The Gold Edition Meets… Denise Lewis
The Gold Edition Meets… Denise Lewis

The Gold Edition Meets… Denise Lewis

Dame Denise Lewis is one of Britain’s most successful heptathletes. She won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was twice Commonwealth Games champion, the 1998 European champion and won World Championships silver medals in 1997 and 1999. Since retiring from athletics, she has moved into broadcasting and is now a regular athletics pundit for the BBC. Here, she sat down with us to talk about her career, her health journey and the one night of sport she’ll never forget.
Image: Andrew Cowie/Shutterstock

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.


Denise, you turned 50 nearly a year ago. How has life changed now you’re in this new decade?

I find that having a routine is essential. It’s important for me to continue doing something that is benefiting me in the long run and giving me a healthy body. I've noticed my skin is so much better now that I’ve sorted out my gut health. I also feel brighter, healthier and it seems that I am not alone. There's a study that shows up to three quarters of women suffer from gut issues in midlife and the sad fact is most of them are embarrassed to talk about it. For years, I never got the answers I needed – even after having endoscopies. It impacted my training at times and so I'm just really glad that we can now feel freer to talk about it.

So, what’s made the biggest difference to how you feel now? 

I've been struggling with IBS symptoms for maybe 30 years. And while Symprove has been a recent introduction, I can’t believe how much better I feel already. Without sounding too dramatic, it’s been revolutionary – a real awakening. After having surgery on my gallbladder duct last year, it really did give me the wake-up call that I needed to take my health more seriously. As an athlete, I can tap into that mindset of taking it first thing in the morning, when it goes straight into the gut and starts working immediately. I just need to give myself ten minutes, and then I'm ready for the day.

Tell us what your wellness routine looks like these days…

I've got four children, so it’s all about fitting everything in. As an athlete, you live a very selfish life – competition is your entire purpose. And then, once you start having a family, you realise it's not all about you. Luckily, the penny really dropped for me during lockdown. It was like a bit of a reset for me. It largely started with that whole ‘daily walk’ thing, but I’ve tried to continue those good habits. I’ve really shifted my mindset to make movement more of a priority – although I don't do seven days a week. I'm not that person anymore. It's great if I can do three mornings of gym time a week – plus I walk my dog, and that makes me feel good. I admit, I’m yet to try anything like yoga or Pilates. I am quite a conscious eater, though. It’s left over from my athlete days, but I don't eat too many fatty foods, I only have around two cups of coffee a day, and I rarely drink. 

When I first moved into broadcasting, it was VERY DAUNTING because there were people working in that space who had BEEN THERE FOR YEARS and had all sorts of JOURNALISTIC QUALIFICATIONS.

What about self-care or mental health – how do you look after that?

I’m a big fan of the Calm app – I probably only use it for about ten minutes a day, but I find it very balancing. It’s great to see more discussion around mental health these days – especially in the world of sport. It's a game changer, actually. Not everyone has a strong mind. The stress of sport – trying to find funding, dealing with injury and not making teams – that can be very hard. As athletes we’re so focused on the body and we often neglect the mind, even when it’s fragile. But making it a priority can be such a sign of strength.


Let’s talk a bit of beauty now – what are your skincare secrets?

Everyone’s skin type is different, but I do believe you can help yourself with what you eat and by choosing healthier options. I'm not saying let's all be boring and stay away from things that make us happy but it's about moderation. Destressing also helps a lot. As for actual skincare, I only use the basics – I come from a family where we have darker pigment in our skin, so for us it’s all about top-to-toe hydration. The other two ingredients I really prioritise are vitamin C for glow and CoQ10, which is an antioxidant. I really believe in affordable skincare – you don’t have to spend a fortune to find something that works. 

What about make-up?

I rarely wear make-up in my personal life and when I’m going on TV, I leave that to the professionals! For me, it’s just about bringing my game face, whether I'm doing a corporate presentation or going to parents’ evening. My philosophy is: you come prepared. If you've done your research, all you need is a deep breath and to do the best you can.

