More than a weight-loss memoir, this is a story of a life restarted.
At twenty-four Philippa Moore was overweight, unhappily married, stuck in a job she hated, and had never left her hometown of Hobart.
All of that changed after a wake-up call in a department-store changing room. Unable to zip up a pair of pants, Philippa realized enough was enough. What happened to the high-achieving, vivacious young girl she once was? Why had she settled for so much less than the world had to offer?
With determination and courage Philippa took control of her life, shedding the kilos and her dying relationship, and starting over again alone.
Told with humour and insight, Philippa shares the story of how she found her most authentic self: from launching an award-winning health and fitness blog, Skinny Latte Strikes Back, getting divorced, running marathons, chasing love in all the wrong places, living in London, being made redundant, and learning the real value of friendship.
After picking herself up after every fall and cherishing all her successes, Philippa finally learns to love herself. And with self-love comes the love of her life, her new husband Tom.
Philippa's story is one of courage and perseverance that every woman can relate to. She proves that people don't need to join an ashram, find a guru or take up CrossFit to find their calling. Just one small step is all it takes to start a life-changing journey.
Philippa Moore is a writer, editor and award-winning blogger. She also hosts a popular podcast, Book Ends, featuring interviews with leading contemporary writers. She was the author of the award-winning health and fitness blog, Skinny Latte Strikes Back, which was one of the UK's most popular health and fitness blogs. Born in Tasmania, Philippa now lives in North London with her husband Tom and many pairs of running shoes.
The Latte Years
Author: Philippa Moore
Question: When and why did you decide to launch Skinny Latte Strikes Back?
Philippa Moore: Skinny Latte Strikes Back was the second incarnation of my health and fitness blog, Skinny Latte, which I began in September 2005 when I had just moved to Melbourne, a city where I knew about three people. Fresh off the boat from Hobart, and about halfway towards my fairly daunting goal of losing 28 kilograms, I had been reading online weight loss journals in secret for months, watching women from all over the world as they overhauled their eating and exercise habits, were able to fit into smaller clothes, compete in fun runs, and generally have a happier and more positive outlook on life. Having 'lurked" for a while, I decided to start a blog of my own to share the ups and downs of my quest to be happier and healthier. I wanted to become a part of the community that I admired and had come to rely on for support. But at the same time, I had stuck to my own plans for the best part of six months and was seeing results (albeit slowly) so I was starting to feel more confident and less of a wallflower. I wanted to share how far I'd come. I wanted to make new friends in Melbourne. And who knew, maybe I could inspire other people too, the way the women I read daily inspired me.
Of course, it was 2005 and I don't think blogging was as prolific and commonplace then as it is now. The platforms weren't all that sophisticated. Most people I knew didn't even know what a blog was. Hence, I had an alias and told very few people in my -real' life about it!
The response to my blog was very unexpected – as the weeks went by and I continued to shed the kilos and share my stories, the Skinny Latte word spread, and both my readership and my motivation soared. I reached my goal weight nearly six months later, with people from all over Australia and the world cheering me on. I've never forgotten the support I got in those early days. It was really quite incredible.
I kept that particular blog going for a few years, but life after I reached goal became about a very different journey, so when I left Australia and moved to the UK I stopped blogging for a while, while I got settled and used to my new life. In 2009, feeling the need to take my hard-won fitness to the next level, Skinny Latte Strikes Back was launched and the response was fantastic. Thanks to my blog, I got some amazing opportunities like running the London Marathon in 2011 and even winning an award for best health, diet and fitness blog at the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards. It was a wild ride
Question: What inspired you to write The Latte Years?
Philippa Moore: Not long after I reached my goal weight in 2006, my first marriage ended. I was only 25 at the time. Almost overnight, it seemed, my whole world collapsed. While I had so much love and support from my family and friends, and even the blogging community too, it was also a very lonely experience where I felt deeply ashamed. Divorce is still a very taboo subject that not everyone understands. Browsing the self-help aisles in bookstores at the time gave me no joy – what I was going through apparently didn't happen to people my age. So when I decided to write The Latte Years, nearly ten years on, I wanted to write the book I wish had been around for me at the time.
But while that major event is certainly the backdrop of the story, I was inspired to write The Latte Years for the same reason I continued the blog many years after the original purpose (reaching goal weight) had been fulfilled – because I know there are many people out there who feel unhappy or trapped in their lives, wanting things to be different but change is too scary. I want people to know…you are allowed to change your life if you aren't happy. You don't have to wait for permission or, God forbid, for things to get worse before you take some action. Life really does have a way of rewarding you for having the courage to be true to yourself. Sometimes the smallest decisions are the ones that end up changing your life. I am living proof of it!
Question: Was it difficult to relive certain aspects about your life during the writing process?
Philippa Moore: Yes, it was. In fact, it was so difficult, I initially tried to write The Latte Years as fiction. The story wanted to be told but I wasn't ready to face some of it yet. The protagonist of the fictional version was basically me, she just had a different name and not as many siblings! It was fun to write, actually - the real events got a major makeover worthy of Days of Our Lives and things reached far more dramatic or convenient conclusions than what really happened - but eventually I realised that the book was never going to have the impact I wanted it to have and help the people I wanted to help if I wasn't prepared to be brave. I had to write what really happened.
But the thing no one tells you about being brave is that it's bloody scary! I had to negotiate a lot of discomfort in the writing of The Latte Years. I basically had to relive the last ten years of my life again, all the highs and lows of it. I remember one occasion, about a month into it, I had been writing in my study for about eight hours and my husband came in with a cup of tea. It took me a few seconds to remember who he was, because of course I didn't know him during the period I was writing about. That was when I knew things were getting intense!
It was incredibly hard work, physically and emotionally. I didn't always like having to write so explicitly about myself and my life. I've had to own this story, every part of it, even the parts where I know I don't come across well. That's been very hard. But if I can help just one young woman from making the same mistakes I did, it will have been totally worth it.
Question: What did you learn about yourself when drafting The Latte Years?
Philippa Moore: Oh, if you ever want to learn a lot about yourself, write a memoir! It's unavoidable! If you're hoping to write something worth reading, you have to face yourself, especially the parts you've been running from.
I think the most important thing I learned during this whole process was to accept myself for who I am – not who I thought I was or felt I had to be – including my flaws and mistakes. I realised very quickly the stories about the more painful episodes in my life had a pattern – a pattern that I had perhaps perpetuated – and that was hard to accept.
But it's so easy to do, to let ourselves off the hook like that. While it is ultimately my story, writing The Latte Years forced me to consider other perspectives, which I had resisted for a long time. Acknowledging another viewpoint might mean things weren't as black and white as I'd believed and that was hard. But necessary. I definitely feel stronger for it. And as I've relived the past ten years of my life, I've been reminded of all the things that got me through the hard times that I still need in my life now – strength, determination, a positive attitude. I've been reminded of some of the amazing things I've done and people I've been so lucky to meet. I've re-learned some of the lessons that didn't sink in as deeply as they should have the first time around. It's been a transformative experience, that's for sure!
Ultimately, the purpose in writing The Latte Years was to make sense of my own emotional journey, to figure some stuff out, and to finally own and accept the parts of my past I wish had been different. I hope that by sharing this with others, perhaps I will help them do the same.
Interview by Brooke Hunter