I’m Stef, lovingly known as ‘Fanny’ to my friends. I’m wife to a hard working man and mum to three beautiful and energetic children aged 2, 4 and 6. I’ve been into fitness for a long time and my previous jobs skirted around the health industry, but I’m finally getting around to making it my career, studying to be a personal trainer and sports nutritionist.
Lets be honest, MY HEALTH-FOOD JOURNEY initially began as part of a quest to lose some extra pounds I’d gained after my first child. Pre children, sport, eating and boozing were my passion and hobbies. I took part in triathlons and running races – and then I celebrated afterwards. I loved food, I ate what I believed was a healthy diet (along with a load of stuff I knew wasn’t particularly great, but justified to myself anyway). I wasn’t unhappy with my size, I was fit and strong, but I was carrying more fat than was truly healthy. Then, after my first child, exercise became more difficult to fit in and of course I carried on piling in the food the way I always had. I truly didn’t believe I had a terrible diet and already had a passion for cooking homemade meals, but something was going wrong somewhere so I sought the advice of a personal trainer and nutritionist. It turned out I was doing pretty much everything wrong, as he introduced me to some new concepts and eventually became the key to turning my life around and leading me towards my epiphany (or epi-Fanny, ha ha)!!
At the same time, we had just discovered that our little boy had a dairy allergy. Then our second and third children (along with the dairy allergy) also had quite significant sensitivities to gluten. Finally, despite some initial resistance, I eventually began to accept that I did too. I’d always though all the food intolerance obsession to be a load of rubbish to be honest, but once I started to cut these foods out of my diet, my general health (and physique!) improved dramatically. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say, what I thought was a normal way to feel was far from it!
WHERE HAS THIS JOURNEY TAKEN ME? Here’s the thing – I LOVE TO EAT and there’s no way on earth I was going to stop eating delicious food, but what I did do was slowly switch my supposedly ‘healthy diet’ of cereal and juice for breakfast, brown bread sandwiches for lunch, heavy carbohydrate meals in the evening and sugar laden snacks, for truly healthy alternatives. I now enjoy a diet full of vegetable smoothies, high protein breakfasts, delicious salads and home cooked meat and vegetable meals. I don’t follow a particular diet, I don’t count calories; my food is simply fresh, higher in protein and lower in (although not completely without) carbohydrate. I try not to eat sugar, particularly the refined variety, but I do make delicious treats for the kids and occasionally for the grown ups too. I don’t diet, I have never dieted and I never will, it’s just a case of stripping food back to a relatively natural state. For those of you starting out on a quest for health, this way of eating might sound extreme – or extremely dull – but I promise you, I don’t feel like I miss out. Granted the occasional shop bought slab of cake does shout me from across the room, but I usually find that the moment passes and the feeling of not having had it later in the day is much better than the feeling of guilt (and wind!) if I had.
WHAT HAS ALL THIS DONE FOR ME? I’m not someone who naturally maintains a slim physique. I have to work at it with exercise and resisting the temptation to eat non-stop! It was a revelation for me to realise that I could change my shape and that it didn’t have to be painful or extreme or boring and (have I said this already?) I didn’t have to diet. I achieved my goal – I’m now two dress sizes smaller and over a stone lighter than I ever remember being in my life. I’m not body-perfect, I mean I wouldn’t run down the beach in a bikini or anything (seriously, who would?), but I’m more than happy for now. That aside, I have fewer digestive complaints and more balanced hormones. I have healthier skin, nails and hair and most importantly, I live contentedly knowing that I am reducing my chances of getting many truly awful diseases and conditions (diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and some cancers to name a few). Equally important to me, I’m teaching my children how to do the same. They are aware of what healthy eating is all about. They know what is good and what is bad for them (even at their tender ages) and how to make the right choices. They might not always do so (and actually neither do I all of the time) but I am equipping them with the knowledge to take the path they choose.
Ha ha, neither very flattering but I think you get the general idea (and can I add I’ve aged nearly 10 years and had 3 children in between those two photos)!!