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Celebrity Health - Anna Williamson

TV and radio presenter Anna Williamson talks to Liz Parry about how she keeps fit and healthy

Anna Williamson is a television presenter, radio broadcaster, life coach and counsellor. She was a regular reporter for Daybreak and Big Brother’s Bit on the Side and competed in the diving show Splash! The 37-year-old mum-of-one is also the author of the books Breaking Mad and Breaking Mum And Dad: The Insider’s Guide To Parenting Anxiety. Here she talks to Your Healthy Living about how she keeps fit and healthy, both mentally and physically.

I’m a huge believer in the fact that a healthy mind and body makes for a happier, healthier being. For years now I’ve seen first-hand how adopting a healthy lifestyle has helped me. I used to eat far too much junk food in my teens and early twenties, and I had no clue about portion sizes. Growing up with brothers I learnt to eat exactly as they did, i.e. big platefuls of food! I also drank too much of the wrong alcohol such as sugar-laden alcopops, and was generally rather unhealthy and sluggish. In later years, getting into exercise and realising its mental and physical benefits has been a game-changer, alongside a good, clean diet. It’s a way of life, not a fad, and that’s the key to maintaining it.

I adopt an 80/20 rule: 80 per cent of the time I eat well, clean, organic where possible with no processed foods and no sugar. The rest of the time I allow myself to go off-piste and enjoy certain nights out with friends, a weekly ‘cheat meal’ with my husband (who’s a personal trainer and nutritionist) and a few glasses of my favourite wine – all guilt-free!

Breakfast is usually either poached eggs and avocado on granary toast, or a homemade (healthy) kedgeree, a protein power shake, or porridge with berries and almond milk. Lunch can be soup, sushi, or something like chicken meatballs and rice. An example dinner is roasted cajun salmon with tomatoes, sweet potato mash, broccoli and spinach. I really don’t tend to snack, and stick to water and the odd cup of tea and one coffee a day. I take a good multivitamin, iron, vitamin C and cod liver oil.

Since having my son (now two years old) getting to the gym requires more rigorous planning, but if I can’t get there I do a home HIIT workout or circuits. I love running but I’m not so good at it post-baby, but I do make sure to have a good half hour jog when I can. My favourite exercise is short, sharp, effective workouts, which is why I love a combination of HIIT, cardio workouts and weights only. I like to switch it up too, to keep up the motivation. I’m lucky in that my husband will happily PT me in the garden too when we can sneak the odd half hour in during baby nap time.

Our mental health and physical health make up the two halves of us, so we need to ensure we’re being true and taking care of ourselves as a whole. What we put into our body and how we maintain it physically has a direct effect on our mental wellbeing too. We need to fuel both correctly so they work as a complete engine.

Anna’s tips for how to survive Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebration for many, but for a lot of people the annual festivities can be a huge source of stress, anxiety and pressure. Juggling work deadlines and the obligatory office Christmas lunch, rushing around crowded department stores panic buying presents, and worrying about how to even afford the latest gifts and gadgets can take its toll on even the most seasoned festive fan. Here’s a few top tips to guide you through the Christmas period a little more smoothly...

1) Budget – Have a chat with your family and friends in advance of Christmas and arrange what you’d like to do re gifting. If you’re struggling to afford presents, don’t feel obliged or full of guilt to spend loads of money you don’t have, or don’t want to fork out. Perhaps put a £10 limit on gifts, and where there are kids involved maybe agree that only the children get the presents this year – adults can have a glass of fizz together instead.

2) Communication – The annual dilemma of who to spend Christmas Day with can be a trying experience. Get ahead of the game and the conversation by confronting it early on. Have a chat with those closest to you, i.e. your partner and kids, and decide amongst you first what you would all like to do. Once that decision has been made, you can confidently communicate it to the rest of the family. They have a choice to accept it or not.

3) Compromise – It might be a good option to work out a compromise when it comes to dividing your time up amongst family members who would like to see you, or who you feel obliged to see. Perhaps it’s Christmas Eve drinks at yours, or a Boxing Day panto trip with some of the family... Often compromise will help you enjoy the festivities more too knowing you’re ultimately doing things your way, but ensuring others are happy and satisfied too.

4) Find the meaning – What does Christmas mean to you? Perhaps it’s the religious side of the festival you enjoy and a carol concert or nativity play really gets you in the festive mood, or perhaps it’s being able to see friends and family you otherwise don’t see much of the rest of the year. Explore and embrace what Christmas means to you.

5) Perspective – Just remember it’s only a few days. Christmas ramps up earlier and earlier it seems each year, but a healthy dose of perspective is key to keep your sanity in check. You might not like Christmas for many reasons – a lot of people don’t – and it can be an emotional time. If Christmas just isn’t for you, that’s totally ok – remind yourself it’s just a few days to get through, then it’s business as usual.

Anna Williamson is the author of the bestselling book and podcast, Breaking Mad: The Insider’s Guide To Conquering Anxiety. Anna is also the new dating agent for Celebs Go Dating on E4.

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