Home and Away ac­tress Ada Ni­code­mou talks about chang­ing her mind­set for greater hap­pi­ness


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When fans bump into

Ada Ni­code­mou around Syd­ney, she’ll al­ways stop for a quick photo – but she’s usu­ally in quite a hurry. That’s be­cause the bub­bly soap star has a to-do list longer than her pop­u­lar char­ac­ter Leah Pat­ter­son-Baker’s list of re­la­tion­ship dis­as­ters.

For­tu­nately, her mul­ti­task­ing game is strong. In fact, when the 41-year-old phones Good Health and Well­be­ing for our in­ter­view, she’s driv­ing home af­ter a long day of film­ing – “I do my phone calls in the car – when I’m at home with [my son] Johnas, I don’t have my phone any­where near me be­cause I want to try and fo­cus on the mo­ment more.”

Ada ad­mits she’s eter­nally got a lot on her plate, and she knows re­duc­ing that men­tal load is paramount when it comes to her health and well­be­ing.

“I do get over­whelmed,” says Ada, who has been on Home and Away for 18 years. “I’ve been eval­u­at­ing how to sim­plify my life be­cause I am bad at say­ing ‘no’. I’m one of those peo­ple who does about 20 things in the morn­ing be­fore I leave home and every time I’ve got a day off, I’ll add five to 10 ap­point­ments in, and I need my house to be per­fect, and all that stuff, then I run my­self into the ground.

“I was wak­ing up tired all the time be­cause my mind wouldn’t stop. So now I’m try­ing to say no to things, I’m try­ing to write down lists, I’m de­cid­ing what’s more im­por­tant than oth­ers, and putting the phone down.”

Bat­tling per­fec­tion­ism

The 41-year-old star says she first re­alised how im­por­tant it was to make sure she didn’t get over­whelmed when she be­came mum to Johnas, now six, her son with ex hus­band Chrys Xipoli­tas.

“The most chal­leng­ing thing

I found was re­al­is­ing that there were a lot of things you can’t con­trol,” she says.

“You can’t con­trol a new­born and some­times you just have to go with the flow. I’m a real per­fec­tion­ist, and I’ve strug­gled with that be­cause I like to have the ‘show home’. I like him to be per­fectly dressed and I like him

to eat nu­tri­tional food, but you have to let go of all of that, be­cause oth­er­wise you’ll just drive your­self in­sane.”

One thing Ada def­i­nitely can con­trol is her fit­ness – a corner­stone of her health and well­be­ing ethos. The pop­u­lar ac­tress re­li­giously de­votes at least 20 min­utes a day to ex­er­cise, four to five days a week, us­ing a tread­mill at home or her own weights. But ear­lier this year she de­cided she wanted to get se­ri­ous, so she em­barked on an in­ten­sive eight-week one-on-one weights-train­ing reg­i­men.

It was tough… but so is Ada.

“I love it!” en­thuses Ada, who con­tin­ues to do reg­u­lar weight-train­ing ses­sions even though the pro­gram has fin­ished. “I’m lucky be­cause I’m one of those peo­ple who en­joys train­ing.

For me, it’s more about try­ing to man­age time between work and be­ing a par­ent and try­ing to find time for my­self.

I don’t have as much time for train­ing as I would like but for me it’s about the qual­ity of train­ing. Weight train­ing is great be­cause I feel like you don’t have to do as much – you don’t have to do a one-hour car­dio ses­sion, you just have to do the right ex­er­cises.” Nat­u­rally, an in­ten­sive fit­ness reg­i­men plus a busy sched­ule re­quires the right fuel. Ada has al­ways been con­scious of the value of nu­tri­ent-rich food thanks to her mother Jenny, and that’s a les­son she, in turn, is pass­ing on to her son.

