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Me and my health: Marisa Mackle

Chick lit author Marisa Mackle (35), who was born in Armagh but now lives in Dublin, has calorie counted since her teens. A vegan, she prefers Linda McCartney food meals to organic fare.

Do you get eight hours' sleep a night?

No. I would usually get six or six and half hours a night. I have a really active mind, especially if I'm writing a book and my head is swimming with ideas about characters and plotlines. I can't just switch off and go to sleep. If I'm writing I could sit up until 3am, no problem.

Early bird or night owl?

A night owl. I'm not a good morning person. I usually wake up around 8.30am, I never set an alarm except if I've a flight to catch. When I worked as an air hostess I used to get up at 3.30am so, for me, 8.30am is a massive lie in!

Do you have a high pain threshold?

Yes, I actually do. I severed tendons in my arm about three years ago when I locked myself out of my house. I accidentally put my hand through the window when I was trying to break in.

I was in horrific pain so I've trained myself not to think about it. I met Chris de Burgh one night and he told me it was all in my mind. He placed his hand on it and the pain dramatically improved. Still, in the cold weather it would get to me, but I'd say I can put up with most things.

When is your immune system at its best?

In the summer I seem to catch everything going in the winter! I smoke about 10 a day and I have tried to give up three times for around a year each time.

Have you ever experienced depression?

Oh God yeah ... especially after a night out on the town so that would usually be on a Sunday or a Monday. I suppose I would feel a bit depressed because I've only had a few hours sleep and I'm not at my healthiest.

When I worked in an office as a receptionist, I used to absolutely dread going back to work on a Monday. Sometimes I find that watching the news can be upsetting. There seems to be so much misery in the world, it would be hard not to soak up some of it.

Life in general can be quite tough and you can't be happy all the time. I wouldn't describe myself as an extremely happy person.

Old wives' tales or as the doctor ordered?

The doctor definitely, I wouldn't go by anything else.

When did you last visit the doctor?

My two sisters are doctors so I see 'the doctors' nearly every week. I don't burden them with all my ailments, though.

Last time you were feeling under the weather — what did you do?

I went straight to bed. There is nothing else for it when you don't feel well other than closing the curtains, getting back into bed and sleeping.

Do you calorie count?

Yes, but not every day. Normally, I would try to keep it under 2,000 calories a day. I've probably been counting since I was a teenager. I think I wanted to lose weight for my Debs.

I know the amount of calories in every single chocolate bar which is a bit ridiculous. It makes me feel better if I treat myself and I know exactly the damage I'm doing.

Do you eat your five a day?

No, I always forget. I'm a vegetarian so I do eat fruit and vegetables. I never keep track on whether or not it's enough.

I travel a lot and I tend to pick up a sandwich on the go as it's easier. I get my protein and carbohydrates from cheese and I would say my diet is probably a lot better than most meat eaters. I never suffer from indigestion, heartburn or anything like that.

Do you take any supplements?

I take vitamin C and cod liver oil when I remember.

Do you exercise?

Every other day — aerobics three times a week and, also, I go walking three times a week. My family owns a horse in Wicklow called Dancer and whenever I'm down there I go riding. It's really important to exercise as it makes you feel better about yourself.

Do you believe in the mid-life crisis?

Well, I haven't got there yet ...

Organic or ready meals?

I'm afraid it would have to be the ready meals. I love the Linda McCartney range of vegetarian meals, especially her lasagne, sausages and shepherd's pie. I don't buy organic food, but I do make a point of buying free-range eggs.

Is sex vital to overall wellbeing?

I don't think it is at all. Lots of people don't have partners in life. They might be widowed, a nun, a priest or whatever.

Just because they aren't in a physical relationship doesn't make them unhappier than someone that is.

Many people are stuck in relationships that are making them unhappy.

I don't think single people are going to go mad if they aren't in a physical relationship!

Best advice ever received?

Hmmm ... people always say to me that I'm very young looking and the one thing I would say is that when I go to bed I don't take my worries with me.

When you worry it shows on your face, so I try not to worry about anything as it really is true that everything seems better in the morning. I honestly believe that everything will sort itself out in life. I leave it up to nature.

Have you ever donated blood?

Yes, I've done it a few times and I intend to do it again. You have to be a certain weight to qualify and I think I'm slightly under it. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but they are quite strict about it.

The Organ Debate — would you?

Yes, I would have no problem with that. I think it's a difficult decision to make, my family know that this is what I want.

Hair of the dog?

A Bloody Mary. It works everytime. I discovered it when I was air hostessing — it came recommended from Helena Christensen, the supermodel. We were discussing sore heads as I served her.

Desert island must have?

Diet Coke! I'm addicted to it and I drink gallons of it. It's my number one vice — my worst vice. My doctor told me to stop drinking it.

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