Davinia Taylor was overweight, depressed and unmotivated. She couldn't walk around the block, let alone go for a run or do an exercise class, and she struggled to keep up with her four young sons. In desperation she turned to biohacking to sort her head out - the unexpected bonus was that she lost nearly three stone and has kept it off for years through a series of health tricks from cold showers, to MCT oil, to ancestral eating.
We speak to Davinia about her new book, biohacking and keeping the weight off - plus, win yourself a copy of 'It's Not A Diet'.
Hi Davinia, lovely to speak to you and thank you for taking the time out to chat to me. You’ve just released your book ‘It’s Not A Diet’, which is an empowering account of how you can create a healthier version of you, via an holistic approach to weight-loss. What are some of the basic mistakes people make when trying to lose weight?
One I believe the most basic mistakes that were all making as people who are trying to lose weight is not reading the label in fact not being able to is the first hurdle. Food companies are so manipulative and secretive at disguising inflammatory ingredients I think it’s quite scandalous -at least McDonald’s are honest, and we know what we’re getting but you get these granola bars that have four different types of sugar under different names and inflammatory oils like sunflower oil and rape seed oil in them. All under the guise of healthy eating were paying twice once with money and once with our health. Dr Catherine Shannon has the most incredible book about these oils and how it has a direct correlation with obesity and heart disease since their introduction back in the 60s. (Deep nutrition).
We’ve all heard ‘eat less, exercise more’ and count the calories, but you have found that counting ‘chemicals’ are more beneficial. Can you explain why?
I believe in all calories are NOT created equal if you compare the same number of calories in an avocado as you would do a Twix bar you get some idea of how they’re incomparable one has fibre really good fats the other one has extremely processed and addictive ingredients that will leave you hankering for more an hour later, it’s basically impossible to compare the two. By counting calories and reducing them, you can starve your brain which is when you get cravings and obviously having a craving is one of the most awful feelings which leads to low self-esteem and of course binge eating. Giving your body more nutrition not less is key to a sustainable weight loss program and ultimately a better mood.
You highlight in the book that you were once overweight, depressed and unmotivated. How easy was it to make the decision to change your lifestyle choices and was there one particular moment, or step that you made, that set you on your way?
It wasn’t very easy to just switch from one habit to the next there was no a-ha moment because we are constantly bombarded with temptation and emotions that get in the way of a healthy eating and lifestyle, so I’ve learnt to hack around the mistakes I make. Let’s face it sometimes a takeaway is a resistible depending on the time of your cycle or the stresses in your life we just end up eating the wrong thing so through my research and experimentation I’ve learnt how to mitigate the problems caused by slipups. These include Chlorella, activated charcoal tablets a special detox tea from a little chemist in Hampstead (house of Mistry www.houseofmistry.com ) and even extra 5HTP which increases serotonin has actually helped me feel better after a takeaway.
The book has been separated into 4 sections (Mood, Food, Movement and Rest). Can you briefly describe why you have chosen these sections and does it highlight the fact that weight-loss, and creating a healthier version of you, comes from an overall change in lifestyle choices.
I think it was necessary to begin with mood because how often do you overeat when we are not actually hungry? it’s more like we’re ‘hangry’. Mood seems to be the precursor for distorted eating and drinking so I say ‘feed the brain and the body will follow’ movement really supports the brain; however, I do not expect people to be able to run straight away there are actually exercises you can do while lying down and just breathing which will help your cardiovascular system while lying horizontal on a bed!!! And we always forget to really rest did you know that there are phases in your sleep when you go into ketosis (Fat burning mode) I’ve tried to explain how to maximise your sleep quality and chillout time because this affects your weight too.
How important is it that readers take the information you give them, but tailor it to their own needs and lifestyles?
I think it’s so important to tailor everything to your lifestyle and your preferences or it’s impossible to stick to some people don’t get stressed in traffic, I do so I make sure I’m fully fuelled and well rested before the school run for example. Others could be going through a divorce/moving to a new house/a bereavement we have to account that we react differently because we have different genes and different pathways, but the most important thing is to understand you can Become a master of your own destiny and you can harness your own health. It takes a little bit of reading and a little bit of guidance but as soon as mentally you feel better the body will always thrive -because it wants to, it doesn’t want to be inflamed or tired. A mobile body wants to survive and be strong you just have to give it the right ingredients. It’s knowing what to look out for, what to avoid .and what to do if you didn’t manage to avoid them!!
