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Mark Wright: Looking after your health has to come first

The reality TV star turned radio host and fitness influencer talks to Abi Jackson about keeping his gut – and himself – happy.


(Ian West/PA)

Mark Wright says launching a fitness app is the “most rewarding” thing he’s ever done in his career.


The former reality TV star and professional footballer, who is now also a radio host for Heart FM, launched Live Wright in 2021 with his brother Josh – after the pair started sharing their workouts on social media during lockdown.


“It’s doing really well and people are loving it,” Wright, 36, says of the app, which also offers nutrition guidance and recipes. “People are telling me their lives have changed from our programme.


“Out of everything I’ve ever done, it’s the most rewarding feeling. So the more I can give advice on diet, health and fitness, the better I feel. That’s why you’ll see on my Instagram, I do a lot of recipes at times.”


This explains his ongoing partnership with California Almonds. The brand approached him after noticing that Wright was already talking about incorporating the nuts in his diet (he has them between meals and blends them into smoothies). Describing himself as someone “who’s got a big appetite”, his snacks are important.


“I was told by a nutritionist about 15/20 years ago, one of the best things to snack on in between meals is almonds. So I’ve been doing that for years – I’ve got bags of them in the cupboard and every time I’m hungry, I’ll have a handful of almonds,” he explains. “But people don’t realise the other health benefits and how good they are, for example for gut health.”


Around 73% of Brits experience gut health symptoms at least one day a week, according to a survey by California Almonds. However, more than half (54%) agree they find the topic of gut health confusing. While many (56%) say they try to address the issue by making changes in their diet, two-fifths (39%) admit they don’t know what foods are good for their gut, with 43% saying they’re clueless about the role fibre plays.


It’s something Wright – who recently celebrated eight years of marriage with wife, Ten Pound Poms actress Michelle Keegan – has put a lot of thought into, personally.


“There are gut problems in my family, so I’ve always watched that,” he says, adding that he is “prone to having problems”, but manages to keep symptoms in check through his diet and lifestyle.

Wright has partnered with California Almonds (Mark Wright/California Almonds/PA)

For him, a key part of this is ensuring he gets plenty of whole foods, fibre and a range of nutrition – including whole almonds, which are loaded with fibre, good fats and antioxidant polyphenols. He’s also learned to recognise which foods don’t tend to agree with him.


“You’re always learning, aren’t you? Working out what’s good for you, what’s not. I’ve pulled myself away from red meat quite a lot. I still eat it every now and then, but I don’t really have big steaks much anymore. I watched a show when I was living in America [Wright briefly moved to LA in 2017 after landing TV presenting work there], about meat and stuff – it was one of those shows that scare you,” he recalls.


“So I had six to seven weeks off steak – and I used to eat it once or twice a week – and when I tried to go back after [having that break], my gut, honestly! I was up in the night, the next day…”


He says the same thing happened again recently, when he attempted to treat himself to a big steak. “So I’ve now learned that red meat isn’t great for me,” Wright adds – while acknowledging that what’s right for him won’t necessarily be the same for everyone. “Everyone can learn what foods work for them the best. And it’s so important, food is your fuel.”


Fitness is a big part of his personal wellbeing too. Wright was a semi-professional footballer before signing up with ITV’s TOWIE back in 2010, returning to the sport to make his professional debut more recently with a brief stint playing for Crawley Town. Live Wright remains an important part of his portfolio, and regular workouts are a must – for his mind as well as his body.


“It’s everything to my mental health. Well, it’s 90% of my mental health. I haven’t done the gym today, and I’ll be alright because I’ve done it every day this week and I’m in a bit of a rush, but I know that if I don’t squeeze in a gym session, mentally I’ll just feel a little bit less powerful for the day, a little bit less driven.


“When I work out, my mind is just clear,” he says. “And when I feel healthy, and my clothes fit well and I naturally feel like I’ve got energy, it’s just the best version of me – and I know that, I recognise that, and that’s why I try and fit in a workout and make sure I’m eating the right foods. Because for me, my whole day, my work environment, everything is better.


“I just think your health, it is so cliché, but it’s so your number one that it shouldn’t even be questioned,” he continues. “If you get that in your mind and tell yourself: health first – it has to be first – then I’ll work better, I’ll play better, I’ll smile more.”


While routine might be front and centre when it comes to looking after himself, when it comes to his career, variety really is the spice of life.


“I love the diversity I’ve had and all the different types of jobs I’ve had,” says Wright, whose latest TV series was A Wright Family Holiday with his dad and brother for BBC One – which saw the trio share banter, bonding and adventures while travelling around the UK.


Wright says it was the “greatest experience of my life”. He adds: “I can’t believe it was a job, it was just absolutely unbelievable. We made memories to last a lifetime, and we’ve got them on tape to show our kids and grandkids. I can’t put into words how incredible it was.”


As for what’s next…


“I simply don’t have an answer, purely for the fact that if you look at my career, it has always been so different. Whether I’m dancing on Strictly or eating bugs in the jungle, I like to just completely mix it up,” says Wright. “So I couldn’t tell you what’s next. It will probably be something I’ve never done before.”


Mark Wright has partnered with California Almonds to encourage Brits to open up about gut health and learn more about how almonds can maintain a healthy gut.

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