Episode 140: How To Stop Emotional Eating, Eat Better and Feel Better with Dr Matthea Rentea and Keri Williams

We’re all guilty of eating our feelings from time to time. It can happen to anyone for any reason — a bad day at work, a stressful time at home, a plan falling short. We start emotional eating because eating is an inherently satisfying activity—and it must be! You feel good when you eat things you like. However, the problem arises when it becomes our coping mechanism for dealing with difficult situations. Learning how to stop emotional eating can help us break or prevent unhealthy eating habits.

In this episode, Keri Williams and Dr Matthea Rentea talked about the causes of emotional hunger and how it affects our mood and hormones. They also discussed their inspiring weight loss journey and explained why diets don’t always work. Finally, they imparted tried-and-true advice on how to stop emotional eating.

Don’t miss out on this episode if you’re looking for the most practical ways to manage binge eating and experience consistent weight loss!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

1. Discover a critical step on how to stop emotional eating.

2. Find out why stress drastically increases weight gain.

3. Learn simple steps to eat and feel better

Episode Highlights

[05:41] Keri and Matthea’s Nutrition Journey

  • Matthea realised she needed to change her attitude toward her body, weight, and nutrition after having her kid.
  • Coaching is beneficial since it educates us about the stressors that lead to unhealthy eating habits.
  • Mood and hormones impact one’s well-being.

[09:53] On Food Affecting Mood

  • Sugar negatively affects our energy level and mood.
  • We live in a world with a lot of processed food.
  • Proper nutrition teaches us to avoid limiting ourselves to processed food.

“So I think that there are ways that we can work with nutrition to help support our blood sugar, that doesn’t mean eliminating everything.” – Matthea – Click Here To Tweet This

[12:46] Stress and Emotional Eating

  • Nutrition can be tough to prioritise for busy individuals.
  • Because they don’t get a break, working professionals tend to stress eat.
  • Take micro-breaks to release stress and reduce overeating.

[14:59] Emotional Hunger

  • Emotional hunger is a desire for one or two foods, typically high in fats or sugars, rather than a need to eat.
  • Allowing yourself to pause and examine what you need and feel in the present helps you learn how to stop emotional eating.
  • When we try to substitute food with difficult emotions, we indulge in unconscious eating.
  • Listen to the entire episode to learn the four stages of emotional overeating.
  • Overcoming emotional hunger requires self-awareness and compassion.

‘But at least you name what you need. So you start to get aware of what that is. Because a lot of the times we’ve just gotten used to food filling that place.’ – Dr Matthea Click Here To Tweet This

‘And so what we want to do in these moments is actually switch from that and recognise, okay, I understand what’s going on. Yes, I might have done it. But I know that things are changing. I know that I’ve got a different perspective.’ – Keri- Click Here To Tweet This

[21:57] Changing Your Mindset

  • You can eat anything as long as you consume food with intention.
  • Don’t use food to deal with your emotions.

​​’Because we’re not saying you should never eat cake, you should never eat chocolate. That’s 100% not our message. Because if you really enjoy it, how much more would you enjoy it when it’s intentional, when it’s a moment where you can thoroughly enjoy that beautiful flavour and really enjoy the experience.’ – Click Here To Tweet This

[24:28] How to Stop Emotional Eating

  • Add healthy ingredients to the food you eat when stressed, such as nuts to chocolate.
  • Support your physiology first.
  • Start making tiny changes; it will compound over time.
  • Find activities that give you emotional nourishment.

‘So first of all, meet yourself where you’re at and support the physiology first.’ -Matthea – Click Here To Tweet This

[28:43] Start With a Plan

  • Prepare a meal plan to set your week.
  • Start with easy recipes you love.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself to strictly follow everything.
  • Humans generally take the easiest courses of action, so understanding how to stop emotional eating involves making healthier eating easier for yourself.
  • Always have a backup plan.

[35:22] Do Diets Work?

  • Most people start diets with a short-term goal, but diets work best in the long term.
  • Some diets might not fit your lifestyle or preferences.
  • Consider what worked and what didn’t on your previous diets.
  • A diet doesn’t work if your body would benefit more from a different one.

‘It doesn’t matter if you lose the weight if you can’t keep it off. So my thought is, whatever we’re going to do, I want you to be able to do it for life.’ – Matthea – Click Here To Tweet This

[38:48] The Goal

  • Losing weight shouldn’t be the goal; rather, it should be a side effect.
  • Prioritise the habits and health goals you intend to include in your life.
  • Opt for identity-based habits instead of results-based ones.

‘I don’t ever think the goal should really be weight loss. I think it’s all about what habits, what health goals, what do I want to build out.’ – Dr Matthea – Click Here To Tweet This

[42:53] Women Under Menopause

  • Women must monitor their insulin, leptin, and ghrelin levels when their hormones begin to change.
  • Avoiding processed food reduces your hunger level.
  • Women must prioritise themselves to manage stress better.

[48:34] On Controlling Emotional Hunger

  • You may eat however you like, but ensure you get proper nutrition.
  • Know your tripwire.
  • Pair your snacks with a healthy item.
  • A quick exercise suppresses hunger.
  • Have enough water and sleep.

[55:14] Keri and Matthea’s Tips

  • Appreciate the power of one percent upgrades.
  • Every micro break counts.
  • Stop restricting yourself when you start learning how to stop emotional eating. Instead, be mindful and intentional about what you eat.

About Keri and Matthea

Keri Williams and Matthea Rentea are the Co-Founders of the School of Sustainable Weight Loss and Weight Loss for Life podcast.

Keri is passionate about personal development and has spent many years studying and practising natural medicine with a focus on women’s hormonal health. She is certified in four holistic health disciplines: homoeopathy, naturopathic iridology, kinesiology, and EFT Tapping.

You can connect with Keri through her website or social media accounts: Instagram, Linktree, and Youtube.

Meanwhile, Matthea is a certified and experienced internist who helps women restore their relationship with food. Her coaching places a significant emphasis on recognising self-sabotage and understanding how to include self-compassion in improving one’s nutrition and well-being.

If you want to reach out to Matthea, you can send a message to her email or social media accounts: Instagram and Linktree.

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Episode Transcript

Keri: We’re not saying you should never eat cake, you should never eat chocolate. That’s 100% not our message. Because if you really enjoy it, how much more would you enjoy it when it’s intentional, when it’s a moment where you can really enjoy the experience. It’s very different from, ‘I’ve had such a stressful day and I’ve just got to gobble this down so quickly.’ But it may also be that you can actually have a look at that pattern in your life that’s driving the overeat.

Why is it that chocolate or chips or cookies are the only thing that gives you that moment of joy? So it can help us sometimes to identify where we’re out of alignment in our life and what’s really not working in a way that we would truly want it to.

Rachel Morris: Do you struggle to eat healthily? Do you make resolution after resolution about healthy eating, only to fail miserably at the first hurdle? And do you wish you could get on top of your eating habits without feeling like you’re constantly restricting yourself, ‘I’m having a bad time.’ Because after a long day at work, finding a huge slice of cake in the coffee room can feel like heaven. And if you’re anything like me, you love wolfing it down in about 30 seconds flat.

Diets, eating hormones, sugar, we know that these things have a massive effect on our mood and performance. But so many of us, whilst we know the science and what we need to do, struggle with how to do it. And when we’re stressed, the quick sugar fix is almost irresistible and helpful at the time, but within a few hours we often regret it. Now most professionals know what to do when it comes to eating well, but we just don’t do it.

Like the lack of time to plan, headspace, and the sheer stress of the job can make this really difficult. I also think that sometimes we’ve just not grasped the huge effect that food really does have on our overall health, mood and performance. So I wanted to talk about this on the podcast as it’s something that I really struggle with. And I know many other people do.

In this episode, I’m joined by Keri Williams and Dr. Matthea Rentea, weight loss and healthy eating coaches who together run the school of sustainable weight loss. We’ll talk about emotional eating, those small habits, which can make a huge difference, and why food instead of relieving stress, can actually increase it. This podcast is not about weight loss specifically, but by following the principles we discuss, you will find that a healthier weight is easier to achieve.

If you’re interested in delving deeper into this, then I thoroughly recommend checking out Keri and Matthea’s online membership, The Weight Loss Coaching Collective. You can find the link and further details in the show notes.

Listen to this episode to find out how to recognise and avoid emotional eating. Why stress will actually work against your physiology, and some simple steps you can take by adding things in not taking things away from your diet, which will make you eat better, feel better, and you might even find that you’ve lost some weight.

Welcome to You are Not A Frog. The podcast with doctors and other busy professionals in high stress, high stakes jobs. I’m Dr. Rachel Morris, a former GP, now working as a coach, trainer, and speaker. Like frogs in the pan of slowly boiling water, many of us don’t notice how bad the stress and exhaustion have become until it’s too late. But you are not a frog. Burning out or getting out and not your only options.

In this podcast, I’ll be talking to friends, colleagues, and experts and inviting you to make a deliberate choice about how you live and work so that you can beat stress and work happier. Have you been affected by a colleague dying by suicide? Sadly, we know of a number of doctors who’ve died in this way in recent months. And suicide has a huge impact on all of us, as medical professionals and also as people.

Dr. Caroline Walker and I have decided to hold a special one off webinar to share some ways to cope, grieve, and move on after a colleague dies by suicide. It’s happening on the 7th of November. And you can find out more and register for your free place or to watch the replay at the link in the show notes. And now here’s this week’s episode.

