TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, 62, chats to editorial director Katy Sunnassee about her healthy weight loss journey, changing her lockdown food habits, plus her love of walking and wild swimming…
‘Like so many people over the past two years, I lost my way during lockdown. Before that, I thought I’d cracked it in terms of being healthy. Just before the pandemic, I was eating sensibly – falling off the wagon now and again but that’s allowed – but kind of eating more or less what I liked at the weekends because I was doing so much exercise, including Zumba. But then the classes stopped, and, like so many people, I started comfort eating and the weight just crept on.
‘I was lucky to still be working, so at least I had that discipline of going into work. But we were coming straight back home after; we weren’t able to have the usual meetings as they were on Zoom. Working from home a lot, which is doable but very weird, led to having massive lunches and mindlessly snacking and grazing all day. I’d be sitting talking on the phone and suddenly I’d eaten a whole bag of chocolate raisins or a whole bag of Revels. Sometimes I’d be having sweeties late at night, too.
‘I went from a size 10 to a 12 and I thought “that’s okay” and then I went from 12 to 14. And then, just before Christmas, I noticed the 14s were getting very tight and I decided I need to do something. Before, I’d usually been able to do it myself but this time I needed help, which is why I joined up with WeightWatchers because it’s all in an app.
Lorraine Kelly’s healthy weight loss journey
‘At the end of 2021 I felt really tired and overweight, and had no energy or stamina, but people were saying “Oh, you look fine”. And I did look okay, but I didn’t feel fine. I didn’t feel confident or healthy. I’d take my dog, Angus, out for a walk for half an hour and be coughing and panting going up the hill. And I was annoyed with myself because I’d climbed that hill easily before. So, I knew something had to change – but I needed help this time. I needed that extra bit of information, as well as a plan that could be for life.
‘There are a lot of faddy diets out there and yes, I’m sure you might lose weight on them, but you’ll put it all back on again. And you’ll be miserable. With WW it’s not just about what you’re eating but also how much water you’re drinking, how much exercise you’re getting, your sleep levels and how you feel in yourself.
‘I knew I couldn’t do it by myself, because I wasn’t able to go to my classes. I needed to get back on track and get into the mindset of getting back on track, too. We all need a little bit of help sometimes, I think, which is what you get with WW and with things like Top Santé – all the information in here really helps people understand what they’re eating, how exercise can help, and about their wellbeing.
Why Lorraine chose Weight Watchers
‘Mental wellbeing is important – there’s no point in looking amazing if you don’t feel amazing. What I’ve found with WW is not only has it been very easy, thanks to the plan, but I just feel better in myself. It’s tailored for individuals, too. You put all your details – age, weight, what you want to do, current lifestyle, how much sleep you have, how much water you drink, how you feel, and it tells you which foods you’re allowed that have zero points, i.e. you can eat as much of them as you like. For me, that’s bananas, fish and oatmeal!
‘Someone else’s plan would be very different to mine because they may be a different age, have a different lifestyle, and maybe like different foods. The app tells you about restaurants, too, so if you’re going out with friends, you just choose options that are good for you. And WW ready meals are brilliant as they’re not full of salt and additives; they’re really healthy and handy for a quick and easy lunch.
‘There’s a whole community through the app, which is important to me as I’ve missed the camaraderie of being in classes together. There’s also a great WW online community of people who’ve either been doing it for a while or are new, and we all kind of help each other. I think that support is really important. There are also brilliant coaches that do all sorts of talks, including about the menopause because that’s a huge change in life that can derail you very easily.
‘What I like is that with WW it’s dealing with the whole person, like you do with Top Santé – dealing with every aspect of what makes you healthy and happy. Ultimately, if you’re healthy, you’re going to be happier.
Lorraine Kelly on cooking and nutrition
‘I’m not a very good cook but my husband is fantastic, and my daughter, Rosie, is too. When my husband was away for a week, Rosie cooked this massive pot of vegetable soup and put it into containers and labelled them for each day of the week. She also made healthy vegetable dhal and curries for me – for her silly mum who can’t cook! I like using a lot of spices and herbs to give things a little more of a taste. That works well, especially with fish, and I’m eating so much fish, which I love.
‘I really like tuna and monkfish. My husband makes a great monkfish curry but he doesn’t use as much fat now when cooking it. I was already moving away from red meat and don’t eat as much now, both for health reasons and the environment.
