Confessions of an under-eater

It was a sad day today, I was training this morning in the gym and I dropped a 16kg dumbbell on my note book, crushing the ring binding and my special Ladies That Lift Pen :(

On a more positive note, I actually had a really good, even great, session!

You see, I have been struggling a bit with my training mojo lately.

There are a few reasons for this.

The past 2 months have been pretty intensive with lots of travel in the name of personal and business development and a cheeky one week holiday too. This means that since I’ve come back I’ve been really focusing on my business and I love it!

I  love it so much that I feel so excited in the morning to get going and start the days tasks that I don’t want to be held back by going to the gym, showering and eating.


That’s actually the second part of my mojo problem.

You may know I work in women’s weight loss and there are two sides to this coin.

Side 1: There are the women who are overweight because they just don’t have the right calorie balance. They eat too much, they don’t exercise and the reasons why are NOT because they don’t know that chicken and vegetables are better than pizza and that doing some exercise is probably better than sitting on the sofa.

It’s because there is other stuff going on; emotions, stress, family commitments, unhappiness at work. Often these women don’t have the right tools to manage their lives and the self belief that they are even worth it!

So that’s one side of the coin. I love helping people like this. Helping them find their self worth and happiness in their lives. And of course if this is something you want help with, you can apply to work with me here. But this is actually not the best blog for these type of people today. But if you are one you can still read this because you might still find it interesting – and hopefully scare you off doing any stupid restrictive diets!

Side 2: The other side of the coin is the women who are overweight because they under-eat. Or maybe even not even particularly overweight, maybe just feeling like there is “room for improvement”.

Since getting back into a proper routine and being busy and excited about new projects I have learnt something new about myself…

I’m an under-eater!

For over a year I tracked my calorie and macro intake and this has been something that was game changing for me in terms of achieving my best body composition.

In July I let the tracking and counting thing go because I just felt that it was time. I know what good food looks like, I know roughly what a balanced meal is. I don’t need to lose weight and yes, the tracking was helpful but I feel that I have moved past that now and life is too short to be weighing your food long term.

This served me pretty well during the months of July and August when life was all over the show and I was in foreign countries and the attempt to weigh and measure food would have just been impossible anyway.

But now, since coming back to normal life, a busy work schedule and hitting the weights in the gym. It actually doesn’t serve me as well.

One of the biggest changes I noticed when I started tracking my food – eating right and eating more – was a massive jump in strength, recovery and better sleep! Before I would train one day, then feel too tired and achy to train the next. This has started happening again.

This is because my default mechanism is to be lazy with carbs. Unless you are eating bananas (and there are only so many bananas one can eat!), when you are in a rush, it’s a bit time consuming to be boiling potatoes and rice. So I just leave them out. This means that my diet which used to be anywhere between 150g and 250g of carbs a day, is not not even making 100g.

Now my weight has stayed exactly the same! My body composition has stayed the same too. The under-eating has not served me in any way!

A few times I’ve put my food into My Fitness Pal, just to “check”, and I’ve probably been sitting around 1600-1700 calories.

This is too low for me.

So eating less calories and eating less carbohydrate has not done ANYTHING for me. In fact, I generally sleep well but I’ve had a few nights of poor sleep, waking up hungry and feeling particularly susceptible to the effects of coffee, especially if I drink it on an empty stomach.

The best shape I have been in this year was when I was eating up to 250g of carbs on some days and able to train hard because I was properly fuelled.

  • Calorie restriction (albeit unintentional)
  • Low carb diet (due to laziness)
  • Stimulants (because who doesn’t love coffee?)
  • Work Stress (I love my job but it is stressful running your own business and doing 12 hour days)

All of the above are just different forms of stress.

I do encourage all my clients to have stress management strategies. I’ve been practising yoga and meditating 4-5 times a week. But sometimes that hour a day just isn’t enough to combat all of the above.

