fat loss tips

Fat Loss Tips from 8 Fitness Professionals

Everyone trying to lose a few pounds is looking for the secret fat loss tips that will make their progress faster and easier. In this post you’ll hear from 8 fitness professionals who share their insight into the best ways to burn fat.


But rather than take it from just me, the article I contributed to contains advice from no less than 8 health, nutrition & fitness professionals who all share our pearls of wisdom on the best ways to lose fat.


Note that we talk about ‘fat’ not ‘weight’ because weight can be water, which might happen if you have water retention before dieting or suddenly lower your carbohydrate intake. It could be muscle which we definitely don’t want to happen as muscle keeps you strong, prevents injuries, and gives you the defined ‘toned’ look most people want.


Here’s my excerpt:


“To lose fat you must be eating in a calorie deficit.

While there are various ways to do this, all weight loss diets work by creating a deficit in some way. However, this can lead to hunger when you’re eating less food, which you can only ignore for so long before ‘falling off the wagon’.

One very effective way to prevent hunger is to eat a diet that revolves around protein and fibre. Protein from meat, fish, eggs, some dairy products and also good quality protein supplements are best, or Quorn and tofu for vegans. Vegetables are both high in fibre and very low in calories and are high in water which adds bulk.

Example meals could be an omelette with lots of vegetables, big chicken salad, Greek yoghurt with blueberries, or a steak, salmon or Quorn fillet with loads of veg.

Eating enough protein has the extra benefit of supporting muscle, which will help keep your metabolism high while eating less and as you lose weight.

The Government’s recommendations for protein intake are too low for active people, and most health professionals agree we should be eating much more than the advised 5 portions of veg and fruit a day.

Eating a diet rich in both has helped many of my clients lose weight without ever going hungry.”


You’ll like this video too: Why a Low Calorie Diet Won’t Work

Read the full article here:


New Fitness Festival in West Sussex!

There’s a brand new wellness and fitness festival coming to West Sussex in May 20018!


Fit As A Fiddle (#FAAF) Festival on May 25-18 is all about finding your own strengths in a motivating and positive setting. Situated in the heart of the South Downs at Plush Tents Glamping, East Ashling, the running territory is sublime, with miles and miles of treasured South Downs trails and grassy routes taking us directly to areas of outstanding beauty.



The festival site itself is well equipped for our agenda full of yoga, pilates, HIIT training and seminars with the most influential and authentic professionals in the fitness and health arena right now. We have deluxe yurts which each have a wood burning stove, beautiful lighting, sheep skin rugs and four poster beds. We have an outdoor hot tub with panoramic views and our very own moonlit cinema, under the stars. 


*** 25-28 May 2018 ***

Bring your friends, bring your Mum, you kids, there’s something for everyone!


This is your festival if you crave high intensity training and meditative relaxation in equal measures; your festival if you love running, love the outdoors, believe in holistic living and natural remedies but don’t get enough time to practice; and it is definitely your festival if you want to learn new things including how to empower yourself to feel completely nourished. We believe in living life to the full and never, ever (ever) giving up. #FAAF #MOVE 


Fit As A Fiddle Festival (FAAF) is a 3 night, all inclusive, luxurious, boutique festival. It is a wellness event for fitness enthusiasts and positive women. I have designed this festival to welcome people to reconnect with their strengths in a motivating, upbeat and positive setting. Set in the heart of the South Downs, high up in East Ashling, the yurts are situated in a private woodland with panoramic views across the Downs. Close to Kingley Vale, the running activities will take in 5, 10 and 20km of the picturesque views via trails; led each day by notable London based running coaches and GB athletes. There will be 3 activities to choose from, every couple of hours, every day of the festival, ranging from seminars on topical and interesting aspects of wellness and natural remedies, with experts from fields of nutrition and dietetics; physiotherapy; mindfulness as well as many inspirational speakers all the way through to HIIT classes, independent personal training, consultations, pilates and yoga teachers.

We have DJs, acoustic musicians and many members of staff, to make this exclusive event one free of stress and logistics for its attendees; full of as much activity or relaxation as one cares to experience. It is the festival to attend if you believe in living life to the full! Each guest can cherry pick their activities for the days over al fresco breakfast, sat by the fire pit, in the home yurt, or gazing out across the landscape. There will be 70 attendees for the all inclusive 3 day, 3 night event, with 100 more on 26th and 27th of May – ‘day guests’ who will be able to experience everything but the yurts, until 10:30pm before being taken back to the train station nearby.

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to a charity I am passionate about : ’MOVE’ which educates young people living with cancer on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The founder and CEO of the charity is a cancer survivor who will be at FAAF to promote her cause, tell her story and motivate others. The ethos is very much about empowered women empowering other women through sharing stories, good vibes and a healthy outlook. Please visit www.fitasafiddlefestival.co.uk for full details and for a breakdown of what is included in the ‘all
inclusive’ ticket price.

