ME and my journey to fitness

My journey into nutrition and yoga started following after I was diagnosed in 2006 with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I have worked hard to get myself into a good place where my health is stable, and my symptoms are at a very manageable level. You can read more on my journey into nutrition and yoga here.

However, there have been a couple of incidents recently that have really triggered me into feeling frustrated about my health condition. Generally, I manage it really well and have managed to turn my thoughts around so that I don’t get as frustrated with not being able to do things I used to. However, as a natural sporty person I still find it really hard that I can’t go out running, swimming, canoeing and doing other things that I love to do. I’ve seen a number of social media posts about people doing crazy exercise routines and/or weight loss journeys and for me it’s a real trigger that makes me feel that I’m not doing enough.

Over the summer I have been on a couple of family holidays during which I have been able to do things I haven’t been able to do for years. The highlight was going on a 4 hour sea kayaking trip in Scotland. I was so proud of myself for being able to do it and for how quickly I recovered afterwards especially as I have no choice but to keep going whilst running after a toddler!

Whilst these adventures were great it has left me feeling that I want to get fit again, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to tone up and lose a few pounds in the process but my overall aim is to increase my fitness so I can go on more adventures and so that I can join in when my little girl wants to do them. Whilst I teach yoga and do yoga most days to help keep me well, I feel like I’m not cardiovascular fit and it feels like I’m not practising what I preach about looking after my body!

I accept that I need to start small and work my way up to ensure that I don’t burn out, but this is blooming hard for someone who is naturally competitive. So, I started looking for YouTube videos that were 10 minutes long that I could do every other day. I have found it hard to find videos that fit my needs, everything I found was a 10 minute HIIT style class designed to get you burning calories and toning up fast but leaving me crumpled in a heap! When I searched for videos for people with health conditions even those were too hard for me.

For those of you that don’t know much about M.E./CFS it is basically constant extreme fatigue, the only thing I can liken it to is like having jet lag and flu at the same time!! I get 2 types of pain; muscle and bone pain, the muscle pain is like having really bad lactic acid after a gym session only not having done the exercise first.

So I decided to recruit some help, I approach Emma from Seal Fitness ( to see if she would be interested in helping me. Most PT clients need their trainer to push them to their limits whilst I need Emma to reign me in and hold me back. I needed someone who knew about injuries (I have a lot, from my former sporting days) and about pacing. Emma has lots of experience in both of these areas, her journey into becoming a personal trainer started when her husband broke and dislocated his neck (fortunately he made an amazing recovery). As a sports person, he was frustrated with the advice to rest and wait for a year so between them they gently strengthened his body again. Emma has also had her own journey through recovering from injuries, so she was the ideal choice for me.

I met up with Emma and we agreed a plan that we would start very slowly and do 10-15 minute sessions to help me build my strength and fitness up. I’ve decided to document this journey to help other people like me who are frustrated with not having access to videos and workouts that start right at the beginning of a fitness journey. I’m hoping the workouts will help people with health issues, postnatal and other issues to see that you don’t have to go all out to make a difference to your body. This isn’t going to be about the stats, how much I weigh or how many inches I’ve lost but a journey about getting my fitness back and the barriers along the way. Recently someone said something to me along the lines of “it’s ok for people like you, you look like a yoga teacher and it’s not hard for you to do yoga like it is for the rest of us”. My first instinct to this comment was to be really hurt, I felt like I was being unfairly judged that because I look healthy and well that I must be. My second was to feel incredibly proud of myself as I have got to a place where I look healthy and well and that my yoga looks good (as I am prone to being hard on myself my ego liked this). My third thought was that I want to show people how yoga can help by just doing a little bit at a time, that 15 minutes a day can make a massive difference and that I know what it’s like to live with a health condition and to have to manage it on a daily basis.  So I will also share some of my personal practice with you all to, to give you an idea of what you can do each day to improve your health and to show that the style of yoga I do is suitable for everyone.

Session 1 – Getting started with ME

I was super excited and nervous about my first session with Emma. I tend to overdo things and then pay the price later; I can generally do quite a lot and then the pain and fatigue kicks in a few hours later. I was nervous as having a toddler means I don’t have the luxury of taking a couple of days off to rest if I overdo it.

Emma was fantastic we talked through issues and plans and decided on a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session, each activity would last 20 seconds and there would be 3 activities in the circuit. I would then have a rest and repeat the circuit 2 more times. I did 2 different circuits altogether. There is a video of the first circuit I did, I was finding it really challenging to walk not run between each ball throw and please don’t judge me on my cheating shoulders on the ropes, I couldn’t get them to stay down at all!

