She’s harnessed the power of positivity to create a one-woman wellness machine. Now Lola Berry is back with a new book. By Carrie Hutchinson
She bursts into the studio, all smiles and introductions, different outfits and yoga gear slung over her arm. Back-to-back meetings and a schedule that never seems to stop don’t seem to phase 33-year-old, self-proclaimed bogan Lola Berry.
“What do you need me to do?” she says, looking at the set-up of cameras and lights. It’s this kind of can-do, try-anything attitude that has seen Lola become one of Australia’s best-known wellness influencers. She’s a trained nutritionist, so she’s starting with a solid foundation of knowledge, but she also owns a smoothie bar, appears on television, hosts a popular web series, constantly updates her YouTube site, and has just released her tenth book, The Yoga Body. She needs to be healthy just to keep up with herself.
THE SECRET TO SUCCESS
“There are so many people offering advice about health and nutrition, myself included, that even I find it a bit confusing,” she confesses, when asked how she’s managed to cut through the wellness noise. “My main message is you do you – try it all on and see what works for you. Because at the end of the day, we’re all different humans, so what works for me might not work for you or the next person.”
For the average person pondering complex diets based on blood types and body shapes, it is the simplicity of her message that strikes a chord. There’s no measuring portions or counting calories. She simply advocates a diet that’s full of the colours of the rainbow (i.e. it should include the full gamut of fruits and vegetables), an occasional vegan detox when you’re feeling under the weather or like you’ve been living far too hard, and some form of exercise, which for her is yoga.
“But anything will do,” she says. “Any sort of gentle exercise is beneficial to your body. I just love doing things that make me feel good, really.”
Pineapple and Cucumber Icy Poles
LIVE YOUR PASSIONS
Up until the publication of The Yoga Body, all Lola’s books – they include The Happy Cookbook, Food To Make You Glow and Lola Berry’s Summer Food – had been food focused. This time around, though, she wanted to combine her two healthy loves.
“One is food and recipes,” she explains. “All the recipes are Ayurvedic inspired, so based on traditional Indian medicine. Then there are the yoga poses, but I’ve also included information on the yoga mind – so some of the spiritual lessons you can learn from yoga.”
She doesn’t baulk when the photographer asks if she can hold a natarajasana (or dancer’s pose) while someone hands her a smoothie for a shot. She laughs, but nails the move first time with barely a wobble. For those who aren’t quite as nimble, the book runs through simple moves anyone can try, and offers advice for those contemplating their first class.
Detox Green Smoothie
COPING WITH CRITICS
There’s nothing contrived about the way Lola presents herself to the world. Her YouTube videos show her make-up free and talking at a million miles an hour. She’s incorporated unusual approaches in her appearances – dumpster diving in New York to get a feeling for the freegan movement, feeding black-eyed peas to the Black Eyed Peas, convincing a television host to eat raw wasabi live on air – and freely shares details of her life.
The only person to cop more flak over a My Day On a Plate article, however, was Pete Evans. They share a mutual love for activated almonds but, for the record, she says she finds them easier to digest and soaks them herself to keep costs down.
“I’m the first person to admit I’ve made a few blunders within my career,” she says. “But for me it’s just keeping good people around me and knowing that I’m human. And also, at the end of the day, knowing I’m a kind person. I’ve got my own back now, too, which is a nice way to live.”
The recipes here are extracted from The Yoga Body by Lola Berry (Pan Macmillan, $35).
Photography: Adrian Lander
Video: FilmByAlf Productions
Hair and make-up: Fotini Hatzis
Pineapple and Cucumber Icy Poles
- 1 pineapple, cubed
- 1 continental cucumber
- juice and zest of 1 lime
- ¼ bunch of mint, leaves picked and very finely chopped
Pop the pineapple through a juicer and measure out 1½ cups (375ml) of the juice. Push the cucumber through the juicer, add the juice to the pineapple together with the rest of the ingredients and give everything a good stir. Pour the mixture into four icy-pole moulds and freeze for 6 hours. Delish, fresh and uber healthy.
Detox Green Smoothie
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- 3 tablespoons blueberries, or other fresh berries
- ½ banana (frozen)
- 3 tablespoons cashew nuts (activated if possible)
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 cups (500ml) almond milk or coconut water
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until well combined.
- 1 large zucchini (or two medium)
- ½ punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 green olives, pitted and sliced
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds (activated if possible)
- 1 cup (160g) macadamia nuts (activated if possible)
- zest and juice of 1 lime or lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
- handful of baby spinach
- handful of kale, washed and stalks removed
- large handful of basil leaves, plus extra to serve
- salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
For the noodles, slice the zucchini into noodles using either a mandoline, a veggie spiraliser or a green papaya grater. Transfer to a large bowl.
To make the pesto, place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until you have the texture you like (you may need to add a little more oil to get your desired consistency). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Tip the pesto over the noodles, add the cherry tomatoes and green olives and mix together well. Divide between serving bowls and top with the sunflower seeds and a few extra basil leaves.
Tip: If you like your zucchini noodles warm, all you have to do is dunk them in simmering water for about 1 minute, then strain and place them in a big mixing bowl. (I personally love them cold, but both work and warm is more pasta-like.)