Lifestyle Health

Saturday 24 February 2018

'A swim in the sea seems to solve life's stresses'

Author Stephen Burke talks about swimming, healthy eating and catching up on his favourite TV programmes

Stephen Burke
Stephen Burke

DO YOU consider yourself to have a healthy lifestyle?

I do, though I am probably lying to myself. I eat well, a Mediterranean- style diet. I think I am healthier now than I was 10 years ago. I hardly ever go to pubs anymore. I was never obese, but I have a suit from that period which is two sizes too big.

Do you exercise regularly?

There are things I have to do in each season that oblige me to exercise.  In winter, I split or cut wood for the stove every other day. And in spring and summer, I work in the garden, it’s a hectare of trees and a vegetable patch, so it takes time and effort to keep it all in shape. In summer I swim in the sea almost every day.

Do you do it willingly or begrudgingly?

I enjoy the outside gardening work, but it helps that it has to be done. And I love swimming in the sea, it seems to temporarily solve all the stresses of life. When I’m writing, it’s obviously sedentary, and exercise really does help with the creative process.

What time do you go to bed?

Around 11pm on weekdays, and midnight on weekends. We tend to catch up on our favourite TV dramas or a movie in bed, once the kids are sorted.

What time do you get up in the morning?

Our kids are in three different schools, the eldest is in first at 8.15. So we’re up at 7, with half an hour of trying to rouse the troops and then get them fed. And all in the car by 8, hopefully.

What do you have for breakfast?

I have coffee and toast, or a croissant. And another coffee when I come back from dropping off the kids. I’ve stopped adding sugar, but I don’t know if I can give up coffee. But that’s it, I won’t drink any more during the day, unless I’m on a film shoot, when I drink it by the gallon.


Lunch is a pasta dish, or meat of some sort or fish, with potatoes or rice, or a salad with cheese. We try to vary it as much as possible.


Dinner is similar to the lunch menu. We buy fresh, local fruit and veg in the market, or use our own and we go to an organic butcher. We don’t usually eat anything that comes prepackaged. We get pizza once a fortnight or so.

Any snacks?

Crisps are my downfall. Any kind. So I try to avoid them as much as possible. And biscuits too. If they are in the house, I’ll find them.

Do you take any supplements?


How much water do you drink?

I would guess a litre a day, mostly fizzy water.

Do you have a skincare routine?

Soap and water. That’s it.

Any allergies?


Any vices?

I love red wine. And chocolate. I comfort myself with the fact that these are supposed to have a good effect, in moderation. Sometimes moderation is temporarily forgotten.

If I could change one thing about my lifestyle it would be …

I used to love playing five-a-side football. Then one day I started playing without warming up properly and I tore a muscle in my thigh quite badly. I tried to fix it with gym work and physio, but it went again twice, so my football days are over unfortunately.

Exercise really does help with the creative process

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