Dr Sophie Shotter, 37, is a former NHS anaesthetist and intensive care doctor, now a specialist in aesthetic medicine. She lives in Kent.
I’m very all or nothing. In my 20s, I discovered the gym and quickly got addicted. I would go even if I was ill. For years, I would do intense hour-long sessions six times a week, a weekly 10km treadmill run and shorter runs on the other days — all whilst working long hours as a hospital doctor. I ended up with an eroded Achilles tendon and was told that I had to stop running or I would snap it. So I did — for a while.
In 2014, I left the NHS, determined to have more balance in my life. I had wanted to play tennis for for years. So, in the first month of self-employment as a private aesthetics doctor I started lessons. Then I started working with a personal trainer too.
But it wasn’t long before fitness became even more of an obsession again. I went back to the gym and was working until midnight and then up at 5am doing one hour sessions almost daily and playing 5-6 hours of tennis a week too. I was flogging myself with intense training no matter how I was feeling.
In January 2018, something snapped. It was a new year. I was building a business and training like crazy but I was constantly exhausted and irritable — in hindsight my body was utterly burnt out. I had to stop.
So I stepped away from exercise altogether. Instead, I began to walk everywhere, and tie my exercise into my life by making walking my commute. I found a one-to-one yoga teacher that I saw for an hour on Wednesdays and then I’d do a bit on my own in between. It gave my body time to restore.
I have never been the most body confident person and now, in my late 30s, I have learned to work with what I have rather than trying to fight it.
Typical workout week
It took me two years — until the first lockdown — to feel well enough to go back to structured exercise. I started with a few exercise DVDs and YouTube workouts in my lounge, and since August I have started with a new trainer, three times a week.
I also realised how much I missed tennis, and have (outside lockdown) started hitting again, once or twice a week. It’s a challenge fitting it in without pressurising myself because I love it so much and want to do more and more. This time I’ve told my boyfriend Shane and friends that if I start getting up at 4am and training everyday again, they must hold me to account.
How I eat
I’ve done some stupid things with my diet. I was calorie-restricting myself heavily when I was training hard and also eating low-carb. Now I follow the 90/10 rule— 90 per cent of the time eat heathy, 10 per cent eat what I like. I rarely have time to cook so I have signed up to Prep Kitchen, which delivers balanced, healthy meals every Sunday. I follow 16:8 intermittent fasting so stop eating at 8pm and don’t start again until midday the next day.
Typical day’s eating
Breakfast: Black coffee.
Lunch: A protein shake and fruit, tuna and salad or sandwich on wholewheat, granary bread.
4pm: Nuts, Off The Beaten Path pea and bean snacks or berries.
Dinner: Steamed salmon fillet on ratatouille, baked fish with leeks, courgettes and peas in a low-fat creme fraiche or haloumi with vegetables. Occasionally, a small dark chocolate.
Carbs: I love pasta and allow myself some when I feel like it. I love edamame noodles and lentil or pea pasta.
Self-care essential: When I need to cross that boundary between work and home, I light a candle or two.
Alcohol: A glass of red wine every fortnight or so. I never drink at home on my own.
Caffeine: 3-4 cups a day.
Guilty pleasure: A good quality burger
Anti-ageing regime: Botox around my eyes, forehead, jaw for tooth-grinding, near my nose for my gummy smile and in my neck. Profhilo skin smoothing treatment on my face and neck, filler wherever I need it such as the cheeks.