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Me and my health: Marcus Hunter-Neill on his lifestyle


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All-singing: Marcus Hunter-Neill

All-singing: Marcus Hunter-Neill

Marcus as Lady Portia Di’Monte

Marcus as Lady Portia Di’Monte

All-singing: Marcus Hunter-Neill

The 38-year-old social entrepreneur is originally from Bangor and lives in east Belfast. He is also a drag artist, known as Lady Portia Di'Monte, and recently joined NSPCC Northern Ireland as a campaigner to bring insight into growing up in the LGBTQ+ community

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

A: My exercise used to be the dance routines I performed on stage, which were high impact and in high heels. But when I was in lockdown, I bought myself an exercise bike which I sit on, watch TV programmes and then pedal really fast during the adverts. And every morning I do 100 star jumps - 50 regular and 50 with weights. I also have little free weights and do circuits around the living room with them. And I turn a footstool on its side and use it as a bench press.

Q: What is the worst illness you've had?

A: When I was five I had scarlet fever when we were on a family holiday in Majorca. I was floored for three days in a Spanish hospital, where nobody spoke any English and my mummy had to stay over with me. Now I try my best to get as many vitamins and minerals through my food as possible. I don't tend to get sick during the winter. I'm back and forward to Canada a lot with work so when I'm there I stock up on oil of oregano - it's like a higher quality form of echinacea.

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Marcus as Lady Portia Di’Monte

Marcus as Lady Portia Di’Monte

Marcus as Lady Portia Di’Monte

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: It's very healthy and I try to cook using fresh ingredients. But I take wee notions and have a KFC sometimes and even a cocktail. Whenever I'm on my own I try to eat and cook healthily, because I need to be fit as I'm so busy and always on the go - a healthy body is a healthy mind after all. But when I have friends over and have a dinner party, I love to indulge. I learned so much about cooking when I was on Come Dine With Me a few years ago, so when I have friends visiting it's no holds barred - and I cook with cream, sugar, cheese and wine. But if you are good 80% of the time, every mouthful of calories when I cook like this is worth it.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: My worst habit is offering up too much advice - but I only do that out of a sense of goodness. I have too much energy and I am literally in good form from when I get up until I go to bed. I'm always all singing, all dancing! I work like a demon and I'm always being told to take a break.

Q: Do you drink and smoke? If so, how much?

A: I don't smoke - my body is a temple - and I never drank at home until lockdown. But I've been inventing my own cocktails using Jawbox gin - I love their pineapple flavour. But my all-time favourite drink is an Italian brand of limoncello.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: I make a super healthy smoothie twice a day - I use apple, beetroot, spinach, kale, avocado, nuts and seeds.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: What I absolutely adore is sitting on my roof garden having a coffee in the morning and a cocktail in the evening. It's a great way to de-stress and take care of my mental health which is so important. Many years ago I used Childline at a time when I was being bullied and I felt I had no one to talk to. It made a massive difference in my life knowing I could pick up the phone and talk to someone who would listen to me.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Okay-ish, and I do put lavender essential oil on my pillow and use a lavender spray too. But as soon as I fall asleep, I always seem to wake myself up as that's when I tend to get all my creative ideas.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Not one bit. I can't wait, because the older you are, the more knowledge and experience you have. Age is just a number!

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

A: Pineapple gin! Only joking, I actually make sure that I drink four and a half litres of water every single day.

If you are interested in volunteering, fundraising or becoming involved with NSPCC in your community, there are different roles available within the charity. Email Karen.Kerr2@NSPCC.org.uk or visit www.nspcc.org.uk for more details

Belfast Telegraph