“I was very lucky to grow up in a house­hold where Mum never di­eted, so I’ve never seen my mum stress about her weight – it was al­ways about healthy eat­ing,” she ex­plains. “We had an abun­dance of beau­ti­ful fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles. Mum’s a great cook and baker – every Sun­day morn­ing we’d wake up with the smell of fresh bread.

She con­tin­ues, “As you get older

I think it’s more about your en­ergy lev­els and mak­ing sure you’re eat­ing nu­tri­tious food. I think I’ve al­ways had a bal­ance. I do like the odd glass of cham­pagne and red wine, and I love food – I’m

Greek; I love my food and I’ve got a sweet tooth as well. But I’m 41 now,

I can’t be eat­ing as many desserts as

I was hav­ing in my 20s!”

Glo­ri­ous food

In fact, when you start Ada talk­ing about food, it’s hard to get her to stop. The down-to-earth star, who is in a re­la­tion­ship with in­ter­net en­tre­pre­neur Adam Rigby, con­fesses with a laugh that

food is on her mind “from the mo­ment I get up to the mo­ment I go to sleep”. That doesn’t mean, how­ever, that she’s prone to overindulging – Ada is very dis­ci­plined.

“It’s not that hard to eat well. It’s not that hard to grill some chicken and steam some veg­eta­bles, or throw to­gether a salad with some tuna. I love eggs, and I love mak­ing a Greek dish called ‘chip omeletta’ and it’s ba­si­cally a chip omelette, but you can add any­thing to it. I usu­ally do zuc­chini, a lit­tle bit of potato, haloumi, spinach and eggs. It’s just so good!” She con­tin­ues, “I’m not the world’s best cook but I think I’m quite good with flavours. I’ve bought some roo fil­lets – be­cause kan­ga­roo’s very lean – and I’m go­ing to do a de­con­structed ham­burger tonight.

You won’t come over to my house for a gourmet meal, but it’s al­ways tasty.”

Self–care credo

Ada’s ap­proach to nutri­tion is one facet of her over­all com­mit­ment to her well­be­ing. She’s also very com­mit­ted to keep­ing her­self men­tally well, and is de­ter­mined not to fall into the trap of ne­glect­ing her­self, as many mums can find them­selves do­ing.

“I’ve al­ways been of the be­lief that you’ve got to do some­thing for your­self every day,” she says firmly. “Moth­ers, and women in gen­eral, tend to say ‘yes’ to ev­ery­thing and give our­selves to ev­ery­one and al­ways leave our­selves last. I need to be strong for my­self first so I can look af­ter my son. Whether it’s get­ting up in the morn­ing and ex­er­cis­ing, or hav­ing a cup of tea be­fore he gets up. I like to have fa­cials and get mas­sages; I love spend­ing time with my friends. It’s mak­ing sure that I do some­thing nice for my­self every day.”

There’s no doubt that Johnas is the light of Ada’s life, fea­tur­ing of­ten in her In­sta­gram posts.

The soap star has been through some in­cred­i­bly tur­bu­lent times over the past few years, with the very pub­lic break­down of her mar­riage and the dev­as­tat­ing loss of her still­born son Har­ri­son in 2014. But even on the dark­est of days, Johnas, as well as her sup­port­ive group of girl­friends, has been a never-end­ing source of joy.

“His gig­gle is just… oh, it warms my heart! I’ll never get sick of it,” says Ada, with pal­pa­ble af­fec­tion in her voice. “This is Johnas’ first year at school so I’m just try­ing to bring up a lit­tle boy and turn him into a fine young man one day – that’s re­ally im­por­tant to me.”

Re­as­sur­ingly for fans of Home and Away, who have watched Leah’s strug­gle through sur­ro­gacy, sin­gle par­ent­hood, wid­ow­hood – twice – and evolve to be­come a Sum­mer Bay stal­wart along­side Alf Ste­wart, Ada has no in­ten­tion of leav­ing the show any­time soon.

“I hope I’m there un­til the end,” she says. “I ab­so­lutely love it!”

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