Rachel Stevens on prioritising her gut health and setting realistic wellness goals

Plus, how she embraces being a role model in S Club and as a mother

Rachel Stevens gut health. (Getty Images)
Rachel Stevens shares the simple steps she takes to look after her gut health and overall wellbeing. (Getty Images)

Rachel Stevens, 45, needs no introduction as a pop sensation.

But while her job may be just a little different to the norm, with her recently back on the road again for the S Club reunion, like many others, she too is faced with trying to look after her health and wellbeing along with the busy demands of a career and parenthood.

Despite 49% of Brits wanting to improve their wellbeing in 2024, more than half (57%) admit they give up by the end of January, according to new research from Activia.

Here, Rachel tells Yahoo UK how she plans not to put too much pressure on herself this year, but instead set achievable wellness goals (including boosting her gut health), and incorporate some consistent structure into her ever-changing schedule. Plus, what the S Club tour was like and how she navigates being a role model in the iconic pop group and as a mother.

Rachel Stevens gut health. (Activia)
'Gut health supports your whole overall wellbeing,' says Rachel. (Activia)

Making gut health a priority

While two-thirds (65%) admit they need to take better care of their gut health (increasingly linked to many other aspects of our health), only 12% feel confident they know how to, which is why education is key.

Our gut microbiome refers to all the microbes (like bacteria) living in our intestines, some good, and some bad. If we can get the balance right (primarily with our diet) we can improve our overall physical and mental health.

"I've known about the importance of gut health for a long time. But since working with Activia, I've definitely been making more of an effort to make it a priority. It really does support your whole overall wellbeing, from your energy levels, to your mood, to your skin, to your sleep patterns. It's definitely something that is a very important place to start in your wellbeing," she explains.

Has she noticed any changes since embarking on her gut health journey? "I'm definitely sleeping better for sure. And feeling like I have a clearer head. I think it's a combination of things," says Rachel.

"Anything that we do, I know it might sound a bit cliche, but anything we do for ourselves that's good is self-care. Then it leads on to something else, and something else. If you can get into good habits, I think you really do feel the difference, because you know that you're doing something good for you."

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: (L to R) Jon Lee, Tina Barrett, Jo O'Meara, Rachel Stevens and Bradley McIntosh of S Club attend Capital's Jingle Bell Ball 2023 at The O2 Arena on December 10, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Jon Lee, Tina Barrett, Jo O'Meara, Rachel Stevens and Bradley McIntosh of S Club attend Capital's Jingle Bell Ball 2023 at The O2 Arena in December. (Getty Images)

To help inspire the nation about the importance of gut health in 2024, together with Rachel, Activia has teamed up with Dr Zoe Williams to launch 'The Good Gut Guide'.

As part of the guide, Dr Zoe shares her top tips (S Club themed, of course) to help support the gut:

1. Reach – for a variety of foods!

"One of the simple and effective ways to support the gut is by eating foods that can positively impact your gut microbiome, which is an important component of digestion and nutrient absorption. A varied diet with a diverse variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, wholegrains, and fermented foods can help ensure your gut microbiome gets the nutrients it needs. Fermented foods such as yoghurts are a tasty and easy start to the day.

2. Don't stop movin'!

"Studies show that regular exercise can positively impact the gut, so try fitting in more walking, running, cycling or any activity of choice. In the colder months when you don't feel like going outside, even simple daily stretches can help you feel energised and prepared for each day. Plus, when we exercise our brain releases a powerful cocktail of feel-good hormones that can make us feel good.

3. Get your ZZZ's

"Activia's research shows over a quarter (26%) of Brits do not have a good sleeping pattern, despite it being one of the top 2024 wellbeing goals 38% said they want to improve. Studies indicate that a lack of sleep can directly impact our hunger hormones and, therefore, may also affect our food choices, digestive system and gut health.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Rachel Stevens attends Capital's Jingle Bell Ball 2023 at The O2 Arena on December 10, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Rachel says the S Club reunion tour was 'so special'. (Getty Images)

Consistency in the small things

"I think as I'm getting older, life's almost getting faster, with kids and juggling work. We all lead such busy lives these days," says Rachel.

"January is a really tricky month, isn't it? We put all these expectations on ourselves," she acknowledges.

"I think that's why it's even more important to just do the little things, instead of expecting you're going to go to an hour-long gym class after work every night, which you have to get to, and get back from.

"For me, I'm definitely trying to get up earlier in the morning, before my kids are up, when it's peaceful and quiet. Then I can ideally get in some 20-minute movement, like a pilates session, and I can be ready to go before the girls are up and get them off to school.

"I also love a list. What I'm trying to do now is have my top three goals of the day. So then if I don't get anything else done on my list, they're the top three I can get through that are achievable.

"I'm really getting into that habit of just trying to tell myself... 'that is good enough', instead of trying to do everything in one day. That goes with my food as well. I'm trying to find the balance, which is not the easy thing to do. But giving ourselves small easy and achievable goals is a really great way to start."

The S Club reunion tour

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Jon Lee, Rachel Stevens, Jo O'Meara, Tina Barrett and Bradley McIntosh of S Club perform at The O2 Arena on October 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)
S Club perform at The O2 Arena in London, 27 October 2023 in London. (Getty Images)

S Club kickstarted their 25th anniversary The Good Times Tour in October last year.

Late band member Paul Cattermole sadly died in April, after which Hannah Spearritt withdrew from the tour, leaving just Rachel, Jon Lee, Tina Barrett, Jo O'Meara and Bradley McIntosh.

While expressing their grief and sadness, the five members confirmed they would go ahead with the tour, which featured moving tributes to Cattermole.

So, how was the tour? "It was so great. An absolute whirlwind. Being back on the road again was just crazy after all those years, but so special in so many ways, just to be back up there performing again," says Rachel of her own experience.

"At a time when people needed just a couple of hours to just have a little bit of escapism, a bit of nostalgia and fun and joy, it really was that. It was really special."

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: EDITORIAL USE ONLY Rachel Stevens of S Club performs at The O2 Arena on October 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns)
Performing at the O2 was one of Rachel's favourite memories from the tour. (Getty Images)

"Just being back together again and sharing it with our kids as well. It was so special. It was brilliant."

But while there are so many memories, Rachel adds, "The one that comes to mind straightaway is performing at the O2 [in London] towards the end of the tour, and knowing that our kids were going to be in the audience and all our family.

"My mum was buzzing for days after, it brought so much joy to so many people."

And while S Club still has (grown-up versions of) their old fans, it's also now inspiring a new generation of young people.

"I think throughout the years my feeling around that has changed as I've grown. It's something I've always been really passionate about, just being the best person I can be and always striving to grow.

"We're all just human, aren't we? I just always want to be the best I can be for my girls, be the best mum I can be. That's what I'm striving to do."

Excitedly, Rachel adds, "My eldest is definitely 100% wanting to follow in my footsteps in the industry in some way. It's great that I can really talk to her and advise her and just be there for her."

Read more: How to eat 30 plants a week to boost gut health, according to Tim Spector (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)

Watch: S Club Reflect On Their Emotional Year