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Me and my health: Sports journalist Denise Watson on her lifestyle


Busy mother: Denise Watson
Busy mother: Denise Watson
Busy mother: Denise Watson with daughters Samantha and Beth

By Linda Stewart

Sports journalist and U105 DJ Denise Watson (47) lives in Lisburn with husband Dr David Scott (50) and daughters Samantha (14) and Beth (11).

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

A: I try to do something, even if it's a 30 minute walk in the morning - but life gets in the way. I'm conscious of keeping fit in middle age to keep up my stamina and ward off illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. I also have a Waterrower in the house. Rowing is a great overall body workout but I had to invest in a pair of weights gloves as it can make you develop callouses on your hands. I find setting a time of day to do exercise and creating a habit helps me do more. Between 9am-10am or 10am-11am is good. I'm too tired to exercise at night.

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

A: I'm lucky not to have contracted any serious illnesses. Recovery from pregnancy was tough as I had a C-section because my babies were breech. Because I played basketball at college level, a lot of my old injuries are coming back to haunt me, like sore knees and ankles. The worst injury I've had is to my hip. I slipped while out running and it's never been fully without pain. I discovered dry needling recently which is helping, but it's not for the faint-hearted. I've injured my right hip three times since the original injury in 2015, so I genuinely believe I'll never run properly again, which is a pity.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: Again, I try. But working anti-social hours means I find it hard to eat anything but a slice of toast before I go on air at 6am. I'll always try to eat a brunch like scrambled eggs or tuna sandwiches, something with protein which is healthy.

I avoid biscuits and chocolate as much as I can because I find that losing weight is so hard. After I had Samantha in 2004 I followed the Food Doctor plan called Ten Principles of Healthy Eating. I'd recommend it. The Food Doctor himself - nutrition therapist Ian Marber - followed me back on Twitter recently and I was over the moon. He's brilliant.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Yes, of course! Drinking wine and eating cheese, but you can't deny yourself some indulgence or life would be boring. I've spent a lot of time in Spain and I love tapas - picking at little dishes of meat, fish and cheese. Also if I'm busy, I forget to drink water which is so important.

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

A: I've never smoked and I think we need to educate the public more on how dangerous it is for your health. I feel sorry for anyone addicted to nicotine and I'm sure they've tried to quit.

I do drink fine wine, especially New Zealand or Australian Sauvignon Blanc. I take the odd gin & tonic too. I know there are so many artisan gins on the market now but I like Gordon's.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: I take Berocca for energy and rose hip capsules for joint mobility. I really noticed the pain in my joints once I got past the age of 40. I wish I'd stretched properly and looked after myself following matches when I was younger.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I don't get much spare time as my girls are very involved in sport so I'm always running them about. But any time I do get I read crime novels, go to my gym at Lisburn Racquets Club or watch Criminal Minds on Amazon Prime.

Sometimes just turning off all sound in the house and deep breathing is all it takes to really relax.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Not well at all as I must get up at 5.15am every weekday. But I do try and take a nap for an hour at about 1.30pm before I do the school run. I met sleep expert Nick Littlehales who educated me on how to rest effectively. No one gets 8-10 hours anymore so I don't beat myself up about it. Nick has worked with British Cycling and top athletes.

He talks about recovery and how a good quality nap is as beneficial as a night's sleep. He taught me how to breathe into a sleep. It's quite remarkable and it does work.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: To be honest, I worry more about being a good role model to my children. I don't care about my wrinkles and sore knees - they're a badge of honour. I've sunbathed a lot so I do have some skin pigmentation issues but I'm sensible now in the sun with factor 30, not factor 3 creams.

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

A: Innocent orange juice, eggs, chicken, water and making green smoothies with spinach, banana and almond milk.

Snacking on almonds or beef jerky too. Another tip is drinking milk or eating a spoonful of peanut butter (Whole Earth) to stave off hunger pangs.

You can hear Denise alongside Maurice Jay on U105 breakfast every weekday morning from 6am-9am. Follow Denise @SportyNeesy on Twitter & Instagram

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