AD­VEN­TURES IN HON­ESTY

Al­ways grown-up and self-pos­sessed beyond her years, Rosanna Dav­i­son seems younger, and more re­laxed than ever. As she pre­pares for the publi­ca­tion of her sec­ond book, ‘Eat Your­self Fit’ LIFE has ex­clu­sive ex­tracts with tips and recipes over­leaf Emily Hou

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - THE LOVES OF MY LIFE -

I’m sure it is pa­thetic to take com­fort in the fact that even the nat­u­rally slim and beau­ti­ful need to work at their ap­pear­ance and can have off days and bad weeks, but it is also only hu­man. And so, when I hear Rosanna Dav­i­son — for­mally crowned the most beau­ti­ful woman in the world in 2003 — ad­mit “I have to work very hard to stay slim and toned, and es­pe­cially as I get older, as my body would love to be big­ger than it is”, I feel a bit like cheer­ing. At her hon­esty, and at the sheer nor­mal­ity of it all. And at the fact that she isn’t just mak­ing this stuff up to al­low the rest of us to feel bet­ter, but is speak­ing from tricky ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I put on weight very quickly af­ter our wed­ding in 2014,” she says, “be­cause I had been so dis­ci­plined all year in the run-up to the cel­e­bra­tions. I had fo­cused on re­mov­ing re­fined sugar and al­co­hol from my diet as much as pos­si­ble, and had re­ally wanted to look and feel my very best on the big day. But once the wed­ding was over, I felt that I could re­lax and en­joy all the foods I had banned my­self from eat­ing.

“So even in the week be­fore our hon­ey­moon, I re­mem­ber gorg­ing on Chi­nese food, bread, wed­ding cake and wine! Then, when we set off on hon­ey­moon, I de­cided that it was a time to re­lax com­pletely and re­ally en­joy eat­ing what­ever I fan­cied. So that’s what I did! I ate all the high-carb food I had de­nied my­self. I ate desserts, drank wine and en­joyed sug­ary cock­tails ev­ery day.” The re­sult? “I put on weight so quickly dur­ing the hon­ey­moon that most of my clothes were too tight by the last few days of the hol­i­day, and I had to wear baggy T-shirts and shorts. When we ar­rived home again, we had to go to a good friend’s en­gage­ment party, and there was only one dress in my wardrobe that would fit me, and the zip on it kept pop­ping open all night!”

As for how that made her feel, again, Rosanna is com­mend­ably hon­est. “It def­i­nitely did af­fect my self-con­fi­dence, to the point that I avoided go­ing to so­cial events be­cause none of my clothes would fit me. I felt self-con­scious and low in con­fi­dence, but I also felt de­ter­mined to get back to feel­ing healthy and fit again.”

She also man­ages to keep a sense of per­spec­tive, say­ing, “I ap­pre­ci­ate that plenty of peo­ple go through pe­ri­ods of weight gain, whether from med­i­ca­tion or child­birth or many other rea­sons, and my story prob­a­bly sounds in­signif­i­cant in com­par­i­son. But body im­age and body con­fi­dence are so in­di­vid­ual, and when you’re not feel­ing your very best, it can af­fect the rest of your life. In my case, gain­ing a stone pretty quickly was a huge knock to my self-es­teem, as I hadn’t re­ally strug­gled with my weight that much up un­til then.”

Be­ing blessed with plenty of grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion, she tack­led the prob­lem head-on. “My willpower is very strong when I have a goal in mind,” she says, “so I knew I would man­age it. It took me about eight weeks of healthy eat­ing and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise to re­ally start feel­ing good again.” But the lessons learned have lasted, and in­deed un­der­pin her lat­est book,

“My en­tire ap­proach now is about achiev­ing bal­ance and never feel­ing de­prived of the foods you en­joy. The book is packed with healthy meals, but there are also plenty of desserts and sweet treats, all made with­out re­fined sugar, and us­ing health­ier in­gre­di­ents. I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced what hap­pens when you de­prive your­self and binge af­ter­wards, so bal­ance and be­ing kind to your­self are key.”

And so, in a health-and-fit­ness mar­ket that, these days, is about as crowded as one of the great souks of Mar­rakech, Rosanna in­creas­ingly stands out. So suc­cess­ful has her tran­si­tion from model and beauty queen to nu­tri­tion­ist and fit­ness ex­pert been, that the ar­rival of her sec­ond book feels like an event.

Rosanna her­self, now 32, looks al­most younger than she did the first time I in­ter­viewed her, 10 years ago. And no, that’s not code for ‘has she had work done . . . ?’ Sim­ply that, these days, she looks no­tice­ably re­laxed and care­free.

This may be partly be­cause she al­ways seemed so very grown-up in her 20s — self-pos­sessed way beyond her years — but also be­cause mar­ried life suits her, her 30s

Your­self Fit. Eat

suit her, and her new ca­reer suits her.

