Janet Thomson, author of “The Placebo Diet” has over 25 years’ experience in the field of weight loss and personal development and is firmly established as a leading and innovative expert. She has an MSc in Nutrition and Exercise Science, combined with therapeutic experience in Clinical Hypnotherapy, Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Life Coaching and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) plus having many years’ experience creating and running a range of programs. This combination is often what proves missing in other weight loss programs. Janet’s methods are rooted in scientific research and tried and tested methods, which are delivered in a friendly, inspirational and accessible style.
We had the recent pleasure of an exclusive interview with Janet about her background story, passion, life and her new online program, Colour Fast Re-Set! Read on for the deep-dive lowdown…
Hi Janet, nice to have you with us! How are you keeping?
Thanks Marleen, I’m doing great!
Wonderful to hear that. A couple of quick questions for you before we start, what do you think of the name Keep Fit Kingdom (or KFK for short)?
I think it’s a grand name. Keeping people fit, in the broadest sense of the word, is a huge passion of mine too. And ‘Kingdom’ is all encompassing, which covers a wide range of people. I love it, it’s a strong name!
Our mission is to help a billion people reach 100 years of age happily and healthily, what do you feel about that?
It’s an astounding, mind blowing mission. I’m passionate that people should be able to live without aches and pains, which can be avoided with a good lifestyle!
Thanks for your kind support and, absolutely! So tell us, how did you first get started in fitness; what were your main motives in actually becoming a fitness instructor?
I started in school, I always loved the physical education side. I didn’t think of myself as very academic back then, but from school I got a sports diploma and learned how to teach everything from badminton to swimming to keep fit classes. My first job was in a sports centre, and it’s always been my first love, helping people be healthy and fit, and it really just developed from there. It wasn’t until I was in my forties, that I went back to university and did my Masters degree. I suddenly realized that my brain was a lot more capable than I thought it was. So that was quite a surprise. (Both laugh)
Can’t beat the treasure of a brain keen on learning! So, who were your early influences, who would you credit as your main inspiration?
That’s an interesting question, I can’t think of anyone in terms of fitness that inspired me as such, it was just the concept of fitness and everyday people, working at the sports centre, teaching classes, running ladies recreation, badminton clubs – all of these types of things. I think the actual work itself is what inspired me, because you can see results within a few weeks. So many benefits, and people saying, “Oh, since I’ve been coming here I feel better and I’ve got more energy”. As I’ve gotten older, I’d say there are definitely people that inspire me now, but earlier it was just the love of the job.
It’s always so rewarding to be able to help people see results. What’s been the most exciting moment in your career to date?
Well, I was introduced to Prince Charles, to give him a copy of my book last year, at a College of Medicine event in London. That has to be my highlight. It was a big event at the College of which I’m a member; and a select number of people had been invited to meet him, and I was one of them. He was great and chatted to me about “The Placebo Diet”, the program and how it worked, that was pretty cool!
I can imagine! As for your work, what’s the most challenging and most rewarding thing about it?
The most rewarding part is definitely the testimonials. When I visit the Community on Facebook, I just read some of the everyday comments. There have been some ladies at the end of the year, posting: “Thank you, Janet, it changed my life!” and so on and so forth. After all these years that I’ve been doing this, that still fills me with a sense of overwhelming gratitude that I’m doing a job that I love.
The most challenging bit is when you find misinformation in the media. It might be a celebrity, who will come out with something totally unsubstantiated, scientifically speaking and people will just latch onto it. Some of the big publications will take an element of a research study completely out of context. Having to correct misinformation is unbelievably challenging and off-the-scale frustrating, because when you’ve had a good look at the programs, you realise it isn’t rocket science; just a few key principles to do with feeding windows, gut health and liver function, and if you just tick 4-5 boxes, it’s really not difficult.
I think the challenge is that the media are always bent on finding that magic pill or potion, and that constantly throws people off the proper track that they should be on. That drives me nuts as you can probably tell! We know what works in a really safe and effective way, so sometimes I feel like I’m on a one-woman mission to take on a whole industry. You know it just takes one pebble in the pond, one person can make a difference, so I’m just plowing on with that thought in my mind.
