Diet and nutrition have played a huge part in helping actress Catherine Tyldesley sculpt her best-ever body at Ultimate Performance.
Catherine has just completed her transformation at U.P. Manchester, and she’s in stunning shape.
But it’s the knowledge and skills she has learned and implemented on nutrition that have helped her achieve lasting and life-changing results over the long term.
Catherine was extremely overweight as a teenager, weighing 95kg and wearing size 22 clothes.
Weightlifting, moving more and mastering her diet all contributed to her weight loss and getting into the incredible shape where she is in now – a size 8 and a healthy 65kg.
To mark the release of U.P.’s new book Body Transformation Meal Plan Design, former Coronation Street actress Catherine has shared in great depth every detail about her diet before U.P., and how it has changed now.
Catherine talks about everything from meal preparation to sugar cravings, and how her change in diet has helped her keep the weight off, better regulate her hormones, improve her gut health and lactose intolerance, and got her looking and feeling her best every single day.
She talks in-depth about her diet and nutrition on the following:
- Catherine’s daily diet before starting at U.P.
- Fad diets and the biggest diet mistakes she had made before U.P.
- How she found out she was lactose intolerant.
- How she deals with sugar cravings and hunger.
- Catherine’s body transformation meal planning.
- How Catherine approached dining out and social occasions on her transformation.
- Staying on track with her diet when travelling and on holidays.
- What happened when Catherine went ‘off plan’.
CATHERINE’S DIET BEFORE ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE
What was your typical eating pattern or meal frequency?
Years ago, before U.P., I would skip breakfast, and by lunchtime I would be really hungry, so I’d be reaching for more starchy food. A baguette or pasta etc.
Whereas now, I eat every 3-4 hours and I get a bit grumpy if I don’t.
When I first started here, I thought ‘wow! Eating every 3-4 hours, that’s a bit scary, surely I’m going to gain weight?’
You’re eating the right foods and you’re also sustaining energy throughout the day.
As a mum with a toddler, that has been so much better for me. I feel a million times better eating in that way. Also again, you’re not going to binge.
You’re not going to get home at night and think ‘I’m starving. I’ve felt so depleted all day’ and just gorge.
What was your meal planning like?
My meal planning pre-U.P. was pretty much non-existent.
Wednesday night was ‘spaghetti bolognaise night’ and that was always in the diary.
Saturday night was always ‘curry night’. Whereas now we make our own curries and we make our own spaghetti bolognaise, again, healthier versions of these.
So I’m much more aware, especially since becoming a mum. I want Alfie to be eating the right things.
I feel like U.P. has given me the tools and the knowledge to be able to do that. It’s not rocket science either – it’s really straightforward.
What diets have you tried in the past and what were your results?
In terms of diets in the past, I tried everything! All the various diet clubs, cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, all kinds of crazy, faddy diets that don’t work! They are not sustainable.
Yes, you may lose a couple of pounds for a few weeks, which is predominantly going to be water and lean muscle mass, then you’re going to be starving and you’re going to put it all back on.
I think it’s about creating a lifestyle. If you want to sustain a healthy weight and feel good about yourself then you need to fuel your body with the right food.
Also, for me now, I’ve got a little boy, so it’s not just about weight loss, it’s about having energy, being on this planet for as long as possible, and looking after what I’ve got.
What were the biggest mistakes you made before coming to U.P.?
The biggest mistakes I made before coming to U.P. were faddy diets. I have done everything under the sun, years ago. I promise you, they don’t work.
It is about finding that lifestyle and educating yourself. Taking that time doesn’t take much.
It’s a lot simpler than people think. It’s eating from the land. If it ran, swam, or grew from the earth, eat it. It’s as straightforward as that. Then it’s just about knowing your portion sizes.
I think the reason people go to faddy diets is because they think it’s a quick fix.
You see these crazy diets where they say ‘you can lose 6lbs in 5 days’. That’s not going to be a healthy way to lose weight, and it’s not sustainable.
I think the ethos at U.P., and my ethos now, is education. That’s what Ultimate Performance gives you.
How would you rate your digestion pre- and post-U.P.?
My digestion before U.P. was shocking. I had a very sensitive stomach and it was actually through U.P. that they suggested that I was tested for lactose intolerance.
I actually found out that I was severely lactose intolerant.
I had a lot of gut issues and yeast problems, just from eating too many processed foods and the wrong kinds of foods.
That’s what U.P. start with, when I first came to them, before we do anything they said ‘let’s get your gut health sorted because those little microbes in your gut, they run everything. They control everything from hormones to digestion, to how you’re feeling mentally.’
So getting that right didn’t take long. It literally took a few weeks to feel better and I now feel a million times better.
It’s been a massive learning curve for me. You get to know your body. You get to know what you do and don’t respond to.
What about cravings and hunger?
Before U.P., I would get really hungry. I think I was stuck in a vicious cycle like most people, because I was eating the wrong kind of foods and my sugar intake was much higher.
Sugar is the most addictive ‘drug’ out there!
I would constantly crave sugar, and there are a lot of diet foods and diet bars and diet cereals where actually when you look on the back, they are pumped with sugar and sweeteners and all the kinds of things that keep you craving those kinds of foods.
Before U.P., I was always hungry. Whereas now, I’m on the right path in terms of nutrition, I feel satisfied because I’m getting my good fats, getting my good protein, and the right carbohydrates, so there’s a massive difference there.
I certainly don’t get to the point where I want to binge because I get so hungry.
I genuinely crave less sugar now anyway because I’m fuelling my body with the right foods.