Get tickets via the button below and use code pollyatfaaf to get 15% off!

fitness festival tickets


Check out the awesome line-up confirmed so far!

fitness festival sussex fit as a fiddle


The “All In” full weekend ticket is priced at £370 plus booking fees. This weekend ticket includes:

  • Luxury accomodation in a yurt for 3 nights: solid oak beds; plush furnishings; sheepskin rugs; wood burning stoves; beautiful lighting and incredible washroom facilities
  • Champagne welcome hamper for your yurt of 4 or 5 people
  • Personalised and decorated yurt for your group, including festival must haves
  • #FAAF T-Shirt and bag full of goodies from #FAAF’s partners and sponsors as well as access to merchandise from lululemon’s pop up shop
  • Food for the festival – with extras supplied by leading street food companies from East and West Sussex
  • Shuttle bus return trip from Chichester train station on Friday 25th at 5pm and Monday 28th May at 10am
  • Unlimited fitness classes and your own scheduling
  • Unlimited yoga sessions with Together Yoga at the break of dawn, throughout the days and during sunset
  • 1:1 technique sessions with a GB triathlete and international runners
  • 5km and 10km guided running routes with master trainers (small groups designed for pace)
  • Outdoor cinema under the stars
  • Unlimited seminars – sessions with the UK’s leading experts in holistic living, natural remedies and wellness. Meet Hollie Grant; Libby Lemon; Nicky Clinch; Rosie Millen; Rhiannon Lambert; Pixie Turner; Daisy Hughes; Pollyanna Hale and more
  • DoTerra trials – therapeutic grade essential oils and supplements
  • Pre and post workout hand blended protein shakes from #Formnutrition
  • Live music from London DJs and the best in UK EDM
  • Access to the hot tub until 10:30pm

Day Ticket price £100.00 includes:

  • FAAF T-Shirt and bag
  • Goodies from FAAF’s partners and sponsors as well as access to merchandise from carefully selected sportswear houses and independent fitness brands
  • Shuttle bus return trip from Chichester, Arundel or Pulborough train station on Friday 25th and Monday 28th May
  • Unlimited fitness classes and your own scheduling
  • Unlimited yoga sessions at the break of dawn, throughout the days and during sunset
  • 1:1 sessions with experts in your chosen field: massage, physiotherapy, nutrition, endocrinology, sleep
  • 1:1 technique sessions with a GB triathlete and international runners
  • 5km and 10km guided running routes with master trainers (small groups designed for pace)
  • Outdoor cinema under the stars
  • Unlimited seminars – sessions with the UK’s leading experts in holistic living, natural remedies and wellness
  • DoTerra trials – therapeutic grade essential oils and supplements
  • Pre and post workout hand blended protein shakes
  • Live music from London DJs and the best in UK EDM
  • Acoustic music sessions every evening
  • Access to the hot tub (12 people at a time) and exit from the festival by 10:30pm


Full scheduled here

Get tickets via the button below and use code pollyatfaaf to get 15% off!

fitness festival tickets 


Find Fit As A Fiddle Festival across all social channels (click the image to go there):






Check out the beautiful countryside location:

Get tickets via the button below and use code pollyatfaaf to get 15% off!

fitness festival tickets



The Truth About Being Pretty: Why Being Attractive Shouldn’t be so Attractive

A departure from my usual blog topics? Yes, but I felt it was something I needed to get off my chest, so wrote this post from the heart for Mum’s website The Motherload.


For what is a fairly controversial and potentially segregating subject, I hope that I’ve opened some eyes and dismissed the misunderstanding that to be traditionally good looking is always a positive. I’d love to hear your feedback after you’ve read it.


It was around my early teens that I noticed I was getting attention from men. Not just boys in my year at secondary school but in older years, and even adult males who didn’t seem to notice, or perhaps mind that I was in my school uniform as they’d chat me up in town after school, or on the beach on weekends where I’d hang out with my friends.


Far from being bothered, this was the self-esteem boost I’d needed after recently moving to the area and having to adjust and make new friends.

And what teenage girl doesn’t want to be made to feel attractive?

I learned as I grew up that leaning in at a bar (necessary due to my 5’3 stature) would get instant service, a smile could get the best table in a restaurant, free entry to a club, backstage entrance to a gig. I could get the attention of the most attractive man at a party, from models to celebrities. Yes, I exploited it and had fun. Heck, I was 18, and I was going to make the most of the party years. Some minor modelling work came along at various points over the years (I’m too short to take it seriously), so I even made money from how I looked.

It’s funny how the world has become so image obsessed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t part of that, but there’s a fine line between vanity and insecurity, and while I didn’t realise it at the time, my insecurities were brewing into a host of mental health problems that were to surface later on.

