Taking control

Tara Stewart talks to Irene Feighan about her health and life.

DJ TARA Stewart never planned to live in Dublin. At least not until she decided seven years ago to stop off in the capital on her way from her native Alice Springs to London, where she intended to follow a career in music. “I ended up really loving it — I met so many great people and made some great friends,” she says. “I love that I’m in a capital city that is so small — I can bump into someone I know down the street every day.”

Along the way, she also found a job with RTÉ 2FM and a boyfriend, whom she refers to as Mango.

Tara Stewart says she last cried watching the final episode of the sitcom ‘Derry Girls’. Picture: Moya Nolan

Her quick immersion may have something to do with the fact she’s half Irish — her father is from Belfast, while her mother is an Indian raised in Malaysia.

But like all big life changes, it took time to adjust. “I was terrified for about three years. I just didn’t want to go home and I stuck it out. It ended up being the best thing I ever did.”

Tara is so well acclimatized by now she even enjoys Irish winters — “I love being able to wear winter clothes like jackets and jumpers”. But but has one complaint: The season is too long. Looking at the grey skies when we talk, you can only agree.

A social smoker, she recently signed up for the Boots Stop For Good Rewards Programme. She’s had a good start. “I’m really surprised at how well I’m doing — I’m not very good at self-control. I’m feeling so much better. Don’t get me wrong, I’d really love to have a cigarette right now. But the cravings are getting so much easier [to deal with]. I’m really, really happy with how things are going.”

What shape are you in?

I go to pump classes about three or four times a week. I really enjoy it. I live in town and I walk a lot — about 40 minutes each day. On the very rare occasion, I’ve run to work in Donnybrook.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I try to eat vegetarian Monday to Friday At home, I cook vegetable curries and vegetable pasta. On the weekends, I’ll have roast and steak. I haven’t drunk milk in about seven years — it doesn’t agree with me. I’ll have bread on the odd, odd occasion but it doesn’t really agree with me either. I drink a lot of water. I’m a healthy eater but I don’t like to overthink it. I love food and I like to enjoy it.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I love Brie cheese. I wouldn’t have them very often but I do love salt and vinegar crisps.

What would keep you awake at night?

Nothing. I sleep too well. It’s a great complaint. It takes me a while to wake up sometimes because I sleep so deeply. I get six or seven hours’ sleep on weekdays and weekends, I get eight or nine hours.

How do you relax?

I meditate before I go to bed for 15 to 20 minutes. I do it so I don’t get too overwhelmed. Sometimes my phone can be going off all the time. I work in RTÉ, I’m also a journalist for a music magazine — and I do DJing. I usually have my phone on vibrate because the sound wrecks my head.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Nigella Lawson — I know it’s a lot of pressure but I love her. I’d also love to see the Two Fat Ladies — I’ve great memories of watching them cooking when I was growing up. Then I’d love to invite Missy Elliot and Shania Twain. The ’90s and early noughties are my favourite type of music. I do love modern stuff as well.

What’s your favourite smell?

Lavender.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I wish my belly wasn’t as big as it is. I’ve struggled with it my whole life — it’s something that never seems to leave no matter how much I work on it. Also, I wish my feet were a little bit smaller — they are size eight.

When is the last time you cried?

The other day when I was watching the last episode of Derry Girls. There’s a scene right at the ending and it was really upsetting.

What traits do you least like in others?

Bad manners — if you’re in a restaurant and someone is rude to a waiter. Or when someone doesn’t say ‘thank you’ when you open the door for them.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I overthink things a lot. And sometimes I don’t think of others as much as I should. I get caught up in my own head where I’m worried about my career or worried about the way I look and I forget about checking in on someone else.

Do you pray?

No.

What would cheer up your day?

My boyfriend making me laugh.


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