Me and my health: Tommy Bowe discusses his lifestyle
The 33-year-old professional rugby player is a winger for Ulster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. He lives in Belfast with his wife, Lucy Whitehouse, who is a nurse, and their six-month-old daughter, Emma.
Q: Do you take regular exercise - and if so, what?
A: As a professional rugby player I pretty much train every day to keep my strength, stamina and fitness levels as high as they can be. At the start of the week it usually involves heavy lifting and I also go to the gym for cardio and we, of course, cover tactics and game play. That is all in addition to matches.
Q: What's the worst illness you've had?
A: Probably when I realised I had high blood pressure. I was unaware of this until I had to have a haematoma removed six years ago. I went to the doctor who discovered a large bruise that had developed in the fat around my kidney which caused a blood flow problem. I'm not sure how it happened, I had possibly taken a blow to that part of my body, but it involved six hours of complicated surgery and I was hospitalised for nine days with another four to six months spent in recovery. I also broke my hand in 2014, when the British and Irish Lions won the Test series against Australia, and then had to have three screws put in it. Me getting injured is a constant source of worry for my mother. And I was nursing a fractured ankle when Lucy went into labour with Emma. Thankfully, it was my left leg and I've an automatic car.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: As a member of the Ulster rugby squad we are fortunate to get many of our meals supplied on training mornings. So on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday we get breakfast and lunch to take home which is carefully balanced with optimum nutrition levels for sports people, to maintain the health of the squad. Everything from the portion sizes to vitamin levels are measured so we get a healthy diet. Eating well is a really massive part of being a professional sportsperson. And we can eat an incredible amount but have nutritionists to keep us all right. While I eat well at the minute, I'm trying to eat more fish as I don't really get enough of it. I certainly enjoy salmon and sea bass but when it comes to the smellier fish, like mackerel, let's just say I'm working on it.
Q: Any bad habits?
A: Coffee is something I really enjoy - an Americano. Or tea and a biscuit when I get to unwind at the end of the day and watch TV with my wife and daughter. I have many different biscuit fixes but the current one is Fox's Extra Chocolate Cookies.
Q: Do you drink and/or smoke - and if so, how much?
A: I don't smoke and rarely drink. I would take a beer after winning a game, and enjoy having a few pints with friends, but I'm really not a big drinker. And having recently become a father, I'm more likely to be at home.
Q: Do you take any health supplements?
A: Not really. I try to take vitamin C to fight colds, and cod liver oil with zinc. There are protein shakes and bars available for me as a professional player but it actually depends on my training load on the day. I try to get all the nutrition I need from a balanced diet and eating the right food. I wouldn't take vitamins regularly.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: My favourite way to take time out is with my six-month-old daughter, Emma (left). Now, my wife Lucy and I don't know what we did with all our spare time before we had her. When I'm not training and Lucy is not working, we go out for walks at the seaside, all of us and the dog, with Emma in the pram or I will carry her. It's just nice to get outdoors as a family and get some fresh air. Emma loves being outside and is at that stage where she grabs everything which is new and interesting to her.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: I usually sleep well unless there is something on my mind, so any stress would keep me awake. But with all the training we do, it's easy to get a good sleep at night. And there have been some nights when I don't get a lot of sleep with a six-month-old baby in the house.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: No, although I am definitely one of the older guys in the squad now at Ulster, but I'm still enjoying my rugby and hanging out with the younger lads. I feed off their enthusiasm. Nobody likes getting older but you just have to make the most of it. Playing is still part of my life which I am really grateful for.
Q: What is your go-to product or habit that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: I'm not sure I have a product. For me, it's about being active which can be as simple as just getting outside to get some fresh air. I grew up surrounded by sport from I was a young boy and it's not just rugby with me but any sport which gets you out and joining in. There have been difficult times in my life but I have always made sure I get outside to enjoy it. And if I need to, I will go for a walk in the country because it is a great way to clear your mind.
- Tommy Bowe is backing the Subway two-year partnership with Sports for Schools in a bid to encourage children and their families to get fit and active. The programme, which has now been extended to Northern Ireland, was launched recently at Oakwood Integrated School in Dunmurry by Tommy. As the official sponsor for Sports for Schools, Subw ay will help to enable primary school children to do more physical activity while assisting schools in raising money for PE equipment. For more information on Sports for Schools, visit sportsforschools.org