Samantha Hardingham’s Story

I grew up in Shenfield, Essex. My Dad ran my grandfather’s family signwriting business, my mother looked after us and all the animals. My grandmother died at an early age of bowel cancer which meant that my parents helped to bring up my uncle who was only nine at the time. We’re a very close knit family, it was such a quick and unexpected death and with my grandfather being 60 when my uncle was born, he’s more like an older brother to me with only six years between us. We went to the same school but if I called him uncle in the playground I’d knew he’d wrestle me to the ground until he got shouted at when we got home. After school on a Friday we’d have afternoon tea with my very traditional, loving great aunt where they’d be a feast of cakes but it was a way of the family all checking in on each other. I still have vivid memories of the chocolate bunny jelly moulds that my great aunt used to produce and I’ve never tasted anything like it since! Delicious!

My sister and I had a typical middle class, simple and idyllic childhood, lots of outdoor time, fresh air and lots of animals. My memories seem to be dated by whichever animal we had at the time. One of my favourites was our Jack Russell, Thimble, I’d like to say she slept on the bed but to be totally honest it was in the bed alongside my milk bottle as a small child. Totally disgusting to think of it now but obviously great for my gut bacteria as both of us were never ill! Being a typical terrier she had tried to kill other dogs, but we used to dress her up and put her in the pram. She used to love eating wasps and then shake for hours afterwards, she lived to a grand old doggie age. I was devastated when she eventually passed away.

We got into horses early on and built great friendships through the sport. Horses became a big part of my life until recently and as a result of that I ended up training one of the New Zealand Olympic Event Riders a couple of years ago.

Holidays were always spent down in Salcombe, Devon with great family friends and forty years later we’re still going to the same place! We’re lucky enough that our kids love it just as much. The couple of weeks that we spend down there is full of adventure on the water with kayaks and paddle boards, no screens are allowed.

It’s a good old fashioned british beach holiday. I haven’t got much to say about school, I loved my junior school but hated senior school and that had a negative impact on me for many years, I just didn’t fit in, but it also carved out who I am today.

I loved the learning, it’s still a daily question I ask myself, ‘what have I learnt today?’ but generally I just couldn’t wait to get home to see the animals to be honest. I’ve learnt so much about human behaviour through observing animals. They keep you grounded and enable kids to have responsibility at a young age.

What was your biggest challenge?

I put on four stone in weight whilst having my youngest daughter and suffered with pelvic girdle pain which is excruciatingly painful and had to be non-weight bearing for most of the nine months. Desperate to lose that weight and not ever have to diet I set to work researching how on earth I could achieve what seemed like the impossible.

I can honestly say that the pain was so acute that I just wanted to go to bed and not wake up. Armed with as much info as possible I started my method of losing weight and within 10 days I’d lost 10 pounds and in five months lost the four stone. (10 years down the line and I’m still the same weight.) It felt amazing but hit another bout of depression not long after that.


It’s tough for any mother with young kids, you’re bottom of the list, sleep deprived and life feels like Groundhog Day. I was desperate to not take any medication as that felt like sticking a plaster over a broken leg and not getting to the root of the problem, so I just started walking briskly for 20 mins a day. I had identified that as a key component which I had always had as a happy child and yet here I was stuck inside with two young kids all day, feeling like a prisoner in my own home. The walking turned into running. Every run started with tears but by the time I returned I’d shed another layer of depression. By the time I’d got to my fourth London Marathon I couldn’t run anymore, there was nothing negative left to run off!

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about moving my body, having an attitude of gratitude, empowering and leading my girls/clients by example, we’re not perfect by any means, but failure is a fantastic thing as long as you learn from it.

What drives you?

Pain! It’s the driver for every area of my life but the thought of going back to having any back/hip pain drives me forward every day to move my body and eat delicious nutritious food.

Prior to having my two girls I had lots of miscarriages. I’ve not had a parent die but the grief was unexpected and completely threw me. My face felt paralysed, being of a generally sunny disposition I remember not being able to laugh for months which also saddened me greatly.

A lovely consultant friend at the time explained that it’s like experiencing the grief of a parent dying at the three month mark which was comforting. My female GP was particularly unhelpful but another male GP at my practice had all the time in the world for me, I’ll always be grateful to him for that. In the end I went to a traditional Chinese acupuncturist, it felt like she just flipped the switch, my hormones changed overnight and two beautiful girls followed.

What worked for you in your weightless journey?

Consistency, educating myself in nutrition and the psychology around food so that I could escape the diet trap. Diets don’t work but we’re still conditioned to think that we have to diet. It’s short term thinking. Making the shift to long term health goals is a whole different ball game, it takes the pressure off us, with that comes long term success and confidence.

What are the myths around weight loss?

Muscle is heavier than fat always makes me chuckle, a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat! t’s the density that’s very different, muscle being far denser than fat. So for example you could have two women both weighing 65 kilos, one with low body fat and muscly, the other with high body fat. The woman with more muscle would be two dress sizes smaller than the high body fat woman.

Another myth is the middle aged spread, our bodies do change but it only spreads if you let it! The stubborn fat around the middle of your body is usually due to the brain being stubborn and full of excuses. Harsh but fair!

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with weight loss?

Educate yourself and break your long term goals down into what you need to do daily in order to achieve them. When it’s a small daily goal, it’s easy and doesn’t feel overwhelming. Drink three litres of water a day, this is the biggest kept secret to anti-ageing and weight loss out there. Just measure it out and get it down. 10 years I’ve been doing this and I still have to measure it out otherwise it doesn’t get drunk. Track your food, if it’s not tracked it’s not measurable. Lastly just get started, they’ll never be that perfect time, just start with the next meal. What are you waiting for? Health is our only asset, treat it like it’s your best investment.

What unique ways do you work with your clients?

The majority of my clients tend to be in the medical profession, they’re high performers, perfectionists, they’ve more than likely dieted for the best part of 20 years. They come with a huge amount of frustration as they’re successful in every area of their lives apart from health and fat loss! I work with them to help unlock that pressure they put themselves under to create a more balanced lifestyle where they don’t beat themselves up for failing and hand them the keys to solving their long term culture of dieting. Our brains love fun and excitement, it’s the quickest way to learn, yet weight loss is deemed as hard work, tedious, restrictive and feels like punishment, everything our brains hate and fight against. Being mentally strong and fit is so empowering. Rewiring and building new neural pathways for my clients is an absolute game changer for them, so they go on to lead a life of freedom from food. I encourage clients to go out of their comfort zone and experience new adventures to make them feel alive again!