Our new columnist and Loose Women presenter tells us why working out is so important to her
I’ve always had a balanced attitude to my fitness; I see it as a way to look after myself. In my early teens, I swam and played tennis, but then as a young adult, I was busy with Saturday jobs and studying so I didn’t do any more than the obligatory PE lessons. It was at college that I found my fitness mojo again, and started going to the gym to relieve exam stress. This was in the 80s and early 90s, so it was all about dodgy lycra and aerobics, which I was terrible at, but it introduced me to doing workouts by myself. I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum, so this suited me perfectly. Even now, the thought of doing a fitness class with a roomful of other women fills me with dread – I can’t grapevine in time to anyone. So, my fitness comes from doing something I enjoy that feels like ‘me’ time rather than a slog.
To fit it in I have to get up early, which can feel horrendous when the alarm goes off at 5:15am if it’s a filming day! I lay out my exercise clothes and pack my bag the night before, so there’s no chance for procrastinating. I meditate in the morning; I find that it helps me when my mind goes into free-falling anxiety. You wouldn’t think it, but there are days when I can hardly function I feel so out of control – I’m overwhelmed with stressful, anxious thoughts, to the point where I feel physically ill. Having a routine that I know will help these feelings pass works for me. So, I head to the living room, light a candle and some incense, and listen to a guided mediation for 15-30 minutes.
I normally get to the gym at 6:45am and do a 45 minute workout while listening to a podcast; I prefer listening to interviews with inspiring people rather than just music. I get lost in what they’re saying so it makes the time go faster – I listen to things like Thrive Global with Arianna Huffington, How To Fail with Elizabeth Day and Happy Place with Fearne Cotton.
On days when I’m working on my website, I tend to exercise at home. I like to do yoga or stretching in the living room – I bought a ‘do not disturb’ sign so the kids don’t come in and I can relax, knowing this time is mine. They’re teenagers so they don’t need my help in the mornings, but they do expect on-tap answers to “Where are my socks/PE kit/hairbrush?”, so this way they know not to come in unless the house is burning down!
I work better if I get exercise out of the way first thing; my head is clearer, I feel calmer and like I’ve got off on the right foot, and I make better choices for the rest of the day with what I eat or drink.
My top five fitness tips
1. Get up earlier! You won’t do it if you leave it until the end of the day – you won’t feel like it and you’ll have a million reasons not to go.
2. Lay out everything you will need the night before – that way you can just get up and go.
3. Find a podcast you enjoy, then you’ll have something to look forward to while you’re exercising.
4. Try to see it as a way to help you feel better mentally rather than forcing yourself to do something you hate just to lose weight or tone up. If you do something you enjoy, you’re more likely to keep doing it, which will make you feel good.
5. Be thankful for what you have been able to do. Your body is amazing; it works, it gets you from A-B, and most importantly, it has you inside it! Cut yourself some slack and be as supportive and encouraging to yourself as you would to a friend.