How I became a Plant-Based Vegan Personal Trainer in Sevenoaks
Updated: Nov 28
My name is Daniel Welstead BA (Hons), DIP-Sac. For nearly 10 years now I have helped transform regular locals in Sevenoaks from unhappy couch potatoes into exhilarated and energized lean gods and goddesses.
My Life Struggle With Depression, Insomnia and Weight
I was born as a chunky baby in Chatham Hospital, Kent England. I was told that from a very early age that I loved real food and lots of it.
At the age of 2, I moved to Sevenoaks where I flourished in a safe and loving family home.
Growing fast into a toddler, my love of food led me into a happy but rather fat early childhood.
luckily, at this point I found sports and this was enough for me, during my early teens, to keep the weight off while I was a St Gregory’s Catholic School in Tunbridge Wells.
I found the academic side of school very hard. Suffering from dyslexia it became apparent that the vocational side of life was my calling. This is where my love of food took the next step.
At 15, I found my love for cooking. Immediately my confidence grew and I was finally good at something. Excelling my year group with my culinary skills, at 16 I enrolled at the most prestigious catering college in the country, Westminster.
This had to have been one of the most challenging, fun and eye-opening experiences I had of the real world. Commuting from Sevenoaks to London, Monday to Friday, at 16 was thrilling but tiring. Our days in the kitchen started at 9am and finished at 5pm each day. I would then go and work in a kitchen as a paid chef from 6pm-10pm.
Weekends were a no go. I would then work from 6.30am to 10pm every other weekend and study alternate weekends. Welcome to the real-life of a chef. Or lack of.
I had found my love for cooking but also the love for prescription sleeping tablets. Zopiclone.
This was a lethal cocktail for weight gain and at 19 I was piling on the pounds.
During my time at Westminster, I had opportunities to work at the Dorchester Hotel, Hilton Park Lane, City Rhodes, Houses of Commons and Marco Pierre White’s, Belvedere.
This experience helped a team of 6 chefs win the country's biggest catering competitions, Toque D’or.
Leading such a hectic life led me deeper into sleep-deprived insomnia. To sleep, I was popping 4-5 times the dose of Zopiclone recommended. But I thought I was young. I could take it. Heck, I was finally sleeping, unaware of the consequences down the line.
However, my love of learning had now given me the confidence to go back to academia. I wanted to prove myself in a world in which I was ridiculed, called thick and lazy. I continued to work in professional kitchens. However, at 19 I enrolled at Westminster in a Business Management and Hospitality Degree.
After a few weeks, I thought, ‘What the HELL have I done?’ I struggled. In chef’s language, I was “in the shit”. It felt like a dish I’d cooked had been thrown back at me.
However, I didn’t give up. During the first 2 years, I was achieving 3:3’s and a few rare 2:2’s.
Come the final year I was finally given a support tutor to help with my dyslexia. (Anna, if you’re reading this. Thank you).
I finally had someone who understood how hard it is simply to read, write and remember. I had the confidence to tackle the hardest of reports and my dreaded dissertation.
I achieved 2:2’s throughout the year, a slight improvement. However, I left my dissertation until the last minute with 2 months remaining I started. I implemented all the help Anna had given me and I achieved an amazing 1:1.
I cried. Not only had I achieved a Degree with BA Honours. My overall grade was a 2:1.
Kiss my ass doubters! (My ever-larger ass)
This opened my eyes to other aspects of life and gave me the opportunity to fulfil avenues which I never thought were possible.
Once my degree was over and I graduated, I took a gap year travelling the world. I worked during my degree so I was able to fund the whole experience on what I had saved throughout Uni. This made the experiences so much sweeter along with the Thai curry, thali dishes, ice cream, cooked breakfasts, Malay noodles, and crispy duck!
Travelling was as you can imagine it full of scary, fun and exciting experiences. You meet some great people but also some pretentious idiots highlighted in The Inbetweeners 2 Movie.
Upon my return I was stuck. All I knew was to cook well. Yes, I had a degree but at the time I didn't know what to do with it. I thought it may help me open a restaurant one day. I had no money so I re-entered the kitchens.
Working as Head Chef at the newly formed pub The Bricklayers with Andy Hogg at the age of 22 was not only exciting but incredibly rewarding. I had the freedom to express myself fully on the plate while being in control with menus and ordering gave me a real buzz from the responsibility.
However, from that buzz came insomnia and with insomnia came zopiclone.
With time I was hooked, not just on the tablets but on food too. I was taking huge doses and importing it from India by the dozen because the doctors wouldn't give me
With the massive doses came side effects; tiredness in the day, depression, poor relationships and lack of desire to succeed. With that, I relied on food to make me feel good.
I became withdrawn from the kitchen. My passion was exhausted and I knew that if I were to live, I had to get out of the kitchen.
Being a chef you never had the time to spend the money you earned, so I was able to take 6 months off exploring what I wanted to do.
Three months into “job searching”, I hit my low.
I was jobless, passionless, depressed, fat and unhealthy. I had to change. And on January 17th, 2010 I did. I made a promise to myself never to go back. I had a 3-month plan and I did it.
My first goal was to exhaust myself so much I could kick the sleeping pills. I did it. It was incredibly hard going cold turkey. The withdrawals were horrific, but I did it. After that nothing could stop me. Three months later I had achieved something truly incredible. I was fit, strong, healthy and happy.
There was one thing missing. I had no job and I was sinking into debt.
I knew that if I went back into the kitchen I would reverse everything I had achieved. People were asking me how I lost so much weight. I was so passionate about helping others do what I had done.
Then it dawned. I want to help people get out of their deepest darkest moments with fitness. I spontaneously booked myself on a personal training course and then I never ever looked back.
One year since I made my radical change I started my personal training career. Yes, I was an amateur and yes, I had very little one on one experience. However, I had something which very few trainers have, and that’s real-life experience from going from fat to fit while disliking nearly all forms of exercise.
This experience has proved to be invaluable. Along with my desire to learn as much as I can about the body and fat loss, my cooking skills have now taken my clients to the next level.
Eating healthy foods can be a chore, but with my skills in the kitchen I have been able to demonstrate how easy, tasty, cheap and healthy it is to lead a fat loss lifestyle.
Now I have helped hundreds of people transform their body and mind. They are happier, healthier, leaner, stronger, fitter, sexier and more confident than ever before.
Daniel Welstead - Plant-Based Personal Trainer in Sevenoaks