When asked if I’d rather be slim and pretty, or fat and ugly, the answer isn’t simple. The question itself is flawed. I’d rather be happy. If being attractive makes you happy then sure, take that. Unfortunately if it was that easy cosmetic surgery would be the answer. It’s never that easy, and while many people think I’m lucky, or have life easy, or am #blessed with wonderful genes, I’d like to shed light on a life that so many are craving.

There are two sides to every coin, including this one.

1. You will be seen first and foremost for your appearance

It’s not just blondes who are stereotyped. People think it’s not possible to have brains and looks. Okay, I may have fluttered my eyelashes to get out of a speeding fine once, but I’m not proud of it, and it says as much about the shallow policeman who let me go. Perhaps the reaction was encouraged by the fact I was wearing my beauty therapist uniform, another career choice put into the ‘all looks and no brains’ category.

Looking good becomes your identity. I’ve done a bit of modelling so it’s even on my CV. But that means people expect you to look good. Not in the way that it’s on their mind but if I turn up somewhere looking tired, with greasy hair, no make-up and premenstrual spots, it doesn’t go unnoticed. For many years I couldn’t let this go and would make the effort to live up to these expectations, which I think in hindsight were my own as well as others’. Thankfully age and confidence have both risen simultaneously, and I happily don’t give a damn if people start wondering if I actually own a shower. I’m pleased I’ve made this turn. Self-esteem built on looks is doomed. Even the most beautiful woman in the world will lose her looks eventually.

2. I’m young and inexperienced (except I’m not)

I remember when I was handed a leaflet in the street about a support group for young (aka teenage) mothers, as I waddled along 8 months pregnant with my first child. I had to hold my tongue not to go into a hormonal rage and wave the ring on my finger in the well-meaning social worker’s face. This isn’t to dismiss teenage or unmarried mothers at all – in fact my own sister is a fantastic young mum, but some people do have preconceived ideas about unplanned teen pregnancies, and I guess it said something about my own insecurities that it bothered me others may also have these judgemental ideas about me.

Now that Aurora is eight, nothing has changed. I ‘must have been a teen mum’ given I’m not old enough to have an eight year old. If I had been, it wouldn’t make a difference to what kind of mother I had become, but why is it that people feel it’s appropriate to make a point of it? You wouldn’t say to an older looking mother, ‘oh, they must have been an IVF baby, you’re too old to be a Mum’. And yes, it is the same thing

3. I have to work hard to be taken seriously

When people presume you are young and dumb, try walking into a business meeting and being taken seriously as a mature and level-headed business woman. I can hold my own very well on the phone but the looks on the bank manager or company owner or potential joint venture’s face doesn’t evade me; ‘she’s not a business woman, she’s just a girl’. It takes a while before they realise what comes out of my mouth isn’t all fluff, after all.

4. I’ve never had male friends

I’m actually quite a tomboy at heart, and with three brothers I understand the other kind quite well. But somewhere along the line a great budding friendship has always turned awkward when they try and make a move, or admit they’d like to be ‘more than friends’. Was it my fault? Was my friendliness giving the wrong impression? I don’t know. I thought being friendly was a good thing. I didn’t know it could so easily be misinterpreted.

I was at a marketing event recently and a lovely guy kept coming over to chat. About halfway through the second day he asked if I was single and I showed him my left hand and said actually I had two children too! He walked off and never spoke to me again. Shame, he was really sweet.

5. I have to be so careful of what my girls pick up

Any mum of girls knows it’s pretty much built into them from an early age, this instinct of wanting to look ‘pretty’ to attract a mate (though that last part thankfully hasn’t clicked in our house yet!). Whether it’s insisting on wearing a princess dress to the supermarket or plastering pink glitter on their eyelids, being pretty matters.

They are pretty girls, but that’s not what I want them to be valued for, and even more what they value themselves for. When friends and relatives call them pretty it angers me, and maybe this is an overreaction, but I wish they were called kind, or thoughtful, or generous, or someone said that they worked really hard at their painting. I don’t call my girls pretty. We must look presentable to go to a party, yes, and dresses and bows and shiny shoes are part of that for my girls (I never pushed this stereotype on them, I battle every winter for them to wear jeans outside when it’s cold; pink dresses always win). But that’s because self-pride is important. Making an effort for others is important. It’s a sign of respect to yourself and to your hosts. You don’t have to be conventionally ‘pretty’ to do that.

6. Male attention can turn bad

While a wolf whistle is nice on occasion, I noticed something as I was growing up that was different about the way these men behaved towards me compared to my friends. I was curvy as a teen – I had boobs worthy of page 3 (breastfeeding sadly said goodbye to those), and somehow wearing a fitted top (as you do, in your late teens) meant men felt they had license to pass all boundaries. It’s one thing getting a ‘hey chick’ across the street, quite another to be cornered, pushed up against a wall, boobs grabbed, and having to resort to kneeing them between the legs to escape.

