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Me and my health: Kathryn Cochrane on her lifestyle


By Staff Reporter

The 38-year-old is RSPB Northern Ireland's communications manager and lives in Moneyreagh, Co Down, with her husband Paul and seven-year-old daughter Beth. Kathryn is looking forward to RSPB NI's fifth annual Big Wild Sleepout at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra this Saturday.

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

A: Recently I've rekindled a love for exercise with a mix of early morning and evening bootcamp sessions that fit perfectly around family and working life.

In April, I started a four session per week transformation bootcamp at Core Fitness in Newtownards with Stevie Allen. I achieved good results in the six weeks leading up to our family holiday to France by eating healthily and committing to training. Since then I've been attending bootcamps with Mike McComish Fitness at Stormont and Campbell College, I'm feeling focussed and energised and seeing the benefit of becoming more active.

Saturdays usually start with a parkrun at Stormont. I love the parkrun ethos and community spirit and I'm on course to celebrate my 50th parkrun this year with my running buddy Kelly-Anne. I'm also a member of Ballydrain Harriers running club which allows me to train safely in the winter evenings.

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

A: Last year, quite unexpectedly, the right hand side of my face became droopy. I got checked out by my GP the same day and she confirmed that thankfully I hadn't had a stroke but an episode of Bell's palsy. I was treated with a course of steroids and whilst the symptoms disappeared within a few weeks it was a shock to get the initial diagnosis.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: In reality, during the week, it's very healthy with meals cooked from scratch, healthy snacks, the odd treat and a variety of salads for packed lunches. At the weekend, there's more spontaneity and opportunities to socialise with friends and family, but I'm all too aware that you can't out-train a bad diet.

I try to stick to the 80:20 rule where you eat healthily 80% of the time with a 20% allowance for reasonable treats. I believe that the same goes for exercise, it counts for 20% of the result but it's how you fuel your body 80% of the time that counts.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Picking up treats at the petrol station. I could do with paying at the pump more often to avoid having to navigate the crisp and sweetie aisles en route to the cash desk.

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

A: I'm not a smoker and never have been, but I do enjoy a glass or two of wine, gin or beer depending on the occasion!

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: Lately I've been adding chocolate protein powder to post-exercise breakfast smoothies made from coconut milk and blended cherries. I've also got a supply of macca powder to regulate hormones and a mega-mag fem balance supplement - when I remember to take them!

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I love to be out in the fresh air with my family - that's when I'm at my happiest. It could be watching my daughter playing football, going for a cycle on the Comber Greenway or walking along Minerstown beach and taking in the amazing view of the Mournes. I'm convinced that spending time outdoors and being active in nature has such a positive effect on mental well-being.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Like a log. I'm one of the lucky ones as I'm asleep before my head even hits the pillow.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Quite the opposite and indeed on occasion I worry about not having the opportunity to grow old. I've had family members who have experienced cancer in their early 50s. I take great inspiration from my granny Elsie, who at 86 still works two days per week making her legendary traybakes and oatie biscuits for the Royal County Down Ladies' Golf Club.

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

A: We're in the habit of meal planning and making a healthy shopping list each week, not just to avoid any unnecessary food waste, but to make sure that through the working week we're making nutritious meals that the three of us will enjoy.

We draw ideas from books like Joe Wick's Body Coach series and Jane McClenaghan's Vital Nutrition books. That way I feel in control of my eating (as long as I don't have to get petrol!).

At RSPB NI's Big Wild Sleepout you can take part in activities including archery, stargazing and bat detecting. For tickets visit

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