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Nell McAndrew - Peak Energy Recharged

Sports presenter and resident realbuzz blogger Sue Thearle recently caught up with fitness fanatic Nell McAndrew to talk about her new fitness DVD, Peak Energy Recharged. Read the interview below to find out about Nell's approach to health and fitness, how she's fitting in exercise around her pregnancy, and what her DVD can do for you.

Even at 8am in the morning Nell McAndrew has one of those smiles that lights up a room. When she wanders over to say hello at the start of our interview, it is difficult not to be bowled over by her natural radiance and beauty. Add a pregnancy into the mix (her second child is due in the spring) and her glow is almost dazzling.  But rest assured there isn’t a hint of a suggestion of sitting down and putting feet up as she waits for baby number two to arrive. For a start the former glamour model already has 6-year-old son Devon to look after and a career to manage. But quite apart from anything else, she just loves running and says she will continue to exercise right up until the end of her pregnancy.

“I think exercise really helps during pregnancy, because for me it balances my hormones and helps all sorts of things like sleep and circulation. There is so much going on with your body I believe it really helps. We are all different and every pregnancy is different, so it’s about knowing your own body and what works for you and exercise is a way of life for me.”

The media coverage surrounding The Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy and subsequent struggles with severe morning sickness has underlined just how different a woman’s experience can be when they’re expecting.

But while Kate received some criticism for her admission to hospital with the condition, Nell too has been criticised, not for taking it easy, but for continuing to run while she’s pregnant.  She is keen to put the record straight.

“It has been proven in studies that exercise in pregnancy is good for you and that there is no threat at all to the baby. In the later stages of my pregnancy when I start to feel heavy I will slow down. I’ll get on the bike or go swimming, but I want to stay active. I hope that reassures people who see me exercising. What might look like a hard workout for them isn’t for me, because I am already at a certain fitness level.”

And it is some fitness level. McAndrew confesses that her love of running was born in and around the parks of her native Leeds and over the years she has built her fitness to a regular weekly mileage of 90 miles. With a personal best of under three hours for the Virgin London Marathon achieved in 2012 (2:54:39), her pregnancy has meant that Nell has had to defer her place in the 2013 elite race. Indeed like so many new mums, Nell has no idea when she will be able to return to exercise/running once the baby is born.

“I’m not going to set any target with it,” she explained. “If I can get back to running relatively quickly then great, but if it takes longer then that is fine too. Your body needs to heal inside when you have a child and so you just have to do what you feel you can do when you can.

“To be honest I don’t know how I will fit marathon training in with a new baby yet. I will probably go jogging in the park with the pram although my dream would be to have a treadmill at home!

“Last time I just took it slowly because when I first had Devon, even walking to the shop meant I was overwhelmed with tiredness. I was always conscious of how I was feeling and exercising was really not a priority then.”

But exercise and dieting will certainly be a major priority for a great number of us come January 1st, which is traditionally D-Day after a Christmas of excess. To that end Nell is releasing a new fitness DVD (Peak Energy Recharged) to help us fight the festive flab. One of the most common mistakes she believes, is to throw yourself into a new fitness regime on a Monday and lose interest by the Friday of week one. To avoid this, Nell has some wise words of advice.

“Be realistic with it and don’t set your goals too high. Don’t go too mad and sign up for classes that are just too hard for you because you will lose interest. I believe the best thing to do is to cut out alcohol, because it is full of sugar. But don’t cut out everything because you will feel miserable and then you won’t want to exercise.

“It’s all about balance. Do everything gradually and surround yourself with people who have the same ideas about health and fitness. It is unfortunate that people wait until January to start getting fit because it really should be an all round thing.”

Nell points out that her DVD is for people who really like to work hard and get results and is a bit easier to follow than some of the dance DVDs which she says make her trip over her own feet. She is also a passionate believer in interval training for people who want to set themselves new goals and fitness targets. There is no doubt that keeping fit and staying healthy is a huge part of her life, the importance of which was underlined recently when her mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

“In a way it was the best thing that could have happened. She has lost two stone since and is exercising again. Her health is so much better and she might even be off her medication soon. It is a reminder that you really have to think of health as a long term thing.”

“As I get older I am more aware of my body. I am more interested in nutrition and sleep and I make more of an effort with things like that! I don’t count calories, I never have. I just try to eat a healthy diet. I do eat chocolate and cakes and have a healthy appetite, but I exercise a lot and eat a lot of vegetables, so it’s about getting the balance right for me. I don’t deprive myself of anything but I do try to be better each day.

“I also take food with me when I am working so that I am not tempted by anything I know I shouldn’t eat. It helps you look and feel more comfortable.”

And with that she was whisked off to her next interview, still glowing and looking forward to her self-made avocado and tomato sandwich (on brown bread natch) for lunch...