Being as passionate and dedicated as you are, that frustration is entirely understandable, especially if you’re offering a program that’s simple, natural as well as practical in use. In your new program “Colour Fast Re-Set”, which is available online, you include a number of short videos and audios; how effective is the online method of teaching in your opinion?
I think it’s really effective, because, the Facebook Community for example, is very interactive and that’s accessible 24/7. If someone’s got all the materials, he or she can use one of the hypno-audios anytime. You don’t have to wait for an appointment, so the interactive element of watching the videos and learning the techniques is good. If you want to add the 1-to-1 coaching element or even some of the group coaching, that gives it another dynamic.
The main thing I really want to build is the (Facebook) community because people help people, and that support and reading each other’s comments is so important. What makes it unique, is that it’s such a holistic 360° program. The nutrition is absolutely sound and solid and based on research. As for the mind and behavioural stuff, I researched the concept of neuroplasticity, and looked for the best exercises to adapt to help people change their minds.
A sense of self worth is threaded throughout the program and obviously I’m all for that – you might call this the spiritual side – it’s constantly saying to people there is a part of you that is not physical and it lives in your body. Your body is your home, and your relationship with your body and what you put in it and how you treat it, is the longest relationship you’re ever going to have. And if you get that right, then you physically can’t eat toxic, horrible things, because that would be like mistreating someone you love, and you don’t do that!
For sure people have to find that love within themselves again. One of the techniques used is TFT (Thought Field Therapy) how effective is that by itself?
I love TFT and in my therapy practice, where I work with a number of conditions; anxiety, fears, phobias, even depression, from all the methods I use, it is the most effective. What I like about TFT the most, is that I can teach someone a practice so they can do it themselves. As a tool it’s probably the most empowering. It’s not about me or my ego, “I am Janet Thompson, I made someone slim!” Rather I’m happier if I can say, “I taught someone how to make themselves slimmer and healthier.”
It’s great knowing techniques that you can do yourself, that you know work, however nothing works for everyone all of the time. It’s a case of finding the technique that works best for you which is why there’s always more than one technique. I think it’s much easier to teach someone TFT than to teach them self hypnosis. It’s really simple, non-invasive and most of the time, for most people it’s really, really effective.
When I was trying the collarbone breathing method, I got goosebumps. It’s nice that you can feel the shift in energy, from ‘negative’ to ‘positive’. What has been your experience combining all the techniques you use?
Much, much better! The more inclusive the programs have been, the better the results have been, and the easier people have found it. And I think it’s been a revelation, especially with the Colour Fast Re-Set System (CFRS), because when I wrote it, I knew that nutritionally it would work and that it followed with Intermittent Fasting (IF) etc, but I wasn’t sure how easy people would find it to stick to, especially getting down to the one meal day.
If you go back through all the comments on the Facebook group, what you’ll see is so many people saying “I can’t believe how easy I found this!”. Especially the guided meditations, the one about your relationship with hunger and so on. I think people have found it easier than they first thought, or even I thought! I didn’t question if it would work, I knew it would work, it was just a case of if they could follow it. I started trialing the program out in June 2018 and after the first 2-week batch the feedback and comments just blew me away, it was just amazing!
Yes, it must feel wonderful to see your program working, proving to be even easier to adopt than anticipated. What made you decide to combine these specific techniques?
I didn’t consciously sit and do it. My masters degree is in nutrition and my background is fitness, so I just started doing head stuff to support the nutrition stuff. You can have the best nutritional advice in the world, but if people can’t follow it, it’s not worth anything. So I trained in clinical hypnotherapy first, because I thought it’d help people sort their head out, so that following the nutritional side would be easier. Then I just went, like Alice in Wonderland, down through the rabbit hole and discovered all these other magical techniques. So it really evolved over time, I’ll still try anything new that seems interesting; I will go and learn it and if I think it has value in the program, build it in.
There’s so much out there, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Reiki and much more, plenty to learn. The Color Fast Re-Set Program is based on fasting and detoxification, which are also a large part of traditional medical systems like Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Why do you think it’s important to introduce these practices?