It’s really wonderful to have with me on the podcast today, Dr. Matthea Rentea. Now Matthea is a medical doctor specialising in metabolic health. I’ve also got Keri Williams. Keri is a weight loss coach who helps women heal emotional eating. And Keri has a background in nutrition and naturopathy. So welcome both of you. It’s so good to have you with us.

Matthea Rentea and Keri Williams: Thank you for having us today.

Rachel: And Keri, you’re dialling in from London. But the day you’re dialling in from America, right where are you in the US?

Keri: So I’m in Indianapolis. Indiana.

Rachel: Wow. And how did you guys meet?

Matthea: We met in our Advanced Certified Weight Loss Coaching certification. And yeah, we decided to do a six week program together, we thought it would be fun and eventually evolved into what we’re doing today.

Rachel: That’s wonderful. And that is running the school of sustainable weight loss together. So I’m sure we’ll get into much more about that in a minute. But first of all, I’d love to know, how did you guys individually get into all this thinking about eating, nutrition, and health? And how did you guys get to where you are today with it? Or what’s the background story?

Matthea: I’m a physician, and I’ve been overweight my whole life. I got to this place where my blood sugar started to rise. I was pre diabetic, I went into a pregnancy several years ago, over 100 pounds overweight. And I just realised after I had my baby, something has to change. I’m never again going to count calories and points. I know diets don’t work. But something had to change so that I didn’t become diabetic and kind of go down that road.

I started to look around what was there. And I found that coaching was an approach where I got down to where the stress in my life was happening? What was actually going on? And I had never taken that approach before. It was always looking at, well, how can I eat differently? And what can I do? Which is all fine and great, it’s all good. But it doesn’t lead to things actually sticking around.

This time for the past 3, 4 years, it’s all been about figuring out, what am I doing at work that I’m so stressed out about? 24/7? Why do I feel like I want to eat these foods, but then they really make me feel poorly. I literally feel shaky after I eat them. And so I just started to get curious on a different level. And it wasn’t being answered by the things I’d done before.

Rachel: Wow. So it’s a personal experience, the changes that you made, the things that you were finding your eating stuff, it was really affecting you. Like you feel shaky. Keri, was it the same sort of story?

Keri: Kind of similar, actually. And mine is kind of intertwined with my personal and professional story, I think which well, I guess that’s for most of us, isn’t it, but I have been overweight most of my life. But I’ve got a real pattern, or I did have before of yo-yo dieting. So I’d go up and down. And when I was in my 20s, I decided to study naturopathy. And we did a lot of nutrition in that.

I think on reflection, that was a bit of a wellbeing diet, a wellness diet. We had a lot of training, it was great, don’t get me wrong about health, and what food can do for your body and food as medicine, which is wonderful. But even with that understanding, I still would go up and down in my weight, which was really interesting. And I also saw that with my clients, I have a specialisation around female hormonal health.

I’d get women coming in who are experiencing mood swings, who are experiencing painful periods, quite often with that hormonal picture, that was also the weight as well. And so I tend to attract women who want to lose weight. And you’d give them a plan, you’d say, ‘Don’t eat the gluten, don’t eat this, don’t eat that.’ And no one would stick to it. But I didn’t even stick to it myself.

The missing piece for me was understanding the mindset piece around food. And when I eventually found coaching, like Matthea, it was the missing piece. I knew what I should be doing. And this helped me to consistently put it into practice, and deal with my emotions. So I didn’t have that drive. So that’s why I transitioned because I felt like I really had a passion to help women around the bigger picture, rather than the symptoms they were experiencing.

Let’s actually step back a bit and look at the emotional side of things. So you don’t even need to get there. That’s how I got to this.

Rachel: Wow. Really interesting. And the reason I got you guys on the podcast is because when we do our wellbeing training, everyone I talk to particularly healthcare professionals in the high stress jobs, it’s always I need to eat better, I need to eat well, for my own well being.

There are lots of us that want to lose weight, that there is this thing about actually just feeling better. It’s not about being thin, a lot of the time, it’s just about wanting to manage our moods, manage all these fluctuations, and manage our energy levels. And I must say and this is quite embarrassing to admit, it has taken me a long time to realise that what I eat does actually affect my energy and my mood.

I actually only really have come to that conclusion in the last few weeks because September for us is a really bad month, we have three birthdays. So I spent September eating up the various birthday cakes that sat in my kitchen. And I’ve noticed I feel really awful after eating a huge slice of cake, but I really love cake.

I mean, is it really true that what we eat massively affects our mood and our energy? Let’s just start off with that because I think it’s really important to actually work out and then why?

Keri: Absolutely. I noticed this for myself. I noticed this with clients as well. And what I find around that Is that our blood sugar plays into that so much. So when we eat these fat-releasing foods, and they’ve got the flour and the sugar and the very processed kind of ingredients, even if it’s a beautiful cake that’s been lovingly handmade, unfortunately, it has those ingredients in it that have been ground down from the whole plant. And so it spikes our blood sugar up very quickly. And often we will crash.

It doesn’t just affect our energy levels, but it also affects our moods. So quite often people, especially if they’re quite sensitive to this, find that their mood can go up and down a lot, which ties into their energy levels as well. So if you ever have experienced that picture of being hungry, you’re hungry, and you’re feeling angry and irritable at the same time.

Quite often, that comes after a blood sugar crash, and your body just wants that energy to quickly hit again, which is why we get these cravings to go back for more.

Rachel: What’s that? How does that work? From your point of view from the sort of whole metabolic side effects?

Matthea: Yeah, I think it’s tricky because we live in a world nowadays where there’s a lot of processed food. So for me even to suggest that a lot of these foods don’t help us people say, like you said, there’s birthdays that come up, they want to eat chocolate, things like that. And so I think that there are ways that we can work with nutrition to help support our blood sugar, that doesn’t mean eliminating everything.

For example, we use a technique that’s called Add a Friend. So if you’re going to have these things, let’s have that dessert after a meal so that your blood sugar doesn’t spike as much. Let’s add some protein or fibre beforehand. All of these things are going to be steps in the direction where your sugar is not going to spike as much. And you’re going to feel better. And it’s a gentler approach, people feel better than eliminating everything.

I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Yes, we know that eating a piece of cake is going to bring up blood sugar.’ Of course, everybody knows that. That’s not news. But how can we do these things in such a way that overall we feel better? Because we’re I see this the most in busy people. And this was me as well. You come home at night, you’re tired and exhausted.

What do you do? It’s the chips, the chocolate, maybe the wine, if that’s your thing. And so it’s this way to release. But then ultimately, we feel even worse. And so it’s this cycle that keeps perpetuating how bad we feel.

Rachel: Towards the end of this, I’m definitely going to ask you for your hints and tips and what we can do about this. But what do you see that people in high stress jobs particularly struggle with when it comes to eating, when it comes to food, when it comes to maintaining that healthy eating, that healthy lifestyle, that healthy weight? What are the main things that people bring to your membership community and ask about or struggle with.

Matthea: I’ll start with just one of the ones that I see being the most common: if you’re very busy, it’s hard to prioritise this. So there’s so many other things that are top of mind. Like let’s say, if we’re physicians, we are taking care of patients in front of us, we’re not almost willing to admit that if our health isn’t taken care of, we can’t take the best care of who’s in front of us. And so just not putting it high enough on the board and also thinking, this fallacy that it’s going to take a lot of work to change it.

I think that’s the biggest thing is, I hear this all the time, ‘I don’t even know if I can do this.’ Because their lives are so busy that they don’t think they can take one more thing on what do you think they Keri?

Keri: Yeah, absolutely. Those two. And also, I would add, what we tend to see as well is that very busy professionals, they just don’t get that break in the day. So what often happens is this stress relieving kind of over eat, that often happens maybe in the afternoon, maybe in the evening, as Matthea said. And so when we’re maybe seeing patients back to back, or maybe you’ve got clients back to back and you’re not taking that break for yourself.

It’s almost like you’re keeping all of that pressure inside, it’s like a pressure cooker, and you’re keeping that lid on until later when you’re tired. You’re feeling maybe frustrated, irritable, you just need a break. And maybe if the staff room is full of cakes, biscuits, and all that kind of stuff. It’s like, well, this is a perfect thing now to relieve all that stress.

Often, one thing that we will say to people is, ‘What about the idea of a micro break’, ‘What about five minutes?’ Just taking a breather, sitting down somewhere, just taking a few deep breaths and a mindful moment to kind of build your tank up so that later on you don’t have as much pressure that feels like it needs to be released and quite often that can really help with the level and and intensity of the overeating but can often happen in a work situation.

Rachel: That’s interesting. So thought you were going to say in that micro break, go and get a handful of nuts, an apple, or something. You’re sort of constantly eating but actually no, you didn’t. You said you sit down and you take a breather, so it’s not that we’re just changing the different sorts of food that we’re eating. It’s actually we’re changing what we’re doing right?

Keri: Yeah. Absolutely, because one thing that we distinguish quite often within our membership is understanding what type of hunger you’ve got going on and that you are experiencing at that moment. So if you’re physically hungry, for sure, that physical hunger, the growling stomach, the feeling a little bit depleted and like you’re thinking about food and lunch that type of hunger, that is the hunger to feed.

