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10 Questions with... Steph Blackwell

Hi Steph, tells us about you and your work...
Hello! Gosh, this feels like a big question. I’ll try to keep my answer as succinct as possible… Since the age of 17, I have struggled with both my mental & physical health. In terms of work and life in general, it’s had drastic consequences. Despite being quite academic at school (and university) I never really found my ‘calling’ career-wise; crippled with low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and, as a consequence of some of my mental health issues; gut issues, poor circulation & osteoporosis.

I’ve always had a keen interest in sport (I competed nationally as an athlete during my teens), as well as health, nutrition, and psychology but struggled to find my place in the World. I was at a particularly low point back in 2019, working in a running shop, and feeling somewhat unfulfilled; I’d very recently discovered a real love for baking - it was my form of meditation. I somewhat randomly applied for Bake Off and magically made my way onto the show, where I FAR exceeded any expectations I had of myself, by reaching the final with 4 star bakers under my belt! I still have to pinch myself that the whole thing ever happened.

Following my experience, I had only one aspiration, and that was to try to use my platform to help & inspire others. Despite challenges, and regardless of individual differences, everyone is worthy and capable of achieving health, happiness and making their wildest dreams come true.

Fast forward 3 years, and I’ll be honest, I’m still a bit lost and not quite sure where I’m at with things. I’m no celebrity, and I don’t seek the limelight, I still have a normal (albeit part-time) job, I still make my health a priority… I love to run, cook, bake, write, develop recipes, and CONSTANTLY learn – particularly in the field of food & health. Most importantly though, I still have the same desire to help & inspire others where possible. I now write a newsletter where I share a lot about my life, baking, and resources that I find useful and want to share with others – it’s called The Comfort Chronicles and aims to provide a little comfort to those who read it!

Where did your love of baking begin?
Shortly after my grandad’s death I discovered a passion for baking, specifically bread. Grandpa Derek LOVED bread, as do my Mum and I. Back when I was a kid, we used to fight for the crust on a fresh loaf of white bread from the bakers. When he died, it was like I wanted to keep him alive through bread – I started with a simple white loaf (discovered that it was WAY better than shop bought equivalents) and went from there… initially I didn’t deviate much beyond dough, but as my interest blossomed, I started to venture into other areas, biscuits, eventually cake, and pastry. I become fascinated by the science and loved the element of creativity I could bring to my bakes too. This intrigue hasn’t waned, I still love to learn, adapt and refine recipes in a quest for perfection.

What’s your go-to showstopper bake?
Always cake – everyone is impressed with a cake… it covers all bases, lasts well and everyone loves a slice of cake, don’t they? I like to incorporate fruit, veg and spices into my cakes – I love the complexity of flavour and wonderful texture that can be achieved with simple wholefoods.

How did you hear about Symprove and how long have you been taking it?
I think my first glimpse of Symprove was probably on social media. I’m always a bit sceptical of things initially so disregarded it for a while. However, as my gut issues escalated and I started to do my research, I recognised the potential benefits. My good friend and fellow Bake Off winner, David, also spoke incredibly highly of the product. David is such a fountain of knowledge, so I always value his opinion, he is involved in twin studies led by Professor Tim Spector, and advised I read some of Tim’s articles to learn more. Once I had absorbed all this information, I was gagging to get some of Symprove’s liquid gold into me and discover its benefits.

What does your morning routine look like?
I wake up, make my bed, pop down to the kitchen and knock back my shot of happy gut bugs (aka Symprove nectar). 10 minutes later, I have my first coffee of the day and either nip off to the gym, work, or get busy with some baking endeavour.

Where did your interest in gut health start?
My Dad died earlier this year after a 2-year battle with bowel cancer, this and quite debilitating personal gut issues triggered me to do a lot of research into gut health, I was also really intrigued as I started to understand the link between our gut health and psychological wellbeing.

Top tips for looking after physical health?
I try to adopt the ‘everything in moderation’ approach to things… I can’t say I always succeed but it’s my aim. I love being active – I believe a good walk is the best tonic for mind and body, I also enjoy running and occasionally hit the squat rack to keep my bones healthy! I’ve never been a big fan of heavily processed foods and adore fresh wholesome ingredients (including homemade bakes) which make up much of my diet, but I don’t deny myself things I fancy. I try to get as much sleep as possible and if something is worrying me about my health, I try to seek some specialist advice to check that it’s not something that needs treating.

And your mental health?
I have suffered hugely with my mental health over the years and have had a particularly bad spell of late. When things are particularly tough, I surround myself with people who know me, support me, who I can be open and honest with and who are empathetic. I engage in activities that calm me – baking, walks – fresh air – and running. I also know that good sleep, diet and reducing external stressors are imperative for my mental wellbeing!

Why should people care about Symprove?
With a growing body of evidence demonstrating links between our gut microbiome and overall wellbeing, I think everyone should be learning more. The Symprove team are also a wonderful bunch of people with a common interest; to help us all thrive!

Original, Mango & Passion Fruit or Strawberry & Raspberry?
Strawberry & Raspberry is my favourite… although Mango & Passion Fruit comes a close second!

Sip, slurp, shot or swig from the bottle?
Shot – I adopt a ‘down-in-one approach’.

Describe Symprove in 3 words…
Gut happy goodness.

Thanks Steph!

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