TV presenter who is raring to live to 100 says transforming her body in her fifties has cured her of “imposter syndrome” and fuelled her political ambitions

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  • Alison Cork
    British home expert and businesswoman

A TV presenter hailed for her prowess in everything from politics to interior design says transforming her body and her outlook in her fifties has cured her of “imposter syndrome” and means she is raring to live to 100.

Entrepreneur Alison Cork, 58, took a long look at her reflection a year ago in lockdown and seeing the flabby midriff of a post-menopausal woman, she vowed to overhaul her lifestyle and to look sensational as she approached her sixties.

Now, with a body the envy of women half her age, after making some clear lifestyle changes and applying her usual flair, Alison, who lives in Belgravia, west London, with her husband and two sons, has gone from a 12st 13lb size 14/16 to an 8st 12lb size 8/10.

Alison has, like many women, suffered with imposter syndrome, which makes people find it difficult to accept their accomplishments (Simon Howard – SNHFoto/PA Real Life).
Alison has, like many women, suffered with imposter syndrome, which makes people find it difficult to accept their accomplishments (Simon Howard – SNHFoto/PA Real Life).

She said: “I tapped into those same qualities of perseverance and consistency that I’d used my whole life.

“Somehow, there’s this message that if you are in your fifties it’s all over, which leaves women with a hopeless sense of despair.

“But that’s just not true. You’ve got so many great years ahead of you and I hope I’m proof that it’s never too late to make a change.”

Alison pictured here in Ibiza September 2021 says transforming her body and her outlook in her fifties has cured her of “imposter syndrome” (Collect/PA Real Life).
Alison pictured here in Ibiza September 2021 says transforming her body and her outlook in her fifties has cured her of “imposter syndrome” (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “Like so many women my age, I had put on weight around my middle. Other women would tell me it never looked as if I had much to lose, but I didn’t like what I saw when I stood in front of the mirror in my undies.

“When you’re not happy about the way you look, it slowly but surely nibbles away at your confidence. I didn’t like how I looked. But I wasn’t ready to just give up and go quietly into the night!”

Alison, who at 5ft 7in had a body mass index – used to gauge a healthy weight – of 28.4 at her heaviest, making her overweight, is now well within the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9 with a BMI of 19.4, and feels her transformation is achievable using simple diet, exercise and determination.

In April 2021 Alison hired a personal trainer to trim down her size 16 frame (Collect/PA Real Life).
In April 2021 Alison hired a personal trainer to trim down her size 16 frame (Collect/PA Real Life).

A well-known face on the QVC channel where, an interiors specialist for 25 years, she presents the Alison At Home collection which she designed, she is also a newspaper columnist, founder of a not-for-profit organisation supporting women in business and even made it to the longlist as the Conservative party prospective candidate for London Mayor in 2020.

Yet, her success was still no antidote to self-doubt, after the menopause left her feeling flat and unattractive – emotions that hit their peak in the April 2021 lockdown, when she became acutely aware of how her body had changed over the years and how little she had done to take care of her long-term health.

She said: “Women have so much thrown at them and just as you emerge from the child rearing years, in your fifties, the menopause hits you like a truck.”

Alison outside Downing Street with woman from Make It Your Business (Collect/PA Real Life).
Alison outside Downing Street with woman from Make It Your Business (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “I’ve had horrible symptoms for eight years, but have never taken anything for them, so in a way I just went cold turkey. I still suffer from the night sweats, but they are better since I lost the weight.

“Like everyone, I realised that a lot of the people dying from Covid had underlying health problems. I thought, ‘I’m going to be 58 next year and I love life. I want to live to 100 so maybe it’s time I focused on my health so that I won’t be burden on the NHS as I get older.’”

Engaging a personal trainer through a company called Ultimate Performance, determined not to spend her sixties living what she calls a life of “quiet despair,” she upped her exercise, addressed her diet and is now confident to be photographed on holiday in swimwear and to wear a backless dress for the first-time.

Alison, now a size eight, overhauled her lifestyle to look sensational as she approached her sixties (Collect/PA Real Life).
Alison, now a size eight, overhauled her lifestyle to look sensational as she approached her sixties (Collect/PA Real Life).