What other life mottos do you live by?

To be kind to yourself and let yourself make mistakes. You might not have a good day every day, but you just have to move on. When I first moved into broadcasting, it was very daunting because there were people working in that space who had been there for years and had all sorts of journalistic qualifications. There was a bit of imposter syndrome for me and I had to really learn to feel confident not to mirror the other people I was sitting with. We all have a different voice and perspective on things. It takes you a while to accept that your voice is different. But once you gain that confidence, all the layers start to come together. That’s what has afforded me the space I'm in right now.

Andrew Cowie/Shutterstock


Being announced as the OLYMPIC CHAMPION was like being in a COSMIC DREAM SPACE. I could literally feel the EMOTION LEAVING MY BODY.

How do you cope with the demands of live TV?

There are plenty of times when things don't go smoothly – even though we make it look seamless, there are things going on all the time. You've got to be reactive and trust the team that you're with. I can look at Gabby [Logan] and know that I need to speak for another 30 seconds or so. You learn to bounce off each other and that becomes part of that synergy. Ultimately, the more you prepare, the more you're going to be able to be equipped to deal with situations that are dynamic and movable.

What have been some of your personal career highlights?

I've been fortunate to have a few career highlights. The first would be my journey to Sydney in 2000 – I was injured nine weeks before, so I knew on the starting line that I wasn't at my best. But I was turning 28, so it felt like this was my moment, despite all the setbacks. Going into that penultimate event, knowing I needed to throw well in the javelin and possibly could get hurt again doing so. Then crossing the line in the 800m knowing I’d done what I needed to do and hoping it was enough… I really wasn’t that prepared for my life to change. Being announced as the Olympic champion was like being in a cosmic dream space. I could literally feel the emotion leaving my body. To feel that medal in my hand was such validation, and that sense of comfort has stayed with me ever since. I know I worked hard for it and was awarded something that gave me a place in history. 

Any other moments that stand out?

Having the opportunity to witness Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford win their medals on ‘Super Saturday’ during London 2012. That night will live forever in the history of British athletics. I also remember watching Kelly Holmes win double gold for both the 800m and 1,500m in Athens in 2004.

Are there particular events or competitions you get excited about watching now?

It has to be the Olympics. No athlete wakes up and says, I want to be European champion. They wake up and want to be Olympic champion. It’s the pinnacle – a chance to represent your country. The Olympics has to be the one event most athletes believe is their calling, and the medal they want the most. With a year to go before Paris 2024, I know what the athletes are feeling, no matter what sport they’re in. Your priorities are to stay healthy and make sure you get there. You want to see and feel the energy. There'll be athletes there who will be totally overawed by the situation, but the experience they’ll gain is huge. For others, it’ll be their last competition. The emotions are largely the same. There are so many layers to sport and each athlete takes something different away from every event.

Stephen Lock/Shutterstock

Looking back, if you could tell your 20-year-old self anything, what would it be?

That’s a very daunting age but if there’s one thing that’s helped me through life it would be patience. There’s no use in always being in a rush. Every year presents an opportunity to learn something about yourself, so don’t ride the thoroughbred. Ride the donkey and enjoy it. A lot of people might look at me and think I’ve had it easy because I won a gold medal. But it hasn't been easy. It’s involved a lot of soul searching, questioning and writing down my thoughts – as well as bouncing them off other people and looking for inspiration when I needed it most. The end of your competing life is a huge moment for athletes and knowing what comes next isn’t always clear. That loss of identity can be massive. But you've got to find yourself again. It’s about going back to basics and thinking about what you enjoy and what could you do? Then, try to connect the dots. Slowly you start to see the picture emerge and then you roll your sleeves up and go.

Dame Denise Lewis is an ambassador for Symprove – a gut health supplement which delivers four unique strains of bacteria that reach the gut alive. Available at

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at

The GOLD Edition from SheerLuxe
Delivered to your inbox, monthly.