Category Archives: In The Media

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.”

Pulsin Natural Protein Bars Review

I love protein bars because they’re filling, nutritious, and help build and repair muscle while allowing me to satisfy my sweet tooth, but natural protein bars are surprisingly hard to come by!


In fact one day I’ll make my own (watch this space) but for now my high standards when it comes to both taste and nutrition mean my options are fairly limited.


Most come coated in cheap chocolate (presumably to hold them together?), and are stuffed with artificial and unnecessary additives, fillers, sweeteners, sugar, preservatives and flavourings. Some are even just a regular chocolate bar with added protein!


All this is wholly unnecessary, I’ve experimented with homemade protein bars many a time, all natural, healthy and totally delicious, so I never could understand why it would be so hard for a brand to sell natural protein bars.


So while you can’t just buy any old protein bar it’s at least great that one brand – Pulsin – are making them, and are available online if you’ve not seen them in your local supermarket. (use code PHAL10 to get 10% off)


Here’s a review of some of the bars that Pulsin make


Beyond Organic Fruit Bars

There’s enough fruit in each bar to count as one portion, which makes them so much better than those ‘squashed fruit concentrate’ snacks I see aimed at kids (a pet hate of mine). Free from gluten, dairy, soya, refined sugars and non GM, also suitable for both vegan and paleo diets!

Being based on dried fruit these are higher in (natural) sugar than the Pulsin’s other bars, but this makes them great post workout (or intra-workout if you’re exercising for longer than 90 minutes, by which time your stored sugar levels may be running low). Or I would give these to my kids any day instead of sugary junk.

Bella loved the berry one in particular, while Aurora is my resident chocoholic so that’s her favourite.


Protein Boosters

The Protein Boosters are the bars I typically recommend to my Mums as being the highest in protein they’re the most filling, and low sugar which means fewer energy highs and lows. Xylitol, a very low calorie natural sugar alternative is used to sweeten – the same stuff that’s used in chewing gum because it’s good for your teeth!

Many protein bars on the market are simply chocolate bars with added whey protein, in other words protein boosted junk. While protein is important and most people don’t get enough, this is still completely missing the point.

Adding protein in itself does not make it a healthy bar, but Pulsin only use 100% natural, wholesome nutritious ingredients. There’s a misconception that ‘health bars’ don’t taste as good as less healthy snacks. In some cases I agree – you can’t compare a handful of almonds to a chocolate fudge cake.

But these bars really are delicious. The proof is always when my kids and husband like them and don’t realise they’re ‘healthy’ – that’s a true test of an amazing tasting bar!

I actually took the Vanilla Choc Chip bar as a breakfast on the go with some fresh fruit. I was worried that it wouldn’t keep me full all morning but I needn’t have; it was perfect (and I have a big appetite!)


Raw Choc Brownies

These are clever, because I’ve tried a lot of ‘healthy’ brownies in my time and none of them actually taste like a real brownie – you can tell they’re healthy. So considering these are so packed with nutritious superfoods like raw cocoa, cacao butter, green tea extract, maca, nuts, goji and chicory fibre it’s incredible my ‘I want real chocolate’ sugar addict husband loved them! Not as high in protein and higher in (natural, from fruit) sugar than the Protein Boosters these are more of a healthy and higher fibre alternative to refined flour & sugar brownie cakes and puddings, but they’re so chocolaty you’ll get your ‘hit’ pretty easily in one bar rather than bingeing your way through a batch of sugar and flour.


Fruity Oats Bars

These are Pulsin’s kid’s range, meaning big kids too obviously – they’re mini size and nut free, meaning school lunch friendly yay! As a parent finding healthy snacks that are both low sugar, nut free and need no refrigeration is harder than you think; most kids’ snacks are crazily high in sugar, both natural and added. Oats are a great source of sustaining energy for little people, but I’d eat these any day, especially as a quick post workout snack along with a protein shake. I felt guilty keeping it to myself even if I was reviewing them, so compromised by sharing with four year old Bella and 8 year old Aurora. Aurora is always needing portable snacks while she’s out and about doing various clubs and can eat so much food for her tiny frame, so it’s good to be able to give her more nutritious bars to fuel her active and growing body.


Protein Powders

Pulsin do a whole range of no-added-anything protein powders; whey, rice, hemp, pea, and soya, including organic versions. With no flavourings or sweeteners not only are they as pure as you can get, but they are a great canvas for adding whatever flavours you want, from fruit, cocoa, nut butters, and even savoury foods!

I took advantage of this over my usual vanilla shake and knocked up some beetroot whey protein pancakes by simply mixing whey with egg, mashed beetroot and herbs.


Pulsin have recently branched out into ingredients with Whey Protein Crispies and No Added Sugar Chocolate Drops that are perfect for healthy home baking or pumping up porridge, pancakes or as a topping to shakes and smoothie bowls.

There are also assorted hampers which make fantastic gifts, and once you’ve chosen which snacks and powders are your favourites you can save money with a subscription.

But for now you can get 10% off all Pulsin orders over £20 with the code PHAL10 at the checkout.

