The mo' the merrier... famous Irish women get behind Movember
It's that time of year again when men all over the world grow a lip tickler in the name of Movember, an initiative that has raised millions for cancer charities and mental health programmes. This year there is an added element: the MOVE fitness challenge - and this one is not just for the boys. Here our reporter meets six famous Irish women who are leading the way by getting the men in their lives MOVEing this November.
Tomorrow marks the start of Movember, the annual moustache-growing charity event where the men in our lives turn into hairy hunks like Tom Selleck or, um, Willie O'Dea.
It's entertaining seeing our Mo Bros get all fashionably fuzzy and funny, but there's a serious message behind the global initiative. The Movember Foundation aims to help men live happier, healthier, longer lives, and since 2003, it has raised €11million in Ireland - and €485m internationally - and funded over 1,000 programmes focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity. This is really important when you consider that approximately 3.2 million deaths worldwide each year can be attributed to insufficient physical activity, and 41pc of men in high-income countries are not exercising enough.
This year, there are a couple of added dimensions to Movember, such as the 30-day MOVE fitness challenge, which asks men to sign up to do 30 MOVEs to raise funds. Whether it's a workout one day, a bike ride the next, or a game of ping pong, no MOVE is too small. And women can join in too.
We gathered together six well-known - and very sporting - Mo Sistas who will be encouraging the men in their lives to MOVE this month. Here, they share the personal reasons that they became involved in the Movember campaign…
Nadia (26), is a model, singer and actress from Dublin. She is currently living in London and is dating rugby player Dominic Day.
Why are you supporting Movember?
Raising awareness is really important because I think guys can neglect themselves health-wise because they think they're invincible. Cancer touches every single family - I have had family members get prostate cancer and other cancers. People need to be aware to check themselves regularly.
Is Dominic good at looking after himself?
Yes because he's in a really fortunate position where there are doctors analysing the team the whole time. I still nag him and my little brother, but Dominic has a team of people nagging him already so I'm just the extra annoyance.
You lost your mum, Berenice, to cancer this year. How are you coping?
Watching someone pass away who wasn't at a peaceful place is difficult, and it leaves a lot of unresolved issues. Grief is a weird thing, because you worry about the person who passed away more than yourself. Even though they're gone, you wonder where are they and what happened after they left. Coping with the grief is different for me every day. I think I was waiting for a lift one of these days, and for it not to be as bad, but that hasn't come yet. I don't know if it ever comes. My boyfriend lost his mum very young, and he told me grief doesn't ever go, but you just get used to living with it and you learn to deal with it. That was a massive thing for me to hear, because I've been waiting for some sort of relief, but now I look at it differently and know I need to come to terms with it.
Has it changed your perspective on life?
When you watch somebody lose their life, it changes your life. Mortality becomes real, so priorities have changed for me. I felt like I was on a hamster-wheel with work for the past few years, and then this happened and I now realise what's important in life. I love my job and the opportunities I'm getting, but I'm very aware of not doing something unless I really want to because there's so much more to life. When I'm stressed or have silly arguments, I know it's not life or death. I was always a big worrier, but I realise now that I'm the only person who can make myself happy and I can't depend on other people. I have an amazing family and friends, and their support has been massive for me.
What is your own health like?
I'm very healthy, although I went through a couple of years in my life that weren't very healthy, physically and emotionally, which manifests itself into other illnesses. I really believe high stress levels can bring problems on, but being in the jungle and living on so little on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here made me realise that I didn't have the best diet beforehand. I have tried to keep that up, but like everyone, I love my sweet potato fries from Eddie Rocket's. My biggest vice in the world is hot chocolate, but I know that if I keep myself healthy in the gym, I get to have those treats.
What is living in London like for you?
I love the UK, but London is a transitional stage in my life - I don't think I'll be there forever. My boyfriend lives about two hours outside of London. Meeting him has changed my perspective on the UK, just having somebody there is nice. I try to come home as often as possible to see my Nana and brother. There is nothing like coming home to Dublin.
Xposé presenter Aisling (37), is from Clare. She and her partner, photographer Nick MacInnes, have two sons, Patrick and Louis, who will be four and two in December, respectively.
What made you get involved in Movember?
It's important for me to take part in this campaign because I represent other women who are in a man's life and can give them a shove to check themselves out. We play a big role in our men's health, as they can put things on the long finger and we all need to look out for each other.
