20 health questions with... Jenny Dixon

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By Amy Wall

1. Have you always had an interest in health and wellbeing?

My parents enrolled me in all kinds of sports as a child, so being sporty and being fit was something I grew up with. I think that confidence is such a gift to give children. Studying biology in university was due to my interest partly in animals and partly in human nutrition and fitness. I also now like to include wellbeing as a more holistic approach with mind, body, soul. So yes, I’d say I’ve always had a strong interest, though it has exponentially increased.

2. How important are health and fitness to you?

Very important. Mind, body and soul are so interlinked I think it’s futile trying to enhance one area of your life if you’re neglecting any of these three pillars.

3. Do you enjoy working out and eating well?

Some weeks I love to work out, I get hooked on the endorphin release and the routine. Other weeks, if I’m shooting long filming hours, it can be a little harder, though not an excuse. On days like these, I take my script to the gym with me and I glance at it while on the treadmill, bike or stepper. It doesn’t need to be full-on all the time either. If I’m a little more tired, a gentle workout incorporating some yoga, music and stretching is great

4. Go-to healthy dish?

It changes depending on season and mood. When I’m extra focussed, it’d be an egg white omelette with spinach and garlic and a green tea for breakfast. Then curried, coconut cauliflower with grilled chicken and salad for dinner.

5. Go-to guilty pleasure food?

I don’t like the concept of ‘guilty’ food. It’s a definition of a first world problem. We feed our body food and with that, we take energy into our bodies. Why taint great food with a counter-productive society-constructed emotion? That being said, fish ‘n’ chips is my enjoy-to-the-max treat! A chip sandwich on Brennan’s bread, ketchup and a giant mug of tea. That does it for me.

6. Favourite type of exercise?

I’d say dancing! Though I don’t get to do enough of it. In LA there’s so many great fitness classes to enjoy. Classes in Ireland are gradually becoming more varied and I’d love to try find even more to include in my weekly activities. Right now, I’ll do x-fit and some bootcamps, especially outdoor ones, when available.

7. Do you think it’s important to have a good balance when it comes to healthy eating/staying fit etc.?

Yes. Balance is great. You don’t want to feel like you’re missing out or depriving yourself, so a little treat here and there is good, especially if you discover a range of healthy treats that you can reach for. I love to find these on YouTube and try them out.

8. Do you ever have days where you struggle to make health a priority?

Days that have a busy work schedule can be tough, but I’ll know to take an entire day off then for pampering and relaxation, which includes working out too. On days where I’m shooting a 14-hour day and then learning script for the next day, I prioritise getting as many hours sleep as possible.

9. How do you motivate yourself to exercise?

By listening to YouTube motivational speeches. Following accounts that inspire me. Some of the Victoria’s Secret girls are great to follow, as are some actresses. Learning mantras like, ‘You’ll never regret a workout’ and, ‘In 24 hours find just one hour dedicated to you, to your fitness.’

10. How important is it to look after your mental health?

High on the priority list. Every day we make conscious decisions to eat well, to exercise, to read, which covers mind and body. Our mental health, our spirituality, our soul needs nourishing too to keep us mentally well. I feel it should be a daily activity, as natural as preparing to cook a healthy meal.

11. Favourite way to mind your mental health?

Eating healthy which includes balance and the odd treat. Your mental health is inter-linked with your physiological state. I like to include things like maca powder and some other natural supplements. A walk in nature, by the sea or countryside is great. I also like going to church from time to time and absorbing the calm, relaxed atmosphere. Using aromatherapy oils like lavender in a vaporiser is great too.

12. Do you engage in any other self-care practices?

Massages, acupuncture, facials.

13. Being in the public eye, do you ever feel under pressure to look a certain way?

Ironically, since being in the public eye I do get asked this question quite a bit. There is no more pressure than before, is how I feel on it. I just like to keep fit and always have, nothing has changed there. It’s my job, perhaps, to look a certain way for a character, but I think it’s good to keep fit regardless. I consider working out as part of my job and am blessed that it is. I think that notion of pressure is a stereotype that we can all help to quash by accepting everyone more and giving it less heed.

14. What’s the secret to feeling comfortable with being in the public eye?

To be yourself. To allow yourself to be vulnerable, yet to be thoughtful too. I try to think before I speak. Words are powerful, they can build up or take down. I think it’s especially important to choose your words carefully, perhaps more so in the public eye, as there’s a chance your words may be heard more widely.

15. Do you drink alcohol? What’s your favourite drink?

Yes, but not too often. I tend to pick and choose certain events and not have too many as I can’t be dealing with feeling groggy the next day – I always have too much on! A glass of Riesling or a Havana 7 and diet coke with a lime.

16. Has your approach to health and fitness changed in recent years?

I’m always learning new approaches. Awareness of sugar content is perhaps the most overt change in recent years. I’d also say looking at ingredients and if there are items there I don’t know, chances are they’re not overly natural and I feel it’s better to go for something that’s less processed.

17. What are your top tips for staying in good health?

Exercise and mix it up, keep it varied to keep yourself interested. Use exercise apps and great music. Increase your intake of vegetables. Add garlic/spices and use humus and pesto. Try do something daily for your mental health; meditation for ten minutes, breathing exercises, a walk in nature, a vision board, a church/place of worship of your choice.

18. What’s your weekly health and fitness schedule like?

Ideally I Iike to work out in a gym three to four times a week. Skincare routines morning and night, with a little extra on weekends. I aim to get eight hours of sleep a night and factor in some relaxation during the day too. Healthy eating during the week and a treat meal/takeaway on Friday.

19. What’s your life’s philosophy?

The goal of life is to be happy, that’s our objective. Our bodies feel good when we are in a state of euphoria. Be kind. Be amazing. You owe it to yourself to discover as many passions as you can imagine and, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, you serve nobody playing it small. Who are you not to be great?

20. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding health and wellbeing?

Lose the notion that to be a success, one must be extroverted and always busy. No one else is as good as you at being you. It’s okay to be quiet and still. It’s okay to be shy, it’s more than okay, it’s you and that is your superpower. Learn what works for you, keep learning, keep improving. Get excited about health and wellbeing. Make it a passion, a priority for you.

You can stay in touch with Jenny by following her on Instagram: @Jennyleedixon

Catherine Devane