But when it’s emotional hunger, and quite often, we can distinguish that by having an intense craving for only one thing or two things. They’re the high fats, the high sugar, the quick release energy types of foods. They’re the things that you’re craving, and those moments of emotional hunger. And so, if you are experiencing emotional hunger, it’s often good to actually not feed that hunger with food, because there’s an emotion going on at that time.

Maybe your body’s really crying out for a moment of mindfulness, maybe it’s crying out for just taking a break, having a conversation with someone that’s frustrated you or letting your stress out. And another way of going and talking to someone there’s so many things that you can do with these emotions.

Matthea: We often talk about something called a compassion pause. And this can be done at any time, anywhere. So let’s say I’ll take an example. Let’s say you’re feeling really frustrated. So the compassion pauses, you literally pause, you just stop and space for a second. And you ask yourself, ‘What do I really need right now?’ And it could be that you think you need to go home and lay in bed.

Maybe you can’t give yourself that at this moment, you’re in the middle of seeing patients, that’s fine, but at least you name what you need. So you start to get aware of what that is. Because a lot of the time we’ve just gotten used to food filling that place. Okay, this is when I have a bar of chocolate. And that’s okay. It’s a habit. It’s just a habit that developed over time. But the compassion pause is what do I really need, you pause, if you can, you can build up over time.

We say if you can start with five minutes, amazing. If you can do two seconds, start there. And then the important part is you have the permission slip, if you still want to go eat, you’re not hungry, it doesn’t matter. But you start to get aware that I’m using food in a way that’s not actually fuelling me. It’s not actually helping me, here’s what’s really going on. When I’m ready. I’ll address that. But at least I start to get curious about that awareness. It’s a really big first step that usually needs to happen.

Rachel: That’s really interesting. So I just think, yeah, a lot of times when I’m just really tired, or I’ve had stuff back to back to back, I think, ‘Oh, I’ll go to the kitchen.’ And I’ll think, ‘I’m really hungry.’ And I look at my football and go, ‘Oh, I don’t want an apple. I really want that piece of chocolate.’ So that’s actually not real hunger. Is it? Because there are times when I’m really hungry, and I’ll see an apple and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll just eat that apple because I’m so hungry.’

That’s a really good way of distinguishing literally, is it that I would eat anything right now? Okay, that’s probably proper hunger? Or is it that I’m really craving one particular type of food? That’s really interesting. Is there any other way to know when you are eating to replace difficult emotions?

Keri: That’s a really good question. So eating to replace difficult emotions. I think one of the things is the unconscious eating that can happen sometimes, those moments when you’re eating, and you don’t know why, those moments when you stop eating anything and be like, ‘Why did I just do that?’ And in the most extreme form, that can be a binge eat in the most extreme form.

That might even mean that you do a lot of binge eating, but you might have some kind of binge eating disorder, which is something we don’t really address. So in those moments, I think, yes, absolutely. If there’s any unconscious eating going on, sometimes people call that storm eating, where it’s like, it’s just so compulsive and out of control.

Quite often, that’s not really genuine hunger that might be happening at that point. There’s definitely something where you’re feeding something else that’s going on inside. What do you think of Matthea?

Matthea: We talked about these four phases of healing, emotional overeating. And part of it is phase one, I always noticed that after so this is where most people start. They’ve always always eaten all the things and they and they feel so disappointed. But that’s actually the first stage is to notice while this is happening. Stage two, it’s during, but you still can’t stop it. And then stage three is I noticed before that I’m not hungry, but I still go do it. And notice where three out of four, right?

Then stage four is, ‘Oh, I’m actually not hungry.’ I noticed what’s going on. I have the skills, the tools, I process, the urge. But what’s interesting is that a lot of people are working on this, just in general working on nutrition, wellness, whatever it is, three out of four of the stages is gaining awareness and then having massive compassion that there’s nothing wrong with me that this is happening. Some habits got formed.

This was actually probably a way that I really knew how to take care of myself, because I think we villainise it, but guess what, that chocolate really got you through some hard times. And I don’t think we acknowledge that enough. And so it’s much more complex than just we get rid of the chocolate like we need to actually understand what’s going on.

Keri: Yeah, I think that’s a really great point because what we see with people in our membership is that and we did this ourselves as well, because it’s a very human response. So we know that we shouldn’t be doing this. And then what we tend to do in these moments is we judge ourselves, we beat ourselves up, our inner critic goes mad and speaks its mind very loud. And so what we want to do in these moments is actually switch from that and recognise, ‘Okay, I understand what’s going on.’

‘Yes, I might have done it.’ But I know that things are changing, I know that I’ve got a different perspective.’ So it is actually a very different thing that’s happening, because it’s no longer unconscious. But it is a very uncomfortable process of that time of change, where you know that what you’re doing, you have full awareness, and you need the trust and the faith of that moment that you are moving to a better place with it. It doesn’t just happen overnight.

I think it’s really important to acknowledge that because we don’t want to get stuck in this place if I should be doing better. And all the should-ings that can come with that, because it can really put people into a shame cycle and take them out of the process completely. So that’s a really important one.

Rachel: I think that yeah, that’s really helpful. Because while you were talking about that sort of emotion eating when you’re not really hungry, but you may be stressed or whatever. It just makes me think and this is probably my chimp ringing. ‘But yeah, but that’s not fair, because actually, some days, when things are really difficult at work, you think actually, the only nice thing here is that bit of cake I get in the staff room. Or the only nice thing is on the way home, I know I’ve got a bar of chocolate in the car.’

Sometimes if you say right, well, I’m not going to do that I’m going to change to having an apple in a piece of cheese or something. But I’m taking away that one nice thing I’ve got in my day, like is there nothing good left to me? Maybe that, okay, I know, I’m recognising me saying that chocolate and sweet stuff is a reward. And it’s a nice thing. It’s a special thing. And I can’t have it normally.

I can only have it when I’ve been a particularly good girl. Like I presume that’s one of the mindsets that you try to identify and change for people, right?

Matthea: It’s these thought errors, right? That this is the only thing that’s a treat, or like you said that you can’t have it whenever you want to have it. Like what is the reason why you can only have cake on a birthday? I don’t know. So you can plan all these things whenever you want. You can do whatever you want. And I think a lot of it’s identifying if I’m tired and I think that that’s the only thing that’s going to make this better. Is that true? And so I always just say this, is it true?

Is it loving? Is it kind? It’s usually not. But we’ve not spent time thinking about it. And so that again, it’s just there’s so much work that’s involved in uncoupling that this is the only thing that makes it better. It’s not true. It would likely be better if I took some breaks during the day, if I did some really nice things tonight to relax, there’s so many other ways, but we have to build out that amazing story so that it feels true to us.

Keri: Absolutely. I think the real problem here is that when these eats or over-eats happen, it’s unconscious, and it’s maybe a coping mechanism. And one of the guests on our podcast actually had a great phrase, it was something along the lines of I got to the stage where I never want to hire food out to help me deal with my emotions anymore. I’m not giving that job to food anymore. And I love that because we’re not saying you should never eat cake, you should never eat chocolate.

That’s 100% not our message because if you really enjoy it, how much more would you enjoy it when it’s intentional, when it’s a moment when you can thoroughly enjoy that beautiful flavor and really enjoy the experience is very different from a, I’ve had such a stressful day, and I’ve just got a gobble this down so quickly. That kind of thing is just a moment of releasing that stress, it’s very different. So you can choose to do that intentionally.

But it may also be that you can actually have a look at that pattern in your life that’s driving the overeat. Why is it that chocolate or chips or cookies are the only thing that gives you that moment of joy? Is there something in your day that you can look to adapt or change or your mindset. So it can help us sometimes to identify where we are out of alignment in our life. And what’s what’s really not not working in a way that we would truly want it to.

Rachel: It’s interesting though, because that sweet stuff, those biscuits, those chips, whatever they do, give us that quick fix, that quick hit of dopamine. And I know you suggested maybe taking that slight sort of mindful pause breakout. What other things do you suggest that people do? Well, that will give the sort of equivalent hit of dopamine, when they are really stressed when they do need to just try and ride out those urges.

Matthea: I want to start with this. If you’re someone that has really been doing a lot of emotional eating, meaning you’re not hungry, but you’re using food at those times. We don’t recommend in the beginning you just yank everything. So I would say just upgrade a little bit of what you’re doing. So if you’re having chocolate, could you go to dark chocolate, or if you’re still going to have that milk chocolate, could you add some nuts to it? Could you add maybe a little piece of cheese?

Could you do anything to balance it out a little bit more? So first of all, meet yourself where you’re at and support the physiology first. We do not come at this from a standpoint of now we’re going to go make fifty other changes, and you’re so overwhelmed. So first of all, we support blood sugar and physiology.

Keri: The wonderful thing about that approach, and we often call this 1% upgrades, incremental upgrades, you’re just changing things in a very slight way, and it compounds over time, but what you’re doing as well as you’re starting to change your brains chemistry, so it doesn’t rely on that massive hit of dopamine.

It is slowly transitioning you away from needing those big hits, because they are very artificial hits of energy, we get dopamine, and those hits from any foods that we enjoy, we can get it from an apple, we just don’t get the same level. So I think over time, our brains have become very used to some of these processed foods, where you do get a massive hit. So to change that over time, and to just reduce the level of the reliance on the dopamine to deal with that moment can be wonderful.

