All about Alice
The leading Instagram fitness influencer thrives on showing the world how to live healthily. We go behind the scenes with this month’s cover star Clean Eating Alice
We talk to the woman also known as Clean Eating Alice.
Curled up on a sofa in the studio where she’s just been photographed for this month’s
H&F cover story, 24-year-old Alice Liveing radiates good health. Her flawless skin, shiny hair and megawatt smile top off a spectacularly honed physique that’s clad in Lululemon leggings and a Triumph Lingerie crop top. Take a brief glance at her Instagram account, with 567,000 followers and counting and it’s clear that Clean Eating Alice, as she’s known to her fans, has a lot to smile about. Between regular posts featuring her beautifully constructed healthy meals and photos showing the diminutive fitness star (she’s 5ft 1in) sculpting her considerable muscles at top London gyms are images of Alice promoting her third book, Everyday
Fitness (£14.99, Thorsons). This latest publication reveals the moves and training plans that have helped bring about and maintain Alice’s transformation from overweight teen to svelte, body-confident young woman.
As she reaches for her coffee (a single-shot Americano with regular milk – no non-dairy alternatives here), Alice apologises for her rasping tones. Following a busy few days of events and appearances, she’s lost her voice, but – with characteristic positivity – Alice remains undeterred, her enthusiasm for sharing her belief that eating and training correctly can make everyone healthier and happier undented.
When she describes her typical day, it’s hardly surprising that Alice has lost her voice. She gets up early (‘between half five and six am’), preps and eats a healthy breakfast, then heads to the Third Space gym in London’s Soho to complete an hour-long weight-training workout before coaching her first few PT clients. When she leaves our shoot, she’ll head back to the gym to eat her lunch (‘I make a large dinner and pack up what’s left for the next day’) and continue with PT sessions. Between clients, she handles her blog work, taking calls, attending meetings and giving interviews.
In the evening, if she doesn’t have blogger events to attend, she’ll either meet her boyfriend – ‘although we both work incredibly hard so see each other rarely at the moment’ – or hang out with friends. ‘Thankfully, a lot of them are into fitness so we’ll go to a training session together, which kills two birds!’ she laughs. Once home, the committed fitness blogger prepares and photographs her dinner, before getting stuck into some bedtime reading: ‘I want to be a real expert in my field, so I swat up on the latest research on training.’ Working on her blog seven days a week can be draining, but she clearly relishes what she does. ‘Helping people change their lives makes me happy and I’m so grateful to love what I do,’ she says.
Three years ago, when she started her eponymous blog, Alice was in a different place. In her second year of musical theatre college in south London, she was very body conscious and struggled to control her erratic eating. By her own admission, her diet was disastrous – ‘takeaways, pizza, ice cream, sweets, chocolate and no real nutrients. I’d then go on restrictive diets and eat low-cal and low-fat products that were full of nothing.’ Despite dancing for hours every day, Alice battled her weight, binging then over-exercising to compensate.
Her moment of reckoning came when she talked to a personal trainer who suggested she incorporate weight-training into her twice-weekly gym sessions. Alongside a few basic moves, Alice began to explore sensible ways of eating, a far cry from the restrictive and food-group-banning diets she’d tried out in successive failed bids to shape up. To her amazement, her body quickly responded to these changes and her excess weight soon morphed into lean muscle. Charting her remarkable progress on Instagram, Alice posted pictures of her transforming body, alongside snapshots of the nutritionally balanced meals she devised. Her posts struck a chord with the online community and her follower numbers rocketed. ‘People seemed to relate to my story and I began to engage with them, quickly realising there was a whole community of people in a similar situation. But I never imagined I’d have over half-a-million people following me on Instagram. It’s crazy!’
After graduating, Alice spent a year touring the UK in a musical while she qualified as a PT and continued to blog, but her Instagram following was too big to ignore, and she left the stage to take up residence in the world of fitness bloggers. By then, Alice had landed a publishing deal. Of her writing, Alice explains that it’s ‘a way of putting into words everything I’ve learnt on my journey to health, and as a way to speak to a wide range and large group of people, to help them understand that you don’t have to restrict food groups, starve yourself or work out for hours to be happy with yourself. I want to make people see there’s a different, healthy way to do things.’
