Meet James Duigan

We were lucky to catch up with James Duigan, world-renowned wellness guru and owner of Bodyism, London's premier health and fitness facility, on his new book tour in Cape Town. James is one of the World's top personal trainers with A-list clients like Elle McPherson, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Lara Stone and Hugh Grant. Cheryl Stevens gets the low down on all matters to do with lifestyle and healthy living.
What brings you to Cape Town? My wife and I were in Cape Town last year for six weeks, and we loved the country. My books have been on sale in South Africa and done well. You moved to Britain from Australia in 1996, how did you get into fitness and how did you discover your holistic approach to weight loss? It started when I was five years old; I had behavioural issues - I was hyperactive, had a terrible cough and could not sleep. My doctor recommended a treatment of sedatives and steroids to try and 'normalise' me. Luckily my parents were more creative than that and took me to see a Naturopath, who recommended my parents take me off sugar. Three days later my cat ran away, and my cough stopped! From an early age, I had a real idea of how food can affect you and how it can make you feel. Who was your first celebrity client and how did she find you? It was a happy accident. I was a personal trainer at a gym in Australia where Elle McPherson spotted me and asked me to be her personal trainer. I have been lucky as it has been organic growth and word of mouth. Celebrities have given weight to the book, and it has gained a wider audience than perhaps otherwise possible. Today I have sold 1 million copies of my books worldwide. I have made a point of not selling my name, the book is not about me. It's a humble and relatable approach to living a holistic life. In 2010, did people think your talk of acid and alkaline food, stress and more sleep to get a flat tummy was mumbo jumbo? In 2010 when I published my first book, the publisher did not want me to talk about quinoa and kale; now they have their own T-Shirts! There is a lot of talk in general about people having an acid diet and being too acidic. There is lots of research out there that says this is not the case. But there is proof that the body self-regulates and will level itself out from an acidic state to an alkaline state. If the digestion is very acidic, there is no doubt that that the body has to work harder to deal with an acidic state. Being acidic takes away from it working optimally in other functions. It's all semantics. Same as sugar. Sugar is toxic and is the cause of 3 or 4 of the top health-related diseases in the world today, but theoretically, sugar is not listed as a toxin! Semantics. What would be your top 3 nutrition tips for people wanting to have a flat tummy? 1. Choose well sourced quality protein 2. Choose Good Quality Carbs ' unrefined brown rice, wild rice, quinoa and vegetables. 3. Nourish the body with healthy fats. What is your view on the future of nutrition ' where is it going? People are becoming more informed and are looking for authentic products and brands. Corporations are still stringing us along ' Low Fat was a con and landed up killing people. The Food Pyramid is a scam. Now it's Gluten Free. Food that is claiming Gluten Free but is packed full of sugar ' it will still kill people. As people become more educated about food, they need to support food integrity, farmers markets, organic, local produce, authentic suppliers and commerce will follow the money. We need to lead commerce to do the right thing. Turmeric is the new Kale, the new food to watch. Get it into your diet. Our lifestyle theme this month is good carbs and healthy fats ' do you recommend carbs and fats in your diet? Yes, we need carbs for energy. Choose good carbs like quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, spinach and asparagus. Eat an abundance of amino acids (protein), but choose wisely and intelligently what carbs, proteins and fats you put into your body. Fats are not called essential for nothing ' my top pick would be Omega 3 ' choose intelligently and get fats from a real source. What is your best food to eat at home? We make our bread with egg, coconut oil, almond meal, chia seeds and quinoa flour. I eat it with poached eggs and harissa paste for breakfast. For lunch and supper, it's usually grilled fish or chicken with salad. We eat one meat-free meal a week to rest our digestion. Tell me about your new Recipe Book ' Clean and Lean for Life. My wife and I worked with lots of different people on the cook book. We developed the recipes and clients contributed their recipes to the book. The Wellness industry is very disempowering ' it does not have to be complicated, calorie counting, dieting and cutting out whole categories of food. Writing a book is an enormous responsibility. We empower people and get people to take responsibility for their eating plans. We point out what works and what doesn't. The book is about eating the right foods ' the good carbs, protein and fats. Eating more fruit and veg. Cutting out sugar and refined carbs, trying to eat organic and staying away from pesticides. Tune into your body and make your decisions. People don't know what 'normal' feels like; they live with headaches and exhaustion and think it's normal. What is the core message? The message is about self-acceptance. It's not about punishing yourself about what food you eat. It's not about exercising until you are exhausted and pushing yourself beyond your limits. It's about listening to your body and living a happy, healthy life. It's about healing the body by fixing up the gut, so the body and brain functions well. It's about finding the right exercise for your body, exercise that makes you happy. It's about being grateful and practicing abundance. Exercise has been a big part of your previous books. What is your advice for people who exercise? Listen to your body. Do what is right for your body and is good for you. Don't punish yourself for not doing exercise or punish yourself while doing exercise with these routines that are designed to injure the body. If you are not enjoying your exercise and you are stressed out and exhausted - it is not any good for you. The body loves to move, play tennis, do yoga, walk ' vary your exercise every day and don't overdo it. Is a flat stomach something you can have after children or if you are over 30? Everyone can have a flat stomach. My wife has had two children and has a flat stomach. It is accessible to everyone by the food you eat, the lifestyle you live and the exercise you do. The worst thing you can do to get a flat stomach is sit ups. Rather do plank to engage the abdominal muscles correctly. What are your top 3 exercise tips for people wanting a flat stomach? 1. Stop all sit ups ' replace them with planks and twisting. 2. Less is more ' pushing yourself to exhaustion and running for 2 hours a day is not the answer. In fact, when you run long distances your cortisol levels rise and it gets dumped as fat on the abdomen. Do less. Mediate and learn to breathe. 3. Find a new way to move ' don't do the same exercise all the time. If you vary your exercise, the body has to work harder to burn fat. Do exercise that makes you happy and is revitalising. Food and fitness are very fashion driven? How much has your nutrition advice and exercise changed since you first started in 1996? Yes, it must change and evolve. If I were doing the same as I did in 1996, I wouldn't have learned anything. I have learned, that we need to be kinder and more inclusive. We must know what we are and find ways to eat and exercise that work for us. I always go back to eating more vegetables, less sugar, fewer pesticides. Choose wisely and intelligently what you put into your body. Who was your biggest success story and why? It was a letter from a girl who had read my first book when she was 17. She hated herself then and learned to embrace herself and love the food she ate. My book taught her how to be empowered by the choices she made and not feel bad about herself. I think it is really heart breaking that people hate themselves, what a terrible way to live. I find it very humbling that my message has helped to change even one person's life.

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