7. Looks don’t make you happy

While most people think they know this, to really see how true this is you only need to look at my mental health history. I have recently been diagnosed with cyclothymia (a form of bipolar), was hospitalised three times with anorexia, complete with drug-resistant depression and organs that were failing. I’ve overdosed on legal drugs, self-harmed, and have to put my mental health first just to stay functioning on a daily basis. As a personal trainer who’s in okay shape, I frequently hear ‘it’s okay for you and your lack of wobbly bits’. No, it’s not ok for me. I wish it was, but it’s not. Exercise is my therapy, not beauty treatment.

Do I resent looking a certain way?

Absolutely not, I resent and regret nothing in life; I’ve always seen both as a little pointless. And I don’t blame or resent anyone who’s judged me on my looks, from the builder who pinned me up against a wall to the businessman who looked down at me to the dance teacher who casually stamped on my dreams saying I probably wasn’t good enough to get tonnes of work, but why not try modelling? Oddly enough, that was not why I’d spent nine hours a week training for the last six years. This was the same dance school where I’d been praised for being the only one who’d not gained weight over Christmas; I’d been vomiting and taking laxatives.

I hear some women say their looks have alienated them from making friends with other women who feel threatened and jealous. Thankfully that’s never been the case for me and I have some wonderful female friends, maybe even because I don’t want to rely on looks to get things and attract people; I’ll always be as good a person as I can be first and foremost.

In Dr Nancy Etcoff’s “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty”, she believes that appreciating beauty is not learned, but rather it is a biological adaptation. Research on infants’ perception shows that children as young as three months are staring at attractive faces longer than at unattractive ones. Uneven skin and lacklustre hair are a sign of sickness, which to the ancient instinctive human in us means less fertile, which means less attractive. Humans were designed to survive.

Some things just are as they are. There are plus sides, there are downsides, but isn’t that the same with everything in life? At nearly 34 and having found my first two grey hairs already, I’m finally feeling comfortable with who I am as a person, and if I lose my looks completely, that’s okay with me.

cheap workout

How to do a Cheap Workout that works

If you’re trying to get fit on a budget then learning how to fit in a cheap workout that’s still effective is essential.


While some people will claim if they didn’t go to the gym they wouldn’t work out, or the fact they have a personal trainer or own expensive equipment keeps them accountable, is simply a matter of mindset and motivation.


But the fact is that if you don’t have a budget that stretched to gym memberships and personal trainers then you’re just going to have to get on with it and do some exercise anyway. If that sounds harsh then if it’s any consolation I don’t have time to spend ages in a gym each day anyway.


Once you factor in travelling there and back, shower time, dressing appropriately….at home and old pair of shorts (or even pyjama bottoms in my case) and a tatty sports bra will do. Drag out your old workout mat, grab a glass of (free) tap water, and you’re good to go.


Remember, it’s not the fancy new leggings or technologically advanced shaker bottle that keeps you healthy. It’s just getting moving and eating well, which you can do on even the tightest budget if you know how.


The Sun Newspaper asked me for my top tips on working out on a budget (find the original article here).


Here’s my tips for getting in a cheap workout and extra movement that really does add up:


  1. Free apps: Apps are great for people who love using their phones and most offer a free version, with paid upgrades for premium features. WatchFit has tons of free articles as well as relatively cheap plans you can buy.
  2. Gym classes aren’t necessary: Home workouts can be really effective if you can motivate yourself. YouTube has lots of free workout videos to follow too.
  3. Make it up: Make up your own workout using bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, sit-ups, burpees, press-ups and sprints on the spot. Interval training is great if you’re short on time. Or if you prefer getting outdoors then running, cycling or a long walk are all free.
  4. Household chores: Play some lively music, put some effort in and work quickly — you’ll get the jobs done twice as fast and have a tidy house by the end. If gardening, ensure you work up a sweat for it to be effective.
  5. Keep moving: Take every opportunity to move more, like using a standing desk and pacing up and down while taking phone calls. All movement helps boost circulation and prevents stiff muscles and an achy back.
  6. Playing with the kids: If you have children then playing with them is certainly better than sitting on the sofa or park bench. In fact playgrounds are fantastic for an all-over workout, with a good mix of climbing, pulling yourself up, holding your core tight to support yourself and chasing after your kids.
  7. Get creative: Most workout classes will ask for a small fee but if there’s nothing suitable for you why not create your own class with a few friends? Keep each other accountable by committing to meeting in the park or in someone’s living room or garden if there’s space.
  8. Go online: Numerous online support groups are popping up where you can get support and ask advice from people with similar goals. Facebook groups in particular can be a good way to meet other budding fitness fans. Weight Loss and Fitness for Mums is my group aimed at sharing tips on how to get fit and eat healthier.
relaxing holiday

24 Tips to get the most out of your relaxing holiday

Holidays are supposed to be a time for relaxation as well as fun, so how do you enjoy your holiday so that you come back restored and not more frazzled than when you left home?


When you’ve been working hard or running around after kids at home the last thing you want is for your well earned break to be equally stressful, so travel consultants Hayes & Javis have come up with some ways to get the most out of your holiday.


