Healthy Living Interview 
with Ali Hale

About Ali:

Ali is a talented writer, blogger and freelancer. She runs her own"home base" blog, called Aliventures, where she writes about what really interests her - getting more from life.

Ali is also a regular writer for diet and nutrition related (and other) websites such as Dumb Little Man, Pick the Brain, The Change Blog, EcoSimply, Diet Blog or You On A Diet.

So Ali really knows how to get the most of your diet and will share a a few healthy tip with us today!

1. Hi Ali, what a pleasure to have you speak with us today. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and work that you do.

Thanks, it's lovely to be here. I'm a freelance writer and I'm also taking a part time MA in Creative Writing and writing a novel, so my days involve a lot of words! I write for a number of large blogs, broadly on personal development topics (including health and fitness).

2. You are a pretty busy person with all the different blogs that you write for. But it looks like your main theme is tightly related to healthy living and eating. What have inspired you to dedicate your talent to writing about those subjects?

I've been interested in diet and fitness since my teens -- I was overweight for most of my childhood and adolescence, and then lost weight on a sensible calorie-controlled diet. It really changed my view of myself and gave me a lot more confidence, and one of my aims with my writing is to help other people do the same.

I'm a small woman and I was diagnosed with PCOS a couple of years ago, so I have to pay fairly close attention to what I eat, otherwise I put on weight. So I'm particularly interested in sustainable diets and good habits for maintenance.

3. On your blog you wrote that you too have struggled with excess weight at some point in your life, but have successfully managed to lose it. Please share your weight loss experience with us.

Like I said, healthy living and eating has been part of my life since my teens. I suppose my story of weight loss goes right back to the start of my life -- I was born nine weeks premature and had to be fed with a tube up my nose until I could suck and swallow! For the first few years of my life, my parents had to encourage me to eat enough and to grow healthily.

Unfortunately, I was quite a picky eater as a child, and considerably more keen on fries than on vegetables! By the time I was seven, I remember thinking of myself as "fat". And when I hit puberty, I put on quite a lot of weight. I don't remember being bothered by my weight until I was ten or eleven -- but then some unkind remarks and bullying at school made me feel very self conscious.

For a long time, I thought I was just fat and there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't want to diet in a silly teenage, faddy way, and I told myself I didn't care about how I looked (even though that wasn't really true). When I got to 17 or 18, I bought a few magazines about healthy eating and dieting, and I kept a food diary and counted calories. I dropped two dress sizes before I went to university.

4. The question about what to do after a diet is over worries many of us. What is your approach to maintaining healthy weight?

I try not to fret if I put on a few pounds, but I do weigh myself regularly and take action if the number on the scales is creeping up! What with Christmas, followed by a busy period with my various writing projects, and then a couple of trips, I'm about 8 lbs above my "happy" weight and I've noticed that I've had less energy -- and my favourite jeans aren't fitting! So at the moment, I've gone back to counting calories and weighing myself weekly. I find it easiest to catch any weight gain early, and get back into good habits. 

5. What is your advise to those who need to lose weight but do not know how to start this challenging journey?

Keep a food diary, and track how many calories you're eating. This was the one thing which really made the difference for me! Writing down what you eat is a great way to stay accountable. You can look up calories per 100g of any basic food (like bread or apples etc) online, and most products will have calorie counts on the packages.

6. Your aliventures website encourages people to get more from life. Do you think our eating patterns affect our ability to life our life to the fullest? What would be your recommendations on healthy nutrition today?

I definitely think what we eat affects the whole of our life. When I was overweight, I was shy and unconfident, and I was quite unfit too. I can remember when I used to check around the room to see if I was the fattest person there or not ... I'd instantly feel a bit better if there was someone fatter than me. Nowadays, I can't imagine doing that or caring! Plus I love walking and cycling now.

On a day to day level, I find that my concentration dips if I overeat, or eat too much sugar. I think healthy nutrition today is about keeping things simple: eat plenty of fruit and veggies, and try to avoid highly processed foods. I'm a big fan of complex carbs -- wholegrain breads and cereals are great for filling you up, and they're also a fab source of sustained energy.

7. Your Aliventures blog is fun, inspiring and insightful. Tell us a bit about it: how did it all begin, where do you get new ideas for articles and etc?

After writing for a while, I have to confess that I ran out of things to say about healthy eating for office workers! I wanted to write on a wider range of topics, and I also wanted to share the bigger picture. After all, there's a lot more to life than dieting (thank goodness!)

In my time blogging, I'd also started writing for several personal-development related sites, and I'd really enjoyed my work there. I see healthy eating and diet as part of personal development: it's about making conscious choices to improve your life.

I often get ideas from what's weighing on my own mind. For example, I wrote a recent post called Take a Break From Your Adventures (And Enjoy Life More) -- that was prompted by me feeling quite stressed out and down because I really needed to leave my work alone and have a bit of a rest. After I'd had a break from working, I felt far more enthusiastic about things -- and I wanted to share my thoughts with my readers.

8. Ali, thank you again for you answers! As our last question, please tell us about one thing that excites you the most in your life and work today?

I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I get paid to write! It's what I dreamt of doing as a child, and it's really exciting to be able to make a living from something which I enjoy so much.

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