7th MAY 2020 - Page 25

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what
keeps them going. This week, Father Eugene O’Hagan
from Irish classical musical trio The Priests
When you are consistently left as one of two or the very last
person to be picked by the captain of the football team for
his side, you’re left in no doubt about your abilities
Up and at it – what is
your morning routine?
On a weekday I usually anticipate
the alarm clock by a good 10 to
15 minutes, so when it goes off at
7am, I am prepared! After the ritual
of shave, shower – and getting
dressed – I take time to pray. In the
morning, I celebrate Mass unless I
have an evening celebration. Once
I’ve attended to feeding the spirit,
I attend to feeding the body which
is accompanied, by the radio and
a quick scan of edited newspaper
headlines using the Flipboard app on
my iPad – a great invention.
What might you eat in a
typical working day for...
I eat a light breakfast of cereal or
porridge with a cup of coffee, a
banana or an apple. Lunch? Full
dinner at ‘lunch’ on weekdays – vice
versa at weekends – using fresh,
wholesome ingredients. Dinner? I will
only ever have one main meal and it
could be anything. I will augment it
with a small snack such as a slice of
bread with peanut butter, a couple
of biscuits accompanied with blueveined cheese (my favourite) and
maybe, just maybe... a small glass of
on Health
& Fitness
How do you relax?
Weather permitting, I love a
long, easy-paced walk which brings
me into contact with nature. When it’s
dark and wet I tend to stay indoors
and catch up on some reading – a
cook book or a gardening magazine.
Teetotal or tipple?
Tipple. As St Paul says, ‘a little
wine for thy stomach’s sake’.
Stairs or lift?
Either really, but the higher the
floor, the more likely I’ll take the lift.
Best meal ever?
One Christmas Eve meal,
about 30 years ago, I had my ‘best
meal ever’ with an Italian family in
their home. Their tradition lends itself
to eating fish – which I love – on
Christmas Eve, along with plenty of
vegetables followed by panettone
(Italian sweet bread loaf). This was
washed down with some wine and
the ultimate Italian liqueur, Sambuca.
The craic was mighty and so was the
Do you have a guilty
Chocolate – a simple bar without
nuts, fruit or caramel.
Have you ever been on
a diet? If so, how did it
I went on a diet a few years ago after
a full health check-up when I turned
50. I shed a couple of pounds, but
nothing drastic. I’ve been able to
maintain a fairly stable weight pattern,
but am probably carrying less weight
now than when I was first ordained
32 years ago. I can still fit into the
cassock I bought as a clerical student
36 years ago – my special boast.
Do you take health
No, never.
but I do take regular exercise at least
three times a week – more, if I can fit
it in. I swim for about an hour and aim
for 2,500 metres on each visit (100
lengths of the pool). It’s great for the
breathing and they haven’t invented
iPhones for the pool – I hope they
never do.
Best tip for everyday
Eat sensibly and fit in some exercise
(better then none).
Were school sports
happy times or do you
have a memory you would
rather forget?
I’m afraid schools sports and I did not
mix well. When you are consistently
left as one of two or the very last
person to be picked by the captain of
the football team for his side, you’re
left in no doubt about your abilities.
On a scale of one to 10,
Did you ever have a
how fit do you think you
health epiphany which
are and how fit would you like
made you change your
to be?
Gosh, I’m not sure. I’m 59 now, I
feel well and don’t think I’m carrying
excess weight and take regular
exercise ….I’d say around 7. I’d
like to get more walking into my
daily routine, but the car wins. More
walking might take me to an 8?
Have you tried, or would
you try, alternative
No, but I wouldn’t rule it out unless
the doctor said it would compromise
any medication I was taking.
Lucy Stock, dentist at
Gentle Dental Care in Belfast,
outlines why it’s important that
we maintain our smile so that
we can communicate properly
with others
Smile and the
world smiles
with you
Is nutrition important to
Do you have a daily
exercise regime?
