Lisa Faulkner: I don't want be super-fit, just a healthy body and to still wear a bikini
How does cook and actor Lisa Faulkner stay fit despite hating the gym? Hint: It involves a whole lot of walking and yoga. Prudence Wade finds out more
A CURSORY look at Instagram would have you believe that practically everyone lives in the gym – and loves every second of it. This is great, especially if it's encouraging people to get moving a bit more, but what about those who hate the gym but still want to keep fit?
Cook and EastEnders actor Lisa Faulkner is one of these people. After years in the spotlight, however – she started off as a model when she was a teenager, before embarking on a TV career – staying active is still a big part of her life.
Here, the 46-year-old mother-of-one talks to us about her approach to health and fitness and feeling body-positive...
Even though fads like spinning and boxing classes have exploded in popularity recently, it's doubtful you'll see Faulkner trying any of these out. "I am not a gym person," she explains frankly. "I need to do stuff I can keep up for the rest of my life."
Instead of spending hours on an elliptical at her local health club, Faulkner is big into yoga. "I've done yoga for the past nearly 20 years and I absolutely love it," says the London-born actor, who is 46. "I do mainly hatha yoga."
Hatha is a type of yoga that has a slower pace than vinyasa or ashtanga. There is an emphasis on the breath, and instead of an inhale or exhale per movement, you're encouraged to try and hold each pose for a few breaths.
With a focus on meditation too, it's said to be good for both body and mind – and it's the mental impact of yoga that Faulkner likes. "It does more for my head than it does for my body," she says, and then adds: "It isn't too bad for my body either, so it's good all round."
Yoga isn't the only part of Faulkner's fitness regime. "I walk my dog wherever I can," she says. "I try and walk every day, even if it's just 25 minutes or half an hour of walking."
Faulkner's on the money here, because even a short spell of walking every day can have a huge impact on health. A study from Cambridge University, published in 2015, found that a brisk 20-minute daily walk could reduce your risk of premature death by between 16-30 per cent.
"I've got a running machine in my shed that I don't use for running, I literally walk up hills on it and hold hand weights," says Faulkner, explaining how she mixes up her walking routine. "I feel set up for the day when I've got myself moving in the morning."
In terms of what she listens to to get her moving, she says she alternates between listening to books, podcasts and music. "Sometimes you need some songs to help when you're trying to get up a hill."
Faulkner has been in the spotlight for a long time now, so is used to the pressures it can bring. "I started off as a model so it was really hard," she says. "I was 16/17 and the industry is pretty harsh at telling you you need to lose weight."
Luckily, Faulkner's self-esteem wasn't damaged too much by her time in that profession. "I wasn't that bothered about being a model – I didn't care what they said, and I spent most of my lunchtimes in McDonald's," she recalls. "There were times when it really did affect me, but luckily I got out of that business quite quickly and started acting, which is what I wanted to do."
Faulkner, who is the partner of restaurateur and MasterChef presenter John Torode, accepts that women are still judged by their looks in the world of acting, but believes it isn't as harsh as in the fashion industry. "I've always had a very fast metabolism, so I've always been very lucky in the fact that I'm quite thin," she admits.
That's not to say that she goes crazy with burgers and sweets every day – as a keen cook (she won Celebrity MasterChef in 2010 and has since written various cookbooks), Faulkner knows the importance of a healthy diet, which she supplements with her yoga and walking regimes.
"You get to an age where you think, 'I don't want be super-fit, I don't want to be super-ripped, I just want to have a healthy, happy body that works really well, that I can still wear a bikini'," she says. "It's not about being over the top, I just want to keep fit and healthy and look after myself."