I’m a bit of a geek.
I’m a biomedical scientist by training and I like all the sciencey stuff. I’m also a life-long dieter and loather of all forms of exercise. So qualifying as a personal trainer maybe wasn’t an obvious career choice.
But I was so miserable about how I looked, that in 2006, that’s exactly what I did (weighing in at 17 stone!). After qualifying, I worked for a local authority delivering nutrition and exercise courses for overweight clients. I hoped that by helping them, I’d also be able to help myself get thin and wonderful once and for all.
It didn’t work.
Despite all my knowledge of exercise and nutrition, I just couldn’t seem to lose weight and keep it off, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Maybe I just didn’t know enough yet.
So in 2009, I undertook a Masters Degree in Weight Management and became interested in the concept of food addiction, a subject I’ve explored in my own research.
But then this happened.
As part of my graduate studies, I learned something that went against all the current thinking on obesity and that changed my whole life.
I learned that obesity is actually less important to health than is fitness, and that dieting, especially yo-yo dieting is associated with worse health outcomes than being fat! I also learned about research showing that FEELING fat is more damaging to your health than actually BEING fat!!
All those years, all that beating myself up about failed diet after failed diet. All along the solution was so simple. So guess what…
Yes, more training! And the birth of Never Diet Again UK.
I undertook additional training in the management of eating disorders and a range of psychotherapy techniques and started Never Diet Again UK to offer workshops and retreats that focus on health rather than weight.
My goal is to help people normalise their relationship with food, end their food cravings, build fitness, and improve body image and self-esteem. And to help other people live fulfilling lives without worrying about every bite of food that goes into their mouths or how they’re going to look in a summer dress.
Since I discovered HAES, my life has changed beyond recognition.
My weight has finally stabilised, I eat what I want, and more importantly, I don’t want to curl up into a ball and die every time I look in a mirror.
I can’t begin to tell you how much happier I am now, but I’m also sad that I spent so much of my life being unhappy because of my weight, not appreciating any of my achievements but concentrating only on my ability to get thin and stay thin.
All I’ve wanted to do ever since is to help other people make that shift. Every day that a person spends on the right side of the dieting line (the side where they don’t do it anymore!) is a gift of a day in that person’s life.
What I do now
As well as running Never Diet Again, I am a size-acceptance and HAES activist. I’ve run campaigns, spoken at universities, and presented at national and international conferences. I write for a number of magazines and blogs, and in November 2012, I started studying for a PhD in psychology, looking at the effects of weight stigma on health and health behaviours. What can I say? I’m a sucker for punishment!