Because they work! They are fad-free, and based on how your body responds best and Intermittent Fasting gives your body time to heal and rejuvenate, so it’s not all just about weight loss. It’s not about weight loss for me at all, that’s simply a side effect, an additional benefit of the program. My goal is to reconnect people with their health and their body. The fact that they’re doing it and lose weight, great! And if using ‘weight loss’ as a hook entices them to have a healthier body, then I’m quite happy with that!
The entire program uses detox and fasting, along with colour codes to know which foods are best to incorporate into your meals, and a series of techniques to get your body and mind relaxed, so you can focus on the goal to get healthy. About which of these three components are your clients most enthusiastic?
I think they’re most enthusiastic that it includes all of them. Certain people have been passionate about the nutrition, but haven’t been in the right head space to do it and other people have been in the right head space, but don’t really know what to eat. So, I think it’s the fact that they’re all combined that makes it such a complete wellness program. I think it’s one of those things were the total is greater than the sum of the parts.
One and one makes five?
That really sums up the program better than anything!
As for yourself, what are some of your daily habits, rituals and practices that help you perform at your best?
I very rarely have a day with an eating window bigger than 10 hours, and at least 2-days a week I get it down to 6 hours, that has helped, I was diagnosed with Colitis a couple of years ago so this has really helped me. So definitely the eating (feeding) windows and Intermittent Fasting (IF). I have kefir or some other probiotic every single day and I stay super-hydrated. I’ve also learned to vary my foods a lot more, and this is one of the most important things in gut health, and health generally: to not eat the same foods. To constantly try different things, out of season and I make sure I move my body: I do a nice little 20-minute yoga routine that I do 3-4 times a week. I don’t think of these as rituals, I see them as natural. Natural, like getting up and cleaning my teeth in the morning, it’s just what I do for health really. To me it’s as important as breathing in and out, and understanding anything else. l’m not extremist at all: if I go out for dinner, I have a glass of wine, and I might have a dessert, I just don’t do it very often. So I think I have the balance just right.
You trust your body. It doesn’t mean you have to be ‘holier than thou’, and turn into some kinda food saint; though you can if you want! You do it because you want to, not because you have to. If you follow the principles 80-90% of the time, and every now and then have a treat that isn’t strictly healthy then your body will allow you that. There are things I’ll never eat, like a McDonald’s burger or a kebab. My idea of the worst thing I could put in my body, would be a good quality crème brûlée or something. But I wouldn’t do that often, I think that’s what it’s really all about.
Trust your body – it’s more about nurturing instead of merely filling your body – got it. The Colour Fast Re-Set book mentions a lot about food, including recipes; what is one of your quick-to-make, go-to recipes that keep you energised during very busy days?
I do have quite a lot of smoothies, at any time of the day. So if I haven’t got time to make a meal, then I’ll use one of the smoothies in the recipes and I vary those. I make and freeze loads of food, so if I were making a chutney, a curry, or something like that, I’d always have at least two or three home cooked meals that I can just thaw and have superquick if I haven’t got time to cook. I always have a pot of overnight oats, soaked in kefir in the fridge!
Overnight oats are wonderfuel; filling and quick! If you could encourage anyone reading this to make one positive change in their life, what would that be?
Look after your gut and appreciate that you have more microbiome than you have human cells, and if you look after them, they will look after you! That’s really what the two-week Colour Fast Re-set program is all about: getting your microbiome to its optimal level, and it’s amazing how much you can improve it in just two weeks!
I’ve always had a reasonably good diet, but certainly learning about the microbiome and Intermittent Fasting has enabled me to 99% eliminate any trace of colitis, so that’s been very health giving, and the fact that it enables me to help other people. I mean it, when I say to people, “I have the greatest job in the world and I’m so grateful for that every day!”
So when people come to me, for example, we had one girl who did the CFRS and before she did it (it wasn’t to lose weight) she would get the worst PMT: like two or three days of chronic pain, floods of tears, sometimes couldn’t even get out of bed for one or two days. After the CFRS, the next month, she was fine, and she thought, “this is weird!” and it’s never come back! She’s just gone on with the Colour Code System now. It’s phenomenal when I get feedback like that, that people are gaining health benefits way over and above simply weight loss.
