Hayley Sparkes has been extremely busy in the past decade having worked with some of the biggest names in UK Television, now in 2021 things don’t look like they are going to be slowing down anytime soon, with the ever popular British presenter becoming in high demand in the entertainment industry.
With the presenter being so busy we were extremely fortunate to have her take time out with us literally on this New Year’s morning.
First and foremost you look amazing… What’s your secret?
“That is very kind, thank you. I do actually really enjoy looking after my skin and have a good regime. I invest in natural skincare and body care products to limit any unnatural and synthetic chemicals going into my system. I use organic coconut oil every single day, I couldn’t live without it! I did a degree in fashion and also qualified as a make-up artist, so over the years I have learnt lots of tips and tricks that hide a multitude of sins!“
How was your Christmas and how did you see in the New Year?
“It was lovely thank you. I was very fortunate to be in a tier 2 area, so I was able to spend time with my family, so I felt very lucky and grateful to be in that position.
I would normally always go out to celebrate New Year, but luckily at the moment I am selling a property, so am temporarily living with my Dad, sister and nephew. We were able to see in the New Year together. We got dressed up, played some great music and enjoyed delicious food and drink, so it was still special.”
How do you take care of your own health and wellbeing?
“I am really passionate about health and wellbeing, so I have naturally adopted a lot of daily regimes and practices which I think helps this to become part of my lifestyle. I eat a heavily plant based diet, and haven’t eaten meat since I was 10 years old.”
“I actually hate junk food and am lucky that I crave healthy foods most of the time, although I do still have sweet treats. I am fascinated by nutrition, so have spent many years reading books, listening to podcasts and doing my own research.”
“First thing every morning I drink hot water and organic lemon, then when it cools I add some apple cider vinegar. I regularly drink organic celery juice on an empty stomach. I grow broccoli sprouts which are great for anti-ageing and have many proven health benefits. I sprinkle them into my meals. I also eat a lot of sauerkraut which is great to build up healthy gut bacteria.”
“Exercise really helps my mind and body. I go for regular long power walks, which really helps to clear my head. I love the gym (when it’s open) and attend kickboxing classes twice a week.”
“Spending time with my dog and being outdoors in nature also help relieve stress and keeps me feeling grounded.”
Have you made any healthy resolutions for the year ahead?
“I actually have a vision board on my bedroom wall which I recently updated for the year ahead. There is a lot of evidence to show that seeing visual representations of your goals and dreams, helps you to achieve them.”
“One of my resolutions is to stop looking at my phone after 9pm in the evenings, I think this will have a positive impact on my sleeping patterns.”
“Another is to practice yoga, stretching and Pilates more consistently, at the moment, this type of exercise is missing from my regime. I prefer more aerobic exercise, so I need to discipline myself, as stretching and strengthening your core is really beneficial.”
How have you looked after your mental wellbeing during the pandemic and lockdowns?
“It hasn’t always been easy, but I tried to figure out pretty quickly what would work best for me as an individual. I realised that I needed to feel a sense of achievement / purpose each day.
“It could be something small, like sorting out my wardrobe and filling bags for charity, or cleaning my kitchen cupboards. Every day I religiously went for walks between 1-3 hours, being outside really helped my mind and made me appreciate the little things, like birds singing in the trees and squirrels running around in the park.”
“I practice gratitude when I wake up and go to sleep. I think about all the things I am grateful for, like my family, health, my dog, my friends, having a warm house to live in etc. It focuses your mind on all the good, rather than the negative and stops you taking everyday things for granted.”
“I also keep in touch with friends and family with regular facetimes, zooms, calls etc. Making sure others are ok, and thinking of ways you can cheer up other people always makes you feel good too!”
“Keeping busy, active and social has been the key for me, but everyone is different, so I think it is important to work out what makes you happy and be kind to yourself. If you need a day in bed watching films and eating chocolate, just do it, there is no need to feel guilty.”
Have you learnt anything new about yourself during 2020?
“I really have, I have learnt how important having a sense of purpose and connection is for me. Lockdown taught me completely new ways to fulfil those needs, and I have learnt that I don’t actually hate my own company as much as I thought I did.”
You have quite a story from a very young age suffering, fighting, and being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
“I was diagnosed aged 7 and sadly the illness was really severe for me. My parents tried absolutely everything to help me get better, from acupuncture, reflexology, homeopathy, restricted diets, hypnotherapy, you name it, I tried it.”
“Sadly strong drugs like steroids and hospital stays were often the only way I could come back from some of my really bad flare ups. Aged 14 my bowel was so damaged by the disease it was about to rupture, and I almost died, it was very touch and go.”
“My full recovery back to complete health took me into my early twenties as I had to have two further surgeries after my entire large bowel was removed.”
“I was back at sixth form aged 16, but had several blips throughout the years with blockages and other health issues related to the surgery that meant I had more hospital stays.”
“However now I enjoy a completely normal, healthy life. My immune system is amazing and I think my body has really rebuilt itself back up after all those challenges.”
“I never in my wildest dreams believed I could feel this good after so many agonising years of pain. I could not be more grateful to the NHS staff who not only saved my life, but they gave me a life that was finally worth living. I plan to spend the rest of it making up for lost time!”
What kept you positive as a child, and what keeps you positive now?
“I am not sure if I am a naturally positive person, or if it is a result of my amazing parents, especially my mum. She gave me so many pieces of advice that have stayed with me.”
“She always reminded me that there were so many people far worse off than me and that I needed to appreciate that.”
