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Celebrity Health – Amanda Byram

Photograph by Ray Burmiston

Making the switch to a healthier life

Amanda Byram is a world-famous television presenter who began her TV career co-hosting Ireland’s first ever breakfast show, Ireland AM. Her career in broadcasting has spanned two decades, including shows such as: The Big Breakfast, Total Wipeout, The Swan, Dancing with The Stars and Food Unwrapped. She is the CEO and owner of sportswear brand Body by Byram. Amanda has also found time to qualify as a Level 3 personal trainer and extensively study both nutrition coaching and Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques. Her first book The Switch is published by Gill Books

What have you learned about your body in the past decade?

I have realised that the human body is a very powerful and glorious machine capable of so many things. Mine recovered from being mistreated when I was younger with yoyo diets including no carbohydrates, malnutrition, years of being on Atkins style diets. The start of the journey I am on now was studying nutrition. I learned about the physiological effects of eating. I learned that it’s never too late to improve your health – your body is a superhero for regeneration. I’m passionate about treating it well. You have to look at it like it's your house – it’s all you’ve got.

What have you changed about your exercise routines?

I used to over-exercise and didn’t eat properly – I wanted to be skinny and didn’t think about the cost. More recently I have realised that exercising less is better for me. I have backed off massively. I used to run a lot – I ran on sand in LA and damaged my knees and hips, so now I don’t want to risk it. I go on long walks now. I try to train smarter not harder, as overtraining stresses you out. I do shorter sessions but I sweat and get out of breath. I might do 20 minutes not two hours. I think it’s important to do things you enjoy. I am quite active – I always walk, cycle places, keep my body moving all the time. I enjoy lifting weights but not as heavy as I used to – weight lifting is good for women for bone health over 40. I don’t push myself so hard any more.

What have you changed about your eating habits?

I’ve tried every diet under the sun and was a dysfunctional eater from my teens into my 30s. I used to be trapped in a constant cycle of shame around food. Now I have everything in moderation, I don’t deprive myself of anything. If I desire something I eat it and feel no guilt about it. After a while of doing this you find your body doesn’t desire fish and chips or pizza. I used to do everything to excess and then deprive myself. When I ate normal food my body stored it as calories because it didn’t know when it would get it again and I gained weight. This kind of eating destroys your metabolism. To get your body back on track I advise people to let your body settle. Your happiness is more important than weight, as long as your blood pressure, cholesterol and visceral fat are okay then size is not important.

First thing in the morning I have a liquid probiotic, do a 10-minute body brush, oil pull, cold shower, a full two minutes tooth brushing and stretch workout. Then I’ll have a green tea or coffee, and all of this is before I even look at my phone.

My breakfast is a superfood smoothie with banana, avocado, frozen spinach, vegan chocolate powder, antioxidant powder, maca, camu camu, flaxseed powder, chia seed, water and ice. And a bowl of porridge with cacao nibs, sunflower seeds, cashew or almond butter and blueberries.

Lunch can be quinoa and stir fried veg. I cook everything from scratch. I snack a lot – I might have rye and a boiled egg, an apple, grapefruit, fruit and nuts. Dinner is grilled salmon or chicken, brown rice, pasta, couscous or bulgur.

I also like tofu, chickpea stir fry or curry. I stop eating by 8pm – anything after that is just boredom. I eat as much as I feel like. My body tells me when I am full.

What gave you the idea to write The Switch?

For over two decades, I was trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting and self-criticism because I thought that unless I was ‘perfect’ I wouldn’t be happy or worthy. By the time I reached my 40th birthday, I was mentally and physically exhausted. This book is a distillation of all the techniques I used to help me get off that perfection treadmill once and for all. It took me on a journey of science and psychology, from silencing the crippling and critical voices in my head, to understanding how to eat and exercise in a way that gives me power not problems. Today, I am happier and healthier than I ever was in my 20s and 30s because I have a lifestyle where food, fitness, family, friends and finding time for me are all in sync.

My original idea was to write a book about looking great in your 40s, but as I wrote it the book became more about mental health and fitness, because you can’t have one without the other. There are so many lies being told to women in the media which make us feel guilt, shame and fear. If I can help one woman not to go through what I went through then it will be worthwhile. Saying that, I have tried to make the book funny and let my voice come through.

Do you take any natural supplements?

Yes I take quite a few! My morning probiotic is called Symprove. I also take maca powder, glucosamine for bone strength, omega oils, flax seeds, turmeric tablets, ubiquinol and ashwaganda. And I take vitamins D, C and zinc in oral spray form.

Do you ever worry about your health?

I don’t really – I am at such a balanced place with my health now. I wake up calm, mentally in a really calm place. My food, supplements and exercise are all in balance. I’m finally in a good place. The only thing is I now need glasses for reading!

Do you have any tips for Rude Health readers?

  • The first thing is go easy on yourself. Tell yourself you are awesome and love yourself.
  • Try to drink more water – to flush through the body, because we are getting toxins from everywhere.
  • Cut back on alcohol – it will do your mind and body a world of good.
  • Practice gratitude – the path to general happiness.
  • Don’t deprive yourself of any food groups ever.
  • I have realised that diets don’t work – lifestyles work.

Follow Amanda on Instagram and Twitter.
The Switch by Amanda Byram is published by Gill Books.


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