They’ve gathered tips from 24 well-being professionals to compile a downloadable guide so that you can learn and implement some key tricks to make you really chill out and enjoy your holiday, and come back restored and rejuvenated in the way that you hoped.


Up to 65% of people report feeling even more stressed while on holiday according to one survey, so don’t let yourself be one of them!


Their essential Four Pillars to Holiday Relaxation are:



Looking after your body means you’ll have more energy to do all the things you want to do on holiday. You know that, so how’s best to get physically prepped for you hols? This pillar covers all that.



Happiness and relaxation starts before you even leave home, as you’ll know if you’ve ever run around at the last minute trying to find a lost passport! Chilling out will help you think clearer and leave all your worries behind back home.



Spending days living closely with others from one small hotel room, apartment or villa with less time alone than back home means talking, communicating, and diffusing tension and disagreements is especially important. Nobody wants a fallout while you’re supposed to be enjoying yourselves.



How to use and enjoy food so that you feel good inside and out while still enjoying local culinary specialities.


In this final section I give you some tips on which foods and nutrients actually work in your body to reduce stress:

“Cooking is a relaxing and creative way to wind down and fresh food will get you feeling and looking good for your holiday. Some foods actually have stress busting properties themselves. Vitamins B and C get depleted under stress, so top them up with meat, wholegrains, red peppers and citrus fruits. Magnesium helps with relaxation and can be found in nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate. Omega 3 oils are fantastic for all areas of brain health including stress management, so make some tasty salmon or mackerel dishes to top up your stores.”


And yes they got a bit muddled when calling me a health & beauty therapist – I actually am a fully qualified beauty & holistic therapist but haven’t worked as one for some years! (but if you ever need help choosing skincare, you know who to call….;) )

You can pick up your own copy of the guide on Hayes & Jarvis website here.

Or download if directly here.


21 Stone Challenge – BBC Radio Interview

When you’re 21 stone and have been eating pies, pasties and take away meals for years it’s not going to be easy making changes, but that’s the challenge BBC 3 Counties Radio have set Glen, and they asked me to help.


Mass media such as radio, TV. magazines and newspapers allow me to reach and help more people like you, which ultimately is the end goal – I don’t get paid to speak, but I do it anyway because for me it’s fun and for you it’s useful.


Plus I get to debate with show presenters about whatever nonsense has been in the news or even they themselves have been spouting out – in this show presenter Jonathan Vernon-Smith made a daft comment about salad making you gain weight.


I made sure to correct him on that one!


We also talk about burgers, BBQ’s and why weight loss is, contrary to what people might think, actually very easy when you have a lot of weight to lose.


The recording will be available on IPlayer until the end of July 2017, though if you wanted to hear it after then get in touch with the show’s producers via the website to access past shows.


21 stone bbc radio



The Candida Diet – Could It Work For You?

The Candida Diet is a food protocol used primarily by natural medicine practitioners, naturopaths and nutritionists as a natural alternative to drugs for treating a candida infection.


Candida is a yeast that occurs naturally in out gut, but can become overgrown, causing IBS symptoms, usually bloating being the main one, as well as recurring thrush, brain fog, intense sugar cravings, low energy and mood, and even fungal nail infections.


But does the diet work? Women’s heath website Femedic asked me and a few dieticians for out opinions on whether the fairly extreme diet is effective.

garlic candida diet


I have personal experience of it when I was tested while having extreme bloating and sugar cravings (no other symptoms thankfully) and was put on the diet for a couple of weeks, alongside various antifungal medications.


It was difficult to follow and the medications were doing the bulk of the work in clearing the infection, but while benefits of the diet may be bigger in some people than others, I reasoned that anything that helped was worth doing temporarily. It’s not a way of eating that’s sustainable long term and I didn’t do the extreme ‘cleanse’ that some people start with.


Here’s an extract from the article on the Femedic Website which specialises in women’s issues such as menstruation, menopause and other areas of gynaecological health.


” Dietitians aren’t all that convinced by the claims of the Candida diet, and both stress the importance of not changing your diet or following any ‘cleanse’ without first consulting a doctor. However, others do believe that the Candida diet works – or at least it worked for them. Pollyanna Hale is a weight loss coach, personal trainer, and nutritionist, and thinks that some people could see positive results from the Candida diet.

“You can have a gut only Candida infection and not get thrush,” she says. “So regularly feeling bloated with a distended stomach would be a sign that Candida might be the culprit. Brain fog and sugar cravings are two other common symptoms, as well as skin and nail fungal infections.”

Pollyanna believes following the Candida diet could help relieve symptoms and clear infection. “The Candida diet cuts out sugar, yeast, fermented and mouldy foods, and foods that have a tendency to contain low levels of moulds, such as some nuts, which help Candida thrive. It also encourages natural anti-fungals such as garlic and coconut,” she explains. But not everyone will need to follow the diet as strictly as others. “The more severe or stubborn the infection, the more rigid you will need to be with what you eat and drink, until the infection is cleared,” she adds.

