My story


At 47,  I am lean, in fact, I have a leaner body than I was at 27. It’s the result of getting to know myself, doing what’s best for me, and then grafting to get there. I used to be a professional ballet dancer (you don’t get more screwed up when it comes to body image and dieting) but left the ballet world after the director sat me down one day and told me I looked like a pudding (she didn’t say what kind) and that she was taking me off stage. Say whaaaat!!! (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. Those could have worked, but at what cost? Instead, I took a tearful decision, and left my beloved theatre life.

Over the years I’ve learnt a great deal about the body. I’ve also learnt some awesome tricks to short-cut my efforts to stay lean as I get older. These I’ve passed these on to clients who’ve had brilliant success too. If I can be lean at this age, you can too. Do you have to be? Nah. Being lean is just how I unhate my body – it’s my way of giving the middle finger to that foul woman who left me feeling rotten about myself. Unhating for you may look very different. It is possible to achieve your goal without being anal; without punishing yourself; without over-exercising and without foregoing wine, all things potato and the odd piece of cheesecake. We’ll do this thing without climbing on that bloody diet wagon. Let’s do it so you NEVER have to worry about your weight again. We’ll give those air-brushed celebrities a run for their money!

Tanya Wyatt in ballet gear Port Elizabeth

Before you begin…

Many potential clients don’t arrive at my door because they’re just not ready for the process. Maybe they’re trying to lose weight for someone else; perhaps 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 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); the idea of a perfect body next month; and the idea 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!

Tanya Wyatt from The Happy Body

My philosophy


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 (ahem, a burger and beer after a hard day on the beach; crisps and wine in front of a movie). It’s 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! 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. So, pace your ‘sometimes’ foods between your ‘most-times’ foods and I guarantee life will be more pleasant! Don’t label your behaviour – don’t be ‘good’ during the week and ‘bad’ on the weekend. Mix it up. Eat a little ‘crap’; eat a lot of ‘car’ foods and you’re bound to be a happier person for it.

The Happy Body diet philosophy

How we get there


Nourish: From what you scoff, when you scoff and how you piece your meal together, to getting enough rays of sunshine, zzzzzzes and O2, all form part of what we put into our bodies. There’s a ton of stuff people don’t consider when they look at getting leaner (and healthier).

Move: I’m not into hard-core exercise routines: the best way to start to move your body regularly is to find an activity you love and then repeat, repeat, repeat. For me it’s fitness pole dance, but it could be line dancing, Brazilian jujitsu, step aerobics, or stand-up knitting – as long as you move and keep doing it.

Think: Do you think your worth is dictated by the shape of your body? You’re wrong, but you’re not alone. It’s time you learn to love yourself independently of your body – how you think about this link will change with my programme. The two have nothing to do with each other, yet somehow we’ve convinced ourselves, and therefore think, that they’re one and the same.

Tanya Wyatt performing on the pole

Why trust me?


I started out as a professional ballet dancer. Swopping my pointe shoes for trainers, I decided being a hip hop dancer was waaaaaay cooler, so chopped off my bun and joined a street dance company. For many years, I also taught dance and fitness classes in Cape Town and then – while writing two health and fitness books – moved to London to study further in the field of holistic lifestyle coaching. I’ve been in private practice for 12 years and am mom of a 10-year old pig-tailed ball of energy. Oh – and once a dancer, always a dancer – I also do fitness pole dancing! I’ve written often for national health and fitness magazines like Men’s Health and Shape (serving on their advisory board), as well as for local newspaper publications in Port Elizabeth, and have, over the past few decades, designed and written educational material for fitness industry service providers. I also work with corporates and schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay area.


Tanya Wyatt from The Happy Body

Why I hate diets


Have you ever been on a diet that worked? Ok, so why did you stop? I’ll suggest one possible reason – you fell off the wagon! 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. Bye bye diet. Eventually you just couldn’t sustain it; being perfect became too much to bear. 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 are not 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