In total I did 6 minutes of circuits plus warm up and cool down stretches on top. I had a mixture of emotions all the way through. I think if I called myself a wimp one more time Emma may have wacked me over the head with the punching pads!! On one side I loved it, being back doing exercise felt great, I was super proud of myself for doing it and for not going out all guns blazing. However, I also really struggled mentally with how little I could do and physically my legs were wobbly by the time I finished. Covering a friend’s yoga class that evening was possibly not my cleverest plan and so the following morning I could feel my legs had worked, for anyone that saw me walking up or downstairs or squatting during class that was the reason I was wincing.

Lessons learnt after my first session:

  1. The level of intensity was enough for me and I need to do it more often to gradually build up. So, Emma is creating a routine for me that I can do at home
  2. Mentally I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, however, I need to increase my meditation to help me be kind to myself
  3. In the next session I am only going to use positive language when I speak to myself

The Truth Behind My Passion for Nutrition and Yoga

Most of you know I’m passionate about Nutrition and Yoga but up until now I’ve struggled sharing with you the truth about my story and why I’m so passionate about it. I didn’t just wake up one day and think “Hey lets become a Yoga guru that will be fun”. Like most of you, I had a busy and stressful job, when in 2006 my life changed as I received the diagnosis that I have ME. On some levels it was a relief to know that I wasn’t going completely crazy and there was a reason I was in pain and exhausted all the time. Whilst travelling during my gap year after university I became ill with glandular fever. On returning home after a period of recovery I started working in the ‘real world’ and working my way up the career ladder but I never fully recovered and whilst I was successful in my career the reality was I came home every night and crawled into bed without even the energy to make anything to eat. My weekends were spent in bed and my social life was non existent.

Eventually I hit rock bottom and realised that I was in danger of spending the whole of my 20s either at work or in bed. Something had to change. I moved back to Yorkshire to be nearer to my family and started a new job in a quest to find a better work/life balance. However, I soon discovered that this wasn’t enough to make me better so I reduced my hours at work and began my journey of using food and yoga to help improve my health.

For a while now I’ve been wanting to take the plunge and share my knowledge and experiences of living with ME/CFS but I haven’t known how to do it! The longer I have kept quiet the harder it has become as I began to worry that people might not believe me or that they would say the one thing that really winds me up ‘It’s so good to see that you’ve fully recovered’. Unfortunately, I haven’t fully recovered, I’d love to say that I have and that I have a magic formula that will make it all go away but the reality is I don’t, I’m not even sure that I believe that there is a cure or if there ever will be. I don’t mean this in negative way but in a realistic one, a number of years ago I consciously made the decision not to keep chasing every miracle cure in the false hope that this time there would be a solution but rather to try my best to live in the moment to make the most of what I have and to strive to gradually make improvements. As a result, I have improved, I have got stronger but I’ve also got better at hiding my symptoms!

I have come to the conclusion that I have a duty to share my knowledge with others to hopefully create hope, inspiration and to share the mistakes I’ve made along the way to hopefully stop other people having to make them, and believe me there have been many including forcing myself to go swimming at 6:30am before work thinking that exercising would increase my energy levels – trust me it didn’t and was definitely a recipe for disaster!

Whilst improving my nutrition was a massive turning point in improving my health it wasn’t the only factor. Along the way I had some hard knocks and set backs whilst working in an incredibly stressful environment – my health began to suffer and my relationship broke down. I made a decision that something had to change and that I was the only one that could control my destiny. After attending my weekly yoga class and literally falling apart in the middle of it I realised I how much better I felt. Every day I did a little bit of yoga and gradually I began to get stronger. When I started my yoga teacher training there were days when I was unable to physically do yoga so I would lie in bed and visualise it. It was during these times that I realised the power that stress has on our body, the way in which our body responds to it and the impact managing stress level s has on improving our health. In my experience stress is often a key trigger to low energy levels which is why I work with people to help them to tackle their stress levels through nutrition, yoga and relaxation. I have come across people whose bodies have physically shut down due to stress and they have been unable to function on a day to day level and have seen them improve by changing their diet and daily routines. My aim is not to just help people that are chronically ill but to help stop people before they get ill.

So that’s why I’ve decided to share some of my experiences and my best tips for increasing my energy levels based on first-hand experience. You don’t have to have a long term health condition to be low on energy, speak to any parent, employee, employer or person in their 20s, 30’s, 40’s, 50s and beyond and they will tell you that anyone can experience low energy levels.  I don’t get it right all the time, I still have days or weekends were I overdo it but I now have the tools to make sure that my recovery time is much shorter and this testimony from one of my clients is an example of how I help others.

