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I spent 10 years yoyo dieting and this is what I learned

Lauren Johnson Reynolds, 35, toured the world for six years as a singer, but it also got her into bad eating and sleep habits, and left her feeling constantly anxious and exhausted. Here she explains how she transformed her health while retraining as a nutritional therapist, homeopath and wellness coach. Lauren lives in London with her husband, a drummer in a show band, and their two-year-old daughter.

Lauren Johnson Reynolds in her time travelling the world as a singer (left) and (right) more recently as a wellness coach. (Supplied)
Lauren Johnson Reynolds in her time travelling the world as a singer (left) and (right) more recently as a wellness coach. (Supplied)

Six years ago, I stood on stage with Rick Astley at a festival in Europe, gazing out at an audience of around 20,000 people and realised that living my dream as a backing singer to huge stars like him had finally taken its toll on my health and mental wellbeing.

Bloated, overweight, exhausted and permanently anxious, that night I even convinced myself that two fans I saw whispering to one another during the performance were complaining about me. I knew something major had to change. The question was, what and how?

Looking back now, it’s no surprise that being on tour isn’t conducive to living a healthy life but in my 20s I embraced that. Sleeping on tour buses, partying the night away in hotel suites after a gig and devouring takeaway pizza in the early hours was all part of the fun.

Add to that erratic sleep patterns, poor diet, over-reliance on junk food and little exercise and there’s no wonder that I was plagued by various health problems including irritable bowel syndrome, hay fever and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and eczema, while also being addicted to caffeine and sugar.

My periods had also stopped – another sign that my body didn’t know whether it was coming or going – and I suffered extreme mood swings.

Along the way, I'd also become obsessed with fad diets, lurching from one to the next in a desperate bid to lose the pounds I'd piled on. From the cabbage soup and Special K diets to Slimming World, SlimFast bars and shakes, I'd tried everything but all they did was cause my weight to continually yo-yo between a size 10 and 16 – once I stopped following fad diets and addressed my lifestyle, I settled at a healthy size 12.

Lauren Johnson Reynolds performing with Rick Astley at Glastonbury Festival 2023. (Guy Bell/Shutterstock)
Lauren Johnson Reynolds performing with Rick Astley at Glastonbury Festival 2023. (Guy Bell/Shutterstock)

Dream job

My career had been everything I'd longed for, first becoming a singer on the wedding circuit during my final year of university studying music and performance, then landing my first gig as a backing singer in 2014.

After that, I got to travel the world, being hired by artists such as Rick, Rita Ora, Jess Glynne, Nicole Scherzinger, Michael Bolton and John Legend. For a couple of months at a time I’d be on the road everywhere from Europe to Japan, Korea, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Sleeping on tour buses, partying the night away in hotel suites after a gig and devouring takeaway pizza in the early hours was all part of the fun.

Often, I was one of a handful of women in the crew and we'd eat the same as our 20-something male colleagues, devouring things like burgers, fries and fried chicken, washed down with beer, or bottles of rum and prosecco in the dressing room after a show. And I loved every bit of it.

Feeling out of balance

But by 2016 I was touring constantly and this is when the unhealthy lifestyle started to really affect me.

I’d been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome when I was 14, which is one of the reasons I’d been on the pill for years as it kept symptoms and acne at bay. But in 2017, when I was searching for ways to feel better, I decided to stop taking the pill to rid my body of the hormones.

I had irregular periods and mood swings so extreme that they affected my relationships with loved ones.

The contraceptive pill is a first-line treatment for PCOS, so I anticipated that it could bring about a horrible return of the symptoms of PCOS but I hadn’t been prepared for the level of the onslaught. I developed acne on my chest, back and shoulders, irregular periods and mood swings so extreme that they affected my relationships with loved ones.

That included my now-husband as I was very anxious, down, paranoid and sometimes angry. I knew that if I didn’t take action then I risked pushing him away, which I didn’t want to happen as I knew we had something special. My mum commented later on that I was much easier to be around during the pandemic as I used to snap a lot when I was touring.