At the same time, you can start having a look for other things in those moments that might also bring you the natural reward, it’s not a temporary hit of pleasure, it’s a natural pleasure, is it going for a little bit of a walk around the office block? Is it taking a moment to sit and breathe? Is it calling your friend and just having a five minute conversation, calling your child, whatever it might be something that you enjoy doing in that moment.

Paired with that, you can start to change your habits and not to rely on that massive hit of dopamine, because that’s where you get the big swings up and down. I think when you’re relying on that.

Matthea: Because I think the other thing is, it’s not only the dopamine hit, we’re trying to complete a stress cycle at those times. And so there’s a good book, I’m sure you’ve probably read it, it’s Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. And they talk about seven ways to really complete this, which is what we’re looking for at those times. And I’m not going to talk about all of them. But some that I really love laughter is one that completes the stress cycle.

A very practical one that I’ll ask some of my clients is, ‘Do you have a little, some funny videos that you’d like to watch? That could be part of you doing that instead of eating.’ The other one is exercise, right? Exercise always gets things flowing. Now we don’t need to go do a fifty minute workout, but a five minute walk will do it and that sunlight from nature even better. And then the last one that I really just like to bring in there is connection. Human connection is massive for us.

It might be a connection in different ways. Whether it’s talking to someone, maybe you call your best friend, maybe if you have a significant other at home, you talk to them. The other form of connection could be physical. So a hug is a good 22nd hug with someone else. And if you have no one else, you can hug yourself. You can literally cross your arms and give yourself a hug.

I know we’re all laughing and you think that’s funny, but it’s finding other ways to give yourself that emotional nourishment. And it doesn’t need to be radical. What’s happening?

Rachel: Yes. I love that. I love that they think about how we can break that stress cycle in them. Yeah, somebody that isn’t stuffing chocolate in. And there’s all sorts of different ways that we can do that. I think what we struggle with and I think you hit the nail on the head at the beginning material is the busyness and when we do well being sessions, we get people to brainstorm about how they can eat better and how they can eat well. And pretty much it all comes down to planning.

If I’d had time to plan it, then I would be eating well, because it actually doesn’t take that much longer to cook a healthy meal than to chuck a pizza in the oven, does it? But actually what you don’t have is those fresh ingredients. So what things have been helpful for the really busy people in your community in terms of planning stuff? And so what should we be planning? And the only quick hacks to be able to do this planning that doesn’t take too much time.

Keri: One of the things that we talk about a lot in our community is having different types of plans for different days. So one of the things that people get tripped up a lot with is how they’re eating during the week. And then depending on where you work and how you work that might become very rote. And you might get into a bit of a routine, maybe the evenings are a little bit questionable. But then it’s the weekends that can set you off.

Depending on your schedule, I mean, if you’re working as a doctor, if you’re doing shift work, it might be a little bit different. But what you want to do is to have these kinds of little plans in your back pocket. I like to think of them like this on my work days. These are the types of things I have for breakfast.

These are the types of things I have for lunch, like I know this cafe does an amazing salad or sandwich or whatever these types of dinners that are easy dinners. Maybe I chuck a potato in the oven. I make a baked potato. Maybe I put some salad with that, I put some tuna with the easy things that you can have in your cupboard. Mainly store ingredients can be really helpful.

I think it’s a combination of having those ideas of the easy recipes that you love that you can easily almost have your shopping list on rote if you’re using the internet, maybe it’s something probably like a cart or something like that, you know you have it all saved, it’s really easy. And then also thinking about well on my average weekday, this is probably how I’m going to eat. On my average weekend, depending on what you’re doing, but maybe those days when you’re at home and things, you’ll have a kind of idea of what works for you. And you get into a bit of a routine around it.

We also talk about the days when you’re not feeling so well, maybe you’re premenstrual, or maybe you’re on your period, you’ve got low energy, you’ve got more cravings, these types of days, we need a slightly different plan as well. If you can just think about that in advance, and then not put too much pressure on yourself to get it right and get it perfect. And just practice that over time. That can be really helpful.

Matthea: Yeah, I always say unfollowed plans are gold because it shows you where the problems are. And it shows you what to do. The goal here is not, we make a plan, and it’s perfect. and we’re always perfect. It’s, we make a plan that we think would support us best during the day, and then it doesn’t work. And then we get to ask why? And you’re gonna learn so much more from that than if you’ve never made a plan and never tried something.

The only other thing I want to add here is that, especially if you’re very busy, there’s no shame in looking at some prepared options. So this could be whether you get a steamer bag of veggies that you put in the microwave. Okay, that’s amazing because you can make it real quick when you get home. Sometimes they have already-made prepared meal. There’s no shame in any of that. So what I really want to encourage is lots of backup plans all the time, everywhere.

You should have some backup dinners in the freezer, that you can just pop in the oven. The other big thing for me at work I needed, if I forgot my lunch, I knew what I was going to order, how I was going to get it. If that didn’t work, I had, always, some cottage cheese, some cut up apples in the fridge, some dark chocolate. I knew, no matter what happens, I don’t care what the day looks like, I will always have a plan.

Now that takes time to build. I don’t want everyone that’s listening, and if you’re going to work on this, don’t think that in a week or two, you’re going to have it figured out. But you 100% can get to a place where no matter what’s happening, you feel like I’ve got this covered, I’m okay.

Rachel: There is just something about having that stuff ready cut up in the fridge, isn’t there? I currently have a Tupperware pot of cut up carrots in the fridge. And it doesn’t make a big difference. I’m really starving just before dinner. It’s like, okay, I’ll grab that carrot, and if I’m still hungry, I’ll maybe have those crisps. But actually, that really helps. It’s just sort of like you’re preparing for when your willpower is really low, right?

Matthea: As humans, we always go for the easiest option. Period. So to think that in some moments, you’re going to be elevated when you’re hungry and tired. That’s just insanity. So we always need to make it easy for ourselves all the time.

Keri: Yeah, I completely agree. I think we have this idealistic picture in our mind of how it should be; like I should always be eating like this, I should always have something prepared. And that idea in itself can cause so much pain and struggle. And one of the other things that as you were talking about that popped into my mind was when I was coaching someone who was going through an extremely busy time at work.

I mean, she found that it was very difficult to even get the shop in because she was on call. And sometimes she was being called out in the middle of the night. And so what we got to with her was, do you know what? If you need to get a takeaway, why don’t you have a look at those menus around you? Have a look on your Deliveroo app, choose those meals that you really like.

Maybe it’s a salad. Maybe it’s one of the kind of poke bowls, or one of those kinds of things that are the healthier option so that when you come home and you’re hungry and tired, you’re not getting on the going, right, I’m getting my pizza in and a bottle of wine. Actually, you already know in your mind what you’re going to go for on that takeaway menu. So even that as a backup plan can be another good way to go.

Just accept the fact that in these moments, if you’re in a busy period at work, if you’re in a busy role right now, it’s okay just do what you can to support yourself.

Rachel: I love the fact that we’re getting away from the I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that. Or I should or I ought to. It’s actually just making the choice beforehand of something that will be better. And some of the other stuff. Right?

Keri: Exactly, exactly. I think all of that thinking can just cause so much struggle and pain. And I kind of think that I need to, I should, I must. All of those kinds of words, whenever I hear those words within my own mind, or within my clients, whenever they say those to me, I’m like, ‘Ah, let’s have a look at that thought.’ Because it can create some really toxic thinking sometimes. And yeah, it’s not good.

Matthea: A lot of the time the reason we make these plans and why we think about it a little bit is because when we’re in those scenarios, we’re sort of panicked. It’s a very– like our nervous systems kind of on fire at those times. And so I always say our learning brain shuts off when we’re panicked. So we’re not able to do great reasoning during those times. So number one, don’t be down on yourself. If again and again, you’re doing these things that don’t support you.

We need to think about it well ahead of time. I mean, if the challenge is always at night, we in the morning, when you’re when you have a fresh, clean, nice brain. That’s when we think about some of these things, not at night when you’re tired and exhausted.

Rachel: I’d like to quickly touch on the D word, the diet word because lots of people have said to me recently, diets don’t work and I’m like, well. Well they do. I have been on every single diet in the world. I’ve been on the Dukan diet, the Atkins diet. I’ve been on the Slimming World green-red thing. I’ve done the Fast 800. I did time-restricted eating. I’ve done everything. I must say that I did find that diet works. I found the Fast 800 worked really well. So why do we say diets don’t work?

Keri: My perspective on it is that diets, if you choose to stay on them long term, if this is a lifestyle change that you’re adopting, and you– I love this way of eating, you love this way of living your life. And you can see yourself living this way, for the long term, go for it, diets do work when they are thought of like that. But what we tend to see is that diets are often adopted with a short term goal in mind, and then we get frustrated with ourselves because we don’t stay on them.

But actually, they were possibly never in alignment with how we truly want to live our lives. So with the most restrictive diets that I’ve ever been on, and I see this with our clients as well, all the time, it changes our social habits. We start feeling guilty when we get an invitation to go out to a restaurant, and it’s like, oh, it’s an Italian restaurant, it’s all carbs or something like that, I can’t eat anything.

Then we feel terrible, because we want to be interacting with our friends, we want to go out and socialise. And then we’ve got a level of guilt around the food that we’re eating at that point in time. So I think that’s the limitation around diet. So if you are eating in a way that nourishes your body that feels good, then you’re able to socialise, you’re able to partake in these very human events, birthdays, weddings, celebrations, it’s all food based. That is wonderful.

