Rachel Williams tried every diet going having battled with her weight since the age of just eight years old and began to feel like nothing could help her to get in shape. But as the mum-of-two approached her 40th birthday, and hating her figure so much she did not even want to have photos with her two young children, she knew something had to change.
Rachel realized she had to face her own fears, and address the way she spoke to herself, to THINK herself to a healthier lifestyle. Incredibly, it became the spur for Rachel to finally tackle her weight.
Since July 2019 Rachel has lost seven stone – dropping from 16st 5lbs to 9st 5lbs and for the first time in her life she has kept the weight off too. She now credits her becoming mindful and “counting chemicals, not calories” with her slim physique.
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Rachel knows exactly how it feels to have tried seemingly everything to tackle her weight – and so is now determined to try and help others. Since losing the weight, she has trained to become a health and lifestyle coach to be able to encourage others.
Rachel, 41, lives in Henbury in Cheshire with husband Anton and their two children, Sofia, 8 and Solomon, 2.
Rachel says: “I started putting weight on from the age of 8 years old, I can remember my mum taking me to Weight Watchers when I was 12 or 13 years old. In hindsight, reflecting on my journey now, I can see I was a secret eater, eating sweets, crisps, chocolate. All the comfort foods.
“Later on in life I went through a phase of ballooning and then just stopping eating – that was when I was at university. I dropped weight but not in a healthy way. From then on I yo-yo-ed and I have tried every diet in existence I think – from WW, Slimming World, the Dukan Diet, the Maple Syrup diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, Atkins, 2:5 – I tried everything.
“The one I had most success with was Slimming World, and that’s the one I’d go back to and felt comfortable with. But then you’d get to target, you’d come off plan, and I’d pile the weight back on and then some.”
As Rachel began to approach her 40th birthday, she was horrified after seeing a photo of herself on holiday with baby boy Solomon. “That was me at my biggest,” Rachel says.
“I’m there smiling, but inside I’m not smiling, I’m just feeling awful. That particular summer I didn’t want my photo taking.”
“I thought gosh, I don’t want my picture taken and yet my daughter Sofia was saying ‘come on mummy’. I thought I need to do something about this, because I’m taking memories away from my children. They’re not going to have pictures with their mummy. Something really cut me up about that.”
Rachel’s husband asked what she wanted for her 40th birthday and her reply was: “to get fit and healthy”. So she having seen a friend train with a local personal trainer on a 12 week program she thought she would give it a go.
“The thought of going to a gym put the fear of god into me at that point,” says Rachel.
“But I met him and he really put me at ease, he said let’s do some sessions in the gym. I was scared of going to the gym and disrupting everyone’s schedules so I met up at 6am in the morning.
“When I first started I can’t tell you how much pain I was in. I didn’t even fit in the XL sizes at TK Maxx, or even into a sports bra. It was only at trusty M&S I could find size 20 sportswear and bought myself a whole new set and a size 40H sports bra. I found the exercise hard and it was painful at first.”
But despite her determination and sticking to the trainer’s exercise and nutrition plan, Rachel was horrified to see it was STILL not helping her to lose weight. Frustrated, she paid to see a naturalist to see what was going on.
She was told she had parasites in her gut and to stop eating all forms of sugar. “I was like, but there’s sugar in everything.” But she ditched sugar where she could. Mortified, she found even doing that did not make the weight come off.
Rachel said: “I was on the crossfit machine, I was full on Kim Kardashian crying saying “I just can’t do this”. I was working so hard, I’m putting everything into it, I can’t lose weight, I’ve got a newborn, is it all worth it?”
And that’s when Rachel started to read personal development books and about biohacking, the concept of changing the environment to give you control back of your biology. “They were talking about eating for your biology, not around a diet. And about addressing how you talk to yourself.
“I realized, I’m talking to myself in such a negative way, all I’m focusing on is what I can’t do. I’m not focusing on what I can do. They talked about facing your fears, facing your gremlins. So I started to address the gremlins.
“After addressing my mindset, focussing on what I was actually eating, and how my body was responding versus the calories, all of a sudden the weight started to come off. I was like, what?
“I started to focus on what I COULD have to eat rather than what I can’t and the weight started to come off. I continued going to the gym three times a week, drinking water, and really focusing on the quality of food I started to eat – I got rid of all diet food, all processed food.
“I started to look in the mirror and see Rachel.”
By June 2020 Rachel had gone down from 17 stone 5lbs to 10st 5lbs in a year. By December 2020 she was down to 9stone 5lbs and has not put a pound back on since.
“For me it’s not about body size, it’s about health. The visceral fat wrapped around your heart, around your liver, it’s not helping you to function.
