Philippa Moore is a writer, editor and the blogger behind Skinny Latte Strikes Back, a popular blog which charted her journey to good health and fitness and how she continues to live her healthiest, happiest life possible.
Born in Hobart, Tasmania, she has lived in the UK since 2007 and written for various publications, including the BMJ, and completed the Virgin London Marathon in April 2011. A lover of travel and the good life, Philippa lives in London with her husband, many pairs of running shoes and a nearly finished novel.
Cision: Your blog, Skinny Latte Strikes Back, documents your journey losing weight and getting fit. What motivated you to publicly share this personal experience?
Philippa: When I started my health and fitness journey in April 2005, blogging was still a relatively new thing. A few months in (possibly when I needed a motivational boost!) I discovered a few weight loss blogs purely by chance and became quite taken by them and the people who wrote them. They were very motivating and it was reassuring to hear of their various ups and downs in getting healthy, which reassured me that I wasn’t alone in thinking and feeling the things I did.
So I started my own in September 2005, when I was about halfway to my goal weight, and I had just moved from Hobart to Melbourne. I needed some way to keep myself accountable, but I had also moved away from my home town for the first time in my adult life and really wanted to meet new people and make new friends in my new city. I was really excited about starting my own blog and getting to know the other bloggers that I’d come to admire and rely on for motivation in a real and meaningful way (I had just been lurking up until that point!). I’ve never really had any hang-ups about publicly sharing my experiences. There is of course the need for balance and discretion in how much you share with the world (!), but the amount of support and accountability I got from the blog was incredible and humbling, and continues to this day. And the bloggers who inspired me in the beginning I still count among my dearest friends.
Cision: Chantelle Houghton, of reality TV show Big Brother fame, made headlines last week after revealing her battle with bulimia has resulted in fertility problems. What is your opinion on the celebrity extreme dieting culture and do you feel it has an impact on society?
Philippa: I think it is sad, ridiculous, and dangerous. I think there is definitely a huge distortion in the media, and hence in the minds of impressionable and insecure young people, about what is healthy. I think it is awful that normal healthy people are made to feel “fat” and inadequate because they don’t fit the mould of some unattainable physical standard. Being thin does not mean you are healthy. Flick through any celebrity magazine and you’ll see evidence of that. Without airbrushing and Hollywood hair and makeup, these celebrities we’re all meant to aspire to looking like don’t look all that happy and healthy to me!
I also think the fashion industry has a lot to answer for. Lack of standardisation in womens sizes has the potential to be incredibly damaging. I, for example, have maintained a 27.5kg weight loss for five years and have run a marathon, but I can be a size 8 in one shop and struggle to get into a size 14 in another. It’s ridiculous. And in my weak moments, it makes me feel terrible!
I accept that the media or fashion industry is probably not going to change their tune any time soon, despite people like me speaking out at every opportunity (!) but I think what is desperately needed is education in positive body image. I think people like Gok Wan deserve medals for the work they do in helping people to love their bodies and themselves, no matter what size they are. We need to spread the message that happiness and being healthy (ie: eating well and keeping active) is more important than being thin. More Gok and less Big Brother, I say!
Cision: What are the big discussions within diet and nutrition today and how are they being communicated?
Philippa: I’ve seen a few topics do the rounds over the years I’ve been blogging – the raw food movement, pros and cons of veganism, childhood obesity, the links between diet and depression, supplements…..it’s a varied and interesting blogging community to be a part of! Lately I’ve seen a lot of discussion about whole foods, about “real” food – eating food as close to it’s natural state as possible. I think that’s definitely a good thing.
Overall I don’t subscribe to big discussions, as it were. I just write about what has worked for me, what is inspiring me, and what I feel strongly about. If I feel strongly about something topical then I address it. But overall, I try to send the message that diet and health are very personal things and the important thing is to be discerning in your journey as you figure out what works for you and how you can best live your healthiest, happiest life.
Cision: In your opinion, who are the most influential Health commentators and why?
Philippa: I wouldn’t say these people are “health commentators” (they probably wouldn’t want to be identified as such) but they certainly have their heads screwed on when it comes to their own personal health and have made it a priority in their lives and want to share what they’ve learned with others.
I thoroughly recommend fellow Aussie Sarah Wilson for her bubbly, down-to-earth writing, her interesting take on health and wellbeing, and her genuine passion for living a balanced and meaningful life.
I am a huge fan of Sarah Britton’s blog My New Roots for healthy eating inspiration! Sarah’s writing is very much about encouraging people to make healthy choices every day.
The Food Fairies are a young nutritionist duo, Rachel and Lola, here in the UK. They offer nutritional counselling in person but also have a wonderful blog which is friendly, accessible and down to earth, with lots of recipes and articles about nutrition. I love their style because it’s so easy for young women to relate to. I learn something new every time I check in to their site. And their barley, coconut and chickpea stirfry is to die for!
I also had the pleasure of interviewing British health writer Hazel Courteney, who was warm and bubbly in person and has written a wonderful book which has been by far the best and most accessible compendium on natural health and wellbeing I’ve encountered in recent years. I’ve been sent a few to review since and none of them even come close to hers. Hazel is really passionate about good health and sends the very clear message that our health, and our future, is very much in our own hands.
The thing that all these 5 women have in common is their message that 1) being healthy can be FUN and 2) we have to take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing; we have to be active in our quest for good health and fitness. It is all up to us.
Cision: What advice do you have for PR professionals when contacting health journalists/bloggers?
Philippa: Please don’t send emails with just “Dear” at the top and no name after it – you might as well not bother! I just delete those ones without reading them.
It’s always nice when a PR company engages with me and my content, and demonstrates that they have actually read my blog and taken the time to find out a bit about me and my story. When that happens, what they are suggesting to me is usually a good fit. I think that’s what we’re all after here – a connection. Showing that you have taken the time to read the blogger’s content, get your head around their story, their aims and ambitions, and how they might benefit from what you are proposing will usually get a good response.
Cision: Do you feel that social media is beneficial for health communication?
Philippa: Definitely! I don’t know where I might be now without the support of the blogging community. It made me accountable, it made my desire to succeed at my goals even stronger, and I’ve also made some wonderful friends through it. The world is wide open now to connect with like minded people, to share what you’re experiencing with others and to benefit from the camaraderie that comes with it. You can also find information on pretty much every health topic you can think of right at your finger tips. It’s never been easier to be inspired to live a healthy, happy life.
As I mentioned earlier, one of my biggest passions, as a result of my experiences, is educating others about good health and wellbeing, about positivity and being the best they can be. My blog has enabled me to do this and spread that message far and wide. If I’ve even made a difference to one person’s life, then it will all have been worthwhile.