I think that’s where we get to in our program. We often talk about the Forever plan, because we’re trying to find a way of living your life so that you can eat some of the foods that you know you enjoy. And it might just be a temporary pleasure kind of food. But also most of the time you’re eating those foods that really work for your body, and it’s sustaining your health, and you’re feeling good. And I think that’s a much more powerful approach than a short term temporary diet.

Matthea: The problem is that, with these diets, you’re not ever asking what your preferences are. So I think a really helpful place to start is, what did I like about these previous things that I did? So sometimes, for example, we have busy clients that they love intermittent fasting, because they just don’t need to think about it in the morning. It’s not really a diet thing so much as it really fits in their lifestyle. They can just pop out the door and go to work. Okay, so that’s a great aspect.

Some people like the lower carb diets, because they actually feel like they can think better. That’s not about being low carb, that’s about you feeling amazing, right? So look back at these times, let’s take those elements, let’s bring all of it into what you’re doing. But then did it not work for you that you couldn’t have cake on a birthday? Alright, let’s work on that because we need to normalise that relationship. But it’s not a problem what you’ve done in the past, let’s learn from it.

But realising when someone else 100% writes the rules, it will never work in your world, because all of us have a different scenario. So I think that’s the main thing. And then the other thing is, we can’t say the diets worked when we needed another one. I mean, that’s the bottom line, right? Like everyone says, Oh, the diet worked. And I’m like, but then you again need it to do it in a year, then again.

It doesn’t matter if you lose the weight if you can’t keep it off. So my thought is, whatever we’re going to do, I want you to be able to do it for life. And you might sit here and tell me, well, I don’t know what I’m going to be willing to do for life. But right now, do you like it? If you don’t like it right now, then we have our answer. It’s not for you.

Rachel: That’s really helpful. Because yes, I had really great results in the Fast 800, but I’m just about to try and do it again. Which means it didn’t work, right?

Keri: They’re great principles. And I love what Matthea said as well about someone else is writing the rules for us. And I think I remembered an experience when I was in my naturopathic practice and I actually did weight loss coaching, first of all, with a very much a diet approach. And I remember a time when I was sitting down with a client and I handed them the plan. This is what you eat, this is how you eat to lose weight.

This client, she had a history. All of her culture was from Jamaica. She came over here from Jamaica. So she was like, well, what about rice? And what about this? And often, it doesn’t take into consideration the cultural aspects, the economic aspects, what’s available locally for you. All those kinds of preferences that we have. So I think it’s a much more kind of inclusive approach as well when actually you can pick and choose what really works for you.

You can think about those family meals, those recipes. How can I adapt them? And how can I really learn to take this on rather than trying to make someone else’s plan that works for them work for me? So I think that’s a really nice way to go as well.

Rachel: And should our primary goal be weight loss, or should it be something else?

Matthea: Okay, this is gonna sound strange, ‘cause our group is called the School of Sustainable Weight Loss. I don’t ever think the goal should really be weight loss. I think it’s all about what habits, what health goals, what do I want to build out? So a really nice concept that I like, and this is talked about in the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear. He talks about when you’re going after things, identity-based habits. So who I become, it’s much more powerful than result-based habits like, Okay, I want to lose 10 pounds.

Most people, it’s not about the weight loss, when I really asked you, why do you want to lose the weight? Who do you become? What do you get to do when that weight is lost? What I start to hear is, I’m more active with my kids. I don’t have to worry about my health. Like, there’s so many other things that happen. The weight loss is just a happy side effect.

But when we make it the only goal, then that becomes the way that we live our life with the scale of saying all those kinds of things, I want you to have a full rich life where you don’t worry about your weight. All you care about is, I’m supporting myself amazing, and I’m doing these things that feel great.

Keri: I also think that quite often, people are looking to lose weight to get healthier. And sometimes that is the right thing. Sometimes the weight loss will produce a healthier body. But it’s not always the case. It’s not the only thing that is relevant. So I’ve got a great book around biomarkers, and it talks about 10 different biomarkers. What are your cholesterol levels? What’s your blood pressure? All of those things. If you look at a number of different markers in your life.

Then also, if you layer on that the stress levels, the emotional well-being, the mental health as well, it’s a very different picture of overall health than just a number on the scale. So I do think sometimes people are kind of chasing that number, especially when it comes to BMI, which is quite a controversial topic in itself, like should you be in the normal range of BMI?

Is that right for your body? Sometimes when they’re chasing that, they don’t always get those healthy results, because they get that number on the scale. So I think that’s one to look at as well.

Rachel: But that’s really interesting because I always look to this. Now I want to be fit and fit into those particular type of jeans and blah, blah, blah. But actually– but really think about it, I want to really stabilise my mood and make sure that I’m not being really hangry all the time. So that is what I find when I am on a diet, I get very stroppy and snappy and that’s not good. That’s not good for anybody. And we haven’t got that much time left.

But a lot of our audience are sort of mid-career, late-career. We have a lot of women listen to this podcast, and you mentioned hormones. I’m at that age where I’m starting to think maybe my hormone levels are fluctuating. It’s really hard to lose any weight that seems to be whatever I eat, it’s just piling on body changes shape, all that sort of thing.

How do hormones affects how we feel in in relation to food, and around the time of menopause for women? What do we specifically need to be looking out for and changing?

Keri: I love looking at insulin in this respect, because I find that as women start to change hormonally. So even from kind of perimenopause, things just start to change. You go and do the old diets that you used to in your 20s just doesn’t work in the same way at all.

A lot of our kind of thinking is kind of based on Jason Fung’s work, and when you start looking at those insulin levels to see what is actually happening with your insulin. When your insulin levels are out of balance, you might be storing more fat at those points in time. And then if you layer on having a look at ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, where it’s the hunger hormone. It’s determining your hunger levels, and then leptin as well, those three hormones.

If you have a look at balancing those hunger hormones with the food you’re eating. And primarily, that’s about balancing out the sugar and the flour. That approach really tends to work for women at this time. So what I noticed is that, when we get a little bit more of a handle on the sugar and the flour, it reduces our hunger levels. It reduces our desire levels. And then the weight starts to drop off, because our insulin levels go down as well.

We’re no longer storing the fat, we’re actually able to take the fat out of the stores and use it in those moments in time. So it just tends to work a little bit better. But I know you’ve done a huge amount of study recently, Matthea, in this area. So you’ve probably got a lot more to talk about with your obesity medicine boards that you’ve been doing recently.

Matthea: I agree with everything that Keri said. And the other thing that I think it really needs a handle on, and it always does, but even more so in this period of stress management. So those cortisol levels, that stress that you’re experiencing, we’ve got to get a handle on that because maybe in the past, you could compensate for it. But now that starts to show up with weight on your body and you feeling poorly, all of those kinds of things. So it becomes all of this goes together.

We take the approach of really focusing on nutrition to get you there, but a lot of this is about, we can’t afford any more to not take care of you. It’s just not an option anymore. Otherwise you’re going to feel poorly. And so we need to start to figure out ways. Maybe you’ve never prioritised yourself before but can we now start to enter a chapter of your life where we really focus on you? That’s the answer here.

Rachel: Because am I right in thinking, the more stress we have, the more cortisol we got going around our bodies? Cortisol makes us store fat, right? It’s a risk factor for central obesity. Is that right?

Matthea: The other thing that’s interesting, it’s not only stress, like you’re working. But if you’re sitting there in a body that you’re not comfortable in, that perceived stress of you. They’ve done studies where they’ve shown that the stigma that you experience, that raises your cortisol as well.

This is another reason why you really need to be comfortable with where you’re living and what you’re doing. Because otherwise, your cortisol goes up from that. It’s real, they’ve literally shown this with levels and studies how significant it is.

Keri: And I think that’s especially important for women at that period in their lives. Because when I was in my naturopathic practice at that time, what we used to do was start to support women’s adrenals at this point with adaptogenic herbs. And the reason why we did that is because if your ovaries are starting to dial down in terms of their estrogen production, and all the female hormones, and some of that is transferring in different forms over to the adrenal glands, we have even less ability to respond to stress.

If your stress levels go up, if circumstances get more stressful, you’ve kind of got less resources at this time to even handle them. So that’s what we used to do from a naturopathic point of view was often support a person on an adrenal level with herbs like that. And that really helped at that time. So I think it’s interesting to take that into account as well.

Rachel: Because interesting what you say as well about the sugar and the flour for women around menopause, perimenopause. Actually, trying to lower your consumption of sugar and flour would be quite helpful.

Keri: Yeah, we talk about that a lot in our membership that ultimately, what you can transition to, but do it in a way that works for you within your life, is having less of those processed foods, because we know that those processed foods inflame the body. We know that they’re going to unbalance your hunger hormones. Your hunger levels will go up. Your desire levels will go up.

But saying that if you truly don’t want to live a life where you never eat chocolate, again, let’s find a way to make it work for you. So that most of the time you’re supporting your body. You’re nourishing your body. You’re feeling good. You’re thinking clearly. You’ve got great energy. And then you’ll have those times where you go to a birthday party, you go out, whatever it is, you’ll have a bit of cake, you’ll have a bit of wine, whatever you want to do.