I don’t go out of my way thinking
I don’t have a daily regime as such,
about it, but I avoid fatty foods and
processed foods. I’m fortunate in
that when I eat during the day, the
cook (she’s fantastic) insists on fresh
ingredients and that has rubbed off
on me when I cook for myself or for
family and friends. My body is a small
temple and fresh ingredients provide
the perfect fuel for the temple flame.
No, I can’t ever claim that kind of
reality check.
Best health/lifestyle
advice you were ever
given and would pass on to
Everything in moderation.
What time do you
normally get to bed and
do you get enough sleep?
I rarely end up in bed before
midnight. It’s a bad habit.
All activity keeps the brain younger, but a 2017 study from
the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, which
compared walking and cycling with dancing, found only
dancing directly improved people’s balance — a sign
of better connections in the brain. The lead scientist, Dr
Kathrie Rehfeld, suggests that the challenge of learning
and remembering steps creates the extra brain boost.
Who inspires you or who
would you try to emulate
in terms of fitness/attitude to
I’m inspired by a member of my
family who is coping with a lifechanging diagnosis, but retains a
completely positive outlook. In the
same circumstances, I’m not sure if
I’d be as accepting.
Would you say you
have a healthy attitude
towards your own mortality?
Well, as a priest it will come as no
surprise that I regularly face the
reality of mortality in my ministry
through individuals and families who
have lost a loved one. Every funeral
service reminds me of the relatively
short length of days we all have in
the big scheme of things. I don’t
worry about dying, but if I was ever
told I had a terminal illness, I think
I’d be devastated, at least initially,
but I hope that my anxiety would
be quickly balanced by my faith in
eternal life.
n The Priests: An Unexpected
Journey – an evening of
conversation and song, takes
place at the Europa Hotel, Belfast,
on Sunday, October 28. Fr
Eugene, Fr Martin and Fr David’s
12 Days of Christmas Irish tour
begins in December and will
visit venues in Strabane, Omagh,
Armagh, Enniskillen, Downpatrick,
Derry and Belfast. Full dates at
understandingly –
much more than
understandingly. It was
one of those rare smiles with a
quality of eternal re-assurance in
it, that you may come across four
or five times in life.
“It faced – or seemed to face – the
whole eternal world for an instant,
and then concentrated on you
with an irresistible prejudice in
your favour. It understood you
just as far as you wanted to be
understood, believed in you
as you would like to believe in
yourself, and assured you that it
had precisely the impression of
you that, at your best, you hoped
to convey.”
This excerpt from F Scott
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, in
which Nick Carraway’s character
describes Jay Gatsby’s smile, is
what Princess Eugenie asked her
sister to read at her wedding last
week. Gatsby may have been a
rogue, however the beautifully
written passage highlights
the power and emotions that
a smile can convey. So, how
do we distinguish between a
genuine smile and one that is
being manipulatively used for
underhand dealings?
It turns out our brain is a master at
sorting out the real from the fake.
In fact, emotions researcher Dr
Paula Niedenthal puts forward
three ideas of how our brain sorts
the numerous different types of
smile. Our brain is constantly
comparing the geometry of a
person’s face to a standard
smile and then it assimilates the
findings. Then our brain puts
the smile into context of what is
happening at that moment: is the
smile what is expected?
Most interestingly, we
automatically mimic the other
persons smile, to feel ourselves
whether it is fake or real. If it is
real, our brain will activate the
same areas from the smiler and
we then identify it as a real one.
In their new paper, Dr Niedenthal
and her colleagues point to a
number of studies indicating that
this imitation activates many of the
same regions of the brain that are
active in the smiler.
So, the next time you lock eyes
with another person, they really
are reading your mind. That’s why
it’s so important to be confident
with your smile to allow your
true feelings to be shown to the
receiver. On the downside, if you
feel you need to hide your teeth
by lip holding or hand covering,


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