Celebrity Health - Michelle Heaton

A photo of Michelle Heaton

Former Liberty X star Michelle Heaton talks to Liz Parry about her recent health challenges and how she ensures that she follows a healthy lifestyle

Popstar turned TV presenter Michelle Heaton has had to face some serious health challenges over the past few years. In 2012 the former Liberty X singer discovered that she was carrying the BRCA2 gene. This meant that without surgery she had an 80 to 85 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 30 to 40 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer. Faced with such daunting odds, Michelle opted to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Now, the 35-year-old mum-of-two is preparing to undergo a full hysterectomy.

Q: How do you find the strength to cope with these health challenges?

Michelle: "My beautiful family, my husband, my friends and ultimately my children who I’m doing this for. They are all the strength I need!"

Q: Was it a difficult decision to make, opting to have a hysterectomy at such a young age?

Michelle: "Yes, of course. I guess it’s kind of taken out of my hands in a way. However I’m lucky enough to have had two children first. Many women in my position aren’t so lucky. I know this because many of them write to me or tweet me. Other people might make a different decision, and that’s their personal choice, but for me it’s a no-brainer. I’m not a gambling woman! The decision I’ve made is for my children."

Q: You obviously keep yourself very fit. Have you always been keen on exercise or has this come about more in recent years?

Michelle: "I’d like to have thought that I was always fit and into exercise but when I met my husband Hugh Hanley, who is head of personal training for Virgin Active, he showed me that I had the wrong idea about everything. Meeting him spurred me on to become healthier and to look at my lifestyle and understand what was right and what was wrong."

Q: How often do you exercise and what type of exercise do you do?

Michelle: "I try my very best to go to the gym four or five times a week. I force myself to work hard there because I know I haven’t got long and I have to get back to the kids (Faith, aged two, and eight-month-old AJ). I tend to get up really early and get there for about 6am before the kids wake up. I like to keep fit because I’m 35 now and I’m noticing that my metabolism is slowing down and I can’t eat all the things I want to eat any more. I like to try and look my best because it makes me happy."

Q: Do you have a specific routine you follow?

Michelle: "I do cardio one day and weights the next. I keep switching it up rather than following the same routine all the time. I think if you do the same things every day the body just gets used to it."

Q: Did you exercise regularly when you were pregnant?

Michelle: "I didn’t with my first pregnancy because I didn’t understand what was right or wrong during pregnancy. So I went back to college and I studied pre and post-natal exercise so that I could understand it for myself. I then realised that I wanted to teach it to other people, which led to my DVD, Active Pregnancy. I think maybe there was a bit of a taboo many years ago and a lot of doctors would have recommended a sedentary lifestyle during pregnancy, as opposed to an active one, but now it’s been completely reversed. And there is a lot of information to show that exercise during pregnancy is a positive thing as long as it’s a healthy, normal pregnancy."

Q: Do you like to eat a healthy diet?

Michelle: "Yes, everything we have at home is fresh and healthy and I like to cook everything from scratch. We stay away from processed or starchy foods. A typical day at home would begin with a smoothie made with blueberries and protein powder, then lunch would be an egg white omelet with a side salad and our evening meal would be some sort of protein with plenty of vegetables. I might have Greek yoghurt or a protein bar for a snack. We try to eat organic sometimes but as it can be expensive, it depends on our budget for the week."

Q: Do you take any supplements?

Michelle: "Yes, I take vitamin C and fish oils every day."

Q: Would you say your attitude to life has changed since you had to face your health problems? Do you live for the moment a bit more now?

Michelle: "I suppose but, to be honest, I’ve kind of always been like that anyway. There are many people around the world in all kinds of difficult situations – you’ve only got to look around. I just take what life throws at me and get on with it!"

Michelle Heaton Active Pregnancy is available on DVD now from Amazon and www.michelleheatonfitness.com

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