‘I cannot recommend Active-Eat highly enough.  My Chronic Fatigue symptoms are completely under control, I haven’t had a cold or a virus (which I used to get all the time) since I started working with Jenny (about 6 months ago).  My nails, which had been flaky since primary school (despite an already well-developed interest in wholegrains and organic foods)– have grown long and strong and beautiful– I can’t believe it!  My powers of concentration, energy levels and mood are all greatly improved.  I have lost weight without ever feeling hungry once, and everywhere I go people tell me how well I am looking.’ Rebecca, Hampshire


So if you or someone you know is suffering from low energy levels, I can say with absolute certainty that I know exactly how they feel. And I have many tried and tested tips, tricks and tools that can help. Please do get in touch if you’d like support.

Jenny xx


How to Eat Clean All Year Round

In 2016 we heard a lot about ‘clean eating’ but what does it actually mean and how do you make it part of your everyday life? At this time of year, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of any seemingly healthy detox you can get your hands on, but did you know that the body detoxes itself all of the time? So rather than paying a lot for the latest detox supplement or health programme I thought I would share some tips to help you stay healthy, eat clean and support your body to detox all year round. After all detoxing is just removing waste and toxins from the body. There are five major organs involved in the elimination of waste from the body: the lungs, skin, colon, kidneys and liver.

The body cleans itself naturally but only if it is given the chance to do so. The key to detoxing the body is to be kind to it, you really are what you eat. If you put in healthy nutritious food then your body will be able to process the foods quickly and easily, enabling you to use what you need and remove what you don’t. Personally, I try to follow an 80:20 rule, after all no one can be perfect all the time. This is where you eat well 80% of the time and over the week allow for 20% leeway for eating out, treats etc. It doesn’t mean having a chocolate bar and packet of crisps every day.

So, what is clean eating, and how to you make it part of your lifestyle?

For me clean eating is about making and eating as much fresh food as you possibly can, it’s not about cutting out food groups altogether. It’s not a fad diet, counting calories or depriving yourself.  It’s about making healthy, informed choices, eating tasty food and avoiding processed foods as much as possible. It’s ok to go out for a meal every now and then and have something you really fancy as long as you don’t do it all the time. If you are making foods from scratch then you know how much salt, sugar and fat is in it and equally important how many portions of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates there are.

I love fresh juices and smoothies so I try to have one a day, however one or two a week is perfectly fine. It needs to fit into your lifestyle and not be a chore. The key to a healthy juice is to make sure that you don’t have too much fruit in it to avoid a sugar high followed by a low. I use mostly vegetables and add a piece of fruit to sweeten along with an avocado to make it super creamy and packed full of essential fatty acids.

We often hear about antioxidants and the latest ‘super food’. In my opinion the key is to ensure that you eat a balanced diet by having a colourful plate of food at every meal. It is unlikely that any one ‘super food’ will be able to provide you with the wide variety of antioxidants your body requires. For example, if you ate nothing but blueberries for a week you would have a bad tummy and be sick of the site of them! It’s good to include ‘super foods’ in to your diet but variety is just as important.

Including an extra portion of vegetables into every dish you make is a great way to make small changes. Last night I made Thai curry and out of interest I counted how many portions of vegetables I put into it. There were 8 different types of vegetables included and each one was the size of one portion of vegetables. This meal fed 3 people giving them nearly 3 portions of the recommended daily intake of vegetables in one meal.

Exercise is important to help the blood circulation, stimulate the lymphatic system and remove toxins from the muscles and fatty tissues. Exercise has to fit into your daily routine otherwise you will always be putting it off. You don’t have to spend hours on a treadmill or do hundreds of sit ups, little and often works well too. Rather than spending hundreds of pounds on a gym membership that you never use why not take some time this January to explore what you like to do and find time to fit it in. Can you park further away from work and then take the stairs instead of the lift? How about going for a walk at lunchtime. The exercise will not only improve your circulation but the fresh air will also help to clear your head making you more productive in the afternoon. Personally I love yoga I’ve found that not only has it improved my health and fitness but it has helped to calm me down and reduce my stress levels. I started doing 10 minutes every morning and really noticed the difference, now that I’m a yoga teacher I do longer sessions every morning and I do find that one of the best things to do is to build in breathing and stretches into my day.

If you would like to find out more about how to support your body throughout the year then do get in touch, I run regular workshops, retreats and yoga classes as well as tailor made 1:1 nutrition consultations.

Contact me by emailing or call 07738 160 575