Pollyanna Hale – one of our most delightful Expert Contributors – sits down with WatchFit to share a little of what makes her tick. Pollyanna is a mother, lover of fitness, personal trainer, founder of the Fit Mum Formula and author of Eat, Drink and Be Slim.
Having helped women from all backgrounds, what do you feel is the hardest hurdle to cross when trying to lose weight?
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– Undoubtedly for the women I meet it’s fitting into their already over-busy lives. That’s where you have to fit exercise and meal choices into your life, not the other way round. There’s no point in attempting to go for a run first thing every morning if you’ve got kids to get ready for school. Likewise if there are certain foods you or your family don’t like, you don’t have to eat them just because they’re healthy.
There are always alternatives that will suit you better, whatever your shopping, eating and cooking habits. It’s a matter of finding what you can realistically stick to.
Do you think losing weight is more physical or psychological?
– You can’t have one without the other. You can have the best programme in the world but if your mindset isn’t supporting change then you won’t be able to stick to it. On the other hand you can be in the right mindset to take on a challenge or make positive changes, but if you don’t have the knowledge of what you need to do it’s going to be tougher to get results, though a motivated person is at least going to go out and find the information they need which in turn is great for self-efficacy.
Your book ‘Eat, Drink and Be Slim’ has been out for nearly two years now. What inspired you to write it and are there plans to write another book?
– I was frustrated with the ridiculous information that was being thrown around. A friend went on the cereal diet (eating only a small bowl of cereal for breakfast and lunch – even unhealthier, low fibre, high sugar chocolate cereal), and lost weight, then tried to persuade me there was something magical about the carbohydrate-protein-fat balance. I was like, “What? It’s 6pm and all you’ve eaten is a couple of small bowls of cereal, of course you’re going to lose weight!”
The book takes things back to the basics of portion control, energy balanceand making good choices and food swaps, which are the most important factors when it comes to losing weight. It’s a great easy-to-understand guide for when clients come to you lacking basic knowledge of nutrition, often the ones genuinely confused as to why they can’t lose weight.
I do have a few projects in working progress – some recipe books including a healthy chocolate one! Any publishers reading this feel free to get in touch!
Not everyone has time to create a healthy food plan – What advice would you give to those who are time restricted?
– I always start by asking what someone is currently eating, then tweak it, so that changes they need to make are minimal at least at first. So an example could be, if they’re having a BLT sandwich and crisps every day for lunch, I’ll ask them to have a BLT and an apple, but they can have their crisps, say, on a Friday.
If they successfully do that then next week they get loads of praise and we make another change. A person is much more likely to stick to advice if you make it easy for them. I ask on a scale of 1-10 – how likely is it they will implement a specific change – any less than 8 and I need to make it easier. Also whilst some people successfully change overnight, for most it’s about making very small changes gradually over time, which turns them into habits that come easily.
Can you tell us a bit about the ‘Fit Mum Formula Shop’ and how you came up with the idea?
– I am an ambassador for Gymbag, who saw there was a gap in the market for a platform for trainers and coaches to be able to retail products to their clients without the work of running a shop. I always wanted to do this and even created an online store but never launched it because I couldn’t face holding hundreds of tubs of protein powder in my attic!
Gymbag hold everything in their warehouse, I direct clients to my online store where they make a purchase and the warehouse dispatches their order to their house directly, without me lifting a finger, not even with paperwork. It’s a no brainer and means my clients don’t have to get confused over what to buy as I just point them towards what I recommend. There are so many big brands to choose from but I only sell my personal favourites which you can see on The Fit Mum Formula Shop. If any trainers are interested in having their own store they can email me any questions or sign up at Gymbag.
How did you get involved with WIFE (Women In Fitness Empowerment) and what is it for the readers who don’t know?
The Women In Fitness Empowerment movement does exactly that – we help female fitness professionals get a foot in the door in an otherwise male dominated industry, as well as trying to tackle issues in the world of fitness such as eating disorders, fat shaming, unrealistic ‘fitspo’ images and encouraging women to love themselves enough to take care of their body.
Founder Jacqueline Hooton lives near me and as soon as I heard about the WIFE Conference last March I bought my ticket and have not looked back. I run a support group for professionals in Chichester and surrounding areas and there are many plans in the pipeline including training days and awards to recognise women who contribute to the industry in a positive way. I’d urge other women in the health, nutrition and fitness industries to get in touch with me about it as we want to reach out and help as many women as possible.
You come from a performance background as a dancer. Why did you move away from that?
The performing arts world is incredibly competitive. You’re scrutinised not just for how well you dance but for your looks, your personality, your body shap. ‘Eccentric’ creative types don’t hold back in telling you exactly what they think of you and to be honest it was eating away at my self-esteem. Even the best dancers get knocked back but you have to be strong enough to pick yourself up and carry on, and I just wasn’t able to so that at the time.
It’s a self-esteem I’ve regained in part due to strength training – I can recognise the progress and achievements my body has accomplished and no one can take that away from me.
You recently wrote some very interesting articles on plus size modelling and the issues that pregnant women face after giving birth regarding their weight. Would you agree that the media places unnecessary pressures on women and, if so, what could be done to restrict it?
I think the images used for advertising sports related products is not inclusive of all women. Being fit and a healthy weight is definitely something to aspire to but to the contrary many women are put off by these images as it makes them feel bad about themselves and their abilities. I don’t think being overweight should be endorsed as acceptable – it’s not healthy, but neither should women be fooled into thinking they must look like a skinny model to be healthy.
You have set up businesses in a variety of fields within the fitness industry. Which aspect of your job do you enjoy most? The business side of things or the personal advice/training & nutritional advice?
Definitely the training and nutritional side, but addressing psychological barriers is a key part of people being able to carry out the advice they’re given. Sometimes a little encouraging message on social media can be all it takes to get someone to do that workout they don’t feel like doing. The business side I’ve had to learn as I’ve gone along and there are bits I enjoy more than others. I love writing articles but have an accountant to do the boring bits! To succeed as an entrepreneur you have to have a good business head which I think I do, and that way you’re able to reach out and help more people.
Connect with Expert Pollyanna Hale.