However, like Faith and Sophie, she does voice her concern at the extreme cleanse part of the diet, as advertised. “An aggressive reset won’t be necessary for everyone,” she says. “It’s basically just eating lots of vegetables and a little fat and protein to ‘flush out’ your gut and cut off the Candida’s food supplies to help stop it growing.” However, this sort of extreme eating (or abstaining) can be difficult to stick to, she notes, and says the Candida dying off can cause “unpleasant and flu-like symptoms”. She does add that anyone wanting to do the cleanse part of their diet should first seek a doctor’s advice. “It’s quite an extreme way of eating even if it is only for three days, and not everybody is suitable to follow such a protocol,” she says. ”

(click here for the full article)

I’d love to hear what you think and if you’ve tried anything like this to help with candida infections.

The best conversations happen over in my free Facebook Group so come and join us here and have your say. 


Pregnancy Diet Advice, and more for Mother & Baby Magazine

Pregnancy diet advice is pretty basic and it doesn’t require advanced knowledge of nutrition to stay well while you’re expecting.


But occasionally, due to the extra demands on your body, a Mum-to-be may have additional needs that basic healthy eating isn’t addressing, and in these cases a supplement can be helpful.


I was asked by Mother and Baby Magazine to help with their monthly Q & A section where readers can submit questions to experts on a variety of topics.


Here’s what I recommended for one expecting mother about vitamin B12 deficiency, and below you’ll find help with weaning premature babies and healthy food tips for fussy toddlers!


Question: I’m 20 weeks pregnant and have been told my vitamin B12 levels are quite low. What should I eat? Nicola Bicker, Kent Vitamin

My Answer: B12 benefits your mood, energy levels, memory, heart, skin, hair, digestion and more. Like folic acid, it’s also needed to prevent neural tube and other neurological defects in unborn babies. Low energy is the most common symptom of deficiency. Red meat, especially beef, is the best source during pregnancy. Organic grass-fed dairy products, free-range eggs, wild-caught fish and organic poultry are valuable sources, too.


Question: My baby was born six weeks early. Do I need to approach weaning any differently? Joanne Withers, Tyne and Wear

My Answer: It’s recommended that weaning starts at around six months. However, each baby’s development speed is different, so take her personal needs into consideration. Questions to ask are: ‘Can my baby sit up and hold her head unaided?’, ‘Is she showing an interest in my food?’, ‘Does she put toys in her mouth and attempt to chew on them?’. Of course, if there were any health complications as a result of being born early, seek advice from your health visitor as to what’s best for your baby.


Question: My two-year-old normally eats what we do – is it OK for his diet to completely change when we go abroad on holiday this summer? Christine Osbourne, Shropshire

My Answer:  One of the great benefits of holidaying abroad is being able to expose toddlers to new foods. Your break away is an ideal time to get your little one experimenting. The best way to do this is to eat new foods yourself – if he sees something he likes the look of on your plate, he might try it. Let him pick something off your plate that looks interesting to him – the fact that you’re eating it gives him the go ahead that it’s safe to eat. Of course, you do need to be careful about hygiene so, depending on where you’re travelling to, follow the recommended advice of choosing bottled water over tap, fruits that need peeling, and be wary of salads that may have been washed in local water, as well as meat and fish that could have been sitting around in the heat. Toddlers can be fussy but won’t let themselves go hungry, so if he’s refusing to join in and eats bread and butter for most of the holiday, don’t worry: he won’t be the first child to do so! As long as he eats well at home, it won’t hurt him.


Click Here or on the image below to see the full piece, scrolling to page 4 for the food advice.

pregnancy diet weaning




addicted to exercise

I Was Addicted to Exercise

A scroll through the #fitfam or #fitspo posts on Instagram will reveal countless images of gym buffs grappling with kettlebells, before-and-after transformations and motivational quotes. If you’re an avid exerciser, perhaps they inspire you to work out harder and longer, to try new moves that will lead to a more defined body, to exercise every day. But where does being fit, healthy and strong end, and an unhealthy attachment to exercise begin?
“Exercise addiction” used to be a relatively innocuous term – a jokey way of saying that you loved exercise – but now it’s a recognised problem and the British Medical Journal has even published a piece about how to recognise and treat it.
According to an Italian study, people who strongly identify as an exerciser and have low self-esteem are at a higher risk of developing an addiction. Women are more likely to suffer from secondary exercise addiction, meaning that it’s associated with an eating disorder. Over 40% of the 120 gym-goers who completed the study were found to be at risk.

What are the signs?

