Meet The Experts: Dr Heather McKee

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This month habit coach Dr Heather McKee joins our team at Gazelli House, our wellbeing space and spa in South Kensington, Chelsea, London. Heather’s aim is to help you to transform your health by breaking free of the diet trap or other habits that are holding you back. Heather will help you to take back control and to create healthy habits that last. “I usually work with people who are tired of being confused about what works best for making changes to a healthier lifestyle. They’ve tried various things but can’t seem to make anything stick for more than a number of weeks,” says Heather. “In particular, they are struggling to manage key health habits such as making healthy food choices, keeping up with an exercise plan, managing their stress or getting enough sleep.”

Heather’s clients typically come to her because they want an evidence-based approach to changing their habits. Heather is a self-confessed research geek with a PhD in weight-loss psychology. She also lectures and consults on behaviour-change psychology. Heather’s clients are often high achievers who are exasperated that they aren’t having the same success with their health goals as in other areas of their lives. “Many people know what ingredients are needed – they know what healthy foods are, that exercise is good for them, that managing stress is key and that getting enough sleep is important. And yet they can’t find a way to get these healthy habits to stick,” says Heather. Heather doesn’t believe that one size fits all – for each client she creates a bespoke programme to help you to build the skills, knowledge and confidence to make changes that last.

Heather’s techniques include:

  • Temptation tracking – this is something I devised through my research to help clients to recognise when and why they are tempted most so we can tackle this behaviour directly

  • Mindset/attitudinal change – working on limiting influences and beliefs and transition from an unhelpful mindset

  • Routine blueprinting – together we create a system to set up clients’ lives to encourage consistent habits, including building travel- or business-based routines

  • Coping skills – establishing research-backed active coping responses and resilience plans

  • Environmental engineering – how to set up clients’ physical space to support their habits

  • Self-efficacy and self-esteem (confidence and competence) building – empowering clients not to allow their weight or external factors to determine their self-worth

  • Values clarification and goal-setting skills – clients learn and apply evidence-based goal -etting practices

  • Recognistion of cognitive, emotional and intuitive eating practices and developing strategies to overcome these

  • Foundational habits (e.g. sleep, social support, planning skills, mindful eating).

A recent client said:

 “For the first time in a very very long time, I feel that there is hope. With the help of Dr Heather McKee I have been able to understand what triggers me to make unhealthy choices and to put in place plans for when these situations occur. I highly recommend Dr Heather McKee, particularly to those who like me struggle with motivation, willpower and have tried and tried and tried to no avail.”

Jo (client)

Heather will be holding a clinic each Tuesday in the Sky Parlour of Gazelli House, a light and airy room at the top of our Wellbeing Space on Walton Street in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, just five minutes walk from Knightsbridge and Harrods and South Kensington.

 “Stepping through the doors of Gazelli House, you immediately feel like you are being looked after – it’s a bit of a sanctuary, a little urban oasis,” says Heather. “The beautiful surroundings are so soothing you instantly feel more relaxed. Add in the wonderful community of staff who are so highly trained in their fields and you feel like you are in safe hands.”

HEATHER BEFORE 9AM

I’d like to add a caveat here by saying that each individual’s habit system is unique to them, so what works for me may not work for the next person. Equally, though, my system has been honed through years of research and self-experimentation to enable me to bring my best self to my day. As I tend to do most of my client work in the morning, my morning routine is concentrated on cultivating energy and focus to make sure my clients get my best hours.

I start the day at 6.15am with a glass of water to refresh. I also keep my phone in another room and tend not to look at it until after breakfast (three hours later). I then grab my bike and head straight to the gym. Exercising in the morning is a keystone habit for me as it helps me bring energy and focus to my work. I then meditate for anything from 3 to 15 minutes, depending on how I feel that day – if I’m taking public transport I will meditate for longer and complete a gratitude list focusing on my goals and known positive psychology techniques. Then follows a huge breakfast focused on fuelling and sustaining energy (and because it’s my favourite meal of the day). I often also have a matcha latte, which has been shown to improve energy and focus. After this I’m ready to greet my first client!

WORDS TO LIVE BY

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Heather is offering a limited number of complimentary 30-minute introductory sessions in September. To find out more email us here.