I don't believe in crash diets, 'get-in-shape-in-two-weeks' guides, juice fasts or starving yourself. Who ever went on a two-week diet that worked? What we're interested in here at Get The Gloss is helping people to be the healthiest they possibly can, to learn new habits that will last a lifetime and to feel the incredible benefits that really focusing on your health can bring. We believe in tasty, healthy food, and exercising to make you strong, not skinny. With this in mind, we have created Project Bikini, a guide that is not just for summer but for good.
I myself have been on an amazing health and fitness journey over the last four years, and the benefits have been SO huge I want to share it with everyone. Four years ago I was just coming through the fog of having two babies - my children were four and two at the time. I was. Just. Plain. Shattered. I was starting up Get The Gloss and commuting in and out of London from Oxfordshire and would wake every morning, my body and head feeling like it was filled with lead. I desperately wanted to feel better but wasn't sure how.
Over a few glasses of wine one night, my fittest friend Ruth told me to exercise. Waking hungover the next morning, I made a commitment to myself that I would get fit. Properly fit. While I've never been overweight, I also had a very stubborn muffin top and a few post-baby tummy rolls that refused point-blankly to budge. So I started running because that's all I really knew to do at the time - I could barely run half a mile without stopping, gasping for breath, feeling like I'd be sick, but I persisted, and with the help of the book Run Fat Bitch Run by Ruth Field, I realised I could (if I went slow enough) do this. Within a month I was running 3 miles.
At the same time, a personal trainer called Steve Mellor from the company Freedom2Train moved into the offices opposite ours in London. Steve took me out training in Holland Park (he will never know how close to passing out I was) but the high I got from the first few sessions with him, and the feel-good factor of having the blood pumping round my body fast for the first time in years was addictive. I booked in for more sessions with Steve and kept going out exercising on my own, and very soon I started to see amazing results. Steve also advised me on what to eat around exercise to gain maximum results and I visited nutritional therapist Amelia Freer, a columnist on Get The Gloss, author of bestseller Eat, Nourish, Glow and the woman who has slimmed down Sam Smith.
Within a year I had lost 12% body fat and I could see stomach definition where I'd never had any - even before kids. Last year I competed in two triathlons and cycled round Ibiza. But the biggest surprise to me was the way being healthier made me feel, especially the fitness part. Fitness first and foremost is, for me, not about the way I look (although that's a huge benefit obviously), but it makes me feel amazing, invincible even - it keeps stress at bay and makes me feel vital, alive, able to cope with anything life throws at me. I feel strong in my body yes, but most importantly I feel strong in myself. Exercise reorders my brain, calms me, and stops the constant chattering to-do list, something which meditation for example never did. The same goes for healthy eating - when I eat well I feel great, and I'm being truthful when I say I haven't had so much as a sniffle in three years, so eating a low sugar diet and exercising well clearly really works when it comes to boosting immunity too.
So what have I done that I believe really works?
1. Eating a low sugar diet - I strongly believe that sugar is damaging in many ways, contains nothing nutritious, makes us feel rough and contributes to many illnesses. I swear eating low sugar is the reason I haven't been ill for so long.
2. High intensity exercise - I have trained with Steve Mellor twice a week every week (bar a few holidays) for over 3.5 years. I do a mixture of high intensity training (sprinting, weights, cycling, boxing) combined with resistance work - using your body as a weight or doing weights.
3. Eating fresh food - it makes total sense to me that we as human beings are designed to eat the food that was given to us on our planet naturally. Not cartoon coloured doughnuts, cheese in the shape of a string and turkey twizzlers serenading as poultry.
4. Consistency is key - I started seeing and feeling real change when I started exercising over three times a week. Two times is not really enough, and it's important to schedule exercise in and stick to it.
My love of health and fitness has probably been a huge influence on the content we have put up on Get The Gloss over the years and I have learnt I'm not alone in my desire to feel and look better - our health content is some of the most popular on our site. A few years ago, soon after we launched Get The Gloss, we ran Project Bikini - a collection of amazing nutrition and fitness articles from the very best health and fitness experts in the land - and ever since it has been some our most popular content to date.
We also ran a survey on our readers earlier this year and 73% said they were motivated to tone up, 51% like their stomach the least, and 56% said they would feel self conscious putting on swimwear on holiday. So with this in mind, this year we decided to package up everything we have ever learnt about looking and feeling great into one easy-to-follow practical guide.
Project Bikini is 70 pages of health advice that I know really works. It contains around 40 pages of expert nutritional advice, and 36 healthy but incredibly tasty recipes from nutritional therapist Zoe Stirling and Chef Nina Parker. Then there's a 12 week fitness plan devised by Nike ambassador and Crossfit advocate Joslyn Thompson-Rule which combines weekly resistance exercises to help you tone up, with blasts of cardio work that will help rev up your metabolism. There's also advice on everything from supplements to super boost your diet to superfoods to nourish you from the inside out, as well as recipes on how to make healthy snacks and advice on good fitness kit.
There's even help with motivation and how to keep going when all you want to do is devour an entire Victoria Sponge. We realise that no one is a saint - I love nothing more than cocktails with friends, a huge glass of wine on a Friday night or chocolate brownies with lashings of cream - I just don't have it every day.
I am also hugely passionate that health isn't just for summer, it's for life, therefore Project Bikini isn't just about looking good in your swimwear - It's something we will run on our site all year round. We called it Project Bikini because we wanted it to sound more fun than your average health and fitness guide; neither is Project Bikini about being skinny and it's certainly not scary. Research shows that women can feel incredibly intimidated in the gym for fear of getting things wrong, or being shown up in front of the regular weight lifters and crop top wearers, but Project Bikini is something everyone can do in the comfort of their own homes, no equipment required (apart from a set of small dumbbells). We wanted to create something that's easy, that you could fit into your life and not have to fit your life around.
I believe passionately that there is nothing more important in life than our health - without it we have nothing - and our aim is to bring you all the very best advice in one nutritious nutshell. Focusing on my health has changed my life; I hope we can help you change yours, too.