Those with exercise addiction might exercise even when they’re ill or tired. They might miss out on social or family occasions so that they can exercise. They might feel anxious and irritable if they can’t work out or they might exercise to the point that they experience physical injury, such as a stress fracture. They have an inability to stop or reduce their levels of exercise.
But plenty of people love exercise and train to a high level without a problem. So where does the boundary lie between healthy and unhealthy? “The difference is that a compulsive exerciser works out not to feel good, but to avoid feeling bad,” says Dr. Carolyn Plateau, a Loughborough University psychology lecturer who specialises in compulsive exercise. “They rely on it for mood regulation, may get feelings of guilt, failure or anxiety if they don’t exercise, and tend to have a very rigid routine. It comes above all else – exercise will always take priority.”
Polly Hale, 33, agrees. In her late teens and early 20s, she was addicted to exercise alongside having anorexia. She attended dance school, where image was all-important, and during the holidays she would exercise compulsively, seeing it as a way to burn as many calories as she could.
“I started cutting down on the calories I ate,” she says, “but I would also take any opportunity to exercise, such as walking everywhere (even if it took hours) or dancing without stopping all night at a club. If I was away with my family, I would have a strict regime of strength exercises to do. My motives were all wrong. I wasn’t exercising to feel good or stay healthy but to stay thin, and I would get overwhelming feelings of guilt and failure if I couldn’t exercise. I lost the ability to listen to my body and pushed on through, even when I was exhausted and undernourished.”
The triggers can vary. “It can be a small thing, such as a comment on your body made by a friend or family member,” says Carolyn, “up to a dramatic life change such as going to university, having a perfectionistic personality where you’re always striving for high goals, or having a difficult emotional experience and exercise becomes a way of avoiding it.”
“Social media can also play a role, particularly in people that use it a lot as they can lose a sense of the real world,” she adds. “There has been a backlash against being very skinny; now it’s all about lean and strong. But that can be equally damaging if you’re striving for an unrealistic image of a woman with a six-pack and zero body fat – she could be training for hours a day to look like that.”
And because exercise addiction is so often linked with disordered eating, the “clean eating” trend can also play a part. “Hyper-vigilance about what goes into your mouth and a focus on consuming only ‘healthy’ foods can often go hand in hand with compulsive exercise behaviours,” says Carolyn.
A problem with other people recognising it in you, or even a health professional diagnosing it, is that exercise is usually a positive thing. Where starving yourself is clearly a bad idea, we’re encouraged to exercise. “It can go under the radar if it’s not accompanied by an obvious eating disorder,” says Carolyn. “It can also be disguised in much the same way as the early stages of an eating disorder – ‘I’m just exercising a bit more at the moment to stay healthy’.”
“Although my family could see it was part of my eating disorder, they questioned the amount of food I ate but not the amount of exercise I was doing,” says Polly. “I recognised it in myself and knew that it wasn’t normal, but I couldn’t stop myself. The desire to exercise was so overpowering.”

Where to get help

“The first and often the hardest step is admitting to yourself that you have a problem,” says Polly. “Then you can open up to someone else and say you need help.”
You can see your GP, who can refer you to an appropriate service. You could even open up to your personal trainer, who may be able to help you devise a healthier schedule and set positive goals, rather than exercising for exercise’s sake.
Treatment can include cognitive behavioural therapy and psychological help to equip you with healthier ways of dealing with negative emotions. “You wouldn’t necessarily have to stop exercising but you might be asked to reduce it or replace it with low-intensity exercise such as yoga,” says Carolyn. “It’s about reformulating your attitudes to both exercise and food (if it’s associated with an eating disorder).”
For Polly, her turning point was a night at the pub in her early 20s. She had been hospitalised three times but always relapsed. “That night, one friend announced she was pregnant and another that she was getting married. Something in my head just clicked and I realised that everyone was moving on with their lives and I was going to be left behind. No one would want a relationship with me and I would never have children (my periods had stopped long ago). I suddenly wanted this thing out of my life. I worked with a dietitian to help me see food as a pleasure and as fuel, rather than unnecessary calories, and my attitude to exercise slowly changed.”
Change doesn’t happen overnight but Polly proves that it is possible. She’s now a personal trainer and founded The Fit Mum Formula, helping women to learn to love their bodies, exercise and eat well because they want to look after themselves. She’s also married with two children. “It took me about five years to fully recover, but I now exercise and eat well because I want to enjoy life, and I appreciate what it feels like to be strong and healthy, rather than thin and exhausted.”


If you’re one of the busy Mums who cite no time and/or childcare to exercise as your reasons for not getting in the workouts you know you should be doing, then online training is probably right for you.


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Even if you are able to get to the gym, it might not be as good an option for you as training online at home.

Gyms and even forking out for a Personal Trainer come with downsides. Most people aren’t aware of the best way to spend their time when they are at the gym – what exercises will get them closer to their goals, meaning they go week after week but don’t see results.

Personal Trainers overcome this by giving you a personalised plan (or at least they should be, not all PTs are created equal unfortunately), but are only with you for around 1-3 hours per week. What about the other 167 hours in a week? What then?

