Can you give us a little summary of who you are and what you do?
I’m a fitness, triathlon and nutrition coach. I coach young people, and offer nutrition advice including writing bespoke meal plans for people who are working to specific health or weight goals. The people I work with range from athletes training for competitions, to people looking to lose weight for an event, like a wedding, or just aiming to achieve a more healthy and balanced lifestyle. My company, WholeHealth also caters healthy and nutritionally balanced food for active events – bootcamps, training camps, active breaks, as well as running junior triathlon camps and sports coaching.
Has being healthy always had a large influence on your lifestyle?
I did some sport at school like most kids, but never felt that I was a ‘sporty’ type, so I gradually dropped it. I started running again in my thirties and realised that you don’t need to be great at sport to enjoy exercise. I worked up to running my first half marathon in 2004. A few years later, I discovered triathlon, and found that I loved cycling and swimming too. Becoming a parent had a big impact on changing my lifestyle. The pressures of parenting and work increased my stress as I got older, and I realised that I needed a way to manage my life, take some time for myself, and look after my health to keep me fit and active to care for my children
‘Fresh Air, Real Food and Good Company’ is your motto. What is it about these three principles that you believe are the key to a healthy lifestyle?
As humans we all have basic needs which need to be met, like food and shelter. Above those, to be happy, and to survive in a stressful modern world, we have other needs that we can sometimes overlook in our busy modern lifestyles. Our motto reduces these to three basic ideas that we can aim for each day which can help us manage, to be happy, and to balance our lives. Everywhere you look there is different and sometimes conflicting advice on how to be healthy, what you should be eating, how you should be exercising, sleeping, sitting, working, parenting, doing. We believe that fad diets and regimes will come and go. The WholeHealth motto reduces the stress of trying to live up to ideals, but meets the needs that help us to feel better as people. We believe that these are:
Fresh air: A little outdoor time every day, at a level of activity that you are happy with, so walking, running or cycling as far or as hard as makes you happy.
Real food: cooking and creating meals for yourself or your family is a form of love, self-love, meditation and connection with your eating and habits that can break the fast food cycle that makes us sick or depressed.
Good company: We are social creatures, and choosing to spend time with positive, like-minded people is important for our mental health, and impacts our physical health too.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their lifestyle but is struggling to come to terms with the changes they have to make?
I would say start small. Change just one thing for a week. It takes a while for changes to become habits, and if you aim too high, you risk feeling you’ve ‘failed’ and giving up altogether. That’s why our motto helps. Tick those three things off each day, and you will be well on the way.
How were you introduced to the world of triathlons?
I watched the first Nottingham Outlaw long distance triathlon race at Holme Pierrepont after running a half marathon, and was inspired by the people pushing themselves to cover such a huge distance in one day. I told my family that I wanted to do that, and so I went along to a local club with the intention of training to complete it myself. I met lots of amazing people who shared similar goals to me, and gave me advice and encouragement that helped me to reach my goal of completing the Outlaw in 2012. I continued training in all three disciplines regularly and, to my surprise, qualified to compete at Age Group championships. That gave me the chance to travel to and race at international triathlon competitions and wear a GB trisuit, which was great fun.
As someone who has not come from a professional sporting background, what was the biggest challenge for you to overcome when training for your first triathlon?
Fitting the training in is the biggest challenge for someone who is working, has a family, and for who triathlon is just a hobby. A lot of hours training are needed to prepare for long distance triathlon, and I was getting up early most days to swim or cycle before work, or sneaking out for a run at lunchtime. If you find something you enjoy doing, have a goal to work to, and friends to train with, though, even the hard training can all be good fun.
Before competing in the 2013 World Triathlon Championships, you took part in the 2012 World Duathlon Championships. How was it jumping from a duathlon to a triathlon?
As running is probably my weakest discipline, it was a relief! I prefer the swim aspect of a triathlon, as I love swimming, and really enjoyed swimming in the Serpentine at Hyde Park, but perhaps more in the beautiful lake at the European Championships in Austria.
When taking part in triathlons, is it about winning the competition or more about the self-satisfaction you receive from completing such an extensive challenge?
For me, it’s not about winning. I am a competitive person though, so I do use triathlon as an outlet for that streak. I push myself to do better than I have before, and there may be someone in the field that I want to be faster than. I always want to do my best, but most of all I enjoy feeling strong, and putting all my training into practice alongside other people on race day. In contrast to an early morning training session, at a race there will be family, friends, club mates and training buddies cheering you on, or passing you in the race and that’s a real buzz that can inspire you to give that little bit more!
Is there an age group who adapt to more easily to the changes that are required? Or is it more about the personality of the individual?
I have met lots of different personalities through WholeHealth, adults and children, and that is what has made me realise that a unique and tailored approach is vital to supporting people who want to make changes to their lifestyle. It’s about taking into account the whole of the person’s life, understanding their goals and drives, and starting from where they are now, working with what motivates, challenges and drives them, and what they enjoy.
Is there a significant difference between the food suggested to someone who requires the meal plans for professional athletic purposes and the average person, who wishes to become healthier?
Essentially, everyone will benefit from some basic and easy to apply guidelines-such as upping their intake of veg, reducing the sugar and processed foods that they eat, and the plans give them some easy recipes to help them do that, and expand the range of nutrients in their diet. Athletes have more specific needs to their training, and will need a different balance of nutrients to fuel, support and recover from their training. That’s why all the meal plans are done individually, and tailored to the specific needs, requirements and goals of the client.
Have you got any more ambitions or ideas to develop?
I am always looking for opportunities to reach and support more people! I really enjoy teaching people, and especially children about food, and how to cook – demystifying the process and showing them how easy it is to create ‘Real Food’ from simple fresh ingredients. I love cooking for people, too, so I am hoping and planning that the teaching and catering side of the business will continue to grow. I’m continuing to develop myself as a sports and coach and nutrition adviser, and am working alongside other professionals, clubs and businesses to grow WholeHealth and encourage even more people, especially women, to be active and healthy.
Has WholeHealth got any exciting events coming up?
We have an exciting opportunity to come on holiday with us! We are running an active holiday for families in the Pyrenees this summer. We run occasional pop-up coffee stops on bike routes around Nottinghamshire, and there’s a chance to taste WholeHealth food as we will be catering Beetroot Bootcamp again in March.
We have a parkrun group who support each other to do the 5k free timed runs regularly around Nottingham and beyond, and we have teams entered in local Ultra-running event the Equinox in September, local Sportive cycling rides in May and June as well as numerous other ways to get involved and get active.
Do you have anything else to say to LeftLion readers?
Anyone who is interested can become a member on our website, or follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with our events, see our recipes and receive motivation and encouragement to stay on track with health goals. Stay healthy!