TV presenter, radio DJ and mum-of-two Fearne Cotton on fitness, feeding her family and staying motivated
Fearne Cotton, 37, has been on our screens for more than 20 years. However, since the birth of her children, Rex, now five, and Honey Krissy, three, with husband Jesse Wood, she’s turned her hand to other projects, penning books on mental weelbeing, as well as creating a variety of cookbooks. H&W caught up with the wellness guru to discuss her exercise routine and what she eats in a day.
How do you stay healthy as a busy mum?
"I'm definitely not perfect. I have moments where I do feel really knackered or get run down but I try to go physically easy on myself. If I feel really good, I'll do a workout but when I'm really tired, I'll just do some stretching or an online meditation and have a rest. I try to listen to my body more than anything, and eat good food so I don't put rubbish in my body. I also go to bed early and drink loads of water – all the usual boring things!"
Why is fitness important to you?
"It's all about my head more than anything. I don't want to get a six pack and I'm not desperate to look like Gisele by the end of the year – it's about my head and feeling like I've got out of bed, shown up and stepped into my day in a good way. It means I've made the effort and had a bit of head space, whether it be running, going to a yoga class or doing an online workout, which is one of my easiest and favourite ways of exercising because I don't have to go anywhere. Having that time out is so imperative to mentally feeling good more than anything. And then there's all the other benefits that come alongside it, such as having more energy and, if I'm doing stretching, feeling like my body's in line. There's so many things that make it very important to general wellbeing."
Do you have a set schedule for your workouts?
"No not at all, I don't have an opportunity to have any kind of schedule with anything because my job is so all over the shop – I could be on a shoot, I might be at home all day, or I might have to go away somewhere – so I really can't have any sort of schedule. I rarely make the same exercise class and I've never had a personal trainer because I wouldn't be able to fit that into my ever-changing diary, so it's all about squeezing it in when I can. I use an online app to do exercise classes in the morning because if my husband's at home, he can do the kids' breakfasts and I can do a quick 20 minutes, or I'll go for a run at the weekend. I try to get it done as and when I can but I definitely can't schedule it in, it's near impossible. It's all about not beating yourself up and just doing it when you can and when you've got the energy to do it."
What do you eat in a day?
"I usually have either an omelette or porridge in the morning, and then usually make me and the kids a big smoothie made with spinach, sweetened with things like dates and bananas so that they don't know it's got loads of vegetables in it. I'm a real snacker, so I'll nibble on things like rice cakes, oatcakes and peanut butter, carrots and hummus. For lunch I'll have a big bowl of something like kale, noodles and tofu and loads of veg – I love eating a ton of veg, all the colours of the rainbow. I try to keep caffeine to a minimum, so I'll have one in the morning and then no more coffee throughout the day, unless it's a really long crazy day! Dinner is usually vegetarian, quinoa or rice, or something a bit Asian like a nice broth. I also make lots of big vegetable soups. I don't eat any meat, I haven't eaten it since I was a kid, but I'll have fish around once a month. I'm really trying to keep things fish-free because of how much we're over-fishing the oceans and it's a big concern of mine, so I'm really trying to eat lots of good vegetarian proteins instead, but if I'm out at a restaurant I'll maybe eat a bit of fish. I'll have a nice rooibos tea before I go to bed and maybe some fruit or something like that. I make a lot of energy balls out of dates, almonds, nut butters and seeds, lots of little healthy snacks throughout the day, and usually a bit of chocolate in there somewhere! I love a very very dark 99% chocolate as a treat."
Would your children eat the same as you?
"Oh my God, no way! I wish. They have a good balance, I'd say my son is a really good eater, he eats most things I put in front of him and he's got much better with vegetables over the years – he's up for trying new things now which is really exciting. My daughter is quite fussy, but luckily she really likes carrots, cucumber, sweet potato and quite a lot of vegetables and loads of fruit already, but it's harder with proteins with her. They'll have days where they eat brilliantly and eat big homemade lasagnes or chicken and rice, but then other days they'll have fish fingers and chips. I think you can't be too crazy about it when they're tiny – as long as they're trying lots of different flavours and lots of new foods, you're setting them up for a good way of thinking about food as they get older. As long as I get one of those green smoothies in them in the day, if the rest of the day is a write off then at least I know that's gone in and that feels like a good thing to tick off the list."
Why is healthy eating important to you?
"I think it's the foundation of everything. If you're putting bad stuff in your body, you're just going to feel horrendous and your energy's not going to be great. It's that age old saying that you are what you eat, if you're eating a ton of sugar, you probably will have a roller coaster of a day, ups and downs. It's all about moderation, not being regimented or crazy about it but just eating lots of fruit and veg and all the basic things, getting enough protein, and having lots of different colourful foods, trying new dishes, and also cooking from scratch. I think that processed food is the biggest enemy of the modern age – I know it's hard for a lot of people that are busy with kids or work and you do want to have something quick and easy, but that's why I try and do either batch cooking, where I make up a bolognaise for the kids for several meals, or a big soup that we'll all share over a couple of days. I'd rather put the time in and make a meal from scratch. Luckily I enjoy cooking, so it's not such an effort because I really like the process and having that time out just to be in my own space and listen to music. We cook a lot as a family, we make a lot of really nice healthy bakes, like cupcakes, energy balls and flapjacks, we're constantly baking together and they really enjoy it as well. If you can incorporate a bit of home cooking into the mix, it's definitely going to make a huge difference to all-round health."
Do you have any advice for someone struggling to get motivated?
"I think we all have periods where we're not eating brilliantly or exercising or whatever. That's absolutely fine, I don't think you should beat yourself up about it, but I think rather than setting pressurised goals like getting a six pack or trying to drop a dress size, you should try to aim for more energy, or to feel mentally so much better and clearer – that's a really good starting point. As soon as we set ourselves a huge goal, it feels really overwhelming. Change is hard, we don't want to make make massive changes straight away because it feels too much, so start with small changes, like you know you want to feel mentally better, have more you-time, or have more energy, then that's more realistic."
Read more of our interview with Fearne in our April issue, on sale on the 7th March.