‘At work in the morning, I now have a massive bowl of porridge and lots of berries or a banana cut up into it. That keeps me going until lunchtime because I’ve got such an early start to the day. But during the pandemic, while there was hardly anyone at work, there would still always be croissants and bacon rolls, which I ate. They don’t make you feel good and they don’t fill you up, so I’m glad I’ve weaned myself off those.
‘Now, I make sure I have bowls of fruit everywhere and lots of veg and nice healthy things. But I don’t deny myself a treat, as nobody’s saying you can’t have certain things. That’s the great thing about WW, it’s not about saying you’ll never have a pizza again as all that does it make you want pizza! That’s why diets don’t work.
Everything in moderation
‘I can’t really drink alcohol during the week because I’m up too early. But during the pandemic, I think we were all doing the “Oh, I’ll have a glass of wine because I earned it” thing, because it was such a weird time. You’d watch Boris Johnson at five o’clock and think “Oh gosh, maybe I need a bottle of whisky!” I didn’t have that, by the way! But at weekends I was drinking a bit too much.
‘I went on holiday in March to Spain, with my friend Joyce, which was amazing. She lives there now but we’ve known each other since we were 12 and she’s doing WW with me. I thought “Gosh, I’ve just started this programme” but it was fine – I didn’t feel that I missed out. I still had lovely grub and a glass of wine at times.
‘Plus, I did a lot of exercise, too, as Joyce took me to her Zumba class twice, and it was so hard as I hadn’t done anything for two years. Oh, my goodness – I had aches and pains in places I didn’t even know I had! I think my hair was even sore! But it was great. And I felt so invigorated; the music is brilliant and all the dancing – it’s just fantastic.
‘I’ve never tried fasting or intermittent fasting as I don’t think I could do my job if I was hungry. Listen, if it works for some people, that’s great but I don’t see me getting on with that at all. People get to where they want to be in lots of different ways but for me, no, I wouldn’t want to do something that might make me light-headed or anything like that.
Focusing on fresh produce
‘When I was a kid, my mum would always shop every day. She’d go to the high street every day in Bridgeton, in Glasgow, where we stayed, and she would go to the fish shop, then the bakers, then she’d go to all the individual shops and buy things fresh every day. We’re sort of going back to that now; in the village where we live, we’ve got a brilliant fruit and veg shop, a Co-Op, a wee Tesco, and we’re tending not to do a giant shop anymore.
‘These days I’m eating a lot of bananas and I don’t want to be buying bananas or even avocados that aren’t quite ready. You want to buy them on the day when they’re ready and then buy more the next day or two days later. So we’ve almost gone back to what it was like when I was growing up, which is so interesting.
‘Sure, we’ll probably still do a big shop maybe every couple of weeks for other stuff such as bleach and toiletries and what not. But with food, now I’m thinking ahead to what I’m going to have, and making sure I’ve got plenty of blueberries to put in my porridge or plenty of bananas.
‘Also, if you have apples or a bag of tangerines or grapes or something, it stops you from heading to the biscuit tin. We’ve still got biscuits as my husband likes them, and I might fancy one with a cup tea, but often now if I do have one I’d think “Oh, that wasn’t all that! It wasn’t really worth it!” as my tastes have changed.
Lorraine Kelly on fitness and wild-water swimming
‘I walk every day for around an hour and 10 minutes with Angus. We do a little circuit in the village, going a little further every day. I’ve also been starting to go back up over the hill I used to climb, and I’m just doing it very, very slowly. I really can see a difference between how out of breath I used to be to how I’m now building up my stamina, which is hugely important as you get older. Angus would walk all day if he could. He could walk forever! He’s a Border Terrier, so he’s just so full of beans and energy. He needs to be walked!
‘I really like wild-water swimming. I live quite near the Thames, although that can be a bit grotty, but there are a few lidos quite close, too. Last time I went to the lido, though, it was so, so cold! But you feel wonderful when you come out. You just feel better within yourself, you absolutely do. There’s also a real sisterhood with the swimming clubs – that sense of community, with everybody helping each other. So I’ll certainly be doing more wild swimming this summer, including when I’m up in Scotland, as there are so many lochs.
‘When I swam in Orkney, I went in in a wetsuit, but in Skye, I went in in just a swimming costume. But it’s like everything else, you have to build up gradually, you can’t just jump in – it can be dangerous. It’s a great thing to do, though, as you feel better physically and mentally as well.