So last night I said to Ben (my fiancé) – I just feel like “dirty chocolate”.

Dirty chocolate is what most people call “normal chocolate”. The stuff that isn’t 70%+

Ben is a bit of a sugar junkie but I mostly manage to keep him under control. So he jumped at the chance to enjoy this little indulgence and between the two of us we polished off 200g of Lindt milk chocolate each.

And hence – my workout today was awesome! All the lifts felt easy and I was able to note in my (now crushed) log book to increase the weights across the board next week.

Now I am not saying that we should all be gorging our faces on Lindt Chocolate and in fact if you are quite heavily overweight maybe you do have to, in the short term, sacrifice some performance to facilitate fat loss. However, there are a few take aways here.

  • Less is not always more: If you are already not that overweight, maybe you are stuck because you need to increase your calories, not drop them further. Calorie restriction is a stress on the body and too much stress will slow your metabolism down and can actually cause weight gain and poor insulin sensitivity.
  • Look at what life is telling you: Struggling with energy? Poor recovery? Plateau in performance? Poor sleep?  Poorly balanced hormones? Grumpy and moody? These are all signs that something is off.
  • Learn what is in your food: Some women eat a “clean” diet but might be drastically under-eating and not even aware of it. I have seen so many women feel so much better in a very short space of time by eating more.


I certainly won’t be scoffing a box of Lindt every night but I will do what I tell my clients – plan better. Pre-boil rice and potatoes to throw cold into salads and if necessary top up on extra simple carbs post workout.

Want to work with me-



PMS: Stop Caving to the Craving

Often women tell me that they find they can stick to their eating plan just fine and then, come THAT time of the month, they get hungry, they crave carbohydrates, their energy dips, making them crave sugar even more, they feel bloated and fat, which makes them seek comfort in food, not to mention the hormonal flurry of emotions which can also drive us to seek solace in whatever we can find in our kitchen cupboards.

We step on the scales and the numbers we see reflect the way that we feel. Fat, bloaty and retaining water like a sponge.

All that hard work down the drain because we have gained 4 pounds since yesterday! Since yesterday!

It just ruins everything, doesn’t it?

Did you know, it doesn’t have to be this way?

Now, I am not saying I can wave my magic wand and all the pre-menstrual blues will disappear. But there is a lot we can do to manage this situation. Here are the most important:


If you have a regular cycle, mark out the last week in your calendar so that you are mentally prepared for what is about to happen. So many times I have been caught off guard. Why do I feel like this? Why am I so hungry? Why do I just want carbs? Why is my digestion off?

A few days later… oh that’s why…

[I am sure you can identify]

If your cycle is not regular, it may be worthwhile spending a little time working on why this may me. A lot of women I work with on the Ladies that Lift program have reported increased cycle regularity and return of their cycle after a period of amenorrhea, when we get them eating and training right. Stress is a major contributing factor and although I really feel that diet and exercise can be major players in someone’s stress load (I see so many women under eating and over training), there are other factors to consider too.


Pre-menstrual cravings can sometimes be a sign of insulin resistance. Did you know that 1/3 of people may present with some insulin resistance? So it’s likely (but not definite), if you experience very bad cravings, you could be experiencing some cyclical insulin resistance or insulin resistance generally. Personally, this is something that I do not experience every cycle, but it can be much more noticeable on some cycles compared to others. There are a few factors that can make this worse:

  • Stress (relationship, work, lifestyle etc.)
  • Stress from over-exercising.
  • Stress from under eating
  • Stress from over exercising and under eating
  • Carb restriction
  • Stress from sleep deprivation
  • Stress from over reliance on stimulants

I think you get the picture. So if you can plan ahead, make the last week of your cycle one when you really prioritise sleep, meditation, positive mental attitude and make sure that you are not over doing the exercise and under doing the carbs.