“I feel more alert now, I have a lot more energy, I’m able to keep up with my children. I run around the park and don’t think twice about it and my skin seems to glow a lot more.”
She no longer counts calories but counts chemicals instead – ditching all processed foods from her daily diet.
Rachel says: “My thing now is body awareness, listening to your body. It is always communicating to you.
“For example, I know if I eat sweet potato, I bloat, but I never addressed it before. I never had that awareness before listening to my body so now I only eat white potatoes.
“Now I look at labels, I count chemicals not calories. I’m very aware of what I put in my body. Do I love pizza? And it is. So if I feel like pizza I eat sourdough pizza with the best quality toppings.
“I eat freshly baked sourdough bread, and I don’t have anything low fat anymore because it’s full of chemicals.
“Similarly with a burger, if I want a burger I’ll have a burger but it’s going to be a good quality meat burger. I don’t use oils, because they cause havoc to your gut.
“But I eat good fats – good quality cheese, full fat cream, everything is full fat but good quality. I go to local farm shops or buy organic and if I have dairy milk, it’s full fat dairy milk. I go to the butchers to buy all my meat, I go to fish mongers and buy free range chicken.
“The focus and the way we eat now is back to basics of how people would have eaten in the olden days, going to your butchers, your fishmongers, getting your vegetables locally. And removing all processed foods and home cooking from scratch.”
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Buoyed by finally finding something that worked to help her get mentally and physically fit and healthy, former marketing manager Rachel decided to retrain to become a life coach.
She says: “I’ve learned so much on my journey I just thought I can’t keep this to myself. I got myself qualified as a health coach through an online course with the Health Institute, and set up my own practice in April 2021.
“My mission is to share, inspire and support as many people as possible. I know how hard and miserable it can feel being in that space when you’re not comfortable.
“I’m supportive of people looking in the mirror, seeing themselves, and falling in love with themselves. So many people look at everything that’s wrong, they’ll say oh my fat tummy, my fat legs.
“But if you have the ability to stand in front of the mirror – you’re already winning, you have two functioning legs, two functioning lungs you are able to breathe. If you’re able to do that you’re able to achieve cualquier cosa.
“For me, gut health, plus mindset, plus consistency, plus movement gets you lasting results. “I’m on a mission to tell people how you can lose weight for good, change those habits you’ve had for a very long time, turn them into long-term habits that you just do.
“So if you want to have cake ok, have cake, but with only the best quality ingredients. Focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t. People are making decisions to cut out entire food groups and they don’t even know why.”
Now, Rachel exercises three times a week to make her feel good as much as to keep in shape. She chooses to be “quite regimented” with what she eats Monday to Thursday but at weekends “anything goes” when she will have a pizza night or a drink of tequila, and cooked breakfasts for the family using organic meat, eggs, and sourdough bread .
She says: “The way I practice my life now is being the best version of myself. I’ve understood the concept of perfection doesn’t exist.
Rachel starts each day with hot water and lemon “it just sets up my gut up for the day”, she says.
Through the week (Monday to Thursday) her diet looks like this:-
Breakfast: Coconut yogurt with homemade granola, blueberries and chia seeds.
Lunch: Smoked salmon with salad and avocado, or homemade chicken and vegetable soup.
mid-afternoon: Apple with nut butter, or almonds or brazil nuts
Dinner: fish and greens, or chicken, lamb chops or beef, with sliced white potatoes or cauliflower rice or quinoa.
drinks: 2 liters of water per day
Then at weekends Rachel says “anything goes” but still using only whole foods, and no processed or low-fat foods. She enjoys full cooked breakfast with sourdough bread, fresh-made sourdough pizza, or good quality meat burgers. For snacks she might have some chocolate buttons – but only organic, high cocoa chocolate. She’s ditched wine for tequila and soda instead.
“I work to be the best version of myself, the best mother, the best wife, the best health coach I can be. I invest in my movement, in moving, it makes me feel much better.
“I’m just a regular girl who yo-yo dieted all my life but I found something that works and I want to share it with people. I eat what I want, it’s that shift of mindset, moving away from a “diet” mentality.
“I spent many years not believing in myself, not liking myself, comparing myself to other people, looking to other people for validation. When the only person who needs to validate you, is you.
“When you can get to that place to look at yourself in the mirror and high five yourself it’s great. Every morning I get up and high five myself for how far I’ve come.”
Rachel offers online zoom sessions as well as one-to-ones for clients, but is also keen to do more group sessions to help more people. She is starting these with a group session on how to conquer your sugar cravings on May 10 at The Botanist in Alderley Edge, with tickets available here.
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