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Me and my health: Olivia Rana - 'insomnia can be crippling... I read at night to relax'


Busy mum: Olivia Rana
Busy mum: Olivia Rana
With her family

The 42-year-old from Belfast is an author and lecturer who has just launched her debut novel, Elastic Girl. Olivia is married to well-known businessman, Rajesh, and has two children, Lucia (10) and Marcus (7).

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

Being a writer can be a very sedentary occupation so I do try to fit in some physical activity each day. Ideally I like upbeat, HIIT classes, which are also very sociable. At the moment I'm going to Pilates at least once a week, as it's a great exercise for strengthening and flexibility. I also go to the gym one day in the week to do some weight training, and I'll try and fit in a couple of morning walks, as it's a great way to get energised for a day of writing.

What's the worst illness you have had?

I've been very lucky as I've only been in hospital a couple of times for minor procedures. When I was two years old I pulled a pot of boiling water down on my arm, and all I can remember is waking up in the hospital and being very upset because my sister had eaten my jelly.

How healthy is your diet?

I was a vegetarian for over 20 years, but then a few years ago I reintroduced fish into my diet as I was finding it hard to get enough protein into every meal. I eat fish two to three times a week, but the rest of the time I'm vegetarian. I'm lucky that my kids like things such as Tofu and Quorn, so it means I don't have to cook separate meals. My son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was only four years old, so that has also forced us all to look at what we eat, as counting carbohydrates and sugar content is part of what we have to do in order to control his condition.

Any bad habits?

A bar of Green and Black's almond milk chocolate and a glass of red wine would be my idea of the perfect TV treat. When I'm tired or busy my diet does tend to suffer and I can dip into the biscuit tin a little too often.

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

I don't smoke and I might have one or two glasses of wine during the week, but generally I save it for the weekend. If I'm out for dinner with my husband or friends I like a gin and tonic (or two). Overall, I'm not a big drinker and I'm happy to socialise without it.

Do you take any health supplements?

At this time of year I normally use some supplements, and at the minute I'm taking the BetterYou vitamin D and B12 sprays to boost my immune system and help with energy levels. If I feel the edge of a cold or a sore throat I'll take vitamin C.

How do you take time out?

During the day I write, but once my kids come out from school its full on, so by the end of the week everyone is tired. Regular exercise helps, not only physically, but also mentally. I think its important to plan downtime as otherwise you can keep moving along at the same pace until you burn out. My husband is very busy running a hospitality business, so I make sure I book nights out and breaks away with the kids, as it forces you to get off that treadmill and relax. Most weekends, we like to do something active with the kids, like go for a long walk at Crawfordsburn Country Park or take them to play tennis or swim.

How well do you sleep?

Being a writer, I've got a very active imagination and tend to over-analyse things, so I can find it difficult to switch off at night. I've suffered from insomnia for quite a few years and I've tried everything as a means to tackle it, including acupuncture, hypnosis and yoga. At times insomnia can be crippling, as without sleep your physical and mental wellbeing suffer. Mindfulness meditation techniques have helped me in recent years, and I always read at night to try and relax my mind.

Do you worry about getting old?

Ageing is not really something I give a lot of thought to. I guess that it should be seen as a privilege to grow old, as many don't get that opportunity.

Growing old is not something we should think of in a negative sense. I just hope that I'm fit and well for as long as possible to enjoy my life.

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

The simple things, really - fresh air, good food, being active and enjoying life

Elastic Girl by Olivia Rana is available on, priced £7.99

Belfast Telegraph


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