How James Stewart broke out of his iso lockdown funk

By | September 5, 2020

Sick of reading stories about people who have turned their health and fitness around in lockdown, all while us normal folk seek solace in another bowl of ice-cream?

This week I have the perfect antidote for you. Because Home and Away star James Stewart is only too willing to admit that he, at the beginning at least, went the other way entirely.

How refreshing is that? James happily offers us the chance to see a star through something other than a carefully curated social media feed. There are no styled yoga poses and meditation sessions here. Instead, he says he turned to comfort food in the earliest days of the pandemic.

“To be honest, I went from 95kg to 104kg within the first six weeks of iso,” he tells Health Hacker.

“My favourite snacks were chicken burgers and kebabs. I would find comfort in a bowl of ice-cream every day, and a glass or two of wine every other day.

“My turning point was when my wife, Sarah, could tell I was waking up heavier and without my usual zest for life. And also, my daughter Scout was starting to follow me down the path of bad eating habits and not doing a lot of exercise.”

Like most of us, James says he found himself absorbing a sea of negative news like a sponge and soon he found himself seeking comfort in calories. But he soon turned to one of my favourite health hacks — writing down your goals and mantras — to turn his isolation period around.

Writing something down doesn’t just make it real, it adds accountability. Neuroscience studies have found you’re up to 1.4 times more likely to achieve a goal when you write it down.

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“I felt like constant pandemic news was blurring the lines between rational and irrational fear, which generated this idea that I needed to comfort myself,” he says.

“I needed comfort food and to care for my family by providing lots of all the food groups, including lots of carbs and sugars.

“One morning I woke up and I just stopped. I said ‘no more’ to myself and wrote some key phrases down on my desk at home. Things like ‘progress not perfection, food alternatives, take micro steps, and to call my fitness coach’.”


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So with so many of us standing now where James was standing a few months ago, it’s the perfect time to follow in his footsteps.


with James Stewart

1. You are what you eat

“I have a list from my fitness and nutrition coach and if it’s on the list I can eat it,” James says.

“But it’s not complicated. It has a lot of fresh vegetables and clean meats and heaps of other great stuff. As they say, muscles are made in the gym but abs are made in the kitchen.”

2. Keep moving

“I committed to doing some sort of exercise once a day,” James says.

“I just needed to really commit. I soon found my favourite exercises and some not so favourites and sometimes they swapped. For example, leg day. I used to really hate it, but now I love it. Who would’ve thought?”

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3. Find your why

“When it comes to motivation, it’s not enough to just want to be fit,” James says.

“I want to always be able to take my kid surfing and dance all night with my wife. That’s my why.”

4. Hunt for happiness

“There’s a rush that happens after a workout that’s filled with relief and a sense of capability,” James says.

“That’s, surprisingly, one of the best moments of my day.”

5. Treat yourself

“You can’t forget treats altogether,” James says.

“For me it’s stewed rhubarb with blueberries and a spoonful of cream. Yum!”

* James Stewart stars in on Home and Away, which airs Monday-Thursday, 7pm on Channel 7.


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