Saturday 19 January 2019

'I hate it... I can't walk up the stairs, I feel like I should be 70' - 2fm radio presenter Tara Stewart (27)

DJ Tara Stewart.
DJ Tara Stewart.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

2fm radio presenter Tara Stewart (27) is making strides on the domestic music scene. A familiar voice on our national airwaves, she’s also a popular performer at Electric Picnic.

Growing up in the remoteness of Australia's outback, in Alice Springs was formative in terms of her music career. Her parents owned a bar, and young Tara was surrounded by music and people.

The freedom of rural life had its perks. As a young teenager she had her own car, and ferried herself to and from school. But with the freedom of country life, she now admits, also came boredom. She'd have a furtive smoke of a cigarette on her drive to school and again at the end of the day in the bar. Within a few years, she was hooked and was smoking ten cigarettes a day - something that annoyed her because she was, and still is, passionate about keeping fit.

“I actually did hate it. But I started just doing it at my parents bar. I had my own car and I’d smoke in the car on my way to school.”

“My Dad is an ex-smoker. I actually went home last year for a couple of weeks. I was staying with them, and they were really angry about [her smoking]. He gave up about seven or eight years ago. He had a bad health scare and the doctors said he had to stop but he loved smoking. He was literally told he had no choice.”

At the turn of the new year, Tara, like her Dad, decided that’s it, no more. She’s giving up smoking.

“It’s my breathing to be honest. I’d be out of breath easily. I’m quite a fit person and I love going to the gym, but my breathing can’t keep up, and I hate that.”

“A lot of people are saying you won’t know yourself with your breathing. I can’t wait to be able to breathe properly.

“Walking up the stairs in work, I feel like I should be 70 when I’m only 27.”

On a night out, Tara estimates that she can smoke up to 20 cigarettes.

“I’d smoke 10 a day max on a weekday. Whereas if I’m going out, I wouldn’t have stopped smoking one when I’d start another one. I’d smoke up to 20 on a night out, which is crazy.”

“I did try to give up once before about two years ago, and I did manage to go back into it again. I kind of used the excuse of ‘I’m not thirty yet’ so I went back on them,” she joked.

“For the last month I‘ve been trying to cut down and only have two or three in the evenings. Before, if I was walking to work I’d always have a cigarette on my walk so I stopped doing that.”

“All my friends are giving up with me, which is amazing. I didn’t expect it, I didn’t ask them to. My two best friends, my girlfriends, are stopping. My other friend is stopping but he doesn’t want to tell anyone. And my boyfriend is stopping as well.”

Tara has over 3,600 on her Instagram account, whom she describes as a tight knit group of people who are very supportive, and for the next 12 weeks she’ll be sharing her experience of giving up the cigarettes for good.

“When I told them I was going to stop, they said they would too. I feel like I can properly give it a go because my friends are doing it. It might be a little bit easier.”

“When I’m going out drinking. If my friends actually stick to it, hopefully it’ll work. We’ll just inside in a bar instead.”

“The more I’m kept busy, I don’t have time to think about it. And If I see someone smoking, I think ‘awe, they’re smoking, I’d love one’. Or I loved Peaky Blinders and there are full-on smokers on it, so luckily I’ve finished all the seasons now.”

She wrote on Instagram yesterday: “I'm basically breaking up with smoking for my health. I want to be in flying form for life.”

Tara is participating in Boots Ireland’s Stop For Good Rewards programme. For more information, see here.

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