Nick was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia last year, but has since received the all-clear. How is his health now?
Well, on one hand, he really looks after himself. He is so particular about what he and the kids eat, it would drive you mad. It's all fresh and made from scratch and he's into juicing. And on the other hand, he is still out the back smoking, so it's such a contradiction. He can't stop smoking and recently tried hypnosis again, but there is a bit of yin and yang going on.
Had you realised that he was unwell?
I knew he wasn't OK, because he looked like a skeleton, all shadows and gaunt, but that is a part of his French, lived-in look that I fell for anyway. I went home to Clare for a week, and he stayed in because he had no energy, whereas usually he is jumping at any chance to go out. He wouldn't go to the doctor for himself, so I made an appointment for Louis and made him come with us. He was knocking on death's door, but they found the cancer with a simple blood test. Nick was admitted to hospital, and they thought his heart would give up because it was under so much pressure with no oxygen pumping around his system, but once they started putting the blood into him, it saved his life.
How health-conscious are you?
I haven't been very fit, because I stopped exercising when I had the kids. I used to go classes but I don't do anything now, which is not good, plus I don't sleep as well any more. It's now cool in Ireland to take care of yourself. Before it was cool to pour pints in, eat chips and smoke, and we enjoyed ourselves and promoted ruining our bodies, but now there's a shift and I want to be part of it.
Daniella (27), from Kildare made her name as a model. She is co-presenter on Spin 1038's breakfast show, The Zoo Crew, and is dating 98FM DJ Dara Quilty.
What made you get involved with Movember?
I think it's a really amazing initiative, and I like to give my free time to cancer causes because it's something that has affected my family greatly. My mum Pauline had breast cancer, and I'm currently in the middle of getting tested for the cancer gene. Also, my cousin died from cancer this year, and when you see someone so young and full of life pass away, it puts your small worries into perspective.
Are the men in your life health-conscious?
Dara is useless when it comes to health checks, but I remind him all the time and am always bugging him about smoking. I'm definitely the nagging girlfriend. My dad is good at looking after his health. My brother is at that young and invincible stage, so he wouldn't be amazing at keeping on top of it, but he's no fool either.
How health-conscious are you?
Going to the breakfast show was a massive lifestyle upheaval, and it was hard to adjust as I was trying to go to work, the gym, see my friends and do it all. I wasn't sleeping and started having panic attacks, but I didn't know what was wrong with me. I went for an MRI but they couldn't find anything physically wrong. The doctor said my body was just so stressed out and the pressure was taking its toll. When it was pointed out to me, it was the most obvious thing in the world that my body was telling me I wasn't dealing with the things that were going on. That was the kick I needed, so I try to get to bed early now and have time to unwind. You have to listen to your body when it needs help. We don't always look after prevention, and I was guilty of that, but never again. I now make it a priority, like you would NCTing your car or paying your tax bill.
Rosanna (31), is from Wicklow and was crowned Miss World in 2003. Married to Wesley Quirke, the daughter of singer Chris de Burgh and his wife Diane is a nutritional therapist and has just released her first book, Eat Yourself Beautiful.
What made you get involved in Movember?
I like the message about the MOVE campaign and how women can get involved, and it's a great opportunity for men to check their health. Sometimes I think that health websites and magazine articles are so focused around women, that perhaps men aren't catered for as well.
How health-conscious are the men in your life?
Wes goes to the gym, stays fit and eats well so he's pretty good. I've found that he doesn't appreciate being told what to eat, so leading by positive example works well. So I might say, "Oh this smoothie tastes great and gives me loads of energy, you should try it." I have two brothers, Hubie and Michael, and I'm always on at them about getting enough sleep and not drinking too much, but they're sensible guys. Dad is very aware of his health and gets regular check-ups, and he has to take his health seriously as he's touring worldwide. He's very fit and swims every day in the pool, and Mum has him eating well and I've improved his eating habits too. He has a sweet tooth and is a sneaky snacker - he loves chocolate - but otherwise he's good.
You celebrated your first year of marriage in May. How is married life and did it make a difference to your relationship?
I love being married. It's lovely to feel settled and part of a team and know somebody has your back all of the time. I wasn't sure if it would make a difference to us, but it has, in a very positive way, and it's lovely being welcomed into an entire extended family as well. Wes is great fun, laid-back, generous and makes me laugh all the time. I should have got married to him years ago!