You credit taking cold showers as one of the reasons you dropped from a size 16 to size 8. Was this a kind of shock treatment?
Cold showers are not particularly nice I certainly don’t look forward to them however what I look forward to even less imbalanced hormones!!!! Hello pmt / low mood / brain fog / insomnia/ low energy... need I go on ...? by shocking the body with cold you going to fight or flight mode but a few minutes later as the body realises it’s not going to die the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, this is the calming system that sends out feelgood hormones and in fact balances them, so you feel more stable for the rest of the day. Let’s face it we know what it’s like to be a slave to a hormone imbalance! Ouch.
One of the most important aspects of weight-loss is that you keep it off. You’ve managed to do this and look amazing. How important is maintaining a manageable routine to make sure you are doing all the right things?
It’s very important for me to feel strong it’s a confidence thing it’s not about the scales anymore. If I feel mentally strong and full of joy of spring, to be honest, I’m not that bothered about the body shape. As I’ve said being in shape is just a by-product of looking after the brain. stay away from inflammatory ingredients and watch the weight fall off but if you do give into temptation don’t stress about it navigate your way around it. I don’t think running keeps my weight off I certainly don’t train hard enough. I run for a bit of dopamine and I also get mental clarity and inspirational thoughts after about 20 minutes of slow running. I’m certainly not running for a personal-best . you’ve got to find exercise that gels with you and trust me I didn’t like running in the beginning, so I suggest you try walking for the verse and running to the chorus remember a good playlist is essential it’s got me out there many a rainy day.
I understand you are training to be a qualified PT. How is that going and how can readers keep up-to-date with your inspirational tips and advice?
I decided to qualify to become a PT because I really want to help women who are overweight to not be frightened of the gym, however the pandemic got in the way and I had four boys home learning so I’ve put it off till now and I will resume my studies ASAP. some of it I find a bit dated but some of it is as old as time and one thing we can all agree on is our bodies are meant to move and if you don’t use it, you will lose it, I really need to work on my flexibility, and I’d really like to up my weights so becoming a PT will be invaluable for me as I go into menopause to avoid osteoporosis etc by regular resistance training. Also, I’m very chatty desperately nosy so being a PT and working one-to-one with another woman is my idea of heaven! That feeling of connection and a good old chin wag will definitely help me increase my serotonin and intern hopefully my clients who will be less inclined to snack! It’s all connected my body and soul and having a good laugh can definitely help with weight loss.
a copy of Davinia Taylor's 'It's Not A Diet'. Simply click the link below to enter....
Davinia Taylor's 'It's Not A Diet' is published by Orion Spring was released on 27th May, £12.99 paperback. Buy your copy by clicking the link below...
We’ve all been subject to a change in circumstances with the pandemic, where many will have suffered depression and weight-gain, due to being locked down. What did you learn about yourself in that time and how did you keep yourself motivated?
Well, I stumbled across an infrared sauna it’s just a pop-up thing that cost me £200 and I think it actually saved my marriage I’m not kidding I didn’t understand how much of an impact infrared (light waves) have on my mood. It really has increased my serotonin levels and it’s taken away that oppressive SAD feeling that I get under low clouds and not having access to the Sun and high blue skies. And now I’ve relocated to North Lancashire I need it more than ever as we certainly do get more rain up here!
You talk about biohacking. Can you explain what this is and how you changed this dynamic via the food you were eating?
Biohacking is a new terminology just like we have cleaning hacks bio hacks are quick ways hack into your own biology to get the maximum out of your body and mind using diet, supplements, sleep and exercise to make you feel good as often as possible. Constantly feeling fulfilled and in control of your own biology. Like I’m currently personalising my nutrition around my cycle as I’m concerned my PMT is getting worse. We all have similar journeys however our biology is unique, and we need to acknowledge the one size fits all is futile and basically a con Invented by the diet industry
"By counting calories and reducing them, you can starve your brain which is when you get cravings and obviously having a craving is one of the most awful feelings which leads to low self-esteem and of course binge eating.Giving your body more nutrition not less is key to a sustainable weight loss program and ultimately a better mood."