When lockdown happened in March, like a lot of us, Loose Women’s Nadia Sawalha confesses she reached for the biscuit tin ‘to suppress feelings of anxiety’.
But, as she navigated the ‘new normal’, she created a new routine focusing on a healthy mind, body and spirit through meditation, exercise and eating well.
The mum-of-two – to daughters Maddie, 17, and Kiki, 12, with husband Mark Adderley – is confident she can maintain her new mind frame in the coming months, as she calls for women to accept their bodies and ignore perfection to feel happier and healthier.
Did lockdown change your body?
My clothes are looser. For a recent date night, I wore a pair of trousers and I could fasten the zip for the first time. I’m 100% fine with the way I look – I don’t want to lose any more weight because, as you get older, you can start to look a bit strange in the face.
You recently shared an unedited photo of your body. Would you urge others to do the same?
Yes! Twice a week, my friend and I do an Instagram Live where we get our bellies out, squeeze them and let them jump about. The world didn’t stop turning because people saw my cellulite! When I press ‘send’ on Instagram posts like that I have the fear, but sometimes there’s nothing more frightening than fear itself.
When did you become happy with the way you look?
I’ve had a lifetime of hating my body – poor body! It’s given me babies, it walks and runs, so I’ve tried very hard to go, ‘I love this body and this squidgy tummy.’ I’m not talking about the amount of fat that’s going to affect your heart or give you a diabetes risk, because that isn’t something to celebrate, but this warped idea of perfection is what’s keeping us all messed up.
How can people learn to be more positive?
Change your thinking. If you’re saying ‘I hate my lockdown body, I’m fat and disgusting,’ I guarantee you will turn to food for comfort. Ask yourself, ‘How can I look and feel better?’
What would you say is the first step to self-love?
Stand in front of the mirror and find one thing you like. I like my raised left eyebrow, so I started with that and I now have real acceptance. For me, the worst thing I could have is a washboard, six-pack stomach, but to another person it would be a dream. You have to find your own ideal.
How do you stay body positive?
I don’t get on the scales, because you can have a week where you’ve exercised, had no alcohol, said ‘no’ to cake, yet are heavier, and you start stuffing your face because you feel cr*p about everything.
What’s the best way to find a fitness regime you can stick to?
Choose an activity for how it makes you feel. If you think about weight, the joy is sucked out of it! I used to look at calorie burn and what I could eat after. Now I’d be frustrated if my anxiety wasn’t lifted.
Do you struggle to stay positive?
Yes – and I fail every day. I wore a dress on Loose Women and the stylist said, ‘It looks so lovely,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, apart from the corned-beef knees.’ It just came out. I apologised for throwing the compliment back in her face and said, ‘I’m still working a lot on myself.’ Now I try to see compliments as a gift.
How does Mark help?
Mark is part of what helps me be so body-confident because he says, ‘I don’t separate your cellulite from who you are.’ If your partner says hurtful things, tell them how it chips away at your self-esteem. Taking charge will empower you.
Has lockdown made you want to look more natural?
I’m a slob. I’m the only Loose Women panellist who hasn’t gone to the hairdresser yet. I’m very lazy with this stuff. I should be better – I’m on the telly!
Honey, I Home-Schooled the Kids by Nadia Sawalha and Mark Adderley (£9.99 for Kindle, Coronet) is available to pre-order now.