Interestingly, and I have commented on this many times before, with the popularity of high fat and low carb diets I see a lot of women over doing it on the fats. There is a lot of bacon, eggs, lamb, nut butter, peanut butter, nut based meal replacement bars, full fat yoghurt, coconut products, butter and cream in many women’s diet. There is usually a much smaller amount of oily fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, green and leafy vegetables, hemp, olive oil, olives and avocado. Just because it is primal does not mean you can eat as much of it as you like. You would be surprised how quickly these foods add up and a surplus of fat can contribute to this overall picture of insulin resistance and inflammation.

Again an observation, but some people do better on a higher fat diet and others just don’t. It’s all about learning what your body needs and what works best for you.


Prior to menstruation and ovulation we see a rise in oestrogen and in doing so the body may shift slightly towards a greater reliance on carbohydrate for fuel. When my clients say they get carb cravings related to their cycle I just tell them to eat more carbs! It’s what your body wants right? But what we do is drop off fats or proteins a bit to keep total calorie load the same.

There can be an increase in energy expenditure at this point in the cycle so adding in an extra 50g of carbs (250g of sweet potato) is actually only a small amount of extra food, 200 calories. What is more, an increased carbohydrate intake may positively affect serotonin, our happy hormone, and alleviate negative changes in mood.


As described above, it is the surge in oestrogen around the cycle that can drive carb cravings. Although this is a normal part of being a women, those women who tend towards oestrogen dominance, having a higher level of oestrogen to progesterone, would experience this to a greater extent than those within a better state of hormone balance. Discussing the in’s and outs of hormone balance is a major discussion point and if you would like to know more you can download by eBook on the topic. But generally speaking we want to focus on:

  • Blood sugar balance
  • Stress management
  • Exercise (but not too much)
  • Good gut health
  • Plenty of omega 3 from oily fish
  • Fibre
  • Flaxseed
  • Brassica vegetables
  • Exercise
  • Plant based foods in a variety of colours
  • Fermented Foods
  • Maintain a healthy body composition



Some months I can get more symptoms than others, the more stressed and sleep deprived I am, the more likely this will be. Last cycle I did feel particularly “fat”. My digestion was off and I just felt bloated. I think this was partly aggravated by the fact that it came just after Easter and I had eaten way too much bad quality chocolate.

I weigh myself a lot actually out of interest. I always advise my clients not to get too caught up in scale weight but I am fascinated by how much and often it changes and in response to different things. It is much more a case of “observing with interest” than having any emotional attachment to being a certain weight.

This particular cycle my weight went up about 2 pounds over night and 4 pounds over the course of a few days. I was the heaviest I had been in about 6 months or more! If I didn’t know better I would have freaked out and blamed the Easter chocolate (I did eat a lot!) but by the same time the next week I was 5 pounds down. Crazy stuff.

It is really impossible that one can gain 2 lbs of fat over night. There are so many things at play, mostly water. Therefore, if you are eating well, sleeping, and training in a balanced way, just let go of the emotional attachment to the scale and be patient.


If you are an emotional eater, it is likely that you could expect to see an increase in this tendency around this time of the month. Emotional eating, similar to balancing female hormones, is a major topic for discussion. This should ideally be tackled daily or across the whole month with greater awareness during the final week of the cycle.

Most people will tend towards emotional eating when stressed. Therefore, the advice to emphasize stress management in the final week of the cycle may in itself help with eating emotionally.

Whenever one of my clients falls off track with their diet there is ALWAYS something else going on. It could be a relationship issue, a work related stress, family politics, social pressures or even pressure that we place unnecessarily upon ourselves. The key is getting to the root cause of that issue and finding coping mechanisms other than food.

I recommend all my clients meditate daily for at least 10 minutes. Learning the practise of daily meditation is a useful tool to teach focus and empower you to take control of changing your own emotional state instead of using food to do it for us.



