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Me and my health: Zoe Wilson on her lifestyle


Zoe playing for Ireland
Zoe playing for Ireland
Busy lady: Zoe Wilson

By Linda Stewart

The 22-year-old from Antrim played in Ireland's silver medal-winning World Cup 2018 team. A second year nutrition student at the University of Ulster, she plays club hockey for Belfast Harlequins, coaches Ballyclare High School's senior team and an under-13 team at Armagh Hockey Club. She lives with parents Debbie and Robert, brother Dean and dog Buddy.

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

A: Despite being an amateur international athlete, I follow a full-time training programme set by the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland (SINI) which I am required to fit in around studying and working commitments. This often involves getting up for a 6am gym session, then completing a day at university and coaching in Ballyclare before going to hockey training in Belfast in the evening. I usually get one rest day a week, but that is typically a light jog or swim so I wouldn't really call it a rest! As I spend quite a lot of time in my car travelling, mobility is very important to me and I do daily mobility sessions at home.

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

A: As part of our hockey programme we are required to fill out a survey each morning rating our diet, sleep quality, fatigue, mood and stress levels, so this helps to flag any possible spikes and therefore help initiate an early intervention to prevent illness developing. This may mean a reduction in my exercise workload until I'm out of the danger zone. I have an eye condition that occasionally flares up and makes wearing contact lenses difficult, so I wear sports glasses when playing hockey - it is not always that easy to get the appropriate health care depending on what country we are playing in.

Busy lady: Zoe Wilson

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I am very fortunate to receive nutritional support from SINI so my diet is quite healthy. Like everyone, I love a little treat - but for me it's all about putting into my body what I need to get out of it and ensuring I am well-fuelled for all of my training sessions. This often involves planning and preparing my meals the night before and bringing them with me in my cool bag as often I am not back in my house until late evening.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: My favourite guilty food would be cheese, crackers and my granny's home-made crab apple jelly.

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

A: No, I don't smoke. I would have a little drink on special occasions - for example, after a major tournament. Often our team bonding events or social scenes wouldn't involve alcohol, but we are all great tea drinkers!

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: The only thing that I would take - usually in the winter time - is vitamin C to help avoid getting the flu or a cold that could prevent me from training.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I don't get much down-time, so when I do it's quite precious. I like to spend time with my family - without their support none of my achievements would be possible. Everything in our house is organised around my hockey schedule, so getting family time is very important to me. I also love to go on big walks with my miniature schnauzer Buddy and just relax or read a book.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: I am a very good sleeper - I could sleep in any place at any time of the day. I am known to get the occasional 11-hour sleep overnight. My greatest achievement was sleeping 13 hours en route to a tournament from Dubai to Auckland and waking up fully refreshed, to the envy of the rest of my team. On game days I would nap before we leave on the bus.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: I am only 22 - I just believe in taking every day as it comes and enjoying the moment.

Busy lady: Zoe Wilson with her brother Dean, mum Debbie and dad Robert
Busy lady: Zoe Wilson with her brother Dean, mum Debbie and dad Robert

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

A: I try to lead a naturally healthy lifestyle by eating a varied balanced diet, getting regular exercise outside and also getting plenty of sleep. I need at least nine hours' sleep to cope with my demanding schedule.

The Ireland women's hockey team is currently preparing for Olympic qualification and compete at a tournament in Dublin this June. Zoe is an ambassador for the Mary Peters' Trust and its next big event is the Olympic champion's 80th birthday dinner which is being held at Titanic Belfast on May 31.

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