Unsurprisingly, Alice’s life has changed immeasurably since hitting Instagram fame; she can’t walk down the street without being recognised, which she finds ‘totally bizarre’, but she hasn’t let it go to her head. ‘I’ve been on the cover of magazines, published three books and have thousands of followers. It’s surreal, but I don’t think I’m any more special than the next person; I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,’ she says.
She credits her family, especially her mum, with helping her stay grounded. ‘The most overwhelming thing for me is being told by fans and followers that I’m amazing – I was shy and quite self-conscious growing up so it’s hard for me to process. But I can phone my mum and just be Alice – not Alice from Clean Eating Alice,’ she explains.
The comments on Alice’s posts are filled with fans telling her how much she’s helping them and ‘it never gets old or less exciting’ but, ‘training clients one-to-one is really fulfilling – seeing their health and fitness journey evolve is incredibly satisfying.’
So does she miss the world of musical theatre? ‘Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a show and the applause that greets you, but I get the same pleasure when someone messages me saying, “Because of you, I’ve changed my diet and become so much healthier”,’ she says.
Alice is inspirational, not least because in every selfie and social-media picture, even
“I WANT TO MAKE PEOPLE SEE THERE’S A DIFFERENT, HEALTHY WAY TO DO THINGS. HELPING PEOPLE CHANGE THEIR LIVES MAKES ME HAPPY. I’M SO GRATEFUL TO LOVE WHAT IDO”
post-workout snaps, she looks polished. How does she deal with the pressures of having to look good? ‘I’ve always been into grooming,’ she says. ‘I love having my hair and nails done, and prefer to treat myself with massages and pampering treatments than buying shoes.’ But she adds, ‘I have days when I look awful and leave the house without any make-up on – I’m not precious about that.’
Every week, between her PT day job, filming workout videos, devising recipes and posting updates, Alice slots in six, hour-long training sessions, including four weight-training sessions (two upper- and two lower-body), and two conditioning sessions that are cardio-based, high-intensity workouts. She enjoys trying out different classes in F45 (F45training.com) or Unit gyms (unitlondon.co.uk) in south-west London, walking and swimming. ‘But I always factor in one or two rest days,’ she adds. ‘I eat well and train hard because I enjoy it – it’s less for aesthetic reasons than because it makes me feel great.’ When it comes to devising recipes, ‘my biggest bugbear is that healthy eating is seen as hard work and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be,’ says Alice. ‘My mum is a great cook and big inspiration, but I’m all about fake-it-till-you-make-it. Through trial and error and reading about what to eat, I’ve come up with great recipes.’ It helps that Alice finds cooking therapeutic and that her best friend, Rhiannon Lambert, a registered nutritionist, advises on recipe development. Does Alice photograph everything she eats? ‘At times I toss stuff on a plate and forget. I’m so hungry, I just tuck in,’ she giggles. ‘But I try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to posting my meals on Instagram. I don’t have an impeccable diet and I do drink alcohol on weekends. I show this as I don’t want to increase the pressure to constantly attain perfection.’
Which leads us onto the Clean Eating backlash. Alice is frank about the title of her blog. ‘I wish I’d never chosen that name, but when I came up with it, clean eating was a buzzword that didn’t have the current negative connotations,’ she explains. ‘To me, it encapsulated everything I wanted to do with my diet and lifestyle, which was to get healthier by eating more nutritious foods.’ She deplores food restriction and has never advocated extreme diets. ‘I don’t align myself with the strict clean-eating crowd. I have the name for circumstantial reasons, but I like to promote a wellbalanced and normal way of eating.’ On her plate are lots of veg, fruits, whole and single-ingredient foods but she also loves ice cream and champagne. ‘About 80 per cent of the time, I eat balanced, nutritious meals, but when I feel like it, I let myself have the things I really want.’
Alice acknowledges that ‘social media is a dangerous world’, but adds ‘my job is to curate and take authority for the space that I have. I can’t affect what anyone says or does, but I have the responsibility to put across correct and sensible information. My advice will always be science- and evidencebased, and balanced for anyone to follow.’
With her pragmatic approach to blogging, Alice’s future looks bright, including a holiday to Ibiza and a course with the UK Strength and Conditioning Association, plus training with US strength coach Tony Gentilclore. With more knowledge to back up her infectious enthusiasm for her brand of body positivity, Alice will be unstoppable.
Alice fuelling up post workout
Alice is famous for her food photos