At Erbology, we're lucky to have so many customers who are sharing their passion for wellness to help others. We caught up with personal trainer and Erbology fan Cee Fee Dunn at her home in Windsor to talk all things personal training, losing weight, and her personal journey to feeling good.January 14, 2021 10:43 am
Name: Cee Fee Dunn
Based in: Windsor, United Kingdom
Occupation: Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach
How did you get into personal training?
“I come from quite a theatrical background. I was a budding opera singer, but during my training I was just so unwell with Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorders (BED). Not only did I have a problem controlling my impulse to overeat, but I would over-exercise or severally restrict my food intake between binges. I simply didn’t know what it was to eat and move normally.
Caught in such a rut, I didn’t really know what direction I was going with my life. It was really tough at times, as I knew that singing, or at very least pursuing a career as a singer, was not the way I wanted to go.
I was in my local gym doing my second exercise session of the day (obsession with the cross trainer and MTV firmly in place) and an advert came on for a personal trainer academy. It was probably the most impulsive decision of my life.
The next thing I knew, I was in a meeting with the gym manager asking his advice how viable it was as a career option and just days later I was booked on the course. This was back in the days where becoming certified was extremely difficult.
It was months of intensive full-time study. I was obsessed with the idea that training to become a personal trainer would literally save my life. I just didn’t want to suffer with BED any longer. Exhausted, I wanted to start my life. I wanted to build a career and I wanted to make money for the first time in my adult life. This is really the pivotal moment where my journey for personal betterment began.”
How do you think personal training has changed you?
“Since qualifying I have just snowballed into my career, health and physique as it stands now. Over the years I accumulated a wealth of knowledge in nutrition, behaviour change and exercise.
I have built my teaching principles based on the journey I took myself to find wellness, from literally being in the trenches to now. Fifteen years ago, I was an insecure, binge-eating, fear-based girl, terrified of a pot of hummus; quite the opposite to what people see and think of me today.
I absolutely live and teach the ethos of moving every day, eating a mostly whole-food diet with heaps of vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes and plant-based fats.
Luckily, I enjoy eating well, but I, like all my clients, really enjoy the fun side of food like daily sweets and confectionary. There is nothing out of bounds in the glorious world of food. Even refined sugar has a firm place in my balanced and well-rounded approach to personal nutrition.”
What do you love about teaching people about diet and nutrition?
“I had a message from a lady on Instagram yesterday. She was feeling really unsure about the food plan her personal trainer had put her on and she asked me if I would look at it. I agreed and duly she sent through a “perfect plan”.
I call it perfect because it was set up beautifully from an energy perspective. It was filled with… well… chicken, rice and broccoli… two squares of dark chocolate… as so on… It was exactly the sort of food programmes that are generically spouted out by industry professionals who fail to acknowledge that their clients are humans, with feeling, cravings, social lives and varying appetites.
I spent a bit of time with her chatting out the simple fundamentals of balanced eating. To see her relief that she could be fit and healthy, as well as look forward to looking and feeling her best, whilst eating in a way that is flexible and could actually fit in with her life, made my day.
I’m fortunate enough to work regularly with women who strive to face their personal demons with diet, exercise and fat loss. I simply love watching a woman come into her light as she starts to grasp the fundamental principles of nutrition, steps away from ingrained and often incorrect beliefs about food and starts seeing a map unfold to a far brighter future.”
What are your best tips for people interested in losing weight?
“First things first. Develop an interest in it. Look at learning some of the very basic nutritional fundamentals. Understand the principles of calories and macro nutrients. It can be very tempting to hire a personal trainer or subscribe to a diet that tells you what to do, but they never cover the ‘why’.
The key concept to get a firm understanding of is the energy balance equation, meaning calories in versus calories out. If you eat more calories than you need to maintain your weight, you will gain weight. If you eat less than what you need, you will lose weight.
First, grasp how many calories you need to consume. Second, create a sustainable macronutrient split. Third, make sure you are eating a wealth of colour – eat vegetables… a lot of them. Fourth, make sure you are moving everyday.
Any pitfalls to watch out for?
“The most common mistake I see is going at the process of losing weight alone. Losing weight, learning how to manage your daily energy intake, learning to cook, tuning in with yourself and your hunger cues – that’s a skill.
These are life skills we do not get taught in school. So, we rely on the hearsay of the diet industry and perpetually dieting friends to seek the answers. We seek quick miracle fixes and there simply aren’t any. It’s about levelling up, tooling up and learning the skills of true self-care.”