She said: “I know not everyone has the resources to get a personal trainer, but there is so much you can do at home if you want to lose weight.

“I’ve learned that while the weight training is important to build strength and definition and to protect against osteoporosis, if you want to lose weight then 80 per cent of it comes down to what you eat.”

Alison, who has also worked as a restaurant critic, says she loves cake and biscuits, but by cutting sugar from her diet and sticking to a 1,000 calories she lost the flab she so hated and was able to work on toning her muscles.

  • Walk every day. Aim for 10,000 steps (which is the equivalent of 5 miles) but 15,000 or even 20,000 is even better.

  • Drink two litres of water every day. Tap water is fine. Sometimes we mistake being thirsty for feeling hungry and eat when all we need to do is drink water.

  • Stop eating ALL beige-coloured foods - these include potatoes, pasta, white rice, cakes, pastries, biscuits and crisps.

Now working out three times a week with a trainer as well as trying to walk 20,000 steps – the equivalent of 10 miles – every day, she said: “I’ve pretty much stopped driving, so I can walk everywhere and often do my business phone meetings while I’m walking.

“I’d say as a goal to other women, aim for 10,000 steps and then try and do more.

“I get up at 6am every morning and walk for an hour before everyone wakes up for breakfast and try to get half my steps done that way.”

Alison pictured with Boris Johnson (Michael Lenny – ML Photography/PA Real Life).
Alison pictured with Boris Johnson (Michael Lenny – ML Photography/PA Real Life).

As well as being delighted with her toned appearance, Alison says other women have been hugely positive about her changed body shape.

She said: “Somehow, I always had the idea that if you worked really hard, never gave up and were consistent you could achieve your goals, whatever they were.”

But, despite her proven skill in many fields, Alison has, like many women, often been dogged by imposter syndrome, which makes people find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.

Alison is a TV presenter on QVC (Collect/PA Real Life).
Alison is a TV presenter on QVC (Collect/PA Real Life).

She said: “I absolutely love seeing the young women of today being so full of confidence and forging ahead in fields like tech and the sciences, but for women my age, it wasn’t really like that growing up.

“I come from a time when girls were not always celebrated or pushed to do great things. I think most other women my age will recognise what I am talking about and agree that, from an early age, we were just not given this confidence.

“I think because of this, at times I’ve suffered from imposter syndrome and some self-doubt, but since I’ve changed the way I look, it has really improved my confidence and helped me to beat this.”

Alison upped her exercise and tweaked her diet to achieve her amazing new figure (Simon Howard – SNHFoto/PA Real Life).
Alison upped her exercise and tweaked her diet to achieve her amazing new figure (Simon Howard – SNHFoto/PA Real Life).

She added: “If you feel good about yourself, it improves everything.”

Alison’s fitness journey has also helped support her career goals.

She is eager to focus even more of her time on politics.

Alison, pictured in Turks and Caicos, lost four stone transforming her body and life (Collect/PA Real Life).
Alison, pictured in Turks and Caicos, lost four stone transforming her body and life (Collect/PA Real Life).

She said: “The energy and stamina my fitness journey has given me is going to prove invaluable in what I hope to be the next stage of my career journey, to work more extensively in politics – with an emphasis on supporting women in business and small businesses as a whole.”

As well as looking better and feeling healthier and more confident because of her toned physique, Alison says the psychological benefits of her new lifestyle have been considerable.

She said: “People who know me say I am different. I am more positive. I give off a stronger demeanour, I feel and look stronger and they even say I walk differently.”

Alison with her personal trainer, Tom Cocker (Simon Howard – SNHFoto/PA Real Life).
Alison with her personal trainer, Tom Cocker (Simon Howard – SNHFoto/PA Real Life).

She added: “And I really want other women to believe me when I say, ‘If I can do this, so can you.'”

View Alison’s interiors collection at www.alisonathome.com and follow her on Instagram @alisoncork_home

(Must Par) Alison found her personal trainer at www.ultimateperformance.com which offers elite personal trainers to people around the world.

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