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Me and my health: TV presenter Orla Chennaoui on her lifestyle


Cycling fan: Orla Chennaoui

Cycling fan: Orla Chennaoui

Cycling fan: Orla Chennaoui

The 41-year-old TV presenter, from Draperstown, Co Londonderry, is currently hosting Eurosport's coverage of Cycling's Three Grand Tours. She lives in Amsterdam with her husband Mourad (45) and children Eve (6) and Austin (21 months).

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

A: I mostly ride my bike and practice yoga. Bikes are the biggest part of my life when it comes to exercise and staying active. We moved to Amsterdam two years ago and within a few weeks we'd replaced cars with bikes. It's a much simpler way to get around the city and I love the freedom and fun of it.

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

A: I had acute myocarditis when I was a teenager, a viral inflammation of the heart muscle, and ended up in intensive care. I had been at a residential sports camp during one of my last summers at school, and collapsed on the netball court. My parents were more panicked than I was, but then you think you're invincible when you're young.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I love healthy food but with two young kids and an erratic work pattern, I don't really take the time to look after myself properly. Right now, I'm working six days a week on cycling at Eurosport and am surviving on toast, sandwiches and lots of coffee. I always have at least one home-cooked meal a day, and eat fruit and vegetables when I can.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Coffee, chocolate and Netflix. Netflix because I get so engrossed in a series that I forget to go to bed. As for coffee, if I've been up early to do some writing before the kids get up, and have the school/nursery run, I can easily have six doubles before lunchtime. I have to eat some chocolate every day. There's a Dutch chocolate that I love, Tony's Chocoloney. It was started by a journalist campaigning against the use of slave labour in cocoa production, so I also love the cause and that helps me feel better.

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

A: I've never smoked, and I stopped drinking alcohol five years ago - I've never looked back. I enjoyed my 20s and early 30s in London, but I'm all or nothing. When my daughter came along, I wanted to keep working as hard as I did, so something had to go. It's only when I stopped that I realised how much our way of life revolves around alcohol. I had to learn new ways to celebrate, commiserate, get through boredom, brave new social occasions, bond with friends... it's the best thing I've done in my life - the peace and confidence that came with not relying on it were immense.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: I know I should take a good multivitamin but, truthfully, I mostly forget. I took supplements when I was younger because of my sport. My mum was really ahead of her time in taking me to dieticians to make sure I was getting the right nutrients.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: Yoga, meditation and dancing around the house with my kids. I practice yoga at home mostly and take so much peace and strength from it. I started meditating when I stopped drinking and I find it so powerful.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: I have two young kids. Next question!

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: It's definitely something I think about, being a woman in television, but it's such a privilege to grow old. Not everyone gets to do it, and we can take that for granted.

Q: Your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: I like to take Floradix liquid supplement when I'm feeling low on energy, mainly because my mum tells me I should, but herbal teas are probably what make me feel healthiest. They're like a cup of self-care.

The TV presenter, writer and journalist specialises in cycling and has presented on location from 10 Tours de France, two Giros d'Italia, one Vuelta a Espana, two Olympic Games and one Commonwealth Games. You can visit her website at www.bespoke-m.com/orla-chennaoui

Belfast Telegraph