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Me and my health: Rachel Woods on her lifestyle


Great outdoors: Rachel Woods loves getting out for a good walk
Great outdoors: Rachel Woods loves getting out for a good walk
Great outdoors: Rachel Woods

By Linda Stewart

The 30-year-old from Holywood, Co Down, became Green Party MLA for North Down in October after former leader Steven Agnew stepped down. A former councillor in Ards and North Down, she has a partner of five years and works in the Dirty Duck pub one day a week.

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

A: I try and exercise as much as possible, but with my job I find it difficult to make time. I have been trying to fit it into my schedule and will play football twice a week for an hour, go to the gym for a run as well as strength classes occasionally and go to yoga once a week. I used to run loads and trained for the Belfast marathon five years ago. I tore my Achilles tendon doing the training so I managed 17 miles of it. I would love to do the whole thing sometime though. I play football for Belfast Ravens football team and have recently helped Holywood Football Club set up a ladies team in the town. It has been a great time to get involved in women's football, given the profile not only of the World Cup but also the great progress that is being made in Northern Ireland to encourage women to get involved in the sport. Of all the things I thought I would be doing in my 30s, it was not playing in a team sport, particularly football, but I really enjoy it.

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

A: The worst illness I had was a kidney infection when I was at university. My hair started falling out and I was sick for a few days and didn't know what was going on. I eventually went to hospital and turned out I had so few white blood cells in my body that they put me on a drip and kept me in, pumping me full of pills. Luckily, I only have mild scarring on one of my kidneys and I am grand now.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I'd give my eating a 5 out of 10. I try to eat well during the week and have slightly less cheese but the weekends are my downfall. I love pizza and my willpower is at an all-time low when I'm around it. I have never been on a diet as such, but I have been trying intermittent fasting on Mondays to Thursdays to see how I get on. My partner is a chef and I used to do a bit of cooking in my many previous jobs. I really enjoy eating so it is difficult not to indulge.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I have loads of bad habits - don't we all? Probably eating too quickly and too much, talking too much and some would say I snore, although that is questionable. I am very messy too and I hate ironing. Currently my ironing board is used for storage. My mother would not be happy to hear that.

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

A: I don't smoke, but I love a good pint. I don't drink during the week unless its a special occasion but I enjoy going to the pub or out for a wine on the weekends. I have worked in pubs for nearly 14 years and I really enjoy the camaraderie and experiences that it gives you. I enjoy meeting new people and having a good chat with people, and hospitality gives you that in bucket loads.

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Great outdoors: Rachel Woods

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: I don't take any supplements currently.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: Time out for me is rare as I work 6-7 days a week. I enjoy watching absolute rubbish on the television and Netflix though, and going on trips away, even for two days, just to get the head cleared. I like walking - the coastal path in North Down and Redburn Country Park in Holywood are great for that. I enjoy cooking to relax and spending time with my friends.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: I don't get much sleep usually, but it comes and goes depending on work and what's going round my brain. I would average five hours sleep a night but I get bouts of insomnia and have done since I was a teenager. I really envy people who can get a lie-in, especially on days off. Despite the alarms being off I am up at 7am on a Saturday which is odd as when my alarm goes off on a Monday it can take half an hour for me to peel myself out of bed to go to work.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: Yes, although it's not about the number - mostly I worry that I don't have enough time to do things and see different places. Each year is going by so fast and I can't keep up. Turning 30 was interesting - I had a lot going on at the time so it didn't really sink in until after that this was the start of a new decade, but I am looking forward to seeing what it holds. I think there is a difficulty for some people my age to 'keep up' with what is expected of you socially - to be married, have children, have 'a proper job' or be nearly at the top of your career ladder and be settling down, which I don't think I reflect at all. I think we need to accept that everyone is different and if you don't want to conform to that standard 'on to the next stage', that's okay.

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

A: Water is great - I try and drink two litres a day and I find when I don't get enough I get tired and drained quickly. I have my bottle of water with me at all times and it really does make you feel good.

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