“We all require different energy needs for different lifestyle requirements and goals. All my clients’ calories are highly individualised and will adapt and change as they progress. The very bare bones of weight loss is to be in a caloric deficit, meaning one is eating a lesser number of calories than one would need to maintain their current weight.
I speak so much on my channel about how to approach weight loss and some of the principles behind successfully losing weight. Here are two videos you may enjoy if you are just starting to take an interest in your personal food and diet.”
"Understand the principles of calories and macro nutrients. It can be very tempting to hire a personal trainer or subscribe to a diet that tells you what to do, but they never cover the 'why'."
What healthy snacks should we be nibbling on?
Also, I can’t live without Two Chicks Egg whites and Eat Lean Protein Cheese, especially if I’m on a mini diet for a photoshoot or event. Oh, and Halo Top ice-cream, as well as home popped popcorn with my secret ingredient salt and spice topping.
My favourite weekday quick meal is by far and away black bean chilli. It’s so easy, very nutrient rich and extremely low calorie.”
What do you think about keto and other diets?
“I shy away from any diet that restricts and or removes any food groups unnecessarily, which a lot of diets thrive on.
Principles like paleo have their valid benefits and for the most part I like paleo. I think the principle behind it does far better than harm. Teaching people to eat a mostly whole and unprocessed diet is an excellent start to sorting out personal nutrition. Same as following a plant-based diet. Both can serve as very healthy structures when approached from a well informed and educated perspective.
However, I recommend not following any dietary protocol like a religion, it just isn’t necessary. Personally, I like grains and potatoes which would be most forbidden on a paleo plan and I also enjoy the occasional steak in my mostly plant-based diet, which is an absolute no no if I were to term myself as plant-based.”
What about guilty pleasures?
“I don’t believe any recipe or food is worthy of guilt. Food doesn’t have a moral value – it’s just food. So, all desserts have a place in my heart, but my absolute favourite dessert would be my chickpea blondie served with chocolate ice-cream.”
Can you give us some advice on exercise regimes?
“I’m always out and about with Rocco, my toddler who keeps me extremely active. When he was tiny I walked miles every day with him in his baby Ero which is a wrap. I also have for the most part a very active lifestyle with a physical job.
When it comes to structured exercise, I currently train five times per week for around an hour. I’m a body builder from a competitive powerlifting background. So, it is all resistance exercise. I’m currently training legs and glutes four times per week and upper two times per week. The only cardio I do is walking with my son. I am a HUGE advocate for lifting weights and the majority of my client base have progressive weight training programmes.”
Tell us about a ‘day in the life’…
“I run such a tight ship between work, toddlers and my dad that I have to keep my eye on the ball.
A typical day for me starts at 6am, an hour before Rocco gets up, to allow myself an uninterrupted sixty minutes of me time. I either work, study or drink my coffee watching YouTube, whatever I fancy.
Mondays I keep free completely from work, except for a bit of editing during nap time. Mondays are reserved for Rocco and for catching up with the demands of running a house. I live with three men. My son, my husband and my father who has Alzheimer’s… Can you imagine the food shopping and laundry I have to get through each week?!
The rest of the week I divide between working with my in-person clientele, based over in Windsor, and my online clientele where I have the privilege of working from home online. Saturday mornings I head off to the gym to see some personal training clients and train. Then, the rest of the weekend is uninterrupted family time.”
How did your YouTube channel come about?
“I love my YouTube so much. It is such a passion project for me. I started making cooking tutorials over on Snapchat after Rocco was born, but of course Snapchat only keep the feed for 24 hours. Several of my younger clients suggested that I switch over to YouTube so my cooking tips would always be there for reference.
My first video is hilarious. I look so determined and Rocco is not playing ball at all. Since then, I found a passion for filming and editing and I just love putting healthy living content together. Everything I do is with my clientele in mind. It started off as a cooking channel but it has morphed into a full family channel with cooking tutorials, organisation, mum hacks, dieting hacks, food education, cooking and family life. I try and make it a rule that every video has a take away learning. I just love it so much and I only hope to learn a little bit about how to actually grow my audience.
My channel is for anyone who wants to understand how to better themselves through nutrition, exercise and positive behaviours, glean some insight into food facts and have fresh ideas for recipes and exercise. There is also a fair amount of family life in there too and my husband seems to be quite the hit with my subscribers, ha ha.”
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