Happy Munching!



celeb diets

Why Celeb Diets Don’t Work – The Sun Newspaper Feature

Fad celeb diets loved by Martine McCutcheon, the Kardashians and Alexandra Burke ‘DON’T work and actually make you GAIN weight’.


People who go back to eating normally after losing weight on a calorie-restricted fad diet tend to pile on the pounds much faster.


“My main concern is that even if it works short term, it doesn’t educate the dieter on how to live healthy and eat healthy and plan meals.

“That’s one of the reasons people regain all the weight afterwards, because they stop the diet when the weight is gone, but they still don’t really understand how to eat healthily.


To read the whole article I wrote for The Sun Newspaper click the link below:


Advice on Protein For Women

Are the recommendations on protein for women the same as for men?

Do most women need more protein need more protein than they’re currently eating?

Why? And if so, what’s the best way to get that protein?

The Huffington Post asked me if, and why, I use protein shakes.

I love (quality) protein powders – tasty, convenient, and yes, healthy!

Here’s the article where you can find out how to add protein powder into your diet:

Here’s Why More Women Are Increasing Protein In Their Diets, And The Right Way To Do It

sky tv eating disorder

Live SKY TV – Eating Disorder News Feature

Not many eating disorder news stories appear on your TV unless it’s a celebrity being ‘accused’ of starving themselves for a film role or bikini season.


Last May I finally came open about my past Eating Disorder and how I suffered and was very ill with Anorexia for years in my late teens and early twenties, being in and out of hospital several times.

(My ‘coming’ out video can be viewed here)


I also did another video about my recovery and how now I’m stronger than ever, both emotionally as well as physically – (watch that video here.)


I had kept it quiet for years, not because I felt ashamed or that anyone would judge me,


Just that I had moved on, put it all behind me and honestly?


There are some very dark memories attached to the years I was ill.


But I remember the day I was admitted to hospital for the first time.


I vowed that one day, when I was recovered and emotionally strong enough I would help other sufferers break free of their demons too.


It might seem ironic that I’m now a personal trainer and nutritionist helping Mums lose weight, but actually it’s all the same really.


If you do not love and respect yourself, and your body, enough to look after it, then you will..


  • Eat junk (or not eat properly) even when you know it’s not serving you
  • Skip exercise because other things seem more important at the time
  • Berate yourself for having no willpower
  • Have no self confidence or self esteem because you ‘can’t stick to a diet’
  • Feel bad about your body, because it doesn’t have enough energy to do the things you need to do to change, let alone look the way you’d like
  • Give up trying because every time you do, you fail


And even from an anorexic’s point of view, all of this I understand.

I knew what I had to do, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I felt mentally weak, and stuck, and miserable, but I couldn’t get out of the cycle.

But I learned to love my body and treat it well, and so can you.


Anyway what’s this about SKY News?


When ‘Beat’ eating disorder charity opened their helplines for the first time on Christmas Day to support sufferers and their families who might be struggling over Christmas,

SKY wanted to cover the story, came across my videos, and were so inspired they invited me to speak live from their studio during the morning Sunrise slot on Christmas Eve!

The video has been placed on the Sky News website – Click Here or on the link below to see it.

clean eating

Clean Eating – Is it right for you?

Clean eating has been a massive trend for some years now,

But what exactly is it, is it healthy, and is it right for you and your family?

While there’s no official definition of clean eating, most advocators insist on no processed foods, no refined sugar or flour,

And some cut out dairy and gluten and eat only organic food as well, though not everyone is as strict.

It’s not the same as a vegan diet which cuts out animal products – ‘clean eaters’ often still eat meat, fish and eggs, and some dairy.

clean eating

Click Here to read the full article and learn all about clean eating in Just For Families Magazine:

Have you tried a stricter version of clean eating? Or do you simply try and eat more healthy food and less unhealthy food? Let me know in the comments below.

mince pies

You Should Eat Mince Pies on a Diet

Is it ok to eat mince pies when you’re trying to eat healthily?

What about all the other tasty festive treats we’re surrounded by over Christmas, surely they’re going to ruin your diet?

The ‘problem’ with these foods is that they are usually high in sugar and fat, making them high calorie (which adds up to weight gain), and very tasty, so easy to overeat and not stop at just one.

But here’s the thing – being a healthy weight is not the only thing that matters in life.

Not only is eating tasty treats occasionally not going to hurt in the long run, living a life of restriction and deprivation every day of the year does not make for a happy existence.

Of course there’s a balance to be had, and the reason most people who preach about ‘moderation’ is because their idea of balance and moderation is a little skewed.

But I’ll certainly be enjoying the odd mince pie this Christmas, and when PT Magazine asked me to write about why I was happy to encourage others to relax a little too.

mince pies

Click Here to read the Article PDF on why it’s more than ok to eat mince pies this Christmas!

Do you enjoy mince pies, yule log or any other Christmas treat? Do you still eat them when trying to lose weight?


Extra income as a Personal Trainer

Secondary spend brings welcome additional revenue for operators – so what’s the best way to approach this? Katherine Selby spoke to me and a selection of other operators that have come up with a successful formula to monetise health-conscious members

Read the article on the site here.