Online training has grown enormously in the past few years. In fact when The Fit Mum Formula first launched in 2013 we were one of the first, at least in the UK; a fact I’m rather proud of.

Internet, email, Facebook groups and forums, blogs, membership portals and dedicated workout plan software means that wherever you (or your coach) are, you can access the help and information anytime you need it.

This means that you have the resources and support you need, to keep you on track 24/7, and as a result are much more likely to reach your goals, and in less time.

Here are 10 benefits to training online, from home:


Time Saving

Travelling to the gym takes time. Parking the car, changing clothes, finding a locker….you can skip the lot if your workouts are done at home. I don’t even bother ‘getting changed’ properly – if you follow me on social media you’ll know my favourite workout outfit is my pyjama bottoms and a sports bra!


Good Value

With no special equipment or workout clothing you’re already saving a few quid, but the real saving comes from the (rising) costs of gym memberships and Personal Training services, especially if you’re tied into a contract you don’t end up using. Having the support of an online coach is often much more cost effective, since there are few overheads for the coach to pay (PT’s pay rent to gyms), and the flexibility means more clients can be taken on than with in person training. There are some very high priced ‘transformation’ coaches around, but I’ve yet to see one who can justify the thousands (literally) they command each month. Personally I see this as an opportunity to pass those benefits on to you by being able to charge a much more reasonable monthly price while still getting you to reach your goals.


No one else to judge

A strange concept people have is that they have to ‘get fit’ before they can go to the gym. Isn’t this what exercising is supposed to do, not the other way round? But it really stems from insecurities, a fear of being judged by others further along the health/weight/fitness goal path than you. Never should you be made to feel insecure stepping into any fitness facility, it’s unacceptable. However sometimes these insecurities come from within our own head, and while this needs to be challenged, training at home gets round this while still enabling you to make progress.


No one to hog the equipment

Applicable more to those who workout with big heavy weights or machines (and why else would you use a gym?), imagine having a plan, workout template, your preferred workout to do, all prepped and ready, only to find that the local college are teaching their trainee PT’s that day, there’s a special offer on to use the gym, and half the machines are ‘out of order’. Your home is your private gym, and equipment based workouts can easily be switched for effective and select body weight exercises in most cases, especially if your goal is simply to lose weight and tone up (which is most Mums’ goal).



No one plan suits everyone. No timescale is right for every person. You go on holiday, change jobs, have sick children, move house. Having a strict meal and workout plan won’t work in these circumstances. Paid for three times a week training but need to take the dog to the vet that morning? You won’t likely get a refund. But with online training that’s fine – just fit it in when it’s a better time for you; when you get home from the appointment, in your hotel room, before the school run, heck even at 2am if you want to (night shift workers?!).



You can’t see an in person trainer at all hours, every day. They have other clients to train, inflexible schedules to stick to, places to be. While this is still partly true for online coaches – I still have work to do – the flexibility means I can stay in touch with clients whenever they need me, and technology makes keeping in touch with many people in less time possible. For you this means you don’t get forgotten, and likewise the regular contact keeps you on track and accountable, so you’re less likely to deviate from what you need to be doing.



Let’s get this straight – with any trainer, on or offline, you’re not paying for information. We have information overload in the form of the internet. What you get with a good coach is relevant, informed, personalised information that is applicable to you. Understanding why your coach is telling you certain things makes you more likely to agree and follow through with instructions, which in turn will, you guessed it, get you closer to your goals, in less time. Never is delivery of information easier than online, where articles and links to specific information are just a click away and can be sent to you in seconds.


Monitoring Progress

Like benefits of flexibility and accountability in points 5 and 6, adjusting and tweaking your plan is important to make sure it a) is working and b) works within your life and circumstances. This is much easier if you have resources and contact with your trainer to help you tweak as and when necessary, rather than having to wait until you next see them.



While a concern might be that a coach you’ve never met won’t fully understand you, this couldn’t be further than the truth. Not only do platforms like Facebook mean that people put much of their life online anyway, but the regular contact and community created between myself and all my clients mean we get to know each other far better than if we only saw each other a couple of times a week. I’ve formed fantastic bonds with many of my clients, and this understanding means I can better determine exactly what they need from me at any given time.


Super Effective

If you thought exercising at home wasn’t as effective as going to the gym or a class, then you’ve clearly not yet seen or experienced the results that my clients, with the right type of training, are getting. In fact home workouts are the only thing I’ve ever done since having children (my eldest daughter Aurora is now 8!). Following along to a DVD is an option, but it’s a stab in the dark since it might not be right for you, and you obviously don’t get the support, accountability and help with other things like diet and meal planning that you do with a coach.



For the busy Mum  who wants to lose weight and tone up but either can’t get to the gym, or isn’t getting the results you hoped for, online training is an option that’s flexible enough to fit into your crazy Mum-life while still getting you the body and body confidence you want.