Lorraine’s first experience of cold water swimming
‘The first time I ever went into cold water was, believe it or not, in Antarctica – in my bikini! It was crazy. It was on the peninsula of Antarctica at a tiny little island called Deception Island, for a trip following in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton. I’m a complete geek when it comes to things like that and we got to visit Shackleton’s grave and everything. It was just amazing, wonderful. So I went in and oh my gosh, I didn’t stay in long! You know those little penguins that go into the water and shoot straight back out? That was me!
‘When it comes to menopause, I say don’t be fobbed off. What worries me is that an awful lot of women are going to the doctors with symptoms and getting fobbed off, oftentimes with antidepressants. What you’ve got to do is make an informed choice, but for me, HRT just transformed my life. I’ve got a patch that I put on twice a week.
Lorraine Kelly’s menopause journey
‘Menopause is absolutely a natural part of your life, which is why we should talk about it. I don’t know why anyone would feel strange about it. But that doesn’t mean to say you have to put up with symptoms that are making you miserable. Whether it’s brain fog or hot flushes, there’s help out there. I think sometimes, as women, we think we’ve got to soldier on if the symptoms aren’t massively affecting our lives. But for a lot of women, it’s really awful. And it’s affecting them – mentally as well as physically.
‘When it happened to me, I thought I’d lost myself, I just didn’t know was going on. The best way to sum it up was flat, feeling really, really flat. I was miserable, very low and joyless. It didn’t last very long but I knew I had to do something. It was my husband who said to me: “You’re not yourself, you need to go talk to someone about it”.
‘Thankfully, I did. That was probably about five or six years ago. I had a long conversation with Dr Louise Newson [one of the UK’s most prominent doctors championing menopause awareness and HRT]. We had her on the show and she was amazing.
‘I didn’t put on weight during menopause as, at that time, I was working out with Maxine, my Zumba teacher, doing a lot of exercises, including for waistlines. I know that for a lot of women their shape changes and they sort of lose their waist. That’s why you’ve got to keep up the exercise, especially something that brings you joy, like salsa for example. Because if you do something you like, you’re more likely to stick to it.
Lorraine on skincare and ageing
‘I’ve got quite dry skin but I’m very lucky to have inherited my mum’s skin. Mum’s 80 and she’s got beautiful cheek bones – she’s gorgeous. You would never think she was 80. I try to have a facial maybe once every couple of weeks, but I don’t! I tell myself I will, but I don’t. The one thing Mum said to me is that us girls have to moisturise and moisturise again, just put on as much as you can!
‘I really like Beauty Pie for make-up – it’s like joining a club and getting presents! It’s really brilliant stuff and good value. It does a sun cream that’s amazing. I use that every day as it’s very light, even if there’s no sun around, because I just think it’s really good protection. I put it on my hands because I always think hands show the first signs of ageing. Oh, and I put it on my neck and chest too, as well, because those bits age too.
‘I use all the Beauty Pie moisturisers, including one with retinol which is really good, and an undereye cream. Using a good cleanser is so important, too. I wear a lot of make-up for work so I need a good cleanser to get it off – I like ELEMIS cleansers for that. My daughter takes really good care of her skin – she does the double cleansing and everything.
‘I’m not really paranoid about ageing, and I’ve never had any work done. I’d be too frightened to, as I’ve seen too many women on the show that have come on and, for them, it’s gone wrong; your heart breaks for them. All they wanted to do was look better but they’ve maybe not done their research and it’s gone a bit, you know, “ducky”. That’s why I’d rather be like Helen Mirren and just let things happen naturally.
‘I don’t get enough sleep, which affects my eyes, but I’m getting better now. What I’ve done is I don’t keep my phone and my iPad in the bedroom anymore, but I’ll tell you what, that was hard! Harder than not having chocolate every night. But I’ve weaned myself off them now and I sleep longer and better. Phones just make you go down a rabbit hole, don’t they? Because there’s always another YouTube film of pussy cats falling over that you need to watch. So I say don’t have devices in your room. Don’t be tempted because you will stay up!
‘The main tip I’d share with other women is to not beat yourself up. Find something to do each day that makes you happy. Now, that might be – like me because I’m slightly odd – cleaning out your knicker drawer! Something about doing that brings me contentment.
‘Look for something that makes you immediately happy; something that makes you content, even if it’s just listening to music, grabbing a cup of tea or reading your favourite magazine. It’s important to have a wee bit of time to yourself. Put yourself first even if only for five minutes, because you need to recharge.
Join Lorraine on her journey at #joinLorraine and visit ww.com/uk/ambassadors/lorraine-kelly to get 50 percent off. She also presents Lorraine, on ITV each weekday morning at 9am.