Trying a natural approach

Lauren Johnson Reynolds found homeopathy was so effective for her health issues she decided to retrain as a homeopath herself. (Kirsty Mackenzie)
Lauren Johnson Reynolds found homeopathy was so effective for her health issues she decided to retrain as a homeopath herself. (Kirsty Mackenzie)

My GP recommended I go back on the pill but I reasoned that would just mask the problems. That's when I turned to homeopathy, relying solely on natural remedies to transform my wellbeing. I’d had homeopathy as a child when I’d been struggling with eczema, so I returned to my trusted homeopath for help. He prescribed herbal tinctures and homeopathic remedies designed to support my body by triggering its own balancing and healing response.

I was so impressed by the results that in 2018 I began studying an integrated homeopathy and nutritional therapy course taught by my own homeopath. I'd pore over text books on the tour bus, my sights set on a new career helping others the way he'd helped me.

I experienced a major shift in mindset so that I was thinking about my health not my weight. Obsessing over calories was replaced by learning about how to balance my blood sugar and nourish my body.

All of a sudden I experienced a major shift in mindset so that I was thinking about my health not my weight. Obsessing over calories was replaced by learning about how to balance my blood sugar, nourish my body and the importance of regular sleep and exercise patterns. It was then that everything else fell into place, my skin cleared up, my weight dropped and my mood improved and I was soon having regular periods again.

At the time, I was still touring, so implementing my new lifestyle while on the road was a challenge, but I looked and felt infinitely better than I had before.

Lauren Johnson Reynolds gave up fad diets and began focussing on healthy, nourishing food instead. (Kirsty Mackenzie)
Lauren Johnson Reynolds gave up fad diets and began focussing on healthy, nourishing food instead. (Kirsty Mackenzie)

A new direction

The last tour I did before the pandemic was to Australasia with Rick Astley and we arrived back in the UK in March 2020, just as the country went into lockdown.

For the first time in years I was at home with an opportunity to fully commit to everything I’d learned about a healthier lifestyle, including going to bed at the same time every night and exercising every day. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and homeopathic practitioner later in 2020.

Four years on, I now run my own busy practice in London as a nutritional therapist, homeopath and wellness coach.

It didn't take long for my mood, cravings and energy levels to remind me that silly diets and restricting calories doesn’t work for me.

The things that have made the biggest difference to my health are knowing how to manage my blood sugar when it’s out of kilter – spots are a sure sign it’s not balanced – and continuing to focus on nutrients rather than calorie intake.

Still, I do have little relapses such as in early 2023, a year after I had my daughter, when I felt stuck with my weight so I started counting calories again. It didn't take long for my mood, cravings and energy levels to remind me that silly diets and restricting calories doesn't work for me.

Getting in tune with my body

I’ve learned so much about what does work for my body. For example, I have to eat a protein-rich breakfast of eggs and avocado because if I just eat porridge I’ll spend the rest of the day hungry and craving all the wrong foods. It’s the same with sleep. If I don’t get eight hours, I can’t regulate my appetite or mood the next day.

I’ve never returned to touring because I can’t put my body through that again, aside from the fact that it wouldn’t be conducive to family life now that I have a toddler and a second baby on the way.

I feel like a different person now that I’m prioritising great nutrition, good sleep and plenty of exercise.

Singing at one-off gigs ensures I keep my hand in. For instance, last year I performed with Rick again at Glastonbury. However, I travelled to Paris recently with a famous band for a few days and, unable to access my preferred foods or stick to my sleep and exercise routines, I immediately ended up with dreadful sugar cravings and was left feeling down.

At the moment my exercise routine involves walking, pregnancy yoga and gentle workouts with the personal trainer I’ve had for about three years but after I've had my baby I’ll return to the gym to build weights back into my routine.

Lauren Johnson Reynolds is doing regular yoga through her second pregnancy. (Kirsty Mackenzie)
Lauren Johnson Reynolds is doing regular yoga through her second pregnancy. (Kirsty Mackenzie)

I also stick to a few choice vitamins and am militant about taking vitamin D in the winter when there isn't enough sunlight for our bodies to make it naturally, which has a huge impact on my mood.

Through my work as a wellness coach, I see patients with so many different issues, but within a few days of setting them on a personalised plan they tell me they feel better.

Amongst them are people experiencing fertility problems, thyroid issues and menopause symptoms, as well as lots of women who remind me of myself a few years ago when I was absolutely burnt out from a busy career and an erratic lifestyle. I feel like a different person now that I’m prioritising great nutrition, good sleep and plenty of exercise.

For more info, see Londonwellnesscoach.com