Life coach, weight loss expert and author of The Louise Parker Method shares with us her happiness habits and explains why it's important to ditch diets in favour of all-round balance
How do you find a balance without over-working yourself?
It’s a constant work in progress. I’m extremely driven so have to keep tabs on myself when it comes to saying yes to everything. I re-evaluate my schedule every six weeks and make sure there’s space for work, exercise and time with the children. I don’t work beyond 8pm and I put down all devices and screens at 9pm. I’ve learnt to delegate and not expect myself to do everything – don’t beat yourself up if you’ve forgotten your child’s bake sale. It’s important to remember that we’re all human.
How do you strive to be a good role model to your children?
I’m entirely myself around them – I share with them if I’ve had a bad day or a brilliant one. We talk a lot. I’m honest with them and I live my life in the hope that they learn from the good bits. We eat well 90 percent of the time, and I hope they see I live a balanced life. It’s mostly healthy, but we’re determined not to demonise foods such as pizza and cake.
What is the one mental wellbeing tip you swear by?
Get out and walk. No matter how low, tired or stressed you feel, a walk will always clear your mind and most challenges I can’t quite work out always seem to unravel on a walk. It’s my meditation. There are times in the winter where it really is a case of forcing myself out the door, though.
What does your daily routine look like, and has it changed a lot over the years?
It’s changed hugely. Before I had three daughters, I would be up at 4.45am to train my first client at 5.30am. Now I run a company and a home, the hours are actually a bit kinder. We have a routine and rise early, so that mornings are relaxed and we can all eat breakfast together. We all leave the flat at 8am. I’m in meetings or with clients until 3.30pm and then I will train in my Harrods studio with one of my team. I walk home for 6pm and then it’s full on mother mode until 8pm. I love an hour to unwind with my husband over dinner, followed by an hour of bedtime routine and lights out at 10.30pm. This does mean I have to work at weekends to fit it all in, but it’s worth it.
Do you believe in cheat days?
I never associate guilt with a meal. The Louise Parker Method coaches balance and a revised way of thinking, so that you never think of food as a sin, a cheat or ‘naughty’. A burger is just a burger – it’s what we eat most of the time that matters.
How important is getting a good night’s sleep to you?
Essential. I’m religious about it. I simply can’t concentrate on everything I need to get done in a day if I’m not well rested. I take an hour to relax and potter, without phones or tablets, then have a bath and read a proper hardback in bed. I try not to go out during the week, I just find it hard to bounce back from in my 40s, even if I’m home by 10pm.
How do you keep fit, are there any forms of exercise you really love?
I walk as much as I can, that’s my foundation. I train to my trusty method of cardio-conditioning – both fat burning and sculpting at the same time. It gives you the best return on your time investment. I’ll train in my Harrods Clinic three times a week and on the other days I have to do something, even if that’s 10 minutes of a few signature moves. It’s all about consistency and not severity.
Was there a defining moment in your life that made you aware of the importance of self-care?
I think when my eldest daughter Sophie was born 12 years ago, I realised that putting myself first was actually essential, not a luxury. I wanted to share this value with my clients, as many people feel guilty for looking after themselves, which is just crazy to me.
Do you think it’s vital to have a regular digital detox?
Absolutely, it’s vital to our wellbeing on every level. Our brains are overstimulated all day and it’s a discipline we have to take seriously. There’s a good reason that many of the tech pioneers in Silicon Valley don’t allow their kids to have phones. We’re all really a social experiment and yet to see the long term effects of hunching over to look at screens all the time. I turn mine off for at least two hours a day and always from 9pm at night. The world can wait. It’s not easy though – they’re designed to be addictive.
Louise’s new book, Louise Parker: The 6 Week Programme, is available now, (£20, Mitchell Beazly)