I've found that I don't enjoy it and my body really suffers for it. If it's a special occasion or a meal out then I'll have one or two, but I really dislike the feeling of being drunk these days. I used to smoke, now I use a vape and will soon be giving that up too. I feel a lot better since I gave up cigarettes and the vape is a step towards being smoke-free altogether.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: I take Omega-3 fish oils as I know they are good for my skin and heart, amongst other benefits. I also take a turmeric supplement as I find it really helps build my immune system and wards off colds. I try and get my vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables but will use supplements when I need a health boost or I'm feeling run down.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: I read books or I cook and bake bread. I find cooking really therapeutic and relaxing, especially when I'm cooking for others. What books I read depends on my mood, but generally I like to read inspirational stories, travel books or folklore tales. I also go for massages -I have arthritis in my neck and find that my back gets sore if I drive a lot. Massages really help me de-stress and relax.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: I've never had an issue sleeping well, except that in the winter I really feel I need more and find it hard to get up in the dark mornings. I find if I use my mobile phone or watch TV too close to bedtime that it takes me longer to fall asleep - it seems to keep my brain active when I'm trying to wind down. I need to fall asleep by 11pm if I want to feel totally energised the next day. It doesn't always happen, but I do aim for it as often as possible.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: Sometimes I do. I want to make sure I have done all the things I want to in life before it's too late. I'm enjoying getting older as I feel the person that I am deepens with each year of life experience I gain. I really admire women who grow old gracefully and I think when someone is comfortable with getting older and the changes it brings to their appearance, they just get more beautiful as time passes. I am always aware of looking after my health now, so that I can be as strong and healthy as possible as my body ages. I believe how we treat our bodies will show in years to come.
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: I have a favourite smoothie I make to keep me feeling healthy. It's called 'Golden Milk' and is an old Indian recipe. It's made from almond milk, honey, cinnamon, turmeric and a pinch of black pepper. It's nice either hot or cold and is my go-to drink when I'm feeling below par.
Coming Out Of The Dark is available now from www.bookhubpublishing.com