  1. Work on regulating your cycle: stress management and appropriate nutrition and training
  2. Eat in a way the supports healthy hormonal balance
  3. Plot out your cycle each month, plan ahead
  4. Prioritise stress management in the last week
  5. Plan for increased food or carbohydrate consumption in the last week
  6. Work on underlying emotional issues, meditate daily
  7. Do not be an emotional slave to the scales, “observe with interest”

If you feel that you want more support with managing your nutrition, training and lifestyle,  apply to work with me by completing the following form



Lessons in Fatloss: Why are you in a rush?

I took a week’s holiday at the beginning of August which I chose to spend at a Yoga Retreat in Turkey with a teacher that I loved to practise with in London.

Most people wouldn’t choose to spend their time off practising 5 hours of yoga a day, staying in a little wooden hut in 40 degree heat, no air con with very few modern conveniences, even if the surroundings are beautiful. But for me, it is a gift I give myself.

It is the one time each year when I can completely disconnect from my laptop, my tablet, my phone and technology generally and totally immerse myself in a simple life. It feels amazing.


However, even when the technology has been left at home, my brain is not as easy to turn off. Throughout the whole retreat I was constantly drawing parallels between the art of learning yoga and the art of losing weight.

Tick, tick tick…

When I came back I had a call with a couple of ladies in my coaching group and I had some very interesting conversations with both of them. One was very eager, despite making good progress so far, to see MORE progress, faster.

Another had been doing what we call a reverse diet. She had come from a background of eating very little for a long time and continuously struggling to lose weight. Our goal for her was to build her calories slowly up to a healthy level while keeping her weight stable to give her metabolism a boost. It was working, she was almost at 2000 calories and she had not gained any weight, yet she was anxious to see the results and wondering what was going to happen next. When could she start taking them away again?

It was perfect, I could use a yoga analogy to help them.

They were probably rolling their eyes with all my post yoga retreat philosophical lessons but I think what I said made a lot of sense. I asked:

Why are you in a rush?

Where do you want to get to?
What happens when you get there that is so important that it needs to happen NOW?!

Often we rush because we are not happy to be in the present we are constantly trying to get somewhere else because where we are right now is painful. But we need to be comfortable in the present and develop the right focus because this will make the journey so much easier in the future.

You see, on my yoga retreat, we were learning arm balances. I have been working on my arm balances for a while. Balancing on my forearms and trying to kick my legs up above my head whilst not taking out the furniture in our small living room.

What I learnt on retreat was, although I felt like I was doing something useful and maybe getting there,this was pretty much a waster of time I was never going to get anywhere doing it like this.

Because I was rushing.

I needed to take the time to lay my foundations. To develop the strength and mobility in my shoulders.

To learn to engage my core properly and to make the whole movement less about momentum and more about grace and balance.

Unfortunately this means going back to some pretty painful and pretty boring and much less impressive progressions. The end result however, will be that when I am ready I won’t have the bad habits which in the long term would result in shoulder, neck or back injury, setting me back months or even years.

So what has this got to do with weight loss?


If you are chasing the results with quick fixes (extreme carb restriction, calorie restriction and excessive exercise)…

You might not get anywhere. The equivalent of me kicking up and falling back down again… and again… and again…

[this is what it looks like, it’s not pretty]


[PS. picture on the left was taken in the 1 second I actually did anything useful!]

If you take things to the extreme (shake diets, liquid meals, 500 calories a day or whatever it is) maybe you do get somewhere (like my 1 second of glory above) but you set yourself up for a relapse (the equivalent of a shoulder, neck or back injury)  and you could see yourself gaining that weight back within a few weeks or months time.

So, just like my arm balance practise we have to lay some boring foundations. We maybe need to take it a little more slow, we have to set your metabolism up right (like we were doing with the reverse dieting client), we have to get the foundations and the positive habits in place and then ease you into position.

Which would you rather be?


[Above: the beautiful Naomi Absalom doing arm balances as they should be done. Find our more about her here…]

desert CAMPING (1)