Lighten Up Phase 3: Personalisation



In this phase we have:

  • Awareness – the cornerstone of all positive change
  • Dispelling Outdated Diet and Exercise Myths
  • Efficiency – The Intelligent Approach
  • Rest-Based Lifestyle
  • Hormonal Balance – The Foundations
  • Simple Meal Planning

Adopting An Ayurvedic Lifestyle – there is a seperate section on this, with a seminar and optional 3 day Kitchari Cleanse


As we move through the course, you are going to start to be more aware of what and how you eat, also your energy levels and what is having a positive effect and what still needs work on.

You can use the SHMEC Tracker from the Preparation Phase to check in with how you are doing, and it’s a good idea to keep up your journaling to try to spot some patterns.

This week I am going to give you some extra tips on how to maintain balance, why hormones matter, and some simple ways to keep them in check.

The key here is not being a dieter, but being a detective.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this, just understanding yourself and what works best for you, however, there are some simple principles for you to follow.

For instance:

  • Eat as close to nature as you can. This means seasonal foods, in their natural state.
  • Maintain blood sugar balance to keep insulin in check.
  • Understand what a plate should look like.
  • Make sure you are relaxed and take your time when you eat.


The old paradigm was to simply “Eat Less, Exercise More”. This has been shown to be ineffective in the long-term, and generally leads to creating metabolic challenges. You may have found if you’ve been on a diet that is restrictive, whilst doing lots of exercise, may have worked for a short time, but then you either stopped getting results, or when you went back to a “normal” routine, you put more weight on that you lost in the first place.

There is a reason for this.

Basically, when you restrict the body, and create an ongoing state of “calorie deficit” in the body, your body starts to adapt. The metabolism pushes back,  and it makes you hungry and tired, craving starchy and sugary foods, and it saps your motivation.

It’s like trying to run up an escalator that is going down.

Especially as we get older, more important than calories-in, and calories-out, is creating a state of hormonal balance, a good functioning metabolism and digestion.

Exercise – it’s not about quantity, longer is not better.

Diet – it’s not about quantity, less is not better.

The body has a natural intelligence, but we are also highly sensitive to stress hormones, and these are more important to keep in check.

This is why grounding, and staying mindful is so important. When we listen to our bodies, they will tell us everything we need to know.


So if it’s not quantity that’s important, what is it?

Efficiency is the key.

We want the foods that we eat to be nutritionally dense, that is, we are getting as much from the calories as we can. Nutrient-dense foods will nourish us enough so that we don’t crave more, they will keep up fuller for longer, therefore curbing over-eating, and keeping our blood sugar levels stable.

I have often argued with Slimming World Consultants over how a Curly-Wurly for instance could be healthier than an avocado. It just doesn’t make any sense. One will make you crave more sugary stuff and lead to food addictions, and the other provides all the nourishment you need. If I were to be stranded on a desert island, I would want avocados!

Calories count in so much that if you consume too much overall you will create an insulin spike, and start to put on weight, but when you eat the right foods, and you are in tune with how much your body is saying it needs, you will be in a state of natural balance.

Keeping the digestive fire and metabolism stoked up is also important. We don’t do this by long periods of a restrictive diet and intense exercise. We do it by keeping it on it’s toes.

Think of having periods of time where you: Eat Less, Exercise Less  and then Eat More Exercise More.

Keep switching these around, and you’ll keep the metabolism functioning as it should, and even able to cope with those blow-outs where you Eat More and Exercise Less.

When it comes to Efficient Exercise, think less is more.

Going are the days where endless cardio sessions were effective. Again the body adapts and it’s really hard to maintain.

We want just the right amount of stimulus. Short, intense bursts, as the nervous system is designed to cope with. Then plenty of movement.

In terms of exercise, NEAT (non-exercise associated thermogenesis) impacts your metabolism 10% more than exercise. Which means you don’t have to join a gym, you just need to keep moving throughout the day.

