Me and my health: Former Miss NI Katharine Walker on her lifestyle

The Cool FM presenter and former Miss NI (25) has been a paediatric nurse in intensive care at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children for the past three and a half years, and has just moved into agency nursing. She lives in Hillsborough with her parents, Wendy and Fred, and has an older brother called Gareth. Her boyfriend is Jack.

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

A: I definitely try to exercise every day unless I’m working. I was getting really into CrossFit classes before Covid-19, so unfortunately that has been put on hold, although they have been really great at CrossFit Berserk to put up daily workouts online that you can complete at home. My daily exercise varies from CrossFit to HIIT to kettlebells, just depending on how my body feels. I have attempted yoga many times and it’s something I would love to make part of my daily routine but I have little to no flexibility! I’ve been playing a lot of tennis with my mum recently which is actually really special to get to share that hobby with her.

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

A: Thankfully I have never been seriously ill, but a couple of years ago my body took a major hit when I wasn’t looking after myself. I felt so fatigued and was suffering with huge mouth ulcers – I put it down to working shifts and that I needed more sleep. But the mouth ulcers were so big, so frequent and so painful that I knew something wasn’t right. I got bloods done at my GP and it turned out my iron and B12 levels were dangerously low. My GP actually said if I was an in-patient in hospital I would be getting a blood transfusion. I had to get regular B12 injections and take iron tablets three times a day. I’m mostly vegetarian so I learned the hard way that I need to make sure I was supplementing my body enough.

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Katharine graduating in Nursing from Queens University

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I would say my diet is very balanced, especially since that happened with my iron and B12 levels. I genuinely really enjoy salads and vegetables etc, but I don’t deny myself snacks or treats. I do now eat chicken to get more protein into my diet and I am more mindful of getting the right foods in. I don’t beat myself up if I eat badly for a day as long as I’m good most of the time.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Probably crisps! I always say I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have a salty tooth. I love savoury snacks, especially salt and vinegar crisps. Or salty chips. Really salty potatoes in any form.

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

A: I don’t smoke at all. Drinking depends very much on how much I am working. I love going on nights out with my friends but recently I’ve almost been too busy for hangovers. I do like to get jolly during the festive period though…

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: Yes. I think most of us don’t get all we should be getting in our diet but particularly because I don’t eat red meat. I take an iron and B12 supplement every day, if I remember. Vitamin C is also something I try to supplement in too.

Q. How do you take time out?

A: Usually my time out consists of a full day of not doing anything. I can be very busy and before lockdown I would have been working so much, so my days off consist of not setting an alarm, catching up on my favourite shows and catching up with friends. I’m so lucky with the group of friends I have and my boyfriend too, so any chance to catch up with them is great.

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: Oh gosh, my body does not have a clock at all! Doing shift work, especially nights, can make it so hard to have any sort of routine. Recently I have started listening to white noise going to sleep because I think it helps me to switch off and distracts my brain from thinking. And on my days off I don’t set an alarm which is such a treat.

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Katharine working at Cool FM

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But I think my parents are a great example of how if you look after yourself then you’re only as old as you feel. My dad is 66 and we went out for a run a couple of weeks ago and I could barely keep up. And my mum could run rings around me on the tennis court. I think looking after your health is key to ageing gracefully.

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

A: I think there are so many aspects of health that I look after that it would be hard to choose one. But as simple as it sounds, I try to drink at least 2.5-3 litres of water a day. It helps with tiredness and helps my skin too. I also couldn’t go a day without SPF.

Katharine has partnered with local fitness brand Powercut Clothing. Follow her on Instagram @katharine_walker or on Twitter @katharinewalk

Belfast Telegraph

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