Three wellness experts share their stories about how they became healthier and fitter and reveal their top tips for making a lifestyle change that sticks
Want to embrace a healthier lifestyle but just don’t know where to start? We definitely know how overwhelming it can be because after all, changing a lifetime’s habits from bad to good is a task that can prove to be pretty daunting - even for some of the most respected wellness experts in the industry.
So what was it that helped them makeover their lives for the better? We spoke to a trio of health and wellbeing pros about the key moment that triggered their mindset resets and led them along the path to a much healthier lifestyle. A decision that takes dedication and commitment in order to change good intentions into lifelong habits, we found out what keeps them motivated to stay healthy and their top tips for turning your life around should you be looking to make positive strides in the New Year.
Nutritional therapist , www.ameliafreer.com
How I made good nutrition a way of life...
In my twenties I suffered terribly from exhaustion, bad skin, digestive issues and a general lack of vitality. A friend suggested I look at my diet. The changes that I subsequently made to my nutrition changed my life, my energy and my mood and inspired me to take the path I am now on.
What keeps me motivated...
When I don't stay healthy - let my diet slip or my exercise lapse - I feel and look absolutely awful. That's my motivation. I want to make the most out of my life, to enjoy it as much as possible. So to reach optimum wellness and happiness, I have to stay on track or my body says ‘no’ in a variety of painful and uncomfortable ways. I definitely don't always achieve it but it's not an effort now, it's a choice.
My top tips for turning your life around...
My book Eat, Nourish, Glow sets out my 10 principles for healthy eating but I would say first and foremost, start cooking for yourself. Dispense with all convenience foods and eat fresh (preferably organic) vegetables and fruit, meat, fish, nuts and seeds. The changes can be pretty intense and impressive, pretty quickly.
I highly recommend cutting sugar to a minimum of 2 teaspoons per day, ideally of coconut sugar and considering cutting out gluten for a period of time - see what you notice. I would also recommend seeing a qualified nutritionist who can point you in the right direction and support your new healthy habits, but then I would say that!
Editor-in-Chief of Get The Gloss
How I embraced exercise…
My decision to get fit really came from a place of how I felt than how I looked, (although getting rid of the muffin top and the jelly belly was something I wanted to address). Primarily though, I was knackered after having two children and so tired - I wanted to wake up and feel fresher, for my body to feel full of energy, and to feel strong both mentally and physically.
I started by reading a book called Run Fat Bitch Run by Ruth Field. It is a no-bullshit guide to getting out and exercising - Field teaches you how to not listen to that voice in your head that says, ‘Stay inside it will be much warmer and cosier in front of the TV.’ She also taught me that in the past I had gone at exercise too hard to begin with, which made me hate it. I realised that I was running too fast for example, and felt I couldn't do it - when I went slower I realised I could go for much longer. I realised I couldn't be an athlete in a month!
At the same time as this, I met a personal trainer called Steve Mellor from Freedom2train who had an office next to our office. He persuaded me to go out training and whilst I nearly died in the first session, I actually enjoyed it and I realised that exercise could be fun. Very slowly with the help of Steve (he also gave me amazing nutritional advice on how to get leaner), I got fitter and fitter and the excess body fat melted away.
It became a very positive cycle for me - the better I felt, the more I wanted to train and the more I wanted to eat well. I started exercising by myself in my spare time too. Over the last 3 years I have lost 13% of my body fat, and last year I did two triathlons and cycled round Ibiza!
MORE GLOSS: Mind over matter – 5 ways to overcome your exercise gremlins
What keeps me motivated…
I am motivated by the way exercise makes me feel. It makes me feel one step ahead of everything...that I can conquer anything. It gives me a great sense of achievement - that I've done something really good for myself, and made myself feel great and bettered my body in the process. Research shows that the person who took an hour out to exercise is more efficient than the person who didn't, so I don't think of it as a waste of an hour - I see it as something productive, helpful, mood altering, and so I never miss a session if I can help it.
I am also motivated by the fact that I have come a looong way. When I first started training, I could barely run a mile without stopping and gasping for breath. When I crossed the finish line at Blenheim triathlon last year, I burst into tears as I couldn't believe I had done it (in these three years, I also snapped a ligament in my knee and couldn't run for a year so this was a big achievement for me). I have also got stomach definition where I've never had any and a whole lot less wobble everywhere which I don't ever want to lose if I can help it!
My top tips for turning your life around…
For anyone wanting to get into fitness I would say JUST START. I think people can get really hung up on how to start, and I hear excuses like ‘I can't run,’ or ‘I'm so unfit,’ or ‘I'll look stupid,’ or ‘I wouldn't be able to do it,’ or ‘I don't have time’ A LOT. This is all in your head. First and foremost, do not listen to that internal gremlin and just start. Remember that even the best athletes had to start somewhere once. Also, you have to start small - if you try and run 5 km straight off, you will be terrible at it and you will hate it. It's important to build it up and take it slowly.
Also it's SO important to find something you love. I love training for a triathlon as I love the diversity of swimming/cycling/running, and I also box which is my favourite thing. I would hate to run a marathon for example as it's so much time pounding pavements. Find something you like and remember that ‘It's the hard that makes it great.’ The more effort you put in, the greater the rewards will be for you mentally, physically and for your wellbeing. Do not delay, start today.
Nutritionist and food blogger, www.upcakes.co.uk
How I embraced healthy eating...
I initially got into healthy eating because I had to: I was suffering from chronic acne and I had tried every pill, cream and treatment out there. None of them worked on me and as a last resort, I went to see a nutritionist - being 18 at the time I wasn't a ‘believer’ that it was a legit cure, but after a year of clean eating, my skin totally cleared up and I've kept it at bay since.
What keeps me motivated...
My motivation to stay healthy and help others do the same is that feeling that your best enables you to live your life to the fullest. When you feel vibrant and healthy, you can share your gifts with the world and move through life functioning at a higher level - more happiness, more energy, and more ‘alive-ness.’ That's a totally priceless birth right that all of us should be enjoying.
My top tips for turning your life around...
The first step to making positive changes is to get specific about what it is you want and then claim it. Often we women are apologetic about what we desire, or we think we don't deserve it. This kind of thinking sabotages us long-term, so we have to really work on owning that desire.
Once you've established that, adjust your life to make it look as if you've already achieved those goals. Say you envisage yourself really fit and 10 pounds lighter in 3 months’ time. Start acting like that future you today! If that person for example, would get really excited to work out early in the morning or if she would drink more water. Fake it till you make it.
I'm also a big fan of not rushing change. When we make too many changes at a time, our bodies rebel. Physiologically speaking, we resist drastic change because we think it’s a threat to our survival. So do what I call ‘3 tweaks a week’ - choose 3 small changes you can start every Monday and then build on that foundation by adding 3 more adjustments the next Monday. I've seen that tactic work time and time again because it doesn't drain our willpower - and feeling drained is a guaranteed way to go back to old habits!
Top Image Credit for Amelia Freer: Ali Allen