Shape I'm In: Niall Breslin, Musician

Musician Niall Breslin trains twice a day, six days a week for an Iron-Man challenge in May.

Shape I'm In: Niall Breslin, Musician

MUSICIAN Niall Breslin, also known as Bressie, has no regrets about going public on his panic attacks.

“I’ve never looked back,” he says. “It’s fantastic. I spent way too much energy trying to hide it from the public eye.”

In the process he has become a touchstone for others with mental health concerns. “A lot of people have come up to me wanting to talk about their own experience but I’m not a psychologist and can only offer support, not advice.”

A fierce fitness programme — he is competing in an Iron Man in May — has helped him gain control of his thoughts. “Exercise is my medication. I’ve no doubt about the body-mind connection. Going to the gym, setting a goal you can achieve, leads you to believe, ‘maybe I do have an element of control over my head’.”

Aged 33, the former GAA and rugby star confirms he is dating model Roz Purcell. The official news may well come as a disappointment to his legion of female fans.

* Breslin is participating in this year’s An Post Cycle Series, which gets underway on May 3 and 4 in Sligo. It will be followed by the Tour De Burren in Clare on June 21, and the Meath Heritage Cycle Tour on July 26 and 27. The Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford is on August 23 and 24 and the Rebel Tour of Cork will be on September 13. See: www.anpost.ie/cycling

What shape are you in?

I’m relatively fit. I’m preparing for an Iron Man in Austria. I’m getting there by a process. I train twice a day, six days a week. A training session can last from one to three hours. I do a lot for charity, but I want to do this Ironman for myself.

Do you have any health concerns?

I struggle with injury and have to stay on top of it. I’ve had every injury in the physiotherapy handbook. I’ve had three hernia operations and had to work hard to get my fitness back.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Given the type of training I’m doing, I need to eat between 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day. I’m 16½stone and need lots of protein, like chicken. I don’t eat fish — I hate everything about it. When training I take gels — they’re pure sugar — regularly. Hypoglycemia is the devil. It’s important never to get hungry or dehydrated.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

A few pints with my mates — I like Guinness. It’s more important to switch off than to get upset about something.

What would keep you awake at night?

I’m lucky enough, most of my concerns are trivial. I tend to worry about other people a lot. And I can get anxious if I know I’ve only five or six hours to sleep.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Steve Coogan, Larry David, Graham Norton. I’d want to have some fun.

What’s your favourite smell?

Tar — I love it. I also like the smell of toast.

What would you change about your appearance?

I’ve lots of little injuries I wish I never had. I work hard and train hard to deal with them.

When did you last cry?

When I watched Independence Day last night. It gets me every time.

What trait do you least like in others?

Bitchiness — it’s the side effect of unhappiness.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

I’m massively impatient.

Do you pray?

Not in a conventional way. I visualise and work things out in my head.

What would cheer up your day?

I love being around kids — they’re so untainted. My nephew Billy is two years old, it’s great to chill out with him.

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