You are a very well known face on our Television screens having presented cult favourite The Big Breakfast through to your current work on Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped, and everything in between! What would you say is your greatest achievement professionally so far?
Oh so many, I have been so lucky! I would say that I like to think all of my professional achievements have been my greatest, simply because at the time they were my sole focus. Isn’t it funny how it is only when we are reminded of what we have done in the past that we remember to acknowledge our accomplishments! I think this question is a stark reminder that we should always remind ourselves of what we have done, no matter how small or big. It is a useful tool in staying positive and confident. With all that aside if pressed for an answer, I would probably say my stint in America hosting Paradise Hotel and The Swan etc. I went over as an unknown before the influx of Brits out there and made a name for myself. I used to pinch myself as I drove to work past the Hollywood sign. Looking back, it was brave and bold and I am proud of that.
Your career has taken a little ‘switch’ (see what I did there) over the past couple of years with your interest in nutrition, health and fitness leading to the publication of your first book ‘The Switch.’ The book pulls from all your past experiences, and provides practical advice for women of all ages wanting to create a happier and healthier lifestyle…can you tell our readers a little more about the book and how it came about?
Haha, I do see what you did, and I like it ;) Indeed, I added a notch to my CV (as I like to call it, The CV of Life!)
I spent three decades battling with the need to be perfect, yo-yo dieting, beating myself up, desperate to please, being unkind to myself and listening to the nasty voices in my inner mind. As I was approaching my 40th birthday, I was mentally and physically exhausted and I knew something had to give…I had to make what I now call, ‘THE SWITCH’.
Having spent many years coaching other women via social media platforms, emails and blogs who all gave me so much beautiful and inspiring feedback, the resounding message was always “YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK!!!” And so I did, and of course, I had to call it “The Switch”! It is a distillation of all the simple, yet life-changing techniques, tips and tricks I used to help me get off that “perfection treadmill” once and for all. It took me on a journey of science and psychology, from silencing the crippling and critical voices in my head to understanding how to eat and exercise in a way that gives me power, not problems. Today, I am happier and healthier than I ever was in my twenties and thirties and I really wanted to share how I got there with women of all ages, from the ladies of my generation to teens and every girl in between.
Through your work presenting you have met and interviewed many, many people - both famous and not. Who is the most inspirational person you have met through work and why?
The late Mo Mowlam. I was friendly with Mo for a few years before she sadly passed away, just around the same time that I was getting into TV. She was so wise and down to earth, and always told me to be friends with everyone on the crew, including the guy at the front door because they will always make their way up the ladder. To this day, I prefer hanging out with the crew than big TV execs! And I think it goes back to the sage advice Mo gave me. She was a gem.
As a travel writer, you have travelled extensively - what is your favourite holiday destination and where will the first place you will book now that travel restrictions are being slowly lifted?
This is one of the hardest questions to answer! I am such a passionate traveller full of wanderlust and so this past year of being grounded has been a hard one to fathom. To date, my favourite memories are from Australia and The Maldives. I have a best friend who lives up around the northern beaches of Sydney and I have spent a lot of time with so many happy memories of rugged coastline, chilled out and healthy lifestyle and the ability to get dressed into a floaty dress every morning!
My husband Julian and I spent our honeymoon in The Maldives. We visited 5 different islands in 2 weeks and loved every second of it. We went snorkelling every morning at 6 am and watched the sunset while surrounded by dolphins. I am hoping to get back there again when the travel restrictions are lifted.
What is your most treasured possession? Can you tell us the story behind this?
For my 40th birthday, my parents sent me a gift that made me cry so much. It was my first ever leather school satchel that they had kept all these years without me knowing, it is SO tiny! It has my name written in pen on the inside, which I wrote in 5-year-old handwriting. So many memories came flooding back from a forgotten time.
Let’s talk fashion and beauty…which are your ‘go-to’ brands?
Beauty - I love anything that is good for the environment and free of nasty ingredients.
- REN skincare is one of my faves, their sensitive and anti-ageing ranges in particular. All of the REN products really suit my skin.
- I also love Weleda for its light creams and body butter.
- And I love Amanda Harrington And James Read tans for a little pick me up.
When it comes to fashion I tend to recycle a lot of my old wardrobe. As much as I appreciate fashion, I am by no means a fashionista, as I just love being comfortable too much! My go-to stores are:
- Hush for lots of basics
- Zara for basics and staples
- Wyse for chunky knits
- Air and Grace for cool comfy trainers
- I love independent boutiques especially those that sell anything floaty or boho.
Who’s personal style do you really admire?
I love anything boho and eclectic. Jessica Alba always gets it right and I love Fearne Cotton’s ability to rock absolutely anything she puts on in style.
What is the latest product you purchased for your makeup bag?
My make-up ‘look’ is usually really natural. I am half Iranian so already have a natural tan, and I love just enhancing that naturally by accentuating my colour, cheeks and eyes. So my latest purchases/ go-to’s are;
- REN’s perfect canvas clean primer - it goes on before you apply make-up and evens out my make-up application, plus it is not sticky or thick.
- If I am not working I tend to steer clear of using foundation, and instead, I use Chanel tan de Soleil bronze cream and Tilbury Filmstar bronze and glow bronzer and highlighter for a little extra glow.
- My must-have make-up accessory is mascara, I am a big fan of YSL ‘Shocking’ black mascara.
- I use Stila’s ‘convertible colour’ creme blush in Gerbera, for my eyelids and cheeks.
- I am in the market for a really good liquid eyeliner - any tips welcome!!
Is there one product that you have used since your teens that you simply cannot let go of?
LOL, yes good old Elnett hair spray! I used to use a whole can in one go in the ’90s when BIG backcombed fringes were in, now I just use it to keep stray hairs in place.
What is your ‘desert island’ makeup product that you simply couldn’t do without each day?
A good SPF is a godsend. I love OM Skincare Invisible Finish Primer which has SPF 40 UVA + UVB protection so it often acts as a base if I am filming outdoors.
I am also a big fan of the original Lucas PAW PAW lip balm (not the new ones/or the new fake ones!) I have so much of it from my years of going back and forward to Australia, I would buy it in bulk every time, it is so cheap there. Now it is popular all over the world, it’s increased in price tenfold!
What is your favourite lipstick make and shade?
- Any pale pink Charlotte Tilbury works for me, I like Pillow Talk original lip liner and lipstick with lots of paw paw spread on top!
- I still use MAC Spice liner from my old modelling days!
Is there one beauty trick you are yet to master that you would love to learn?
I wish I could perfect the liquid eyeliner flick… every time I do it the flick is uneven and makes my eyes wonky, and also the thickness varies from eye to eye. That, and applying individual lashes - mine tend to end up in my dinner!
Finally, can you tell our readers something we don’t know about you….do you have a secret skill?
I can twist my tongue (almost) 360!