‘I started strength training and changed my body in 12 weeks’

Urvashi Roe - Christopher Pledger
Urvashi Roe - Christopher Pledger

Urvashi Roe, 51, is a former Great British Bake Off contestant who now works at KPMG and lives in London

I’d always been that person who could eat anything they liked and stay roughly the same size, but at the end of my forties, I noticed weight creeping on. I have heart disease and diabetes in the family, and I knew that excess weight could be problematic, so I wanted to tackle it head on.

My mum, who is in her seventies, struggles to lift things these days. I see how hard it is for her, and I want to try to avoid that. I started imagining my future grandchildren (I have a daughter in her early thirties, but no grandchildren yet) and how I wanted to be able to pick them up to put the fairy on the Christmas tree. I have always been active – I’ve run two marathons – but I’ve never done any strength training before, so, I got in touch with a gym, who put me on a nutrition and training plan. I’m not a fan of the scales – I don’t weigh myself – but they took my fat measurements with callipers and measured the circumference of my waist, and it was in the unhealthy zone.

They instantly looked at my diet, and while it is healthy (I love to cook – I was on Bake Off a few years ago), there wasn’t enough protein in there to maintain, never mind build, muscle. They also saw I wasn’t eating enough, and that was making my metabolism sluggish.

I also started lifting weights. The difference in my body was quite amazing. Not only was I, of course, getting stronger, which was helpful around my allotment, where I found I could load up the wheelbarrow with heavier loads, but I was in the midst of my peri menopause, and I found the intense cramps I was getting and long periods eased up hugely. My body shape has changed too – after 12 weeks, my measurements showed that I had moved into the healthy zone, which was a huge relief. I am ready to enter the next phase of life feeling fit and stronger than I have in a long time.

Urvashi Roe - Christopher Pledger
Urvashi Roe - Christopher Pledger

My workout week

I do weightlifting three times a week, once with a PT and twice on my own, following my plan. I do two sessions of yoga and a meditation class on Friday, which really sets me up for the weekend. I also do 10,000 steps a day. I fit this in by planning two calls I can do whilst walking each day; I walk over to my allotment and then the next one takes me back to my desk. I really value the headspace I get from being outside.

What I eat in a day

I don’t count calories, but now I make sure I get 100g of protein a day and everything else falls around it.

  • Breakfast: Four-egg omelette with leftover veggies and some cheese.

  • Snack: Protein shake with some raspberries and 50g of homemade masala-spiced cashews.

  • Lunch: A jacket potato stuffed with a tomato and onion shaak (spicy Indian snack) and dry toasted tofu, followed by a protein yoghurt and a cup of tea.

  • Snack: Decaf flat white or turmeric latte and a chocolate protein bar.

  • Dinner: Batch cooked dhal; once it’s cooked, I stir in some protein powder, feta cheese and roast veg.

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Lifestyle aids

  • Carbs: Yes – I eat potatoes and lentils.

  • Caffeine: No – I drink decaf English breakfast tea and decaf coffee.

  • Alcohol: I do – but I try not to drink in the week. If I go out, I’ll have a large gin and tonic, and on Friday and Saturday nights I enjoy a glass of really good quality red wine.

  • Sleep: I use a pillow spray and ear plugs and get about six hours of sleep, which feels right for me.

Biting Biting; Snacking Gujarati-Style by Urvashi Roe (Kitchen Press, £20) is out now