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By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 01/02/21 2:09pm
Alice Liveing joins Hannah Wilkes on the latest episode of Rise With Us and discusses how her relationship with exercise, food and fitness has changed and how she deals with an unwanted side of social media.
Prior to becoming a personal trainer and one of the UK’s best-known health and fitness influencers, Liveing trained as a professional dancer and performer. She toured the UK and was part of a schedule of eight shows each week in the cast of Annie.
During her time training for the world of performing arts, Liveing now openly admits that her desire to be the best influenced how she decided to fuel her body.
“I have definitely had an interesting relationship, and I’ve definitely been on a journey with my relationship with food, as I think so many women do,” Liveing said to Wilkes during the episode of Rise With Us.
“When I was training as a dancer and a performer, there was such a huge focus on the way that I looked, and I definitely went through one of those rocky stages where I had a really poor relationship with food.
“I went from someone who was eating ice-cream and pizza every day as a typical student in my first year to suddenly falling into quite a restrictive way of eating because I thought that I needed to be in shape for the stage. I thought that everyone around me was my competition and thought that I needed to look the best.
“My previous perception of health was that I needed to be in a small body and needed to be eating healthily 100 per cent of the time.
“Actually, I started to realise that wasn’t necessarily the healthiest way to go about doing things. Now, yes, I’m mindful about the things that I eat around my training because, I think that’s important, I love my training and I want to get the most from it, but I also just want to enjoy what I eat.”
I don’t train to lose weight anymore. Exercise is full of challenges and things that you can challenge your body to do. If it’s not about weight-loss, there are so many other things that I can work towards which are far more exciting and fulfilling. It was a real change in focus and now I see exercise as a real challenge of what my body can do.
The experience Liveing had with food isn’t an uncommon one, in the world of high-level sport or with regard to women who exercise not at professional levels.
Liveing’s initial ‘journey’, which was documented online, saw her body composition ‘lean up’ considerably. A few years on from that, she’s spoken about the shift from where she was, to where she is now.
“I always tell people that we think, all of us, that life will be better if we were thinner, if we fitted into that size 8 pair of jeans or if we fitted into a dress that we wore when we were 20,” she said.
“I got to my goal, I lost the weight and I looked very small, lean and fit but actually, I was probably at my unhappiest that I’ve ever been.
“So, I try and get people to recognise that life isn’t always healthier or happier if you’re thinner. What I’ve had to do from that point, is really reflect and think, hang on a second I got everything that I thought that I wanted and it didn’t do it for me, it didn’t make me happier.
“I had to think, what was it that I wanted in the first place and really work on looking inside myself to think what is going to make me happy.
“I think, it’s all about trying to fill a void. For me, weight loss became a distraction from a lot of other things that were going on,” she added.
“I’m an ambassador for Women’s Aid and I’d recently come out of a physically abusive relationship. For me, to pivot my energy into going full throttle with exercise and losing weight, that was to try and feel great, it was a distraction.
“I got to that end goal and thought, hang on a second, I’m miserable. It didn’t do for me what I wanted it to.
“I am so much healthier and happier now; that might be that I’m in a bigger body and that I’ve gone up a couple of dress sizes, but it’s been worth it for being able to be a happier person.”
No-one wants to go through life thinking that they can’t have X or shouldn’t have Y, I didn’t want to be one of those people. I wanted to live my life; we only get one. That’s much more of the messaging that I’m about now. I’m absolutely all for people being healthy, strong, fit and happy, but not to the detriment of their mental well-being.
Liveing’s platform on social media is a significant one. At the time of writing, she has 698,000 Instagram followers, 51,200 Twitter followers and 84,844 followers on Facebook.
The world of social media, alongside having the ability to inspire and connect people, it also is an area that can be tarnished by unpleasantries and that definitely has a darker side.
During the Sky Sports series of Driving Force and in her episode of Rise With Us, Rebecca Adlington openly spoke about how trolling impacts her and had such a significant impact on what should have been one of the greatest days of her life.
On her own channels, if Liveing sees personal attacks, she doesn’t stand for them.
“I have a really quick blocking finger. If someone says something that I think is unnecessary, rude and awful, I don’t need to even second-guess myself – I just block them,” she said. “Why do I need that energy in my life?
“I see constructive criticism as a really positive thing, and I think that you should allow for nuance, debate and discussion of opinions but outright trolling is something that I just don’t stand for.
“I always say to someone, if you’re a business and someone criticises your business, there are so many different people in that business which means it’s deflected onto other people and no one takes that personally.
“However, because my business is myself and I am my brand, when someone criticises me it feels so personal. It’s such a personal attack. The ones that really sting are the ones that are really personal. Maybe that’s about my appearance, or about the way that I’ve gone about doing something… they can hurt.
“So, it just about blocking and also knowing that it says more about the person saying it, than it does about me.
“That’s a really hard view to get to and I’m not saying it [that perspective] happens every time, because it doesn’t. However, for the most part you have to remind yourself why that person is projecting that energy onto you and what is it that they’re going through? But yes…. No 1 – block!”
Elsewhere in episode with Wilkes, Liveing speaks more about her role as an ambassador for Women’s Aid and why she chose to speak out about her own experience of domestic abuse.
She shares her feelings towards failure and following the philosophy that ‘it’s never a failure, always a lesson’, as well as highlighting her key tips to help boost your own motivation, when it comes to fitness and exercise.
Rise With Us is a new series available to watch on Sky Sports, stream on the Sky Sports YouTube channel, and can be listened to in podcast form.
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