Often actually, I find what people do is they really notice at that time, how much the food inflames their body. So it’s like, it’s massively obvious what’s going on, which is really interesting.

Rachel: We’re nearly out of time, but from you guys, it would be really helpful just to know what should we be trying to eat more of? And what should we be trying to eat less of? I completely appreciate that a good approach is like no food is completely banned. Because that immediately makes you, well, me because I’m a bit naughty. Makes me want to have it if someone told me I’m not allowed. I’m like, right? That’s all I can think of.

But actually, there are things that we should be having more of, which are having less off. So I would love to know a little bit about that. But also, what’s helped people in the past in terms of little habits, little hacks that have actually helped. I love that hack about, you know you can have a takeaway. Just in advance, choose which dishes you’re gonna have, that’s really helpful. So what advice have you gleaned from your years of experience working with your community?

Matthea: Everybody’s body is going to be different. So it’s gonna be very challenging for me to sit here and say, well, this is exactly how you should eat. But let me start with this. I think you can decide, how do I want my nutrition to look? Do I want it to be, for example, 80-20. So 80%, grape fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, and full fat, dairy and meat, and all those kinds of things. Do I want that? And then the 20% to be, I have some bread and some pasta and some cake.

You get to kind of decide how you want to live that and then you can incorporate your life as such. And you can say, okay, so that means this many times a week, I’m gonna go do XYZ. But I really think making sure that you’re getting enough veggies, making sure that you’re getting enough protein. If we can start with those two, then everything else can fall into place. There’s room for anything.

Here’s what I say. I always say there’s just like a tripwire phenomenon. Liike, up to a certain point, you do fine with some flour and sugar. But then over that point, you might notice I’m hungry all the time. I’m thinking about food 24/7. So let’s get to know what your tripwire is. So we need you to be the scientist of your body and really get curious, when I do this, I feel amazing. But when I then go into this land, I start to not feel good. So let’s get to learn what that is.

Keri: Yeah, I love that. And an approach that I really like as well, is as Matthea said, it’s all the veggies and the proteins and the healthy fats and I think If I like to look at that as my baseline, if I’ve got protein, if I’ve got some healthy fats, if I’ve got a good portion of non starchy veg, that is wonderful.

One little hack I love is that if people are eating a plate with that, and maybe they’ve got potatoes or pasta or something like that with it, let’s start with the veggies and the fat and the protein, and then get to the other stuff. So you’re really filling up on that very nourishing food first. And that in and of itself is a step in the right direction on your weight loss journey, or on your journey to upgrading your nutrition and eating in a very different way because you’re always prioritising that.

That in itself can change how full you feel as well and how satisfied and nourished you feel. You can say, for instance, with pasta, you might not feel as nourished for as long. So if you choose the other ingredients, first, it’s going to balance out those glucose levels in your blood afterwards. So that’s one little hack that I love. The other one that Matthea mentioned before is adding a friend.

If you’re having an afternoon snack, and it might be a cake or something like that, have a handful of nuts with it. Make sure you get some protein or some fat along with it. So pair anything that is going to be very high on the GI scale. It’s very quick-burning. Pair that with something that’s a little bit slower. Slow it down so it doesn’t convert so quickly into a lot of energy really quickly. And then you’re going to have that crash. So that will sustain you for a little bit longer.

But even better than that, if you can wait until after dinner, save that little piece of cake. Save that chocolate. Save that biscuit until after dinner. It’s even better. So, perhaps, have a savoury snack instead. And then have that afterwards. So those little snacks. I mean, one client of mine, she just started with that. She started adding a friend and she started saving what she could this sweets wise until after her meal and she lost three pounds just doing that when we got started.

That was a really powerful hack. I don’t know everyone’s losing weight on your podcast. But yeah.

Rachel: You know what I think most of the time, by the time you get to my age, it’s just so much harder, isn’t it? And then, but of course, we haven’t even mentioned exercising and activity and all that sort of stuff, which again, boosts your mood, makes you feel better and makes you less hungry, doesn’t it? Mostly?

Matthea: Yeah, a little bit of exercise. This is interesting. So ghrelin is the hunger hormone that says you’re hungry, start eating. And a little bit of exercise actually suppresses ghrelin. So I’m not talking about you going during the whole weight, lifting session, things like that, but just a little bit. So it’s interesting. Another thing we actually recommend is, if you notice that I’m hungry before dinner, but there’s a little bit of time before we’re going to eat, sometimes a little quick walk is actually very helpful.

Rachel: I just love to finish with what– you’ve already mentioned, Atomic Habits. What small habits– and you’ve mentioned a bit of a few eating habits, but are there any other habits that have been really helpful for people to change? What they’re doing in relation to it could be emotional eating or reducing stress or anything like that, that you’ve noticed through your membership or that you recommend to people?

Matthea: This is gonna sound really silly, but getting enough water in. So it sounds so– it’s like, okay, we’ve all heard this before, but what water does is that, number one, we feel less like a wilted plant. But number two, you start to show yourself you matter. And I’m being intentional about it. I’m getting this in. It’s literally the lowest hanging fruit that you could start today.

A lot of people feel better about it. Sometimes their hunger is even down a little bit because they’re just regulating things a little bit better. So just start with some water.

Rachel: That’s a really good tip. And I would say even when I don’t drink enough water, it’s generally because I’m out and about, and I don’t have a water bottle with me. So sometimes it’s buying the water. Oh, yeah. Matthea showing me her water bottle. I just picked up my glass of water that’s here. Buying a really nice water bottle, right? That’s what we all like — buying things, right? That’s a really great tip. Thank you. Anything else?

Keri: That is a good one. So we talked about the basics and the fundamentals before we got on to the mindset stuff. And the other one is really having a look at your sleep as well. So if you’re feeling overtired, if you’re waking in the night, if the quality of sleep is not that good, if the length of sleep is not what it could be, you’re gonna find you’re hungrier. You have less resilience when it comes to stressful situations, and then the cravings and urges to eat that come up.

We’ve probably all experienced this, haven’t we? On those tired days, you just eat more, you’re more hungry and you probably don’t make as nourishing food choices as you would on a day when you’re feeling really refreshed and really well. So if sleep is an issue as well. That can be a really good one to have a look at to change those eating patterns as well.

Rachel: Yeah, I did read that you eat probably another three to five hundred extra calories when you’re tired.

Matthea: Yeah, it’s amazing, isn’t it?

Keri: That’s huge, isn’t it?

Rachel: So guys, we are out of time, unfortunately. And in a minute, I’d love to hear about the work that you’re doing and how people can join you. But if you would just summarise everything in your three top tips each, what would they be? Keri, I’ll ask you first.

Keri: Okay. So the first tip for me, I think, would be adopting the philosophy of 1% upgrades. And we did take this from Atomic Habits. We love James Clear’s work in our membership. So if you haven’t read that book, I’d highly recommend it. He talks about 1% upgrades and the power of 1% upgrades. And so I think it takes us out of that kind of idealistic, over achieving thing that we often get to, like, I want to lose 20 kilos, and I want to do it now. I want to get really healthy.

I only want to eat salads and veggies and from tomorrow, everything’s going to be different. Actually, if we can just put in that one change that small little tweak that you can do, master that, then maybe do it for seven days. Do it for fourteen days. It depends on what the habit is, change that and then add another one. So just do these little 1% upgrades, it compounds over time, and it makes a massive difference.

James actually talks about the example of the British Cycling Team in the book, which is really fascinating about the coach that came in who did 1% upgrades, and just changed tiny little things like the clothes that they were wearing, and the bike and how they were cleaned, and the dust that was on the bikes, little tiny changes.

We will remember here in the UK, how amazing the performance was around the 2012 Olympics of the cycling team. And it was all as a result of the 1% upgrade. So that’s a really big one, I think.

Matthea: I think, to add to that, I think it’s allowed micro-breaks to count. So do not go out there thinking you’re going to radically change your whole life. That always ends in disaster. So start like Keri was saying with the little breaks, a little micro breaks, 1% upgrades.

I think if you’re starting to work on improving your nutrition, just to add a friend. So I always say add, don’t subtract when you start. It sounds very counterintuitive. Everyone wants to fight me, but add in the food that supports you. Because it will be easier for you to let go of the things that you don’t feel work that well for you. But whenever we don’t trigger restrictions, you will do much better long term.

Rachel: Thank you. That said, I really like that. Can you just quickly clarify what sorts of friends these are, like a handful of nuts or what else?

Matthea: Yeah, so I’ll give you an example. And I call it chips here. I don’t know if you guys call it crisps. I know it’s different names, but crisps. Exactly. Okay, so I really like eating them. But I know that it does nothing for me. My hunger doesn’t go down. I have more urges and cravings. So, to me, I’m a vegetarian, I love to put a little cottage cheese with it. So I might eat it first and then have the crisps. Or sometimes I’ll take a piece of cheese and eat that with it.

But the point is, I don’t any more just do pretzels, because I know, it doesn’t matter how good it tastes, I’m not going to feel good afterward. So I’ve really learned over time I need to add something to it if I’m gonna have it. It just works out better that way.

Rachel: Okay, that’s helpful. So things like cottage cheese, a bit of cheese, some nuts, I guess hummus would count there. Talking about anything high in protein and possibly– good fats count, right?

Keri: Yeah, absolutely.