The techniques go beyond just the dietary, they help you get your mind in gear! Speaking of that, meditation is a large part of the program, how do you get participants to feel comfortable with that?
This is where the audios come in because, to go from a real busy mind to just quietly sitting cross-legged chanting “AUM” is a big leap for most people. That’s like getting someone to go from being able to make marmalade on toast to suddenly becoming a Cordon Bleu Chef!
Learning to control your mind is something that takes time, I am still working on it myself. Listening to someone on a guided meditation allows you to let go of your mind. With a lot of exercises and visualisations, they’re taught to you almost surreptitiously. Before you know it, you’re more in control of your mind and can get into that mindful space that we call meditation.
Meditation can be an active process, some of the best meditations I do, are when I go for a walk down by the sea. You don’t have to sit still to meditate fully and mindfully. This is where people have this fixed idea that you have to sit down and cross your legs and chant, which you can do, absolutely, don’t get me wrong. However, you can also get your brainwaves to the right level and state with activity; whether that’s relaxing and listening to the audios, or while on a walk, and just looking at the sea, or a tree and thinking, “isn’t life wonderful?” Those are all forms of meditation.
I guess even washing the dishes could be meditation.
I love ironing, all my friends think I am weird, I just find it really therapeutic!
Well, you’re welcome to mine! So, aside from ironing, what hobbies do you enjoy the most when you’re not coaching or teaching?
Walking! I love to be out walking. Recently I was in Spain, 15 minutes from the beach, so I could walk for hours outside. I also love going to the movies to see a nice inspirational movie. I’m also a real foodie, so if I find a good quality restaurant, I’ll give it a try, that’s something else I love to do.
Definitely abroad, trying out new things is so much fun! What’s one unusual thing about you that no one really knows?
Ah…well, that’s a good question! Sometimes it feels like I have my whole career upside down and back to front. I got married at 19, and then 18 months later had my first child. So I had my children, and worked part-time, and then when I got older I went to university and did all my academic studying. Most people get that out of the way before they have kids!
It’s great to study, when you really know what you want!
First I fell in love and as I got older, I didn’t think I was very clever looking back as a child, and thought I could at least do sport. Anyway, that belief stayed with me until I was in my thirties and did all these nutrition courses. A head of school at university, said “Come and do a Master’s Degree” and I said “Don’t be daft! I’m not clever enough and I don’t have a degree”. And he said: “Janet, I’ve seen you teach, you are more than clever enough!” So he accepted me onto the Masters course, with no degree or anything, which is unheard of, and I completed the Masters’ in less than 18 months. So discovering I had a brain at 40 was pretty cool!
Fantastic discovery! Question about a popular trend, CBD oil: it’s really popular at the moment as it helps with relaxing the body, mind and maintain homeostasis to some extent. What are your thoughts on CBD oil?
Well funnily enough, I bought a nice organic one two or three months ago but I haven’t tried it for long enough to give an authoritative comment. But in principle, the more natural substances you can use to help heal your body, the better!
What motivational phrases or quotes have helped shape you into who you are today?
I love Audrey Hepburn’s quote: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says – ‘I am possible’!”, another one, (not sure of the source) “You are free to choose, but you are not free of the consequence of your choice”.
Those are both big ideas! As we reach the end of the interview, what special message would you like to share with Keep Fit Kingdom readers about your program and what it can do for them?
Well, without sounding like a well-known shampoo advert, I would have to say “You are worth it!” You genuinely deserve to live in a body that does you justice, that allows you to have the quality of life you want. Being able to get into a smaller pair of jeans is nice, but the other benefits will so far outweigh anything that’s purely physically visual but it does take some effort. I would just feel like giving everyone a hug and saying, “Look you’re worth it. Invest a little effort in yourself, because you are so amazing!”
It’s been a real pleasure getting to know more about you, your work and the Colour Fast Re-Set system Janet! You’re really a shining ray of hope to encourage others to awaken their own self-esteem and love for themselves in a fun, engaging way that finally transforms body and mind!