From penning numerous columns on mental health and a mountain of charity work, to a food blog with chef Gizzi Erskine making home-made versions of your favourite takeaways, rapper Professor Green aka Stephen Manderson is a wellness warrior of the highest order.
A friend of Form, we checked in on Mr. Green to see how he’s coping during lockdown (he is currently stuck in Morocco), what life lessons he has learned along the way and why the modest kettlebell is keeping him sane.
How are you keeping your mind healthy during this difficult time?
It hasn’t been easy, but balance is important. I’m not being too hard on myself and I don’t think anyone should be. It’s great if you’re motivated but this is a marathon and not a sprint; conserve enough energy to see you through it; there’s a high chance if you over-do it – be it exercise, work, a new craft, a language, anything – you’ll burn out, or get bored and stop.
I was working out twice a day on most days when this began, which has quickly changed. Something to remember is that with everything else happening this might not be the time to start loading on more pressure with new goals or tasks.
It’s great to have something to look forward to so I’ve been planning things for different days, things to cook and things to watch. I’m being careful not to fall into the trap of pressuring myself to do more then I would normally though because of the illusion of ‘all of this extra time’ we have on our hands. There’s still only 24 hours in a day!
I make sure I get dressed which sounds basic but when you aren’t leaving the house it’s quite easy to fall into a trap of ‘what’s the point?’, and if that becomes your attitude towards life – you’re in trouble.
What is your fitness regime looking like at the moment?
I was exercising twice a day; splitting cardio sessions and strength to pass the time, which is something like 30 minutes of Tabata or skipping with various light kettle bell exercises.
After three or four weeks I was pretty tired and realised I wasn’t really nailing the nutrition side of things. I’m in Tangier in Morocco and don’t have any Form to hand. Ramadan started on the 29th April too. I’m not Muslim but I am following the fasting part and finding it even harder to get my eating right.
That and the monotony of this period led to me simplifying my workouts. I do six or seven exercises and high reps of each. For instance today I did:
Biggest set: 20 reps
Time: 13 mins
Kettle Bell Swings With 16kg
Biggest set: 50 reps
Time: 12 mins
Shoulder Press With 10kg Kettle Bell
Biggest set: 25 reps
Time: 4:55 mins
|Squats With 16kg Kettle Bell
Biggest set: 30 reps
Time: 4:45 mins
Bicep Curls 10kg
Biggest set: 30 reps
Time: 4:20 mins
What have you learnt about yourself through lockdown?
My willpower is still pretty strong. That I can motivate myself when there’s no one else to push me and that I’ve progressed mentally and done a much better job of not worrying about what’s out of my control than my younger self would have.
Have you picked up any surprising hobbies?
I have started reading for fun and not just education, information, current affairs. As a kid I was a book worm but somewhere along the way work and my social life distracted me from how much I appreciate books.
I’ve also started cooking a lot. During fasting or ‘iftar’, which is when you break fast as the sun goes down means, you have all day to get excited about what you’re going to make, and all that time to prepare it too. It’s done me the world of good. The hours I work and all the travelling I do have led to me being quite lazy in the kitchen and relying on eating out and ordering take away a lot. I haven’t had a take away in eight weeks and I’ve cooked every one of those 56 days.
What’s been your most treasured possession through the lockdown?
A 16kg kettlebell.
What’s in your fridge at the moment?
A lot of colours. Morocco is brilliant because most things grow here, so lots of gorgeous fresh fruit and veg. And also some Lindt blackcurrant dark chocolate; a new favourite I have found here.
Which books are you reading?
I’m currently re-reading ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker. As a part-time insomniac it’s on one hand one of the most informative books I’ve ever read and on the other its one of the scariest.
And then ‘Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole’ by Allan Ropper and ‘Missing Microbes’ by Martin J. Blaser. I’d recommend all three.
What apps, if any, are you hooked on?
I’m not really an app person. I spend too much time on my phone as it is. I left school at 13 and despite teaching myself many things, languages aren’t my strong point.
My partner is Moroccan so we are spending quite a lot of time here. You need to be able to speak Arabic, French, and Spanish to survive, so along with a few bits of basic Arabic I’m picking up, I’ve started to learn French using Rosetta Stone.
What Netflix/TV shows have you been binge-watching recently?
The third season of Ozark, The Outsider, and lots of Masterchef. I don’t watch TV until a while after dinner so I haven’t over-indulged. I can feel a pyjama day coming though. I deserve one and it’s all about balance remember!