Matthea: Good fats provide the satiety factor. So everyone’s always thinking about pushing protein all day long, which is amazing by the way. Protein’s great but if you don’t have enough good fats in there, then you’re left in this scrounging energy where you want to go find all the foods.

Rachel: Brilliant. So 1% upgrade, allow microbreaks to count and start with little breaks and, actually work out what you’re gonna do on those little breaks. And I love that idea you talked about earlier about breaking that stress cycle. So we’re gonna go and find lots more hugs and things like that. Good hugs, not naughty hugs. Add a friend, too, if you want to have those crisps, great, but maybe add in some cottage cheese or some hummus with that.

Or if you have a little bar of chocolate, add a handful of nuts or something like that. And I think that’s going to be really doable. So guys, if people are interested in finding out more about you and your work or joining a membership, what do they do?

Keri: Okay, so we have a podcast as well. It’s the Weight Loss For Life podcast. So if you like podcasts– you’re probably listening to this and you do like podcasts– you can find us at the Weight Loss For Life podcast. And we also have our membership, the School of Sustainable Weight Loss. And there’s lots of information about that on the WLCC website.

Rachel: Right. Lovely. And presumably, they can follow you on social media as well and find out more about your work, et cetera.. We’ll put all those links to your stuff in the show notes. And I’m sure you’ll get lots of people really having a look at that because I think I just love what you do. I love the thing that’s all about mindset. To me, this just seems really intuitive. It’s really obvious. It’s really healthy. And it’s for everybody, right?

Even if people don’t need to lose weight, they can still do this and they will still start to feel better. So that’s what’s so brilliant about this for everybody. Right? So thank you so much for spending time today. And we will have to get you back at another time. Because there’s so much more we can talk about and if anyone’s got any questions or suggestions for topics that they’d like to talk to Matthea and Keri about then do email us at hello@youarenotafrog.com

We’ll get them back and we’ll put them all our questions about this sort of thing. So it’s been wonderful to have you. Thank you so much for being here.

Keri: Thank you so much for having us on tonight. It’s been a pleasure.

Rachel: Thank you. Bye. Thanks for listening. Don’t forget, we provide a self-coaching CPD workbook for every episode. You can sign up for it via the link in the show notes. And if this episode was helpful, then please share it with a friend. Get in touch with any comments or suggestions at hello@yourarenotafrog.com. I love to hear from you.

Finally, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please rate it and leave a review wherever you’re listening. It really helps. Bye for now.

Podcast Links


Sign up for our FREE webinar ‘How to cope when a doctor dies by suicide’. FREE webinar for doctors

Sustainable Weight Loss: The School of Sustainable Weight Loss. You Are Not a Frog is proud to be an affiliate of the school, meaning we receive a small commission if you sign up through our link (you don’t pay anything more!). We’re thrilled to be supporting Keri and Matthea in this important work.

Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Connect with Keri: Website | Instagram | Linktree | Youtube

Connect with Matthea: Email | Instagram | Linktree

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Dr Caraline Wright and Dr Lizzie Sweeting join us to discuss the second victim phenomenon. They explain why patient safety incidents are occupational hazards and how they can affect healthcare providers. Caraline then shares her personal experience of being in the “second victim” role. Finally, they share tips on how to avoid second victimhood and how to provide support to someone going through it.

Episode 91 – How to Break Up With Your Toxic Relationship With Your Career with Dr Pauline Morris

Dr Pauline Morris joins us to share her career counselling advice for physicians and other professionals in high stress jobs. We discuss the common pitfalls that lead doctors to unsustainable work habits. Pauline also sheds light on why staying in your comfort zone can be detrimental to your performance. To avert this, she shares tips on how to better recognise and advocate for your own needs. We also learn about the importance of self-care and taking time for yourself.

Episode 90 – What to do About Bitching and Backbiting with Dr Edward Pooley

Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to discuss what to do when colleagues make inappropriate comments about others. We talk about why it’s crucial to consider the question behind the question in workplace backbiting. Ed also teaches us how to challenge in a supportive way. Most importantly, we learn some strategies to prepare ourselves to speak up when the situation requires it.

Episode 89 – Should I stay or should I go? with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Corrina Gordon-Barnes joins us to share how to better relationships and take control and stay in your zone of power. She shares how to make a good decision by questioning thoughts and assumptions. We also discuss how you can change your perspective to become more compassionate, accepting, and empowered. If you want to know how to better relationships, stay in your zone of power, improve your decision-making skills, and be true to yourself, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 88 – How to Ditch the Saviour Complex and Feel More Alive with Rob Bell

Rob Bell joins us in this episode to discuss the perils of the saviour complex and the desire to keep hustling even when we’re miserable. We learn that taking time for rest and reflection only helps us get stronger. You can’t heal and help rebuild a broken system if you don’t look out for yourself first. Tune in to this episode to find out how to ditch the saviour complex, feel happier and live a more fulfilling life.

Episode 87 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 5: What Should I Do When I Think a Complaint is Unfair? And Other Questions with Drs Sarah Coope, George Wright, Samantha White, and Andrew Tressider

We’re joined by a panel of expert guests to share their thoughts on how to handle complaints. Together, we discuss ways that you can adjust your perspective and respond to unfavourable situations. Most importantly, we tackle issues regarding malicious complaints and how to cope with them. If you’re having trouble managing yourself during complaints, then this episode is for you.

Episode 86 – Gaslighting and Other Ways We’re Abused at Work: What’s Really Going On? with Dr James Costello

Dr James Costello joins us to talk about his new book and the insidious ways that organisations and individuals can undermine us. They compel us to do extra emotional labour for us to cope with the workplace dynamics. We also chat about what happens when authority and power are misused. Finally, James shares some of the disastrous consequences bullying in the workplace can have and what we can do about it. Tune in if you want to know what to do if you suspect that you or a colleague are experiencing relational abuse in the workplace!

Episode 85 – How to have crucial conversations with Dr Edward Pooley

Good communication between colleagues is crucial for the success of any organisation. Dr Edward Pooley joins us again to teach us how to communicate well. He discusses the three strands present in any conversation and helps us understand how we can be more aware of each. We also share some frameworks that can help you navigate difficult conversations. Understanding the importance of emotion is crucial in being an effective communicator and connecting with your team.

Episode 84 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 4: Creating a Workplace Where It’s OK to Fail

Professor Susan Fairley and Dr Jane Sturgess join us to discuss how to create a workplace that doesn’t shy away from failure. We talk about how civility can save lives and also touch on the issues around incident reporting in healthcare. Most importantly, we talk about creating a culture where people can have difficult conversations without defensiveness. If you want to know how to approach failing and speaking up in the workplace, tune in to this episode.

Episode 83 – The Ups and Downs of Being a Man-Frog with Dr Chris Hewitt

Joining us in this episode is Dr Chris Hewitt who also uses the metaphor of a man-frog in coaching professionals to have a better work-life balance. Chris talks about why we find it so hard to recognise burnout. He also shares his top tips and practical strategies to address work dissatisfaction. If you want to stop feeling like a man (or woman) - frog in a pan of slowly boiling water, listen to the full episode.

Episode 82 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series Episode 3: Surviving the Process

Drs Jessica Harland, Caroline Walker and Heidi Mousney join us in this episode to discuss healthcare professionals’ experiences when dealing with complaints. We talk about the different emotions you may experience and practical tips on getting through. If you want to know how to survive the process after making a mistake at work and receiving a complaint, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 81 – When Soft and Fluffy Met Coronavirus with Steve Andrews

Steve Andrews, Associate Director of Leadership for East and North Herts NHS Trust shares how, through using just five crucial questions, you can check in on people, rather than check up on them. The 5 questions will help you to find out how people really are, help them look out for their colleagues, empower them to solve their own problems AND communicate empathy and support. Want to know how you can apply compassionate leadership in your organisation? Then, this episode is for you.

Episode 80 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Episode 2: What to Do When You Make a Mistake with Drs Clare Devlin and Dr John Powell

Drs Clare Devlin and John Powell join us to discuss the proper way of responding to professional mistakes. We talk about why doctors have a hard time whenever they make a mistake at work. Clare and John also share valuable advice on minimising negative consequences and getting a good outcome for you and your patient. If you want to learn a roadmap for what you should do you make a mistake at work, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 79 – How to Give Yourself Permission to Thrive with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us once again to talk about burnout and giving ourselves permission to thrive. Having experienced work burnout, Katya shares her story and discusses the red flags of burnout. We also talk about why we find it difficult to give ourselves permission to thrive and how we can overcome our own internal barriers. If you want to learn about how you can listen to your needs so that you can thrive in work and in life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 78 – Complaints and How to Survive Them Series 1: Preparing to Fail Well with Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer

Drs Sarah Coope, Annalene Weston and Sheila Bloomer join us in this first episode in a new series on ‘Complaints and How to Survive Them’ to talk about coaching doctors and dentists through complaints made against them. We also talk about the perfectionist mindset and how changing our perspective towards failure can help us and those around us. If you want to know how to deal better with complaints made against doctors and other professionals in high-stress jobs, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 77 – Denial, displacement and other ways we neglect ourselves with Dr Andrew Tresidder

Dr Andrew Tresidder joins us to talk about how many medical practitioners and other professionals in healthcare and high stress jobs neglect their health and well-being. We're so focused on taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves but our well-being is vital if we want to keep doing the work we do. Find out why healthcare professionals need to learn more about health, as opposed to only learning about disease and if you want to know how to focus on taking care of your health and well-being, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 76 – Tech Tips for Happy Hybrid Working with Dr Hussain Gandhi

Dr Hussain Gandhi, or Dr Gandalf of eGPlearning, joins us in this episode. He is a GP, PCN director and host of the eGP Learning Podblast that shares deep dives into health tech for primary care. He shares his tech and time hacks for hybrid working to survive and thrive in the new virtual environment. If you want to find out how to improve your hybrid working experience, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 74 – Managing your Time in a System Which Sucks with Dr Ed Pooley

Dr Ed Pooley joins us in this episode to share his take on time management techniques for busy individuals. He discusses the three types of competing demands and how to manage them. We also talk about being more comfortable holding difficult conversations about workplace issues - vital to help change the environment we work in. Tune into this episode to discover how time management techniques and communication can help you get a calmer and more time-efficient workplace.

