My story

At 50, I’m leaner than I was at 30. I used to be a professional ballet dancer but left the ballet world after the director sat me down one day and told me I looked like a pudding (see story here). So I know what it’s like to feel crap about myself; to feel my only solution is sticking my finger down my throat, smoking instead of eating, or starving myself. Over the years I’ve learnt some awesome tricks for staying lean and healthy as I get older and I’ve passed these on to clients who’ve had success too. It is possible to achieve your goals without punishing yourself, without over-exercising, and without foregoing wine, all things potato, and the odd piece of cheesecake. We’ll do it without climbing on that bloody diet wagon. We’ll do it so you enjoy vibrant health and outstanding energy, and so that you NEVER have to worry about your weight again…

Tanya Wyatt from The Happy Body

Before you begin…

Many people don’t arrive at my door because they’re just not ready for the process. Maybe they’re trying to gain health or lose weight for someone else; maybe life’s hectic and they can’t find the time, or a diet/exercise fad grabs their attention and they’re off in hot pursuit. There are lots of reasons for convincing ourselves we shouldn’t start. But is any reason more important than feeling good about your body… a body you can truly love?

This process won’t be easy. I won’t tell you what/when/how much to eat; I won’t sell you a handy meal replacement, and I won’t suggest you don’t have to be physically active. I’ll use my experience and knowledge to help you achieve your best body yet. Your body’s unique – you’re unique. We’ll use this uniqueness to your advantage, but you’ll have to give up the idea of dieting (“perfection” eating), of having a perfect body next month, and of quick fixes and magic solutions. Instead, the work we do together will ensure that when you achieve your best body ever, it’s there for life!

My philosophies (I have a few)

My over-arching philosophy is that we’re camels (stay with me here). As the proverb goes, it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Living in the world as it is today, we have plenty of straws, and most of the time we’re not aware how heavy they are. How many straws can we handle before the camel – in essence, our immune system – is weakened? How many straws can we realistically mitigate in our day-to-day lives that will give us a fighting chance at a long and healthy life? Understanding what the straws are, and which can be managed, gives the camel a little leeway. If, most of the time, the camel isn’t negatively affected by the load, it can take a little extra pressure some of the time without falling apart. Knowledge is everything: this is where I see my value when it comes to helping my clients experience high levels of energy, health and wellbeing. I’m the veritable camel whisperer!

Now pretend your body’s a car! It needs petrol, oil and water if it’s going to keep running. So, most of the time, you should be eating for your “car” (health-enhancing foods). But, you also have an emotional “body” that needs different fuel – those foods/drinks that give you instant bliss and deep satisfaction in the moment. They’re not great for fuelling the car but hell, they make you feel good! So, if what you do most of the time counts, what you do some of the time won’t be a problem and gives you the flexibility to live your life in the moment.

My final philosophy relates to being interested in flexible approaches to everything. When something inflexible is put under pressure, it tends to snap, whereas something flexible bends with the pressure. When I’m working with my clients, I teach them to become more nutritionally flexible so that they have the capacity to withstand and adapt to those situations in which they’re not in control. When they’re willing to be flexible, they can respond more gently to a less-than-ideal scenario without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Or to put it a more familiar way, without falling off the (diet) wagon. The work I’m most deeply engaged in with my clients is about them letting go of being “perfect” and embracing the body they’re in at that moment. The only sure way I know not to fall off the wagon is by not being on it in the first place.

How we get there

Nourish: Food, pollutants, sunshine, water, sleep, the earth’s surface, oxygen and electromagnetic radiation are all part of the environment we nourish our bodies with, or expose our bodies to, and need to be considered when improving health and weight.

Move: I’m not into hard-core exercise routines. In fact, I happen to think regular daily movement is more useful than exercise alone. Once you get that right, find an activity you love and then repeat freely. For me it’s pole sport, but maybe line dancing, extreme ironing, or stand-up knitting floats your boat.

Think: Do you believe your worth is dictated by the shape of your body? You’re wrong, but you’re not alone. The two have nothing to do with each other, yet somehow we’ve convinced ourselves they’re one and the same. It’s time you learnt to love yourself independently of your body.

Why trust me?

After swopping my pointe shoes for trainers in 1991, I started teaching dance and fitness in Cape Town, South Africa. Over the past three decades, I’ve also been involved in lecturing on, designing and writing educational material for service providers in the fitness industry. I was a member of the SA fitness industry standards generating body during the country’s transition to a national qualification framework and have written regularly for various national health and fitness magazines like Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Marie-Claire and Shape (I also served on Shape’s advisory board), as well as for SA  newspaper publications. In 2003, I wrote two internationally released health and fitness books. In addition to my focus on private clients, I’ve worked extensively within the corporate arena, presenting various wellness programmes and health talks with companies like VWSA, the NMU Business School, Old Mutual, South African Brewery, Investec, Nestle and Riverstone Living. I’ve also worked closely with many schools, helping youngsters develop a stronger sense of self worth. I’m currently based in London, running my practice from the Chelsea Health Club and Spa and have just completed my third book. And last, but certainly not least, I’m mom to a fabulous 13 year-old delinquent!

Why I hate diets

Ever been on a diet? Ok, so why did you stop? Because you fell off the wagon, right? You started well; in fact, you did it “perfectly” until some event or other popped up and you lost control! After that, you waited till Monday and jumped back on that diet until the next event came around, at which you once again lost control. You see, when we’re on diet, we’re ‘good’ until we can’t be good anymore. The reality is that perfection doesn’t exist. We live in a world of cakes, crisps, booze, chocolate and artisan breads! Who wants to avoid those for eternity?

I’ll help you come to understand that you and your body aren’t the same thing. You’re the person your friends and family love because of your uniqueness; your body is simply the vehicle that carries you around while you’re on this planet. Let’s make it a Lamborghini