Roz (25), is a model and food blogger from Tipperary. Her blog specialises in healthy, easy-to-make recipes. She lives in Dublin with her boyfriend Niall Breslin, aka Bressie, a judge on The Voice of Ireland.
What does being a MOVE ambassador for Movember involve?
I'm part of the 30-day MOVE fitness programme, so I'll be doing some quick workouts and giving little tips through my social media and blog, naturalbornfeeder.com. A couple of years ago, I would have said that women are much better at looking after themselves than men, but men have really gotten into healthy eating recently. A lot of my followers are guys who are in the gym and doing triathlons, and while it might be more about their physique, they're still getting healthy.
Is Bressie good at looking after his health?
When we first met, his idea of health was totally different to mine. I was really getting into it, so I had to teach him a few things. He's really good now, and maintaining good health is important for him to function for his triathlons as it makes him faster, better and stronger.
You must be proud of his work around mental health?
For someone like him to come out about his own issues has probably spurred the realisation that no matter who you are or what your circumstances are, it can happen to you. I think men are starting to pay more attention to mental health, and I don't know if Brez was the catalyst, but he's a great figurehead because nobody would have presumed he had any problems. I'm so proud of him for doing it because it's a hard part of you to let other people into.
How health-conscious are you?
I have always been very active, but I'm a hypochondriac and am always at the doctor. In the early years of modelling, I really wasn't looking after myself and I had problems like an underactive thyroid and joint issues. I have recovered to full health with a good, healthy lifestyle. I'm not an advocate for one type of diet, but I'm an advocate for wholefoods that are processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed. My main message is to make small, healthier choices more regularly.
Do you think you will continue modelling?
My mum always said: "Leave modelling before it leaves you." I have just turned 25, and I started modelling when I was 18 and it has just gone so fast. I wanted to evolve and I found that cooking is my true passion, so I'm exploring that, although I will still continue to model the odd bit.
Louise (31), is from Mayo and presents Afternoon Delight on Today FM. She will be marrying her football star and fashionista fiancé, Paul Galvin, this Christmas.
Why are you supporting Movember?
I'm lucky to have amazing men in my life - a wonderful daddy, Thomas, three great brothers, Rory, Kevin and Brian, and my fiancé, Paul - and it's so important to me that they're healthy and happy. Traditionally men bottle things up, so I'm like the mother hen clucking around and encouraging them to talk and express how they feel. My dad climbs Croagh Patrick all the time so he's healthy and fit, but we got him a bike, which he doesn't use enough. My brothers are hugely active and outdoorsy, they surf, swim and are out on their motorbikes, which I hate.
Does Paul look after his health?
Paul is very motivated with fitness and is hugely active, so even when he isn't training, working out is always at the forefront of his mind. As a couple, it's nice to go for a jog and be active together, and a nice day for us is going to Killiney and walking up the hill. We're seldom down in the pub as we're more into having people over for dinner, and Paul rarely drinks anyway.
How is the wedding planning going?
I have been so chilled out, but I woke up one day last week and realised that there is loads to be done, so I'm making lists and organising things. It's fun, though, as it's a happy thing and all very exciting, but it's important not to lose your mind over one day. Paul isn't the best with the planning. He keeps saying it's my day and it's all about what I want - which just means he doesn't have to do anything.
Presumably it will be a stylish wedding?
My bridesmaid is my cousin Niamh, so we girls will have to step up to the mark with our style as Paul's brother Reggie is his best man and he's a very dapper boy too. This is the one time I would have really appreciated Paul's opinion, but I can't ask him about the wedding dress.
How did the loss of your colleague, Tony Fenton, to prostate cancer earlier this year affect you?
It was desperately sad and devastating for everyone at Today FM. We have always been very involved with the Irish Cancer Society, and it was so tough that we lost our favourite man that way. I had been filling in for him, so now that I've moved into daytime, I guess I'm trying to fill those very big shoes. There's a really lovely atmosphere and vibe in the station, and while there's a little bit of imbalance between males and females on air in general, Today FM have always pushed, encouraged and supported me.
How health-conscious are you?
When I turned 30, I realised that I needed to get my act together. Now, I'm more focused on health and exercise, cooking more healthily and looking after Paul when he is training. The wedding adds pressure because there's the gown to fit into, but I'm one for exercising in the morning. Even if you just do a couple of jumping jacks or burpees, you feel invigorated.
Reigster to GROW or MOVE by November 5 at movember.com
Photography: Kip Carroll.
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