Episode 73 – How to Find Your Tribe: The PMGUK story with Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman

Dr Nazia Haider and Dr Katherine Hickman join us on this episode to discuss the importance of a work community. We talk about the inspiring stories from the online community they created, the Physicians Mums Group UK (PMGUK). Nazia and Katherine also share their tips on how to increase connections and find your own tribe at work. If you want to know how to create a network of supportive colleagues and feel more connected, then tune into this episode.

Episode 72 – Working well – from anywhere! with Dr Katya Miles

Dr Katya Miles joins us to discuss how to work well from home by creating healthy boundaries. She shares how to be more productive by using the third space hack and taking breaks. Katya also talks about how to be more active and better connect with people in the workplace. If you want to learn about working well from home and achieving a better work-life balance, then tune in to this episode.

Episode 71 – Create a Career You’ll Love with Dr Claire Kaye

Dr Claire Kaye joins us to discuss how to find a career you love. As an executive coach specialising in career development, Claire is an expert in guiding people how to find a career they love. We talk about the value of job networking and diversifying in our career journeys. We also share our tips and experiences on how to find a career you love. We do this by helping you identify the roles that best suit you and how to go about getting these roles.

Episode 70 – How Safe Do You Feel at Work with Scott Chambers

Scott Chambers joins us to talk about why we need to make people feel comfortable and safe enough to speak up in their workplace. When we create psychological safety in our team, we improve overall happiness and boost performance! If you want to learn how to create psychological safety for a better and happier team - whether you’re the boss or not, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 69 – Make Time for What Matters with Liz O’Riordan

Liz O'Riordan joins us to share productivity life hacks. These have helped her transform how she approaches work. Now, Liz can spend quality time with her family and enjoy life. In this episode, she teaches us how we too can achieve this. If you want to learn some new life hacks, beat burnout and work happier, then tune in to this episode!

Episode 68 – The Revolutionary Art of Breathing with Richard Jamieson

Richard Jamieson discusses how we can utilise breathing techniques to feel calmer, make better decisions and be more productive. He explains the different steps we can take to change our breathing patterns. When you’re in a high-stress situation, remember this: just breathe. If you want to know how to use breathing techniques to beat stress in everyday situations, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 67 – Bringing Your Best Self to Work with Dr Sarah Goulding

Dr Sarah Goulding discusses how to bring your whole self to work without leaving bits of you behind. Sarah shares her own story of experiencing burnout at her old job and rediscovering her true passion. We also discuss how applying our core strengths to our jobs can mean the difference between burnout and having a sense of fulfilment. Don’t miss out on this episode if you want to learn more about how to be yourself and how to bring joy back into your work!

Episode 65 – Passing the Naughty Monkey Back with Dr Amit Sharma

Dr Amit Sharma joins us to discuss the effects of taking on too many of other people’s ‘naughty monkeys’. We talk about why professionals in high-stress jobs so often take on the rescuer role and how to shift that mindset. Amit and I also discuss the importance of empowering patients to take control of their own health. If you want to know how to avoid being weighed down by too many naughty monkeys, stay tuned to this episode.

Episode 64 – What to Do When You’re Out of Fuel with Dr Jess Harvey

Dr Jess Harvey, a GP partner and GB triathlete, talks about what happened to her after running out of fuel and feeling burnt out. She discusses how we often ignore the symptoms and signs for too long and why resting and refuelling is as important as what we're doing in the first place. If you’re feeling burnt out, tune in to this episode to find out how you can plug the holes in your energy bucket!

Episode 63 – How to Survive Even When Times are Tough with Dr Caroline Walker

This episode is part of the COVID-19 Supporting Doctors series, and joining us again is Dr Caroline Walker. She's here to discuss why rest is crucial, especially for people in high-stress jobs. Caroline also shares key strategies that can keep us going through the crisis. The previous year has been tough, so don’t miss this episode to start 2021 better prepared.

Episode 62 – Self-Coaching for Success with Dr Karen Castille, OBE

Dr Karen Castille joins me in this episode to discuss her book on self-coaching. She shares powerful questions to ask yourself which will jumpstart your self-coaching journey. She also talks about the importance of developing this vital skill and crafting powerful life questions. Before we close the show, Karen gives her top tips for self-coaching. Don’t miss this episode if you want to learn how you can find clarity and achieve success through self-coaching!

Episode 61 – The Self Help Book Group on Happiness with Dr Nik Kendrew

In this episode, You Are Not A Frog regular Dr Nik Kendrew joins me to discuss the concept of happiness. We tackle the everlasting question of ‘What is happiness’? We also talk about perfectionism and fear and how these can hinder us from doing the things we want to do. At the end of the show, Nik and I give our top tips to being happier. If you want to know more about living a happy life, then this episode is for you.

Episode 60 – Creating a Workplace that Works with Dr Sonali Kinra

Dr Sonali Kinra joins us to discuss why people leave their jobs and how to prevent it. We talk about the importance of workplace culture and its role in creating an environment that makes people want to stay. We also discuss why you need to seek opportunities that broaden and develop your career. Don’t miss this episode if you want to find out how to keep yourself in a job you love.

Episode 59 – A Social Dilemma? With Dr James Thambyrajah

In this episode, Dr James Thambyrajah joins us to talk about social media’s subtle yet profound effect on our daily lives. We discuss the perils of being unaware of how our online decisions are influenced. James also shares his insights on how we can improve how we stay informed and inform others. Tune in to this episode if you want to learn more about how to go beyond your digital echo chamber.

Episode 55 – The One About Alcohol

Dr Giles P Croft is back to chat with Rachel about his experiences following a revolutionary read he was recommended. You might remember Giles from episode 46, where he talked about how as humans, we naturally default to happiness.

Episode 52 – A year of the frog

The week’s episode is a special one as the Frog celebrates a year of podcasting! It’s been quite a year - including charting in Apple’s Top 100 Business Podcasts in the UK!

Episode 50 – Freeing yourself from the money trap

Joining Rachel in this week’s episode is Dr Tommy Perkins, as well as being a GP Partner, and father, Tommy is one half of Medics Money. Medics Money is an organisation specifically aimed at helping doctors make better decisions with their finances. It’s run by Tommy and Dr Ed Cantelo who is not only a doctor but a qualified accountant.

Episode 49 – The Self Help Book Group No 2 with Nik Kendrew

This week Rachel is joined by You Are Not A Frog regular, Nik Kendrew. Last time Nik joined us, we discussed a book that has helped him in his professional life as a GP, trainer and partner as well as his personal life. Nik’s back this week to talk about another brilliant book and to share what insights and learnings he’s gained from it.

Episode 47 – How to Have a Courageous Conversation

Rachel talks with Beccie D'Cunha about the conversations that we avoid and the conversations we really need to have with our colleagues, teams and managers. They can be described as difficult conversations, but we can redefine them as courageous conversations - because ultimately it takes courage for both parties to listen and be heard.

Episode 46 – Default to happy

Rachel talks with Dr Giles P Croft about his take on how to beat stress and burnout. Giles  is a psychology graduate and former NHS surgeon who stepped aside from clinical practice for a decade to explore a number of career paths, including health informatics, cycling journalism, public speaking and high street retail with his wife.

Episode 45 – Rest. The final frontier

Rachel is joined by Sheela Hobden, Professional Certified Coach, wellbeing expert and fellow Shapes Toolkit facilitator. We talk about why rest isn’t just important for wellbeing, but important for productivity and creativity too. 

Episode 40 – Leading with tough love with Gary Hughes

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Gary Hughes, author of the book Leadership in Practice, blogger, educator and facilitator who is a Practice Manager by day. We chat about how leadership in the COVID-19 crisis has had to adapt, and the different roles that a leader has had to take.

Episode 37 – How to manage conflict during COVID with Jane Gunn

Rachel is thrilled to welcome back Jane Gunn – lawyer, mediator and expert in conflict resolution who has been known as the Corporate Peacemaker. This episode is for you if the thought of addressing a difficult issue with one of your colleagues send you running for the hills…

Episode 20 – A creative solution to stress with Ruth Cocksedge

In this episode, Rachel is joined by Ruth Cocksedge a Practitioner Psychologist who started her career as a mental health nurse. She practices in Cambridge and has a particular interest in EMDR for PTSD and creative writing as a way to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Episode 11 – The magical art of reading sweary books

In this episode, Rachel is joined once again by Dr Liz O’Riordan, the ‘Breast Surgeon with Breast Cancer’, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, triathlete and all round superstar who has been nominated for ‘Woman of the Year’.

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