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

Health & Fitness - - Contents -

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.

DAILY SCHED­ULE

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.

LIFE CHANGE

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.’

IN­STA­GRAM FAME

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.’

WORK­OUT SCHED­ULE

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.’

COM­ING CLEAN

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

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