Gymbag gives fitness professionals their own e-commerce store stocked with supplements, fitness equipment and apparel. It soft-launched with personal trainers and is now set to supply bigger leisure operators.

Pollyanna Hale, weight loss and fitness coach at, was one of the first personal trainers to try Gymbag. She explains: “I wanted an online store to help my clients and earn some secondary income, but the logistics were a real barrier. But Gymbag does it all for me – I simply point clients towards the product they need, the order goes through and I get paid.

“I market it via a private Facebook group, where I can give advice and clients can comment and make recommendations too.

“My clients get a discount code to use at Gymbag and I send out gift vouchers and rewards. Occasionally I’ll surprise them with little samples like protein bars or shake sachets, which makes them smile, keeps them motivated and sparks fresh orders.

“It’s a no brainer: the cost is low, the site is set up for you, the range is comprehensive, it adds value to my service and I make 20 per cent profits when I sell the products online. I’d definitely recommend Gymbag and can really see its potential for operators looking for a quick way to generate income from secondary spend.”
“It’s a no brainer: the cost is low, the site is set up for you and the range is comprehensive” – Pollyanna Hale

Visit to find out how to get your own store.


Hustle and Juggle With Pollyanna Hale

What is it like juggling a business you love with kids you love more (but in a different way)?

That’s what I was asked by Devenia Besant of , a site dedicated to supporting women in business who are juggling family life at the same time.

You can read the interview where is was originally published on her website here. 

How long have you been doing the Hustle and Juggle?

3 1/2 years

What is the Juggle to your Hustle?

I’ve never been able to sit still and do nothing, and even wrote and published a full length diet & weight loss book on my laptop whilst breastfeeding my first born!But it was when my 2nd daughter Bella was 7 months old that my soon-to-be business partner approached me with the idea of partnering up to create an online weight loss solution for busy Mums who can’t get to the gym or classes.

I always wanted to be a stay at home Mum and only put my kids in nursery because it was right for them, I’m lucky in that I have that option. Bella (now 4) does 3 mornings only, so fitting work in happens very early morning, often as early as 4am! Then during nursery hours, in the evening, while they’re having their tea, and of course from my phone at every opportunity! That last bit I feel guilty about – but otherwise those little jobs would eat into better quality time with them playing at home, so I guess it’s the better choice of the two.

Tell me more about your business?

I help tired, overworked and frustrated Mums look and feel like their old selves again. My members get both their body and their body confidence back, with a system that not only really works well but can be done within the confines of even the busiest schedule, because it’s all online, open 24/7.

I’m not into quick fixes or cookie cutter plans. That’s not to say my Mums don’t get quick results, but they’re not at the expense of long term ones. What works for one won’t work for another, so I work with each Mum so they learn how to nourish their body in a way that’s perfect for them.

What is your Hustle and Juggle story?

Well for starters I’m typing this from my bed when I’m supposed to be recovering from a nasty stomach bug! I’ve *almost* finished today’s *essential* tasks ha ha.

I think when you want something bad enough, you find a way. I’ve pulled all nighters to get websites launched, conducted live interviews with National radio stations in the loo, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s answered a call with ‘can we schedule a chat for this afternoon, I’m just in a meeting’ when you’re actually at toddler group!

The hardest was my longest ever trip away to America – 4 days including travelling. The kids weren’t bothered at all, in fact they were just really chuffed that Grandma had decided all meals must involve sweets….!

What’s your message to anyone reading this to inspire them to keep going and remain visible?

Always know your ‘why’. Why are you doing what you do? What’s the passion behind it? When you have a meaning and message that can help people, you just want to get it out there.

Also importantly, are you enjoying it? Because life is short and if you’re not happy, do something else. Usually this is very short term; some nights I’m just like, sod it, those email replies can be done tomorrow, it’s time hubby and I indulged in a bit of trashy Netflix before my brain explodes!


Follow Along to Workout Videos Live!

Do you search for workout videos online whenever you need a quick and simple to follow exercise session?


There are hundreds available thanks to video platforms like YouTube.


In fact I have a whole library of exercise demos here <<


The only problem with these are you don’t get the support and ability to ask questions, and of course be motivated to to the workout in the first place, that you get from hiring a coach.

You don’t get any information about diet or nutrition either.

(but you do here < , more info on this below)

in fact this is a big reason many personal trainers fail their clients – the person turns up to their 3 x weekly sessions, but what about the other 165 hours a week?

And what about all the meals that are offsetting any weight loss benefits from a workout?

Diet changes make the biggest difference when losing weight is your goal.

That being said, you’ll have more energy, be stronger, fitter, look more toned and sleep better if you exercise as well.

And now some new videos I’ve created are being streamed live on a new workout platform called Flex!

warmup workout videos


The 7 workouts are designed for busy Mums to help burn fat and ramp up your metabolism so that you burn more calories even resting. Check them out on Flex here. 

These are actually workouts that are part of my new 7 Day Weight Loss Plan that includes 7 days of all meals & snacks, shopping list, motivation and full support.


Find out more about the 7-4-7 Weight Loss Challenge here!