We’ve had Rosanna as Miss Ire­land and then Miss World, we’ve had the slightly naughty Rosanna of var­i­ous Bebo shoots,

Rosanna, and Rosanna the TV pre­sen­ter. In all of these, she has been very much her­self, with the same kind of con­vic­tion, work ethic and cred­i­bil­ity. But the lat­est in­car­na­tion may be the one that suits her best.

Now, this re­laxed de­meanour does not, natch, trans­late into any kind of sloppy dress­ing. It is a Sun­day morn­ing, early enough, and Rosanna al­ready has a Pi­lates class un­der her belt — she works out six days a week, a com­bi­na­tion of car­dio, Pi­lates and weight-train­ing — but far from turn­ing up in sweats, with a bare face, she is as per­fectly turned out as ever; hair and make-up done, wear­ing a gor­geous tan­ger­ine-coloured jacket.

is a recipe book, but it’s also very much a life­style book. Rather than div­ing straight into the recipes — all of which are wheat, dairy, meat and sugar free — there are com­pre­hen­sive in­tro­duc­tory sec­tions giv­ing Rosanna’s per­sonal jour­ney to health and fit­ness. There is ad­vice on how, and why, to give up re­fined sugar; tips for work­out mo­ti­va­tion; the case for weight train­ing; pos­si­ble rea­sons for food crav­ings (the body’s de­sire for mag­ne­sium, for ex­am­ple, of­ten gets trans­lated into what feels like a choco­late crav­ing; a yen for fizzy drinks can mean you lack cal­cium), along with ad­vice on at­ti­tude over­haul — how to look on work­outs as de­sir­able ‘me’ time rather than oh-god-I’ve-got-to-go-to-the-gym time, and how to en­joy liv­ing and eat­ing healthily so that it doesn’t feel like a ‘diet’ or de­nial.

Through­out, Rosanna’s ad­vice is sen­si­ble, bal­anced, ex­pe­ri­ence-based and for­giv­ing; as she says in the book, “It’s not about be­ing per­fect all the time. It’s about bal­ance and progress”. She is also adamant that “this is al­ways along­side a per­son’s GP, never in­stead of. It’s a com­ple­men­tary ther­apy. I would of­ten write to my client’s GP say­ing, ‘This is what I’m do­ing, work­ing along­side you’.”

“I’m not a preachy per­son,” she tells me

Play­boy Eat Your­self Fit

now. “I think lead­ing by pos­i­tive ex­am­ple is a good thing. The book is just show­ing, ‘This is what works for me; this is what I feel best eat­ing’.” And so, she says, “I per­son­ally try to avoid sugar, dairy and wheat, be­cause my skin is trig­gered by eat­ing too much dairy and sugar, and I have found over the years that I func­tion bet­ter with­out them. But I would al­ways say to ev­ery­one to fig­ure out what works best for you.”

The book, she says, “is fo­cussed on fit­ness foods, ev­ery­thing from the best foods to boost mus­cle tone, the best foods to boost your body’s abil­ity to burn fat, foods for be­fore a work­out, af­ter a work­out, easy hacks to get­ting more nu­tri­ents into your body. I en­cour­age peo­ple to take con­trol. It’s about giv­ing peo­ple the tools, the recipes, the ideas, to take con­trol of their own health and fit­ness.”

This is a big thing with Rosanna, the far-sighted wish to en­cour­age peo­ple to be their very own guru, on the ba­sis that it is far bet­ter to lead one­self than to fol­low some­one else. “Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent,” she says. “And what works for me won’t nec­es­sar­ily work for other peo­ple.” She is also prag­matic. “This needs to fit it into your life­style. There is no point spend­ing half your wages on su­per­foods when you can’t af­ford it, and there are so many great foods that are in­ex­pen­sive. I think it’s a bit of a myth, this ‘su­per­foods’ thing; I would say to fam­i­lies, or stu­dents on a bud­get, buy the big bags of dried pulses, nuts and seeds; make stews, casseroles, cur­ries in huge batches.” She also, re­fresh­ingly, rec­om­mends sourc­ing pro­duce in the fruit and veg aisles of the big dis­count su­per­mar­kets.

So what mo­ti­vates her? “I’m not try­ing to save the world,” she says. “It’s just about the dif­fer­ence you can make to some­one’s life. The feed­back I’d get from peo­ple af­ter, say, six months — ‘I feel bet­ter, I’m sleep­ing bet­ter, my en­ergy is bet­ter . . . ’ I get hun­dreds of mes­sages, peo­ple telling me, ‘I’m eat­ing bet­ter’; ‘I’ve man­aged to clear up prob­lem skin’.

“That’s huge, to think you’ve in­spired some­one to make the changes or mo­ti­vate them, give them that lit­tle light­bulb

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