“It is horrible to think of others in a worse situation than yourself, but it does make you realise that you have to count the blessings you do have.”
“I come back to this again and again whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, it gives you perspective and helps you to move on from how bad you are feeling much quicker.”
“To keep myself positive now, I try to surround myself with like-minded positive people who give off good energy.”
“If I am having a bad day, I look at photos of some of my happiest memories to remind me that those good times will happen again. I play music, dance around. I listen to inspiring podcasts of others who have positive life lessons to share, or those who have overcome adversity themselves.”
Has anyone been a big influence coming to terms with living with an inflammatory bowel condition?
“When I was younger my parents tried to help me find pen pals with colitis (I sound so old) but it was challenging as it was so rare for children my age to have the disease.”
“Most of my connections had Crohn’s disease and seemed to be managing well by changing their diets. I didn’t find anyone at the time who was in a similar position to me, so I did feel very alone.”
“Although her personal and health struggles are completely different to my own, I have been extremely inspired by Katie Piper. Though my work as a presenter, I have been lucky enough to work alongside Katie on a few occasions and to get to know her as a friend.”
“I don’t even have the words to describe how much respect and admiration I feel for Katie, she is a total inspiration to me and so many others. Katie’s impact, really has made the world a better place.”
What more could be done to help people with inflammatory bowel disease live?
“Having helped several sufferers who have been waiting for reconstructive surgery, I personally feel that sometimes patients are left to suffer for too long before being offered reconstructive operations.”
“I understand it is massive surgery that can put lives at risk, but I do think sometimes people like myself can be left for too long, and for me, it was almost too late. I also think there needs to be better education amongst retail staff, so that sufferers who need to use staff toilets are never turned away, or made to feel embarrassed.”
“This happened to me several times, and it is not only incredibly painful when you can’t access a toilet in time, but can also feel humiliating.”
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis?
“My best advice would be to do your own research and find what works for you, alongside the medication and advice given by medical professionals.”
“My sister sadly also suffers with colitis, and has found exercise and some alterations to her diet to be really helpful.”
“When I had severe pains from bowel adhesions (internal scar tissue, following my surgeries) the only thing that worked for me was acupuncture. It really changed my life, so I can’t help but recommend this to others now. It is one of the alternative therapies that does seem to be backed by science, and I know a lot of other people who have also had great results from acupuncture.“
“My final piece of advice would be to read a book called, Mind Over Medicine- Lissa Rankin which is science based, and to do some research into Quantum physics.”
“When you can understand the science behind the relationship between the mind and body, it really helps you to control your thoughts in a positive way, to help aid healing.”
You’ve been able to travel to some beautiful places, where is your favourite so far and where would you love to go to?
“I couldn’t travel when I was suffering with Colitis, or even leave the house at times, so it is always a privilege when I get to do so now.”
“Presenting TV shows around the world is a dream come true. It is hard to pick just one destination, but I would have to say the beautiful Island of Mauritius.”
“It is known as the rainbow nation, as different religions and nationalities live and worship together in peace. There is a really low crime rate and the people are so warm and hospitable.”
“The island is breath-taking with the most beautiful tropical fish and birds. I can’t recommend Mauritius highly enough, my trip there was absolute paradise.“
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“I have been lucky to receive some amazing advice over the years, but something that really stands out for me and which helped change the direction of my life, was from my friend Alexandra Burke.”
“I wanted to quit my job and pursue the career I have now, but I just couldn’t be sure if I was crazy or doing the right thing.”
“Alexandra said to me, Hayley, we are always asking these questions to other people and looking for advice or direction from other sources. She said, “The answer is always already inside you, you already know the answer, just listen to it.””
“I will never forget what she said that day, I did just that, and making the choice to leave my job and pursue my TV dreams, was the best decision, I could have ever made.”
What would you tell your younger self?
“You have absolutely no idea how much your life is going to completely change. In your wildest dreams you will never believe that eventually you will experience how it feels to live a normal, healthy pain free life, but trust me, you will get there.”
“Just stay strong, keep positive, there will be so much light at the end of this long dark tunnel.”
What does happiness mean to you?
“Health, love and appreciation = happiness”
What’s next for Hayley in 2021?
“I am thrilled to have joined the presenting team for Global Child, a hugely successful Travel TV show available on Amazon Prime, and major airlines around the world.”
“The show has already filmed in 24 countries and for season three we have plans to film in some stunning destinations, including my favourite, Mauritius, as well as Belgium, Barbados, Malta, Chile and the Seychelles.”
“Global Child always travels with purpose, completing charitable work in every country they film and visit, from helping to build schools, or giving money to orphanages. I am so looking forward to being part of their charitable projects alongside my presenting.”
“Sadly, my Instagram account with 25k followers was deleted by hackers in 2020 and I lost years of work. I am looking forward to building this back up again and also working as a model and brand ambassador for fashion brands – Blue Vanilla, and floral delivery company – Appleyard London.”
“I also hope 2021 will allow me to continue my ambassador work with breast cancer charity, The Pink Ribbon Foundation. I organised and hosted a celebrity catwalk fundraising event – Catwalk for a cause in 2019.”
“Due to covid restrictions, this couldn’t go ahead in 2020, so I really hope we can bring it back this year to raise more money and awareness.”
If you want to keep up to date with all of Hayley’s news head over to her socials where you’ll get to hear all the latest from her – Follow Hayley on Instagram – @hayleymsparkes
And if you want to keep up to date with Global Child @globalchildtv, @pinkribbonfoundation, @bluevanillaoffical, @appleyardlondon