Me and my health: Singer-songwriter Amanda St John on her lifestyle
The 40-year-old singer-songwriter from Glenariffe, Co Antrim, has just released her second album, The Muscle Shoals Sessions. Since releasing her debut album Grow, she has worked with Brian Kennedy, Duke Special, Eddi Reader, Mary Coughlan, Ciaran Gribbin and Grammy winning Nashville writer/producer Jon Tiven. She has a 12-year-old daughter, Sophia.
Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: I've really embraced a more intense exercise regime this year as part of my self-care routine. I run 5Ks about three times a week, do a couple of gym sessions and go walking a few days too. I am a big believer in the "healthy body, healthy mind" concept, and exercise and fresh air have really helped me manage my stress levels this year. I also notice such a difference in my energy levels too, since committing to more regular work-outs. I'm trying to get back in shape as well, so it's really helped my confidence to see my body changing and getting closer to my ideal weight.
Q: What is the worst illness you've had?
A: I had meningitis when I was 17, which was followed by a long period of post-viral fatigue. I went from being a super-active, sporty teenager to having little energy and chronic headaches - it took me years to get back to full health afterwards.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: I try to eat as much home-cooked and "clean" food as possible though I'm not super-healthy - I still enjoy the odd Chinese takeaway and biscuits with my coffee. It's all about balance really. We grew up with home-cooked dinners every day and no processed food, so this is something that I like to provide for my daughter too.
Q: Any bad habits?
I have a really sweet tooth so this is a big weakness, especially when I'm out at coffee shops - the cake displays are like torture! I suppose I should add coffee to the bad habits as well as I probably drink too much on a daily basis.
Q: Do you drink and smoke/if so how much?
A: I was teetotal until I was 26 but I love a wee drink now, especially at the weekends. If I'm not gigging or touring I do like to get out for a few glasses of wine or gin and I love a wee glass of prosecco too. I don't smoke. I'm too precious about my voice, I suppose, and I never started as a teen for this reason.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: No, I just try to get a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: Nature is my favourite way to chill out. I live by the beach and there is nothing more relaxing or soothing than the sound of the waves. I also like to spend quality time with friends and family out for wee days exploring round the coast. It's also hard to beat lying up watching a movie or reading a book with the fire lit at this time of year. I've really adapted my work-life balance this year after near burn-out and see the need for time out more than ever. I'm a big fan of podcasts and meditation too, anything that helps me to relax and slow my thinking head down. And I suppose I should add music to the list of favourite time-out activities - music just transports me so I spend a lot of time writing and playing my own songs, listening to my favourite artists and going to gigs/concerts - it's great therapy.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: I'm a great sleeper. I do try to get 7-8 hours a night and I love a good power nap to keep me topped up if I've had a particularly busy day.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: I turned 40 this year and was like, "How did that happen?" I don't worry about getting old though as I've had two near-death experiences - one when I had meningitis as a teenager and one following a car accident when I was in my 30s - so I'm kind of grateful to still be here. I know it sounds cliche, but growing old really is a privilege that some people don't get, so I'm happy to go with the flow of life and experience all the different stages.
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: Water. I drink so much of it and if I don't have a water bottle on me I really feel a difference in my energy and focus after a couple of hours. I've started getting into smoothies and juices too which are great for energy and health.
Amanda St John's new album The Muscle Shoals Sessions is available from her website at www.amandastjohnmusic.co.uk