Best-selling author, personal trainer to the stars, and ambassador for Women’s Aid, Alive Liveing is force to be reckoned with. Speaking to Happiful, she discusses the fine line between health and obsession, and why she’s choosing to talk openly about her experience with domestic abuse

This is a preview of the full interview, available in Happiful Magazine October 2019. To read the full version, buy in print or subscribe for free online.

Alice, you’ve achieved so much, and you’re only 25! Do you ever take a moment to let that sink in?

I think the only time it sinks in is when you have that dinner party moment, where you sit down, and someone says: ‘So what do you do?’ Day-to-day, I don’t really! I think it’s because I’ve gone at a million miles an hour with everything I’ve done, and it’s only now that I can look back and think, wow I really did do quite a bit!

Alice Liveing smiling, standing with hands on hips

So, what does the fitness routine of one of the UK’s top PTs look like?

I tend to strength-train around four times a week, and my split will be an upper and lower body. But then along with that, I just try to be active. There’s a lot of research supporting a thing called NEAT, which is non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It’s not about going to the gym in the morning and killing it, but then sitting down for the rest of the day – it’s about maybe going to the gym for half an hour, and then throughout the day getting 10,000 steps in. It focuses on all of that energy that you burn when you’re doing everyday things. Does that make sense?

Absolutely! And something like NEAT must make exercise a lot more accessible?

Yeah, exactly! If you’re a busy mum, and you’re kicking yourself because you can’t get to the gym, hang on a second – and this is something I say to my clients – because how long are you standing on your feet throughout the day? Most mothers will say it’s all day for them. I think it’s really important that we don’t try to put exercise in boxes. I don’t care how you do it, I just want you to move, and move well.

You speak online about a time when food and exercise became an overwhelming obsession. What did that look like for you?

There’s that whole confirmation bias, and a funnel of people all doing the same as you, so you think that what you’re doing is correct – that’s where I found myself three years ago. My objective was good health, but the reality was disordered eating, and over-exercising. It was very hard to separate the two because in my head I was like: ‘But I’m being healthy!’ But there are so many different factors that go into good health. I was so focused on two parts, that I completely neglected the rest, meaning that I was probably at my unhealthiest when I thought I was at my healthiest.

I think it’s really important that we don’t try to put exercise in boxes

How were you able to recognise that?

I realised I wasn’t living freely, and I think that started to push me to question a lot of the things I was doing. It’s a really tricky place to find yourself in, and I feel guilty because I look back and I’m sure that people were copying what I was doing. I find that a really difficult emotion to sit with. It’s only now that I’ve learned loads about weight stigma, and what really constitutes health, that I have the perspective to be like: ‘That was wrong. Let me show you why, and let me show you how to step away from that.’

To read more of Alice's exclusive chat with us, pick up the October issue of Happiful in our shop now, or subscribe to read for free online

For more from Alice, follow her on Instagram @aliceliveing