But like everyone else, certainly at certain times of the month for women, I get to the point where I’m like ‘oh my word! I need chocolate!’ And that’s fine and cool – your body is going to crave those certain things.
But eat the right chocolate. If you’re going to eat a bit of chocolate, make sure it’s the right portion size, and it’s a high quality, dark chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the less you will crave, because it’s so rich. All these little tips really work.
There are certain products, like the Chocotrients that U.P. sells, that have been a godsend. It’s made with natural ingredients and it tastes like you’re having a hot chocolate.
What about your energy levels?
My energy levels before U.P. were a little bit of a rollercoaster. It was very much based on coffee, but it’s much more sustained now. Especially when I had Alfie, because he’s never been a great sleeper, and sleep is so important in terms of growth, repair and feeling good, and the ability to train.
Don’t get me wrong, certain days are really tough. But it’s so much better than it was. I was drinking so much caffeine that I couldn’t switch off at night.
Whereas now, I know about foods which help you to sleep and help produce serotonin, and foods high in magnesium that you might want to have with your dinner because that will help you to relax.
Things like broccoli and a lot of other green veg are high in magnesium, and oats are great at helping to relax you as well.
CATHERINE’S DIET CHANGES AT ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE
What was your goal upon joining U.P.?
Initially, my goal when I first started U.P. was weight loss, because my weight had started to creep back up, but also to learn more about nutrition too.
I feel like I’ve done that. It’s not really about weight loss anymore, it’s about being strong and continuing on my journey.
I love to challenge myself physically, so I’ve really enjoyed it, and I feel stronger than I ever have done.
So, the long-term goal is to sustain that and to continue to feel strong and confident.
How have you approached meal planning?
The great thing about U.P. is that they take care of you in every aspect – not just physical training – they also taught me the physical portion sizes I needed.
So, they look at you as an individual. So, you get a lot of places that just put a stamp on everyone.
But we’re all completely different and all our hormones are different.
For example, I’ve got high estrogen. So, little tips like lowering or removing any soya products really helps, along with upping cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and sprouts.
U.P. helped with all that. They helped me to know what portion sizes I needed, which was a huge help because I was definitely overeating.
How have you approached dining out?
Once you have that basic knowledge – and I can’t reiterate how basic it is – you become aware of what you should and shouldn’t be eating when you’re dining out.
It’s not being scared to turn around to the waitress and say ‘is there any chance I could remove that from the plate, and change it for this?’ Nine times out of 10 they will say yes.
If you want to treat yourself to a burger and chips, for example, why not say ‘can I have the burger without the bun and replace the fries with extra vegetables?’
It’s just about asking the question. The worst they can say is no. It makes eating out a lot easier.
How do you approach social occasions and events?
I’ve never been a big drinker. Some things I attend I might get nervous, so the easiest thing would be to have a glass of champagne.
But you’re doing yourself a favour by not having that drink.
So, it’s about saying to yourself ‘okay, maybe this month I’ve got three social occasions, I’m going to drink at one of them and I’m going to know my limits.’
There’s the peer pressure thing where your friends are going ‘why are you not having a drink?’
So, sometimes I will ask the barman to put some soda water and a bit of lemon, or even elderflower cordial, into a champagne glass.
Then everyone just thinks you’re having a drink (I’m totally outing myself here!)
How did you approach travelling with work or on holiday?
Travelling can be difficult, and I think it scares people.
I think that is where a lot of people can go wrong.
If they’re rushing about on a train, or a plane, they often make the wrong choices, but it’s just about being prepared and knowing what’s available.
If I’m heading somewhere where I know I’m really going to struggle, and the only options are going to be bags of crisps and sandwiches etc., then I will prep food the night before.
That can take minutes. People hear the word ‘food prep’ and they think ‘it’s going to take me forever’.
But for me to do a stir fry and a little bit of tuna steak, takes three minutes, it’s that fast.
That’s the message that U.P. are trying to get across to people is that ‘don’t panic. It’s not as hard as you think it will be.’
What happened if you ever go off plan?
I have gone off plan sometimes – I’m only human, after all.
Life is too short to go without cake. So, it’s about finding those tools and those coping mechanisms.
If it’s coming to the weekend, and I do fancy a bit of cake, I will make a cake with Alfie. I will do it as a healthy alternative.
I know there’s no refined sugar in there and we’re using alternatives in there instead of flour etc.
You still feel like you’re having a treat and it still tastes amazing, but it’s healthier.
I think it’s about when you do go off plan, not berating yourself. We’re only human.
It’s about saying ‘I’ve not had a great day nutrition-wise. I’ll get back on it tomorrow.’
That’s how you have to look at it. Otherwise, you will keep on failing if you keep on beating yourself up.
I am really good all week, then I say to myself ‘Saturday night. That’s my time for a treat with my family.’ Not the whole day Saturday. I don’t have a blow-out. I don’t have bacon sandwiches and pizza and Indian takeaways. It’s about being sensible.
So, Saturday night, if I want a curry or a pizza, I will have it. I will try and make sensible choices, but still allowing myself that treat.
It’s about keeping a lid on it and not taking it too far, but feeling ‘that was my little treat. I really earned that.’
Did you have any complaints with your health or body that cleared up?
Yes. The biggest difference for me health-wise, in terms of improvements, was the gut health side of things. I can’t thank U.P. enough. I feel like a different person.
It’s great knowing what my body can and can’t tolerate, now I’m eating the right foods.
I used to be bloated every single day because of the things I was eating, and having things like artificial sweeteners, as well as the dairy.
I know some people can have problems with gluten too.
It’s trial and error. Keeping a food diary I found really useful to see what kind of things I would react to.
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