So all the activities you do in a day, from cleaning, gardening, walking to the shops, putting up shelves, making a fire – this all counts as movement. The worst thing for the metabolism is a sedentary lifestyle.

If you don’t feel you are getting enough movement throughout the day, consider adding a leisurely walk into your routine. Aim for 10, 000 steps a day, at a leisurely pace, and you will notice a huge difference to how you feel mentally as well as physically.

That hot tap needs switched on, but not for too long, and the body needs to be trained in a way which allows for rest. I cannot stress enough the importance of rest.


Adopting a rest-based lifestyle is one of the most important things you could do for your wellbeing.

Stress takes it’s toll on the body more than anything else.

Slowing down, in itself, will make us more efficient.

The body only heals when at rest, and when we lower stress hormones, we allow the metabolism to give a long, relaxing sigh.

If you are not getting enough proper rest, then no matter what you do, you won’t be in balance.

When we talk about a rest-based lifestyle, this means incorporating into your routine all those activities which relax you.

For instance:

  • Relaxing walks
  • Long baths with Epsom salts
  • Supportive conversations with friends over coffee or wine!
  • Plenty of cuddling and sex
  • Time spent with pets
  • Quality sleep
  • Taking time for a hobby that relaxes you

Think of these activities as workouts, as important as movement.

Life is a balance between rest and movement. It is that simple.


This is quite a complex subject but I am hoping to keep it simple, so you can easily apply it.

Most women instinctively know that their hormones affect their weight, but it’s not the ones they think.

Oestrogen and progesterone are only a small part of it.

Insulin, cortisol, thyroid, and the adrenals are much more important.

When it comes to all of these, we want the Goldilocks effect – not too much, not too little.

Of course, how and what you eat is important, as are calories, but if you get your hormones right, often the calories take care of themselves.

Let’s look at the two main ones:


This is also known as the “fat storer”.

It is influenced by carbohydrate intake and over-consumption of food, both of which raise blood sugar levels. Chronically high levels of insulin will eventually cause your body to be resistant to it, meaning you have difficulty burning fat.

We can keep insulin in check by keeping our blood sugar levels balanced.

An easy way to put this into practice is to never eat just carbohydrates or sugars on their own, but add protein to everything. And don’t eat too much in one sitting!

You’ll know you have had a blood sugar level spike when you have a crash afterwards, usually in the afternoon after a carb-heavy lunch.


Also known as the “stress hormone”

This is what is released when your “hot tap” is switched on. It is useful in short bursts, but chronic levels of stress levels mean the adrenals think we are in danger all the time, thus cortisol levels tend to be either chronically elevated or very, very low, both of which can create a fatty, fatigued body.

This is just another reason why managing stress and adopting a rest-based lifestyle is so important.


Without going into too much detail, there is a simple way you can plan your meals in order to maintain healthy blood sugar balance, keep the metabolism and digestive system functioning well, avoid weight gain, and bring the body back into balance.

This is from a programme called Metabolic Renewal, a revolutionary programme specifically designed to help women tap into the unique attributes of their female metabolisms, and to use that as an advantage to a healthier and happier body.


3 meals a day

2 from protein and veggies only

1 with a little bit of starch

To make it simple, you could use one of my breakfast recipes, and then the lunch and dinner plates should look like this:

Wondering what falls into each category?

Of course for vegetarians and vegans you will need to adapt Column A and find complete proteins, or combine two foods to make a complete protein. If you would like more advice on this, let me know.

For women our age, it is especially important to focus on




Think in terms of soups, salads, shakes and scrambles….. 80% of the time.

The other 20% will take care of itself.

Another little trick is cocoa powder in hot water. This mimics dopamine and serotonin, so it will reduce cravings and stabilise the system.

Finally, the most important thing you can do is get to know your body, listen to it, all it to guide you, and use the SHMEC Tracker to monitor your progress.

Think in terms of:




We will look at that in more depth in Phase 4